The case against iteration based re-estimation

I’ll say up front that I have some major issues with the idea of estimation in agile processes. There are plenty of alternatives to traditional time/manpower estimation which are at least as useful in delivering real, useful results. However, if you are working in a context which values estimation, Adrian Wible has some interesting points …

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Two good videos

Monday was a bank holiday, so I found a little time to catch up with some of the web videos in my queue. First I watched an inspiring session from TechCrunch Nordic which likens achieving an “exit” for a startup company to dating. Fun, and with a strand of truth. TechCrunch Nordic – Tommy Ahlers …

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Ruby, Sinatra, Dreamhost, Haml, git – a smooth web app workflow … eventually

I have spent many years developing web applications in Java for corporate clients. During that time I have used a wide range of frameworks, APIs and other useful stuff. I have written my own versions (sometimes several) of many of these components, learned the tools well, and become very productive and effective. However, it has …

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Story Mapping Gives Context to User Stories

We are currently trying to come to some conclusions about the “shape” of a new software product, and facing a whole lot of problems. Stakeholders are happy to argue for hours about relative priorities of individual features, but so far these exist in a vacuum without an overall vision of a product. With that in …

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Information Radiators: Is low tech really better?

We currenty use a wall, covered with brown envelopes, for story and task tracking. It has its advantages but prople, particularly people not based in this office, often ask for something else.  Chris Sims at InfoQ has a useful summary of the pros and cons of high-tech and low-tech “information radiators” InfoQ: Information Radiators: Is …

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YAGNI: Some thoughts

YAGNI – it’s a neat term for a valuable technique. Ignoring an unknown future to concentrate on a known present. That does not mean that it’s application is obvious, though. I often find myself in “discussions” with architects and designers who recoil at the idea of building something specific to one customer or situation, when …

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Some decent looking project hosting candidates at last

As you may recall from a previous post, I am looking for some decent project hosting both for my open source software and for some business ideas. I want a single point of contact which offers as a minimum: version control, wiki, bug/ticket tracking, calendar and tasks/todo. Nice to haves include time-tracking, collaborative planning and …

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Agile Risk Management

There are lots of approaches to estimation for agile projects, but not all of them include estimation of risk. Some approaches deliberately ignore risk, preferring to work from hindsight and averages. For the others, a consideration of levels of risk for each estimated story or task seems a good idea. InfoQ: Agile Risk Management.

getteamtasks – get your flexible task management wiki here.

While setting up for some new work on my masters dissertation today I checked to make sure I had the latest version of TiddlyWiki. While looking I found a whole “ecosystem” of TiddlyWiki variants. One which particularly caught my eye was “teamtasks”, a neat way of using the TiddlyWiki technique to simplify project planning and …

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Agile: When is a story done?

Anyone who has worked with me in the past will probably recognize my standard response to vague or unclear requirements – “how will I know when I’m done?”. I use it so much becuase the simple trick of changing viewpoint to view work in terms of acceptance criteria is key to enabling sensible discussion, estimation, …

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Managing large stories on agile projects, our approach

In theory, an agile story is a simple and obvious thing with many purposes. A description of some desired usage; a token for discussion; a prompt for acceptance tests; a grain around which to gather more detail. In practice, a story can sometimes be more like a traditional feature requirement, or more like a delivery …

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Agile process drowns in meetings: kickoffs and walk throughs

I have noticed this phenomenon during our “planning poker” estimation meetings, and to some extent in retrospectives and other meetings about iterations, planning and progress. Each time a meeting is held, the number of attendees increases slightly, and the meeting (sometimes imperceptibly, but the cumulative effect is there) slows down. This slowdown leads to a …

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Business Analysis: Can’t negotiate size… and a good thing too

In our team we have found a tendency for the time spent estimating stories to creep upward. More and more design seems to be considered as we work through the stories. While this is a very valuable way of sharing information among the team, it is not a very effective way of estimating. Akshay Dhavle …

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Estimated Interest on Technical Debt

We are currently struggling with how to integrate work on refactoring/simplifying/cleaning our product codebase with existing streams of stories and bugs. One of the tricky aspects of this is how to estimate and prioritise the cleanup work: how much is it worth, and how much time should we spend on it this iteration? Martin Fowler …

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Iterating To Acquire Knowledge, Not Just ‘Business Value’

Planning what order to do stuff in is a vital, yet very difficult, part of software development. Agile wisdom usually stresses the need to do things in order of “business value”, but this can sometimes be extremely tricky to evaluate. Another approach is to do things in an order intended to decrease risk, such as …

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How should we do training in an agile process?

A lot of writings about agile processes seem to assume that everyone comes with all the skills they need, but in the real world people sometimes need to gain new skills which cannot easily be learned “on the job”. Planning ahead enough to ensure team skills are available when needed, and dealing with the impact …

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Handling Absence in Scrum Teams

We don’t use scrum as such, but we still face the issue of team-member absence during fixed iterations. It’s a tricky one to deal with, especially as absence comes in both predictable and unpredictable forms. InfoQ has a nice summary of some of these issues and some solutions. There is till no “silver bullet” for …

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