Agile distributed team – using chat to run scrum meetings

The current development team that I’m working in is really small – just 2 software gurus, a product owner and me as a scum-master/system admninistrator/part-time developer/architect.

Our team is distributed to the extent that sometimes all four of us are located in different places during our meetings – but time zones difference is in most of the cases withing 1-2 hours. Up until recently some of us didn’t have a permanent office and had to participate in daily scrum meetings, and sprint planning/reviews from public open spaces. Continue reading “Agile distributed team – using chat to run scrum meetings”

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Adopting an Agile Mindset

postitsThere are a lot of books written about Agile. One can easily spend hundreds of euros on books and thousands on training courses. Sure, if your organisation has time and money, it makes sense to stockpile books and send entire development team for training courses. From my experience, what it really takes for a team to adopt agile mindset is an evangelist inside the team, and a good understanding of the basic concepts. Then it is just talking to the people who went through similar experience of adopting agile, sharing experiences and experimenting.

There are three very informative and inspirational sources of information that I recommend to all teams starting with agile or looking for some extra motivation:

1. Henrik Kniberg’s “Scrum and XP from the Trenches” (http://www.infoq.com/minibooks/scrum-xp-from-the-trenches). Available as free PDF after registration.

Extremely good source of information, tips and tricks, pitfalls and how to avoid them, planning ans estimation techniques. Henrik is speaking out of his own experience, which makes this book extremely valuable. You can read this book in just a few hours.

2.Ken Schwaber’s talk “Scrum et al.” at Google

Ken is is a founder of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance, and signatory to the Agile Manifesto.

One hour of valuable information – and hopefully after watching this video you will not try to adopt agile and scrum where it is going to do more harm than good.

3. Agile Manifesto (http://agilemanifesto.org/)

Print it out and pin it to the wall, so you can see it every day. Doing Agile and Scrum “by the book” never works – there’s no book that can tell you what the process should be. Not only because each team has its unique qualities and each organisation has its own constraints, but most importantly because agile is all about changing the process with every iteration – improving it and adopting to the changing reality.

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Using Trac for agile project management

Trac

By now I’ve been using Trac more than two years for managing various projects – from very small ones with just a few people involved (combining in themselves developers, testers and product owners) to large ones with more than 20 people (both in private projects and in Nokia – yes, yes, some Nokia projects are also using Trac).

In agile projects, especially in large organizations, one needs to find the right balance between “post-it management” bordering with chaos and monstrous tools and processes for requirements and defect management and project documentation and reporting. Choosing the right tool can have a significant impact on team performance.

There are multiple commercial tools available for project tracking in agile environment, but I still choose Trac in most of the cases for its openness, simplicity and customizability. Below I explain the reasons for this choice and highlight limitations we faced in large scale projects.

Continue reading “Using Trac for agile project management”

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