Sunday, August 21, 2005

The game plan

On Friday, we had our first meeting with a potential coach for our Olympus project. David Hussman of SGF Software came in and spent an hour with the team. The majority of the discussion was around the approach we should take to apply Agile software development methods for this initiative.

In eXtreme Programing (XP), one of the key elements is planning. Planning involves both discovering what the customer wants and estimating how long this will take to do. Since ours is a major initiative, encapsulating several projects and multiple teams, we discussed the multiple stages of the planning game:
  1. The charter planning game – This is where we lay out the initiative at a high level and stories are developed with broad strokes. User stories are written by the customers in terms of things that the system needs to do for them. The stories are developed with a delivery time up extending out as long as several months. (You can think of this as high-level requirements of what the initiative needs to achieve.)
  2. The project planning game – This is where we plan what is in each project. The stories are developed with a delivery time of one-to-three weeks of effort. The customer writes the stories, the development team estimates the work, and the customer plans the overall release to maximize business value.
  3. The iteration planning game – We use this to plan each iteration. An iteration spans two-to-four weeks and the efforts are measured in days. The customer chooses stories for the next iteration, and development brainstorms tasks, accepts responsibility, and estimates the tasks for the corresponding stories.

    a. Customer determines value – During iteration planning, the customer presents the features desired for the next two to four weeks.

    b. Development determines cost – The development team breaks the features down into engineering tasks and estimates their cost (at a finer level of detail than in Release Planning). Based on the amount of work accomplished in the previous iteration, the team signs up for what will be undertaken in the current iteration.

We still have to ensure that we have the charter stories for the Olympus program. Hopefully, David will come in and help us develop a strategy to execute the program using Agile methods.


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