Making it Work: Specialists on an Agile Team

ScrumIn some lines of business, such as consulting, the organizational business goals require a certain amount of specialization in order to deliver to clients efficiently and with high quality. These organizations also typically bill by the hour, meaning downtime is a serious cost to the business. This can be difficult in an agile development model as these specialists often create silos of knowledge. Also, these specialists often get pulled in many directions and their availability is not always predictable.

How do you make it work with a typical Scrum-like agile team?

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Why is DevOps so hard?

ScrumWith agile development teams delivering potentially shippable software every few weeks, organizations struggle with the need to efficiently transition requirements, source code, and deployment steps from the development team to the operations team.

Traditional documentation-oriented mechanisms cannot be efficiently kept up to date due to the ever-shifting nature of continuously evolving software. Enter the DevOps movement! This movement recognized that we need to start breaking down the walls between feature development teams and IT operations teams so that we can all work together to continuously deliver this software. Unfortunately, recognizing this was the easy part. It turns out, DevOps is hard.

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Visual Studio Online agile options are opening up

VSORecently, Aaron Bjork wrote about some of the goodies coming down the pipe for Visual Studio Online (VSO) agile project management options. I still remember my first forays into TFS 2010, trying desperately to use it to manage my agile projects.

Needless to say, I was frustrated at the time, but today is a new day!

There are a lot of things coming like Kanban board improvements, hierarchical backlog management, and task customizations. Fun goodies to play with for all 🙂
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Setting organizational expectations when implementing Scrum

ScrumWhen a team first transitions to an agile delivery model, the team experiences challenges and frustration as they adopt a new way of thinking and new processes. Often times, teams are told that they are making the change to agile in order to deliver software faster and cheaper, but find that during the change it actually takes them longer to accomplish what they usually do.

Time to blame the new process, right?

Wrong. I’ll tell you why…

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Moving day always brings out the agile practitioner in me

ScrumMost of us have had to move ourselves at least once in our lives. We think we have it all planned out, but the true test is when the movers show up (or your friends who were lucky enough to show up and provide free labour). I got to be one of the lucky ones this weekend and I couldn’t help noticing that everything was running exactly like a new team trying to work in an agile development process.

Then again, maybe I’m just starting to see sprints everywhere and need to take  a break from scrum. 🙂

In any case, this move had it all: impediments, timeboxed delivery, unknown backlog size, and a new group working together to determine their velocity.
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Agile in the Iron Triangle

ScrumMany of us are valiantly in the trenches trying to bring agile practices to our teams, clients, and organizations. Others have heard the buzz over the last decade and are starting to make their first steps. Either way, you need to remember that some issues never go away. The old constraints of scope, budget, and time keep coming back, regardless of software methodology involved. Over on the nonlinear blog, I’ve got a new blog up about working with Agile in the Iron Triangle.

Check it out!

Going Lean: Tips from the trenches

ScrumContinuous refinement is always in need when working in an agile delivery framework. The first thing you learn when you adopt a framework is that it does not work for all situations. Scrum, like other models, works really well in particular development situations. Sometimes, however, you need to transition your team to something leaner for a particular project that doesn’t fit into the regular delivery cadence.

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