Tuesday, 15 March 2011

What have we learnt today

Last week we finished another cycle of the Practical Scrum course, and like always usual at the end of each day I’m asking a few questions to gather some feedback.

Here are the answers I got after at the end of day 2 and 3 (the answers for the first day are here):

What would be easiest to adopt in your own work environment?

  • Decomposing tasks into very small chunk.
  • Estimation techniques
  • Product Backlog
  • short iteration, and sprint planning
  • the sprint model
  • dividing project work into stories
  • priority poker

What would be impossible to apply in your work environment?

  • having an engineer dedicate 100% to a single project.
  • Scrum Master Job
  • agreement and commitment with clients. (still didn’t understand how to do it, probably dependant on the organization)
  • Fixed Sprint Time
  • focusing people on a small number of projects.
  • defining sprints, need the entire organization to change.
  • team responsibility
  • Daily meetings

What if adopted, would bring the most value to you?

  • Daily meetings, sprints
  • Agile methodology (not necessarily scrum) and working in vertical and not horizontal slices.
  • engineering practices like TDD, CI,…
  • having a PO
  • short cycles
  • Fixed sprint length
  • Test automation

What, would be useless in your work place?

  • The ongoing arguments
  • Let the team decide
  • daily meetings
  • Long list of stories
  • Having a Scrum Master

The last note I got was more of a story here it is translated:

in large this i like the methodology and it should be adopted. we have problems of meeting deadlines and of understanding requirements s i think Scrum can help us. i also don’t see anything specific which is useless. But i think that part of our organization culture will require change. Therefore i will be happy if knowledge of Scrum will be given to our management.

The funny thing to me that all of these people came from the same company and judging from some of the conflicting response I’m guessing that there are many cultures inside that organization. I wonder if that can be generalized to all companies?

Friday, 11 March 2011

Reflector is no longer free

Yesterday, after several year of supporting reflector RedGate has turned it into a commercial product in releasing a new paid version (v7) taking down the free download. Naturally there is an uproar in the community about this move. What ticks most people is the fact that inside older versions of reflector there is a time-bomb causing reflector to delete itself unless you upgrade to the newest version.

While this time bomb was inserted along time ago (before it was picked by red-gate) the original intent was to make support easier by making sure only newer version of the tool was out there. Now this mechanism means that the free version can no longer be used.

While the price for the standard license is quite low (35$), my believe is that Red-Gate is now facing a public relationship hell, and so far their response has only made things worse. Red-Gate people only response so far was to either point out that this was an old mechanism, and the regular "we wish only to make things better", so far no actual direct response to any of the claims made by the community (here's an example thread - notice Greg Tillman answer)

Being a long user of reflector there's a good chance I'll purchase it however before I do that, it seems that alternatives are starting to pop around:


A new open source tool part of the SharpDeveloper IDE. I haven't tried it yet, but looking at the screencast it looks fairly similar to what I use reflector for, so this would be something ill certainly try.


Another interesting site i stumbled upon is this site http://www.keepdecompilingfree.com/ rumors claims that JetBrain might be involved, but so far I wasn't able to find any solid evidence for that. Knowing JetBrain, I do hope that there is some truth into this.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

The Human Iron Triangle

The Iron Triangle in software development is an old well known metaphor for explaining many of the hard realities in software project management.

The first version Ive seen was taken from Scot Ambler The "Broken Iron Triangle" Software Development Anti-Pattern looks like this:


Another version I like is Mike Cohn Clock representation:


Recently I came up with my own version mapping the various roles in a typical project, doing it i came up with this:Human Iron trianglepng

I’m still trying to understand what it says but so far i came up with the following insights:

QA Are Trapped

No wonder QA people feel caught up in the middle. That’s exactly where they are. Everyone is pulling on all sides and they are stuck in the middle getting torn apart.

Managers will always win

Management hold the more stable end in the triangle. Resources/budget has a tendency to stay relatively fixed and in practice does not allow for much flexibility. This might explain why management never budge.

R&D will never learn to like marketing

Looking at the triangle its perfectly clear why Product/Marketing and R&D always fight (which i have seen too often ending up in a disaster), both are trying to pull in their own direction and since management never budge you get a direct conflict between the two.

I wonder what else i can learn from this.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

What have we Learnt today?

And another cycle of the Practical Scrum course has started, and like always usual at the end of each day im asking a few questions to gather some feedback.

Here are the answers i got after the first day(unedited):

What is the most surprising thing you have learned today?

  • That the instructor thinks that scrum works in most cases.
  • Lack of clear design upfront and use of dynamic design
  • that the team decides during the process what goes into each release, does the estimation etc..
  • How much can be learnt out of a simple activity.
  • that Scrum works
  • That the agile manifesto was signed at 2991

What is the most stupid thing I have said during the day?

  • That the Team decides (3 people)
  • That project statistic can be gathered in two minutes

I can see that we have an issue with the team roles and responsibility inside the Scrum process.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Motley and Maven are back (I hope)

One of the earliest blogs I've been reading was Progressive Development by Jame Waletzky. I find the writing style and the content to be superb and it was a real disappointment to witness the death of the blog during last year.

However after only two post since October 2009, this week we got 2 new ones. Is it a sign that James decided to write again?

I truly hope he did.

In the meantime you can hear all about Planning Poker and about the importance of Goals from Maven and Motley.


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