Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Use of Product owner proxies
Not very popular, however not very uncommon either in most offshore-onshore engagements. Better to know which projects of yours use Proxies for distant team members.
When you are done with the following matrix I explain here, you will be able to have good 1st hand insights about your portfolio. Further, it will help you to spot the projects which need more assistance from your PMO to make them successful.
Many would say .. Ok I don’t follow exactly Scrum because we don’t do this this and this.. But its more like Scrum because we do this and this. Fine. So you can answer the question.
Do you have a product roadmap
Saturday, May 05, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
What is it?
'Sprint 0' means the only sprint where we deliver 0 business value in scrum process. Recently I attended to a session @Exilesoft when Fincyka talked about 0th Sprint in projects and her team's experience with it. That was an awesome presentation and I was happy to be there because it made me to re think about this so called 0th Sprint.
How long is it ?
So if the 0th Sprint is a 0 business value sprint, how long this sprint should be ? If you search, you will find many sources which says its around 5 – 10 days sprint. But is it true?
I can remember Scott Amber ( IBM) mentioned in one of his talks @AgileIndia that, in average, the 0 sprint is 4- 6 weeks. Its based on his research.
I’ve seen many teams trying hard to fix their 0th sprint within this 5- 10 days time box. But my opinion is based on my experience with agile. I advise teams not to get in to this trap. I believe that 0th sprint duration should be completely depended on your project context. Only rule to remember is that if you do agile, you need to start producing some working software pretty fast. So if you understand the basic theory behind agility and your project context, these rules won’t matter anymore.
When we start 0th Sprint.?
Good Question.. J I have seen many new scrum teams trying to derive the backlog within the 0th sprint. Then they wonder what this scrum is all about. How do you get the idea of a huge system you got to develop within few days? At least how do you identify even enough epics within that time? Obviously something is wrong.
Usual scrum process starts from the time you have a product vision and a backlog. – Remember Ken Schwaber once mentioned that the minimum requirement to start a Scrum project is to have a Product backlog and a product vision. So there you get the point.
My experience after practicing agile for many years (and still trying to understand it) is that 0th sprint is used mostly to do the agile modeling, be prepared for next few sprints with enough base to build up on, sometimes even writing a piece of code to prove some architecture aspect. To me, team modeling, team building and other pre-work should happen at the project initiation stage.
Only one '0 Sprint' or many of them?
Simply I don’t care what you learn during your CSM. Imagine a large project, which runs over 7, 8 months or sometimes years. You really need to have certain time in-between to do design revisits, refine the roadmaps, and do other work to be ready for next few sprints. So its obvious that you have these 0 business value delivery time boxes in between, aren’t they 0 sprints as well ?
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I like the fact that they got Freeset to do a keynote speech. I was speechless. How can you think of doing business in such different way? This session made me remember Simen Sinek’s book I read few weeks back – WHY before WHAT.
Most the sessions I managed to participate were very good. Always there are things to learn. I like if I didn’t miss much sessions, however preparing for my speech was important to me as I couldn’t do much work prior to the conference.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thinking back, I wonder what really motivated me to participate this lean coffee session at 7.30 in the morning? I had no obligation to do this.
I can think of 3 reasons;
1. I was curious about it and wanted to learn what lean coffee means.
2. No one pushed me to do so (therefore I couldn’t make the excuse “oh that’s way too early ☺” )
3. People around me inspired me; I knew I could have had a good discussion with some knowledgeable people I met there.
But I didn’t have an agenda sent to me. What are they going to do in this lean coffee meeting? The interesting thing is, because I didn’t have an agenda I couldn’t find the items which I think are boring to me, or I couldn’t find faults with the agenda. :). I couldn’t set my expectations out of this meeting in advance either.. Hmm… Interesting.. definitely I wanted to see what this was all about.
The Technique was very simple. We make a usual KABNAN chart and keep it on the coffee table. As usual this has 3 columns, Stack, WIP, Done. We had loads of sticky notes and coffee too. This was a very causal gathering and the whole set up made everyone feel free and comfortable.
Jim became the facilitator; he asked all of us to write something what we wanted to talk about in a sticky note. We all did so within 2-3 mins. Then we pasted our sticky notes to the stack column on the KANBAN sheet. ( Remember 1 note for 1 topic)
It was the time to vote. He asked each of us to vote 2 notes in the stack. (What we tried to achieve here is the democracy, we got to talk about whats useful to the majority not to a single person. At the same time, by considering the votes we could find the topics, which most the people can talk about freely. We voted for a particular topic because not only we can learn about them, but because we loved to talk about them too.)
Once voted, the facilitator moved the most voted 3 stickies to the WIP column (WIP is limited and the work flow is visible). It was time to start talking about them.
First note: The person who wrote the note described what he meant about it. Then someone else in the group started talking about that and added his idea to the topic, once he finished another person in the group added his 2 cents. Likewise we all talked about the topic we picked,. I saw lots of insights and great ideas adding to the discussion. We didn’t talk cos we had to defend our poker card or because it was mandatory to talk. We talked about the topic and added our thinking because we found the discussion was helpful and inspiring.
One person in the group noted that we have been discussing about the first topic almost for 3o mins. So the facilitator asked whether we want to continue or to stop it or whether we don’t care if its continued or stopped. Most the people signed that they want to stop the topic now and move to next one. So likewise we managed to discuss 2 topics we voted before finishing the lean coffee in order to attend to the conference sessions.
This was very simple, but the level of energy flowing through the meeting amazed me. I was surprised about the amount of information we managed to dig during such a short time about those 2 topics we discussed. I didn’t have agendas or expectations set in advanced, but I felt its time well spent with some knowledgeable passionate people.
I got to know that there are good lean coffee sessions happening among Lean enthusiastic people in Seattle, Sydney and many other cities…
Here you can find about Seattle Lean Coffee sessions:
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Now in Stockholm, 2 AM in the morning, still jetlagged, thanks to hotel wifi and my MacBook I don’t feel lonely to death :)
Last week was so technicolor and surrounded by hundreds of geeks and freaks. Pieces of memories are still buzzing in my head, Oredev is one of the best conferences Ive ever been to. You will understand what Im talking about if you just check twitter for #Oredev
I reached Malmo on Monday, as usual another 20 hours long trip from Sri Lanka.
1st day was so boring to me, I didn’t know anyone around.. in fact no one was around to see :). I was not in mood to go to Sauna event or to the dinner at night. So as usual I did my favorite task in Scandinavia.. that’s “sleeping for 13 hours”
When I went to have my breakfast on Tuesday morning, I saw some of the speakers there, So I fell in to conversation with @testertested, @arungupta from Oracle and few others. We had a brief discussion about our markets in general.
A short introduction to Malmo was good for any 1st time visitor. I met few other speakers and the week stared to happen from there.
The speaker dinner was glamorous, wish if I had a camera with me, but I found this video done by @yfrog. see that here. http://yfrog.com/0nlhobz. This beautiful place is a 500 years old building as explained by the Mayor of Malmo. In this video Im next to @ourfounder and covered to some people J
On Wednesday, the conference started officially. I enjoyed the keynote by Alexis Ohanian ( “only your mom visit your website”) the co-founder of reddit. It was an awsome speech by such a young professional with loads of humor, the passion he has in him is unbelievable.
I attended three sessions on Wednesday: the presentations by Jean Tabaka at Rally Software, Patrick Kua at thoughtworks and Potia Tung. I enjoyed pairing exercise by Doc (@athought) a lot.
I was to go to dinner with a group of speakers that day night, but I was bit pressured with my talk to be done on the next day, as well as Peter (from Exilesoft Sweden) had a lot to catch-up with me. So I decided not to go out at night.
During the morning hours on Thursday, I spent time for preparing my talk. After lunch I attended to Jean Tabaka’s another session “Golden circle” where she presented many slides about agile adoption @ Cochlear Australia. She used pictures of @rrottier and his colleague’s speech at agile conference in Australia.
The session before mine was done by Jeff Patton and he discussed many interesting points about todays fake agile practices.
Here comes my turn….. Im in the stage, in front of a room full of audience.. I remembered to breath as I thought that will take my breath away, then I started to have all the fun as I never thought before…
My session was focused on team collaboration in distributed environment; I made it a point to be focused on my experience with Scandinavian context with distributed teams in Sri Lanka. (This is my day to day life at Exilesoft), so I think the audience managed to relate it with their experience better and I managed to be so relaxed in the stage as never before. I structured my presentation based following 5 aspects;
1. Talent distribution is the number one reason to use distributed teams.
2. Arguments about complexities based on geographical zones are subjective to their own experiences.
3. Agile adoption and feature teams in highly integrated environments help to avoid most the traditional issue in the context, but introduce some new challenges.
4. There are good people everywhere, if we have the right way and attitude to work with them, they will work if not they cannot.
5. Faking agile is the worst thing one can do when dealing with distributed teams; it adds loads of confusion to all the parties.
I used a case study to model distributed teams in various ways such as component teams, knowledge teams and feature teams. ( 2 min is given to the audience to think through their solutions too). Then I spoke about few other aspects such as project initiation when using distributed teams, culture aspect, high expectations of commonsense, employee retention issues when the work is not interested and the relationships become sour, Layers of trust and the danger of building trust based on the facts which doesn’t exists (OP: check the code by yourself) and importance of collocation and AAR.
I shouldn’t have stopped talking, but the coordinator signaled me and said that there is only 5 min left. So I had to stop there. J
I like the feedback I got and the questions thrown to me. Im so happy to see one of the tweet about my talk on the twitter canvas by @imagethink.
Thanks to Oredev for donating money to children in Africa behalf of me talking at Oredev. As per most the speakers, this is the best thing you guys did.
Friday Morning lean coffee was really interesting. I think this is something I need to try out with my colleagues at Exilesoft.
I liked the Healthy projects by Jim ( @outfounder : the author of personal KANBAN and many other books) and Dan’s(@tastapod) session about patterns was really interesting, I couldn’t stop laughing throughout his session. I didn’t like the fact I missed his keynote.
I enjoyed the closing keynote by Amber Case about the future of interfaces.
Friday night we had a good dinner and so much fun with some of the speakers.
My overall takeaway points from the sessions I participated:
1. Its time to think towards user experiences and interactions in new ways, or we will be obsolete with our products.
2. BDD and agile testing: lot more to learn.
3. Rally software organization wide agile adoption, Need to think through how we can relate with it.
4. Future of scrum seems to be blur. Software professionals have started to hate scrum due to organizations adopting to rules of scrum but not the real agile values.. values without scrum has become a pain to most the people. Everyone sounded very enthusiastic about KANBAN as it promotes agile/lean values within itself.
5. Most the Scandinavian IT professionals are very passionate about what they do and they read a lot. This is what we need to encourage within our offshore teams to make them good teammates with each other.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Labels: PMI ACP Agile
When I first heard of PMI agile, I was really skeptical about it. I never thought I would explore it. My initial thought was, how much agile PMI can be?.. I’m sure I’m not alone; there are many others who thought the same, or may be still thinking the same.
When Dave discussed with me about the upcoming ACP+ CSM class we were to teach together in NY, was the first time I got any interest to walk through the PMI agile course content. When I read the content, I was impressed. They have thought of so many aspects to agile engineering and agile in general.
About the Exam:
As usual, Tools and Techniques cover 50% of the exam. These tools and Techniques are divided in to10 different knowledge areas. Rest of the 50% is allocated for the candidate’s knowledge and skills in agile project context, covering 3 levels based on importance.
When I read the content in detail, I can see that it covers lots of stuff, which we should know when we do agile engineering. It talks about many practical aspects including agile modeling, story mapping, estimation techniques and even EVM and ROI calculations in agile context. It’s pretty detail. these materials are available at PMI site.
However, these are my concerns;
1 . In a CSM class, No one can fail the assessment, so the class is not conducted to aim for grades but to learn the concepts. I know almost all CSTs are very keen on transferring basic agile concepts to their students. But looking at the nature of PMI exams, if PMI agile learning hours focuses on teaching tools and techniques to the candidates to score pass marks, then the whole concept of agile will be lost. In that case, how many ACPs will be truly passionate about agile will be a question. In the worst-case scenario, they will be learning to pass the exam but not to practice agile. This has a greater risk in South Asia where there is a highly certification-focused culture.
2. Who is going to conduct these classes? There are only very few CSTs available, so I’m sure PMI will allow PMP trainers to do PMI agile courses ( may be Im wrong, Im not very clear about the eligibility criteria yet), but some of the PMP trainers may haven't really experienced agile or seen the value of agile to teach agile. If they are going to read a book and teach agile without any practical experience that’s going to be a disaster.
3. How rigid the exam questions can be in an agile exam? That’s another aspect to think through when preparing ACP examination questions. Examiners may need to bring up more concepts in to test rather than the theory, which can be learned by reading the course content.
Of course there are prerequisites to take up the ACP exam. This requires sufficient work experience in doing agile projects. I only wish the candidates will follow the protocols instead using workarounds to complete the eligibility criteria.
During last 2 weeks, I met many people who talked about PMI agile. They all had their own opinions about PMI going agile. Following are some of the points I gathered from these small talks:)
1. Many agreed that It’s a good move. PMI is known by every part of the world, but agile alliance is not so big as yet outside USA. Therefore this is a good move to bring agile in to a vast community.
2. Some said that they would never consider doing anything with PMI if not ACP
3. Many agreed that collaborating with PMI, Agile alliance would achieve its vision by changing the way that people work.
4. Some of the PMI folks also mentioned that it’s a good move at the right time. Many large enterprises are moving towards agile, if PMI doesn’t collaborate, it could have been much more difficult for them.
5. I heard some comments from real enterprise project managers that their techies get in to agile and talk more about agile nowadays, so ACP will help them to bridge the gap.
Negative thoughts were;
Some saw ACP as mainly a money making effort by Just introducing another certification while some agile folks thought that ACP may kill the whole concept of agile and there will be a hardcore new agile group to come up soon.
My personal view is, that PMI getting in to agile is a good move., specially when it comes to enterprise level, it will add loads of value, but that all depends how PMI may execute this courses/Exams and its yet to be found-out. I see a good trend towards ACP already; there will be lots of registered candidates for the exams starting from next month onward. I may do the same.
However, I really enjoyed doing our CSM/PMI Agile class in NY with Dave and some really cool 19 participants (most are PMPs) from various industries. Co-Training with an experienced CST was an amazing opportunity to improve my training skills. It was an exhausting exercise to cover-up most the stuff in 3 days. But we had lots of learning and fun. (Thanks to them for criticizing my white board skills so badly, every time I go in-front of the white board I remember you guys :) I really enjoy this group's enthusiasm on agile after taking this class, this group even started a new LinkedIn group to discuss matters among peers. I think they got the concept right; agile is all about sharing, learning and adapting.
Friday, August 19, 2011
This is taken from Exilesoft Lunch room. How creative our geeks can be? .. they can scribble when ever they want to..Paint buckets are placed there for them.. I love this office... But I wish none of you will spot my spot on this wall.. :) Do you think this is a good stress relief activity ?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Back from agile 2o11, long flight back home and still I cannot sleep. I think I’m seriously jet lagged or tired. So I thought to write a small note on what I’ve experienced.
I like the venue, the hotel Grand America and Little America. It’s an extremely nice place. Salt Lake City was a very nice place to cruise around after the sessions with lots of local bars, restaurants and unforgettable local coffee places.
The conference organizers mentioned that there were 1600 attendees from 48 countries around the world this year. Of course it’s huge. Organizing a conference in this scale could have been really hard work.
Talking about the main part, the sessions:
I honestly think the number of parallel sessions could have been lesser than what we had this year. In most the sessions I noticed that there were very minimal attendees, the rooms were empty. By reducing the sessions, they could maintain the quality of the sessions too. Still I know some may not agree with me, as there are more options and topics, attendees will have a better choice to make.
I enjoyed all most all the sessions I attended, there were quite lots of useful things to learn. Most sessions were very interactive. Looking at some of the sessions, I still feel its better if they try to go deeper in to the subject matters instead discussing the problems what everybody knows about, because the agile users have matured over the years. I felt this in some of the sessions such as performance appraisals and agile coaching. This is something that review committees should discuss next year.
Incremental budgeting was one of the sessions I really expected to turn out well.
As a general comment from attendees, what I heard was that the technical sessions delivered met the expectations of the attendees compared to the sessions of the management track. Still, agile contracts and agile decisions were some of the good ones that I attended in the management track.
My session this year was about KANBAN and use of it in the organizational facilitating functions such as HR department. Its an experience stage presentation, so most the work had to be done before the conference. The paper is published in IEEE and it’s included in the conference CD with loads of other conference papers. Actually there are pretty good papers I spotted in this CD, I need more time to read them.
One of the highlights this year was 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Agile Manifesto "Park Bench" event where most of the original signatories presented in one stage, answering the questions from the attendees. I think that was an inspiring moment to agile enthusiastic.
I enjoyed the round table discussion by agile thought leaders. Once again I got the opportunity to enjoy listening to Dave West, a speaker I admire the most. His true passion, natural style and humor makes him an awesome speaker (that’s my personal view anyway :) ) However thanks to the lady who asked the question about their new research areas, I heard a lot of new stuff which I need to Google and learn more. What excited me the most was to know that use of agile in operational management was one of the new research areas they do (they mentioned some acronym which I cannot remember) My experience report this time was related to that, may be I need to work more on the same paper and practice it for one more year to advance it to the next conference. I don’t know.. Its just a thought..
Out of all 3 key note speeches, I managed to listen to only one which is about psychology: positive thinking.
Conference party was quite a nice experience. I think most the attendees had lots of fun.
I heard there were some really cool sessions in open Jam, one of it has been to present a technique to learn foreign languages without using translations, I wish if I could be in the session, but thankful to my friend who taught me about the technique later. I wish if I could catch up Norwegian language a bit using the same technique.
Using the conference for marketing activities has tremendously increased from last year to this year. Sometimes some of the agile coaches overselling themselves were quite disturbing.
Anyway it was a great conference. This is where I really absorb energy by meeting lots of passionate and enthusiastic people. I really enjoy it. I heard that next year conference chair is Mitch Lacey, Im sure he will do a great job and I look forward to agile 2012 in Texas.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Labels: Agile training
This 3-day intensive workshop provides instructions on the key areas necessary to take on the role of leading or participating in teams utilizing Scrum and Agile. The session will cover the Scrum framework as defined by Scrum Alliance and include a review the material defined by the Project Management Institute’s PMI Agile Certification Examination Content Outline. The material will be presented through lecture, group discussion of case studies, and group exercises. Successful completion of this workshop will satisfy the requirements necessary to apply for Scrum Master Certification as well as the provide attendees with the Agile training hours required for the PMI Agile Certification Exam.
Participants who successfully complete this course will:
- Understand the dynamics of the Scrum framework and how to make use of the practices necessary to realize the benefits of an Agile approach
- Understand how to begin developing a plan to implement Scrum in their current work environment
- Understand the differences between Agile and a traditional “waterfall” approach to leading projects
- Understand the basic differences that are necessary in leadership style when managing projects using Scrum as opposed to a traditional approach
- Understand the structure PMI has defined for their Agile Certification Exam
- Understand key Tools and Techniques defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
- Understand the Knowledge and Skills defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
- Understand the Domains and Tasks defined by PMI for their Agile Certification Exam
- Meet the requirements for Certified Scrum Master
- Meet the training requirements for PMI Agile Certification
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Sunday, March 06, 2011
After Exilesoft acquired Teamwork Technologies in Jan, the biggest challenge we’ve got is to merge 2 project offices with 2 different work cultures, project models and even new markets. Working towards building one agile project model across the new project office is interesting, still very much challenging. There are many aspects to it, such as
1. Change of thinking process
2. Time to build trust between each other in such merger( new colleagues and existing colleagues / with sales offices and new customers)
3. Effort involved in getting our new sales offices to buy in to agile models which were quite different to their existing sales model ( and doing it for the right reason, otherwise it will be really messy)
4. Level of agile maturity needed to be achieved by the staff and across the new organization.
5. Establishing agile Engineering practices across technical teams
......And many other.. More than anything..... the biggest challenge is to prove some clear benefit to techies, to the customers, to the management and to the sales offices of such transition. This will take lots of effort and time. Still I’m sure I will have stuff for a book when that’s achieved :)
I’m happy that we got a really good team working towards such exhausting, but interesting exercise for everyone.
Other than this extremely busy day today office life, there were few things I’ve been doing.. The paper I submitted to agile 2011 is now selected to present. Which is the biggest achievement of the year so far.. Ive got a very experienced “Shepherd” to help me with it (He works for MacAfee and expect to learn a lot from him) . Thanks to the stage producers for that.
I was planning to do PgMP this year .. still I couldn’t spend any quality time on that. So Im not too sure where I stand with it.
Further @mrsungo is working on some exciting stuff which I hope to participate in New York, on my way to Salt Lake city in August. That’s going to be an excellent experience to me.
So .. its all going good..Will post some interesting stuff soon ! :)
Saturday, November 06, 2010
We all met on the 1st day, in front of the HR office glass wall. We divided the wall in to 3 main columns as follows;
( Where we put whatever comes out as user stories related to our HR
( The most prioritized stories)
(What we are working on)
(The completed ones)
We made the following format for each of the sticky we use..
Prioritization is important, due to 2 things.. There can be very important user stories but still we could wait some time before we act on them. As an example, we have decided to create a new appraisal process for employees which will support agile team concepts in the organization. That’s a very important user story, but still we can have some lead time to start it due to the current process in place for this year. Let’s look at another user story; issuing the new version of “onsite travel guide” to the staff was a very high priority story as we had some upcoming onsite visits planned in some projects. So we managed to prioritize the stories based on the urgency as well as the importance of them.
2. Split them as smaller stories if they are too big to move.
This was a challenge. Can you imagine that.. ? Look at the previous user story I explained.. If we say “we need a new appraisal process which supports agile team concepts” that’s a very big user story..It will be harder to move the user story across the board. So its needed to decompose it in to a smaller level stories at the time of moving to “To Do”
If you look at the tasks under this appraisal user story, you can make few more sticky notes such as;
1. Review the existing appraisal process so that we can have a good idea about how people are appraised currently.
2. Discuss with the staff and find the areas where they like to be changed so that we can get good insights from stakeholders who will be appraised by the process
3. HR manager needs to talk with the Project organization so that she can understand the gap between the current process and the new process requirements.
Likewise.. We faced some big user stories which had to be decomposed.. and some smaller user stories which doesn’t need to be decomposed.
3. To do and WIP
How do we do that? Interesting.. initially we tried to limit the To do to 10 and WIP to 6. Any logic in that? NO.. We wanted to avoid committing to too many things which we cannot deliver but still to have sufficient amount of work and urgent work needed to get going.. But still .. we have not mastered the limiting skills J I will observe this further.. (Inspect and adapt ;-) )
4. Understand that there are tasks which will not be in the KANBAN board
due to 2 reasons;
1. Those tasks are way too small and routine.. so you anyway attend to them
It’s important to understand where we will draw the line for the KANBAN board otherwise you may flood it with all the smaller things you have to do during the day.. the purpose of us is not that.
2. When it comes to HR. In reality, there will be few tasks where visibility of them will be challenging even at management level.
Initially I explained one of the major challenges in our operations is that as its recognized as internal work.Unlike in projects, some of the initiatives never get completed due to other prioritized commitments … or drag too long..I think thats a common problem in any organization. But now.. all these stories are so visible..what we need is to measure the cycle time..
In my next post I will explain the challenges, benefits and other observations we had of our KANBAN board when we were proceeding daily..
Lean concepts for the operations management - part 1 – How did it start?
Lean concepts for the operations management - part 2 – Why not scrum..?
Lean concepts for the operations management - part 3 – Looking at KANBAN..
Lean concepts for the operations management - part 4 – How did we implement it ?