Saturday, January 24, 2009

Forrester Research Survey on Impact of Agile

Forrester Research is conducting a survey on the impact of agile processes on technology companies. They are looking for feedback from both technical and business people within organizations. It takes only about 10 minutes to complete the survey, and I encourage people to do so. Take the survy here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lean techniques to repair humvees

As reported on NPR, the US Army turned to lean manufacturing techniques, inspired by Toyota, to deal with the large number of war-damaged vehicles that need to be repaired and rebuilt. The repair facility at Red River Army Depot uses a takt time of 16 minutes - producing a completely rebuilt vehicle every 16 minutes, for a total of 32 per day. If that's the true takt time, or course, that would imply that the Army needs exactly 32 rebuilt humvees per day. The NPR story doesn't state if that's the case, but it does say that the vehicles are parked everywhere around the base - let's hope those are the wrecked ones, and not repaired vehicles sitting unused. We all know by now that an inventory of product that isn't being used is muda (waste).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Balsamiq Mockups

What do you use to create mockups of your UI? I prefer a very lightweight approach using a good ol' whiteboard or even sketches on paper. You can capture a whiteboard mockup with a camera, or scan a paper mock up. For distributed teams, though, you can't collaborate very well with either one of those approaches. I just discovered Balsamiq Mockups and after trying it out, it looks like a good solution. It also has a sweet integration with Confluence, Jira, and XWiki.

Using Jira for Agile

I'm working with a team that has been using Jira and wanted to see if they could use Jira for the product backlog and iteration tracking. There are a set of customizations and add-ins for Jira that can make it work, as I found at this informative site. The basic idea is to use Jira versions for each iteration, un-versioned items become the product backlog, and add-ins let you fine-tune the ranking of each item and produce burndown metrics.

I'm still a proponent of using a physical task board when the team is co-located, and I think other tools like XPlanner and Scrumworks are better suited to agile development, but I'll give this setup with Jira a try and report back on how well it works.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

How projects really work - a cartoon

I found this great cartoon satirizing how projects really work - or perhaps it should be titled "Why waterfall projects don't work". Funny. Clear. And right on. The cartoon shows what happens when you have handoffs between different people or teams without fast feedback to ensure you're building the what the customer really needs.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

TangyOrange: funny name for online scrum board

For co-located teams, it's hard to beat a physical board with cards or sticky notes for tracking iteration status. Put it in a prominent place and it's an ever-present reminder to the team about what needs to be done. It's a rallying point for the daily scrum. If you have a distributed team, however, it doesn't work so well, and web-based tools often are necessary. There is a new online scrum board tool called TangyOrange, which has the look and feel of a physical scrum board. You can use a simple version for free, or pay just $5 every 40 days (strange billing period, I'd say) for the full-featured version. You can play around with it here.