Friday, January 23, 2009

Next APLN Mtgs - Feb & March

The next APLN Orange County meetings are planned for Wednesday, February 4th and Thursday, March 5th from 6:00 -7:30 PM at Neudesic's Irvine office (map two posts below). The agenda for the meetings are below.

Wed 2/4 - "Agile Architecture - Closing the Loop"
What is the role of architecture within an agile project? How do you keep architecture engaged early and throughout in a fast-paced development effort? How do you make agile architecture work in a larger corporation? There has been a lot of conversation around agile and architecture, and February's presentation by David Bleeker will be a great springboard into deeper discussion. As an Enterprise Architect and Integration Manager at Ingram Micro, David provides leadership in SOA architecture and operations, metrics driven optimization and process development.

Wed 3/4 - "Growing and Sustaining an Offshore Scrum Engagement"
Join us in March for a chance to hear one of the sessions from the Agile2008 Conference in Toronto last year. Kelley Blue Book's Edward Uy, Director PMO & Nikos Ioannou, Director, Industry Products, will be presenting a straightforward, sensible approach to implementing Scrum combined with a well-known team building model to help KBB successfully creat offshoring teams in China and India. Nikos and Edward will illustrate how and why they applied The Five Dysfunctions of a Team model by Patrick Lencioni to provide a foundation for growing and sustaining offshore teams several time zones away. They will cover examples of how employing this model has improved KBB's offshore engagements and overcome a number of challenges to improve the delivery of the Scrum teams.

Points include:
  • Making Review and Retrospective meetings more effective
  • Maximizing learnings during cross-team site visits
  • Determining the “best types of projects” to offshore in the early stages of offshore development
  • Overcoming productivity plateaus after several successful sprints

This presentation will also describe the important role Executive Management plays in driving the Scrum adoption for KBB and setting up these offshore offices. The presenters will review the communication channels they found most useful and the how these have changed over time.

As before, there will be a pre-meeting get together at the food court at The Spectrum from 5 - 6 PM, and afterward we'll walk to the meeting.

Slides and Notes from Jan Mtg

The slidedeck from January's APLN meeting, "What They Didn't Teach Me in ScrumMaster Training" presented by Phil Scott can be downloaded here. We had 14 attendees, including people from Agile/XP SoCal, Thoughtworks, Neudesic and several other companies. There was great discussion, questions, knowledge and experience shared. Some notes and summary of the presentation and discussion are below.

Some of the items shared by Phil included talking with the customers about what they think they want may not actually be what they truly want. If the customer comes from a background of fixed-price or traditional waterfall projects, there may be problems down the line. It may be better not to promise them "A, B and C" but rather "3 months effort toward your highest priorities." Much of the problem the customer might have with this is a level of comfort and trust. Getting them to agree to or "fixed budget, not fixed bid" can be somewhat of a Jedi mind trick, per Phil, but keep in mind that they still see and believe in the "illusion of predictability."

The stakeholders and executives don't understand nor should be expected to on Day 1. The ScrumMaster should coach and educate them, but that takes time. In the beginning, Phil recommended "taking the customer's temperature" often and hand-holding as often as needed. If they are steeped in classic waterfall and Gantt charts, it might be helpful to create project management plan documentation (how and why the project will be run and what the checkpoints are) to help educate and address their concerns and felt needs. Remember that, although people trump process, politics trumps people.

The importance of a strong Product Owner came up several times, and many agreed that many issues come out of any gap with this role filled well. If possible, recommended your ideal candidate for the role. Regardless of who the Product Owner is, be clear in what you need from them. Explicitly tell them, "Here's what I expect from you," and remind them of the aspects and importance of their role whenever it appears they are drifting in engagement or leadership. It was recommended to schedule regular meetings to walk through the backlog (separate from Sprint Planning) in order to establish a rhythm. By reviewing or scrubbing the product backlog together, you not only help the project overall, but also coach by modeling what it means to maintain and have ownership of the backlog.

Don't leave epics untouched because epics are risk in the plan. Decompose them into user stories early on. Also, address "dark matter" (general unknowns or vagueness) within the first few sprints. Prioritize by risk and architectural significance, as well as business value, so as to retire risk as soon as possible.

Please be sure to check back later for updates on the next APLN meetings and join the APLN OC group on LinkedIn.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Next APLN Mtg - "What They Didn't Teach Me in ScrumMaster Training"..."

The next APLN Orange County meeting is the evening of Wednesday, 1/7/2009 from 6:00 -7:30 PM.

The agenda for this meeting is "What They Didn’t Teach Me in ScrumMaster Training" presented by Phil Scott, Certified ScrumMaster and PMP. Phil will present on some of challenges faced on Neudesic Agile projects that fall outside the Scrum domain. Phil is the Director of Microsoft Developer Communities for Neudesic and has coached many project managers in his role as head of Neudesic's PMO. Phil most recently spoke on a panel at the USC Code Camp event last fall.

The meeting will be at Neudesic's Irvine office (map below):

8105 Irvine Center Dr.
Irvine, CA
3rd Floor Conference Room

View Larger Map

The Agile Project Leadership Network is one of the local agile user groups in Orange County focussed on connecting, developing, and supporting project leaders, evangelizing the movement towards fast, flexible, customer value-driven approaches to leading projects of many types, and working with the software community and the people and companies outside of software and IT to help them become better project leaders. The APLN works with the Agile Alliance and supports use of various agile methodologies and practices such as Scrum, XP (Extreme Programming), and TDD (Test Driven Development).