In part one of Going Agile,I talked about how we introduced Agile to our development team. This next post will look at the events that led to our first iteration planning meeting.
During the weeks that led up to Iteration 1, there was much work that went on as a team, and much that each team member did individually. As the Product Owner, my biggest task was to create a backlog. Sure, I knew what the main new features were going to be, but I still needed to capture this, and add other oft-requested features. I scoured every correspondence I had with customers, sales, support, development, and so on to gather this information.
After everything was said and done, I had a pretty massive backlog… a pretty massive, unprioritized backlog. At this point, I really didn’t know any good techniques for backlog prioritization (that would change after attending the CPO training with Mountain Goat Software). This training was not going to happen for a few months, but something needed to be done… so I did what any good Product Manager does…I used the ‘wet finger in the air’ technique. Now, my ‘estimations’ were based on a number of concrete data points and some not-so-concrete assumptions and anecdotal evidence, so they weren’t totally of the ‘wild-assed guess’ ilk. After a few more days I had my backlog read for the team.
While the backlog creation was going on, a number of team meetings were occurring. Two of the more important meetings involved creating rules for the team and preparing our definition of “Done” . I highly recommend spending some time up front on both of these activities.
Creating the team rules was a great exercise, because it was the first time the team sat down as a collective and decided what the rules would be. Many of the rules were not groundbreaking…things such as everyone’s opinion is equal, treat everyone with respect, don’t be late for meetings, and when and where daily Scrums were going to happen.
The best result from this meeting centered on the team’s communication methods. Everyone was already using email, so that was covered. Instant messaging was rolled out to the team, and everyone was to use it. Of course face-to-face discussions were encouraged the most, but there needed to be some way to let people know you didn’t want to be disturbed (unless something was urgent). Everyone created a Do Not Disturb sign, and when it was posted, it was to be respected. Sometimes people just need to focus on the task at hand, rather than constantly being disrupted. We came out of that meeting with a clear set of easy-to-understand team rules, and we posted these rules in our team conference room for all to see. Note… rules can and will change over time.
Next was coming up with our definition of Done. The team sat down for a couple of hours to determine what should/should not be included. Looking back, we thought we were cavaliers and were blazing new trails with the definition we came up with…in reality, we put together a definition that was pretty much in line with the ‘industry norm’. One thing that we did not include initially was code reviews…that is, for a story to be considered done, the code had to be reviewed by at least one other developer (who was not associated with that piece of code). During our Iteration 1 retrospective, we modified our definition of Done, and code reviews became part of it. In fact, this definition of Done may go through many, ahem, iterations before becoming finalized.
Finally, we needed to get our ‘room’ set up and have all the necessary supplies on hand. Our team decided to use a wall board with color-coded cards for the tasks. Green cards were for development tasks, red cards were bugs, blue cards were for testing tasks, and yellow cards were for documentation tasks. Now we just needed a board to pin these tasks to. We didn’t want to spend a small fortune on a big pin-board, so we got creative and used carpet under padding. (You can get a huge piece of this at any DIY store for next to nothing and it works like a charm.) We fastened it to the wall, put on some masking tape borders and labels, and we had ourselves a Scrum board.
So with our prioritized backlog, team rules, definition of Done, and Scrum room all set, we were now armed and dangerous, and ready for our first iteration planning meeting…TO BE CONTINUED.