Thursday, June 29, 2006

Selenium: the 10-minute test

I spent some time today getting familiar with Selenium, an open-source web app test tool. Along with the Selenium IDE, which runs as a Firefox plug-in, it passed the 10-minute test with flying colors. It looks promising, and soon I plan to put it through a more rigorous test to see how well it handles javascript and DHTML.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Switching roles: scrum master to developer

I'm the Scrum Master (team leader) for a team of 5 developers working on a complex enterprise application at StorePerform Technologies. I haven't worked very closely with most of the team members prior to this project, but most of them worked on the same project for a long time. I started the project hoping that I could serve both as the team leader (following the Scrum principle of servant leadership) and a part-time developer. I reluctantly came to the realization that it doesn't work, at least not with a new team which is still in the Forming & Storming stage. As my colleague Yuri Gadow helped me understand, the likely result is that I will be a bad leader and a bad developer - the worst of both worlds.

The team has taken the concept of self-organizing teams to an extreme, and they resent any suggestions from the Scrum master. My goal is to gain more trust and respect from the developers so they'll be more open to my suggestions. My solution was to switch roles for a few sprints (iterations) - I will be a full-time developer, and hand over the Scrum Master duties to Yuri. I believe this approach has several benefits:
  • I can focus on doing one thing well: writing code
  • I can keep my development skills honed
  • As an equal peer to the other team members, they'll (hopefully) learn to respect my technical skills and experience
  • I have the opportunity to "feel their pain" first-hand
  • The team (including me) will experience a different leadership style from Yuri
After nearly 4 weeks in the trenches, I think it's working well. Unfortunately, StorePerform cut the experiment short when they laid offthe entire US development team and outsourced it to India.

Monday, June 26, 2006


My job got outsourced to India. The rumors had been floating around StorePerform for a few days that something was up, and I figured there would be a few layoffs, but I got cold cocked. I didn’t expect that they’d offshore the entire product development, QA and support teams to India.

“I hope you got a good severance,” several people told me. Not a chance. Not at SP. Taking care of employees was never high on the executives’ list of priorities.

Fortunately, I’ve got a good network of friends and colleagues and it shouldn’t be too difficult jump back out of the unemployment line.