Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fostering Software Craftsmanship in a Corporate Setting

Scott Dillman gave a talk at Agile 2008 about fostering software craftsmanship in a corporate setting. Scott defined software craftsmanship as taking responsibility, continuous learning, rejecting specialization, pride in quality work, passing on knowledge, and meeting professional standards (test driven development, continuous integration, coding patterns and practices).

Next Scott described 3 steps to evolve a novice software developer into a craftsman.

1. Evaluate the current state of the organization through interviews, surveys and metrics. Surveys can be reused at a later date to evaluate progress. Collecting metrics from automated builds like % passing builds, builds/day, build duration, fail build reasons, code coverage, code complexity. Track historical trends.

2. Educate via pair programming, centralized resources (wiki, educational content, knowledge base, moderated technical forum, book reports, tools and code repository), educational sessions(teasers, lightning sessions, tech talks, workshops), craftsmanship day, 10% time and on team mentoring. To get upper management buy in, highlight benefits, cite case studies, link to corporate goals. Upper management has to allocate time and recognize and reward participation.

3. Measure success by interviews, surveys, metrics, and performance reviews. Make sure reviews have goals that motivate and educate, are relevant, specific, actionable, and verifiable. Have the right people perform the reviews, do 360 reviews, and encourage and reward participation.

This presentation is available on InfoQ at http://www.infoq.com/presentations/Craftsmanship-Scott-Dillman

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Prioritizing Product Backlog

Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using ScrumAt Agile 2008, Mike Cohn gave a talk about product backlog prioritization. Mike starts out by discussing the right level of prioritizing. A well formed product backlog should take the form of an iceberg. Small on the top (sprints), a little bigger down the middle (releases), and much bigger down the bottom (future releases). Mike believes that about 10% of current iteration should involve planning and prioritizing for the next iteration.

He then describes 3 levels of user stories. A user story which is a description of desired functionality told from the perspective of user or client, epics which are very large user stories and themes which are a collection of related user stories. An example of an epic might be as VP of marketing, I want to select type of campaign (direct mail, tv, radio, etc) so that I can identify and repeat profitable ones. This can then move up the iceberg and become as VP of marketing, I want to see direct mailings when reviewing historical campaigns. Mike recommends prioritizing at the theme or epic level. It is a lot of work to prioritize at the user story level and not very meaningful.

Mike then covers 4 techniques for prioritization:

1. Kano analysis:

Kano identifies 3 types of features to measure customer satisfaction:

  • 1. Exciter or delighter: Exciter - feature you did not know you wanted until you saw it.
  • 2. Mandatory or baseline: must be present for users to be satisfied
  • 3. Linear: the more of it the better

Agile Estimating and PlanningAgile Estimating and PlanningAgile Estimating and PlanningThis can be done by expert opinion or surveying a small group of users (20 to 30) and asking both functional and dysfunctional questions like how do you feel if a feature is included and how do you feel if a feature is absent. The available answers are standard: I like it, I expect it, I’m neutral, I can live with it, and I dislike it. The results can then be matched to the Kano matrix to find out if a feature is an exciter, mandatory or linear. Others might fall in a questionable, reverse, or indifferent category. Mike recommends prioritizing by including all mandatory, some linear and leaving room for a few exciters.

2. Theme screening:

Identify 5 to 9 selection criteria for what is important in the next release (Importance to existing customers, competiveness, generating revenue, etc…). Identify a baseline theme that is likely to be in the next release and one that everybody understands (not the best one). For each theme, score the theme based on each selection criteria and compare it to the baseline theme using +1, 0, or -1. Add up the results for each theme and then rank them. Open the highest ranking themes and look at individual stories and use expert judgment on them.