Andy Pols Geek, Entrepreneur

Some random thoughts...

Reflections on the Business Value of Software

I remember having a rant at the eXtreme Tuesday Club a few years ago, "Who cares about working software, if it's not what the business need? Delivering Business Value is the most important thing!"

This was triggered from seeing too many agile teams get bogged down in the minutiae of the process. They did not think about how the business would benefit from what they did or how they could deliver value early. Delivering working software was the only important measure they cared about. They missed the subtlety of the Agile Manifesto that talked about delivering valuable software:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable software.

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Aspirational Planning

One of my clients was telling me about the problems that they are having with "Aspirational Planning".

I thought this was an excellent description of the problems lots of organisations have with planning.

Then it slowly dawned on me that he was serious - they really do create "Aspirational Plans". They are fully aware that they don't reflect reality (as they take so long to prepare), but the senior management love to spend lots of time and (other people's energy) creating detailed plans of what may or may not happen one day.

The teams on the ground just roll their eyes when I ask about these plans. I'm going to have my work cut out on this one.

Agile teams have weird habits

The old bambinos made me laugh with this suggestion:

An improvement on XP's stand-up meeting, or scrum's daily scrum is the New Bamboo Hang Up Meeting. You are only allowed to talk while performing pull ups from a steel girder. Not only does this keep the meeting short, but ensures the team reamins physically fit

Fabulous classic photos in Lego

V.J Day Time Square Hand of God By the Marne River

These are fantastic.

See the full set at "http://www.redbubble.com/people/Balakov".

Poor Mans Kanban

David Anderson gave a talk about kanban at XTC a few weeks ago (11th March 2008). David's pictures of projects using kanban struck a chord with me.

My current project is split across multiple locations (well, countries!) and we keep track of what we are doing in Jira. Jira is great for tracking and chunking work into releases, but it wasn't highlighting our process bottlenecks. We'd been caught out a couple of times by juggling multiple streams of work and having too much work building up in UAT.

I emailed David's slides around the team and asked people if they thought the kanban view of the project would be helpful. The technical people thought it was a great idea, but the business people couldn't see the point - they already had this information to hand and did not think it would be worth the effort.

One of the guys (Paul Allton) did a little experiment using ruby to automatically create a kanban work-in-progress view of our existing jira data. It's gone through a few iterations, but this is what it looks like now:

Taking the kanban picture to the standup was fascinating. The people who thought it was unnecessary suddenly became animated about the bottlenecks. This picture makes it very easy to see the state of the project and where people need to spend their energy.

The poor man's kanban (because we're not really doing kanban, and it would be much better if we had a physical board) has proved very popular with the team.