Agile Improvements with the Toyota Kata

17 04 2014

The Toyota Kata is a structured way to create a culture of continuous learning and improvement at all levels. It is an organizations daily habits or routines forming its “muscle memory” for continuous learning and improvements. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the Good Length for a Scrum Sprint ?

30 09 2013

Agile teams that are new to Scrum often struggle with questions of duration and expectations of what can be accomplished in a Scrum sprint. The typical questions that arise in this situation are : “How long should it be? How can you expect me to get all that done in that short amount of time? How do we know we’ve chosen the right length?”. In this article, Brian Haughton provides hints about how to define the good length for your Scrum sprint. Read the rest of this entry »


All New Projects Are Using Scrum. Really???

3 05 2013

There seems to be a general consensus on the web that the Agile approach, and more specifically the Scrum framework, has been now adopted by the majority of software development projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Building Agile Scrum Teams

3 05 2013

Agile software development values emphasize personal responsibility and self-organization. Thus the outcome of a Scrum project is as good as the Scrum team might be. Read the rest of this entry »

Multidisciplinary Scrum Teams

21 01 2013

One of the key value of the Scrum approach to agile project management is to break the silos between different roles in software development like developers or software testers. In this article “T-shaped Skills and Swarming Make for Flexible Scrum and Agile Teams”, Kenny Rubin discusses the importance of looking to creating team with people have broader skills and that can reach beyond their initial specialization to contribute with many activities to the sprint’s deliverables.

Besides flexibility, this article also introduces the concept of “swarming”. Swarming is defines as “a behavior whereby team members with available capacity and appropriate skills collectively work (swarm) on an item to finish what has already been started before moving ahead to begin work on new items.” A classic role-focused attitude is “The testers might still have ‘their’ work to finish up, but I’m finished coding this feature, so I’m off to start coding the next one.” Rubin explains that “In a team that swarms, people would understand that it is typically better to stay focused and help get the testing done instead of running ahead to start working on new features.”

Adding Agility to Traditional Open Source Project Management Tools

31 08 2012

As companies are transitioning to Agile, they ask themselves which tool they should adopt to support the new approach. The answer is not easy as there are many providers of agile project management tools and also some open source scrum tools. The answer is even more difficult if part of the company might continue to use a traditional project management approach. There is however some situations where there are solutions to this issues and this is the case with two popular open source project management tools, Redmine and Trac, that have a plugin-based architecture. In both ecosystems,  scrum and kanban plugins have been developed that allow to use these tools in an Agile or Lean context.

Redmine is a popular open source project management web application. It was written using the Ruby on Rails framework. This software is more oriented towards a traditional approach for project management with Gantt charts and calendar. Trac is an open source enhanced wiki and issue tracking system for software development projects. Trac uses a minimalist approach to web-based software project management. It provides an interface to version control systems (Subversion, Git, Mercurial, …), an integrated Wiki and convenient reporting facilities. You have to be aware however that, as in all open source context, the quality or the continued development of the agile plugins are not guaranteed. The two articles mentioned below provides a list of plugins for each project with some information about their capabilities and their development status.

Further reading:
* Scrum and Kanban Plugins for Redmine
* Scrum and Agile Trac Plugins

Which Culture for Agile, Kanban and Software Craftsmanship?

16 02 2012

Culture is an often ignored key factor in company performance. This is an important element to consider if you plan to adopt an Agile, Scrum,Kanban or Software Craftsmanship approach in your company. I have read an article that introduces the Schneider Model, a model of culture definition that is simple to understand and to apply. The model is used to show that Agile, Kanban and Software Craftsmanship have strong cultural biases that limit the scope of their applicability. Finally, it proposes an approach to choose approaches that will work better with the culture of your company.

Assessing the Scrum Burndown Chart

24 01 2012

The Scrum Burndown Chart displays the remaining effort for a given period of time in agile projects. The Burndown chart is very simple, but people tend not give appropriate attention to understand what it says. The article on Understanding the Scrum Burndown Chart provides some guidelines on how to build and to interpret the Scrum Burndown Chart. Management is interested by the improvement of velocity, but they should understand that velocity is not a KPI by which you should measure your team, it is just capacity planning tool.

Sprints or Iterations?

15 12 2011

The short cycles provided by Scrum give us with a wealth of benefits in terms of fast feedback, minimal design in process and increased flow. However, plan driven sprints stress teams, force good people to make bad decisions. This situation does not reflect the Agile values. The video “Hating Sprints, Loving Iterations” tries to answer the questions of why do we seek 100 percent predictability in sprint planning? Why do we ignore the nature of product development? Is it fear, false expectations, lack of knowledge or simply a naive focus on sub optimization?

Watch this video on the Scrum Expert web site.

Using Tools for Agile Software Development

11 10 2011

it is true that being agile is more a state of mind than a process. It could however be useful to use some tools for agile software development when you try to apply the technical practices that are linked to Agile like:
* Scrum agile project management
* Behavior Driven Development(BDD) or Acceptance Testing Driven Development (ATDD)
* Continuous integration
* Code and database refactoring
A lot of commercial and open source tools have been developed to support these needs and you will find a large part of them on the web site

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