Starting off on the right foot..
“The beginning is a very delicate time” opens David Lynch‘s “Dune“. This is true of projects too. The following sessions can help you get started.
In “Agile Planning“, Sven Gorts and Hans Keppens explain how planning is done in agile projects. This is a nice introduction to the subject with real life examples. If you want to know how it’s done, come to this session.
“Planning for non-functional requirements in agile projects” by Johan Peeters and Paul Dyson is a simulation where you get to experiment with different techniques to prioritise, estimate and plan non-functional requirements. Whereas the agile methods have a lot to say about functional requirements (“stories”), very little is said about more pervasive, application-wide quality requirements. Some time ago I discussed with Johan about agile planning. He agreed that it could work for features, but not for security requirements. Johan argued that you couldn’t plan security requirements in an agile manner. I said you could. I just didn’t know how. Now, Johan knows how. It works. See? I told you so! 😉
In “Agile Factors“, Rachel Davies and Steve Freeman lead a workshop where the participants look at the important things to agree on before you start a project. Agile methodologies leave lots of room for variations and tuning parameters and expect teams to tune regularly. How long will your iterations be? When do you hold the standup meeting? Which one of those are important to agree upon before the start of the project? Which points do you really need to have consensus on before going further? Bring your ideas to this workshop and explore them with the other participants. Next time you start a new project or a new iteration, you will have a better idea of the what you need to settle quickly.
… and keeping on going
Once you get going, you need to keep going, check where you are and adjust your course. The following sessions will help you do just that.
In the “Continuous Integration” session, Vera Peeters and Sven Gorts explain what continuous integration really is. Small increments, a system that’s always working and rapid feedback are essential to keep going and to keep on the road. This session explains how you do continous integration and what’s in it for developers, testers, managers and customers. This is one of the base practices and principles. If you don’t have continuous integration yet, come to this session to learn how and why. If you integrate continuously, come to this session to contribute your experience.
Steve Freeman and Mike Hill will teach us “Story telling with FIT“. FIT is a wiki-based tool to write acceptance tests, conceived by Ward Cunningham. Acceptance tests clarify communciation between customers and developers. This very interactive tutorial concentrates on the communication aspect of acceptance tests: it’s all about creating a common language with the customer and within the whole team. If you really want to know what your customer wants, this session will help.
Are we there yet? Do you get that question often? Do you know the answer? Does everyone on your project know where you are? “Writing on the Walls” by Emmanuel Gaillot and Christophe Thibaut lets participants explore different very simple techniques to make project status very clear. If you want to be agile, you have to change course. You can’t do that unless you know where you’re going and where you are now. Warning: after this session you will have an urge to put flipcharts, whiteboards, index cards and post-its on your walls. Don’t resist the urge. Let everyone know where you are.