Set A Course For The Future, Refactor 9!

(Apologies to Star Trek fans everywhere…) One of the popular characteristics of a language is how quickly it can be used to implement new features.  A language that requires developers to constantly rewrite lots of nit-picky fiddly bits of code just to get a string allocated (I’m looking at you, C!) is out of favor, even if the techniques for doing just that are very well understood and almost a “reflex” for most developers. However, the faster you chug along, grinding out new features, you will often be incurring “technical debt” — that is, your code might become fragmented and …

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Case Study of a Difficult Federal Government Scrum Project: FBI Sentinel

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According to today’s Wall Street Journal (“FBI Goes Digital, After Delays“), the FBI’s Sentinel system is finally ready for agents to use, replacing manual processes and older electronic case management tools.  As of Aug 2012 it’s difficult to predict how well it will perform over time.  If it serves the FBI well, Scrum and Agile advocates will cite it as evidence of Scrum working where prior approaches had failed.  For example, Sentinel was already cited in Ken Schwaber’s fourth book. A recent Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report provides a great case study of why both …

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15 Ways to Split an Epic, a Team Exercise

Your Scrum Team has been hired by a physical fitness expert to develop a mobile device application to prescribe daily personalized exercise routines and diets for a wide range of people. The app should adapt the routines to users’ fitness goals, current health, age, gender, preferences, food allergies, lifestyle, etc. The fitness expert is excited about all the possibilities of this app but promised a key user a working system in 30 days. The main feature of the system will be this epic: Generate Anyone’s Exercise Routine and Diet Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Extract stories from …

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Agile Beyond Software – Agile for the Whole Organization

In my last few Agile Basics classes, I have noticed a welcome trend: People with roles outside of IT are attending classes in conjunction with the development teams. People from sales, marketing, accounting, HR and even executive branches have started to recognize that learning about Agile has a positive impact on the whole organization. Agilists have long held that Agile transformations require buy-in from entire organizations, not just the IT and development teams which have adopted the most popular Agile framework, Scrum. To understand why this is, it is important to go back to Agile’s roots and understand what exactly …

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How Did Scrum Become a Straitjacket?

The ideas behind Agile (before it was a buzzword) largely arose from practitioners looking to eliminate painful or silly management practices between them and their craft. When I first did Scrum, it was more fun than any way I’d worked before. As a member of a self organizing team, we negotiated Sprint Goals with the PO and collaborated to meet them our own way. Scrum’s freedom from micromanagement opened the door to learning Agile technical practices that kept the code enjoyable to work on. So the autonomy, the social environment, and the state of the product itself made it fun. …

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Building a Better Backlog Q&A

On March 5th, I presented the webinar, “Building a Better Backlog: Strategies for Long Term Success in Agile Development.” In the session, I shared strategies on how to build and maintain a good product backlog by describing the overall concepts and techniques for backlog management and how each of the project contributors can contribute to its overall effectiveness. Specifically, I covered: What a product backlog is and how to create product backlog items How to write good user stories How to estimate product backlog items How to groom the product backlog, and The importance of treating the product backlog as …

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Technical Debt Webinar – Q&A

Earlier this week, we ran a webinar entitled “Technical Debt – the High Cost of Future Change”. The topic was of course, technical debt in Agile projects. Although we left what we thought was ample time for questions, as it turned out there were many more than we had time for. So, as promised, we are posting the questions and our responses here. I hope these are helpful! (Note the answers below are not written by Michael James, the webinar presenter.) Q: I’ve found that when asked, people come up with a very ‘full’ definition of done, but in the …

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Technical Debt – Webinar Q&A

Earlier this week, we ran a webinar entitled “Technical Debt – the High Cost of Future Change”. The topic was of course, technical debt in Agile projects. Although we left what we thought was ample time for questions, as it turned out there were many more than we had time for. So, as promised, we are posting te questions and our responses here. I hope these are helpful! Q: I’ve found that when asked, people come up with a very ‘full’ definition of done, but in the end they don’t follow it. How do we walk our own walk? A: …

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20 Questions with Bill Portelli interview

MGI Research just published a detailed interview with CollabNet’s president, Bill Portelli. In this interview, Bill discusses his views on industry mega-trends like Agile and the Cloud, and how CollabNet is responding. The interview is available at http://www.mgiresearch.com/20-Questions/20-questions-with-collabnet-ceo-bill-portelli.html

Free Web Based Training: Introduction To Scrum, with quiz

We’re beta-testing a web based training module to help people prepare for CSM classes, and counteract misconceptions spread by certain popular but uninformed YouTube videos. The early feedback has been encouraging. After we create additional modules, we’ll come back and polish this one up. Give it a try and let us know what you think. http://ScrumTrainingSeries.com –mj See also: The Scrum Reference Card and The Scrum Master Checklist.