Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

Business Value generated by Agile vs Waterfall

by Sampath Prahalad

I came upon this video when I was preparing to give a talk on Agile and Scrum. Great video explaining the Business value add in Agile versus that in the Waterfall model.

Started my talk with points from this video and the talk went pretty well.

Go Agile Go…

February 23, 2012

Awesome Tweet Quotes from ALM Chicago

by Sampath Prahalad

The Midwest Conference on Application Life-cycle Management (ALM) was held on 22nd and 23rd February 2012 in Chicago. Microsoft was one of the main sponsors of this event.

Keynote speakers being Mike GilpinVP, Research Director , Forrester Research ON Day 1(22nd Feb 2012)  and Ken SchwaberCo-Founder of ON Day 2 (23rd Feb 2012)

Here are some good quotes in talks by Ken and other speakers that have been tweeted by participants at the conference. This is an effort to collate some good ones for everyone’s benefit.

  • If you want to really understand what you are doing on a project, use #Scrum. Ken Schwaber.
  • Metrics are used in waterfall because we had no idea what was happening so we tried to measure anything. Ken Schwaber.
  • @KSchawber“where there are rumors, there is not good communication.”
  • “There IS business value beyond new features.” aka quality vs. quantity. via Scott Herman – JCI
  • “Agile and Scrum seem to be used by companies that actually care about their customers.”
  • Perfect rule following will cause your org to grind to a halt. @vgr
  • Technical debt is growing faster worldwide than it is being paid off. @vgr
  • Competitive advantage is won with people not process. @vgr
  • It’s always amusing to me how much psychology plays into software design & development.
  • Culture eats process for breakfast
  • You wouldn’t wait till a car is at the end of the assembly line to test it. Why would you with software?


February 23, 2012

Recipe for good Distributed Agile Development

by Sampath Prahalad

At the Agile India 2012 conference, I attended a  superb talk by Rebecca Parsons (CTO of ThoughtWorks) on ‘Agile is not the easy way out, bit it works’. Many one liner wow tweets came from that talk. Check out some of them here.

After the talk, I met her at the ThoughtWorks stall near the Registration area and asked her what according to her was the Recipe to successful Distributed Agile Development.

  1. Split the power. Ensure that no one person at any one location calls all the shots. Try and ensure that there is a balance in the experience and knowledge across  both locations in the team.
  2. Forge a team identity. People who are part of the team across geographies should be treated as One team. Should not be referred to as Onsite team, Offshore team, etc. They are all part of the same Product Delivery  team. What applies to the team at one location should apply to the team members at the other location as well.
  3. Split work across functionality. Work should be split as vertical slices of a product (e.g: Distributed team working on say, User provisioning) and not horizontally(e.g. UI/UX development at one location, Back end processing at the other).

Pearls of wisdom from a person with loads of experience. Took her a minute to deliver and took me an hour to assimilate and digest.


February 21, 2012

Kickass tweets from #AgileIndia2012 #Agile #Scrum

by Sampath Prahalad

Here are some Kickass quotes (in the form of tweets) from the recently concluded 3 day Agile India 2012 conference (my experience at the conference on Day 1Day 2 and Day 3) at Le Meridean, Bangalore.

Most of them were quotes that the presenters came up with during the course of their talks and workshops. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did and get to learn from them.

Top contributors for the kickass quotes: Rebecca Parsons, Tathagat Varma and Scott Ambler.

Disclaimer 1: These are in no particular order or preference.

Disclaimer 2: When I am not sure of the conference speaker who came up with the quote, I have put the name of the person who tweeted it.

Agile Work Culture 

February 19, 2012

My Experience at #AgileIndia2012 – Day 3.

by Sampath Prahalad

The third and final day of the Agile India 2012 conference being held at Le Meridean, Bangalore. The learning experience got better and reached a crescendo today.

Here are some of the talks and workshops that I attended. Some were excellent and some good.

  • Exploratory testing for Agile teams by Pradeep Soundararajan.
  • Launching a Minimum Viable Product in a month.
  • Coaching: Slowing down to speed up by Rahul Sawhney.
  • Lean: Reduce Waste Campaign by Belkis Vasquez-McCall from McInzie.
  • High Five Driven development by Peder Soholt from Norway
  • Agile Scaling model: Be as Agile as you need to be by Scott Ambler
  • Fun with Agile Gaming by Vibhu Srinivasan of SolutionsIQ.

Read on to know 3-4 key learning points from each of these talks / workshops.

read more »

February 19, 2012

My experience at #AgileIndia2012 – Day 2

by Sampath Prahalad

I have been attending the 3 day Agile India 2012 conference. Here is a brief write up of my experiences of Day 2 and is a sequel to ‘My experiences on Day 1‘.

Handpicking from the many lectures that were going on, here are the ones that I attended.

  • Agile: Not the easy way out, but it works by Rebecca Parsons, the CTO of ThoughtWorks.
  • Distributed Agile: Making it work by William Rowden of Solutions IQ
  • The continuing adventures of Yahoo’s Agile transformation by Keith Nottonson of Yahoo.
  • A Retrospective of Retrospectives. A discussion facilitated by Chirag Doshi of ThoughtWorks.
  • Workplay: The gamified future of Agile development by Matthew Philip

Below, I shall list few main points that I walked out with from each session. A couple might lead to separate blogs, but I will save that for later.

read more »

February 18, 2012

My experience at AgileIndia 2012 – Day 1

by Sampath Prahalad

The AgileIndia 2012 conference got underway on the 17th of Feb 2012 at the Le Meridean, Bangalore. It is a 3 day conference ending on Sunday, the 19th of Feb 2012.

Talks are from many eminent people in the Agile communities. A good number of talks from folks at Thoughtworks (Rebecca Parsons(CTO),  Chirag Doshi), Rory McCorkle of PMI, William Rowden from SolutionsIQ, Keith Nottonson from Yahoo to name a few.

The ones that I attended on 17th Feb 2012 and my brief lessons learnt from them are listed below.

  • Theory of Constraints. An interesting Talk by Masa K Maeda
    1. Identify the Constraint: Any process moves at the speed of the slowest step. That step is the constraint.
    2. Exploit the Constraint: The person working on the constraint skips all non value add tasks.
    3. Subordinate everything else: Slow down everything upstream and downstream of the constraint. This reduces wastage and increases quality(because the other steps have more time to complete their work)
    4. Elevate the Constraint: Brainstorm on the constraint and improve the process. Encourage Identify steps that remove or speeden up the constraint.
    5. Find a new Constraint: Back to Step 1.
  • Lean Workflow: A parable in pictures. An engrossing talk by William Rowden of SolutionsIQ.
    1. Basics of Lean Kanban. Get them here
    2. Types of waste in software development: Partially done work, extra processes, extra features, task switching, waiting due to lack of information, defects. Disclaimer: Do not use the term ‘waste’, however to refer to these within the team. No one wants their work to be called a ‘Waste’.
    3. Limit the Work in Progress. Each person in the team works on 1 task so that the context switching time is eliminated. Context switching also causes tasks to get extended beyond the actual time needed.
    4. Many times, when neither Scrum nor Lean Kanban would work best, take a look at Scrumban.
  • Converting Chickens to Pigs. A talk by Anila George of Nokia Siemens.
    • In an Agile world, the Project manager ends up with a feeling of no control over the team.
    • To get over this and to get a better sense of involvement, he/she can do a bunch of small things that go a long way in attaining the trust of the team.
    • Take a look at the steps that can be taken. Click here.

All in all, an enriching first day at the Agile India 2012 conference.


February 18, 2012

Path for Middle management chickens to become pigs.

by Sampath Prahalad

Attended a talk on the topic above by Anila George at the Agile India 2012 Conference. It was quite informative and thought provoking.

Just a quick definition of Chickens and Pigs in the Agile methodology.

Pigs: Anyone who is committed and responsible for the day to day work in the Scrum team. These are people who work on the team and whose tasks and activities contribute towards the success or failure.

Chickens: Managers and other stakeholders who do not directly contribute to the success of the sprint.

Click here for story on why the terminology was coined.

As a company transitions from a Waterfall software development model to Agile, the middle managers who are used to the ‘Command and Control’ type of management suddenly feel a sense of helplessness, which could cause anxiety, frustration and even boredom in the new ‘Team empowerment’ model.

Here are some steps that these chickens could take to become pigs and contribute effectively (in no particular order of preference)

read more »

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