Value Stream Mapping

Value Stram Mapping has been around for years, but it is only recently that I started hearing about it in the context of software development. Maybe the renewed attention can get us to focus at the whole process rather than only the development part?

Nearly all projects I have either been involved in or heard of that claim they are using Scrum, are only using it for the development part of the process. The total process from an idea is born until it is in production usually consists of a gazillion boxes and arrows where the development part is one of the boxes. By optimizing this little box (for example by introducing Scrum), the process efficiency (if you are lucky) maybe increases from 4.0% to 4.1%…. Is this what we call sub-optimizing…?

Value Stream Mapping can help us optimize the parts that really gives impact and is an excellent tool for removing waste.

Øredev 2007 – Day 2

Well, I did not win the iPod… But I ended up 5th at the coding challege at the Epsilon booth. Not too bad if you consider the amount of programming expertise present at the conference. The second day of the conference started with an excellent keynote by Joel Spolsky. He talked about what it is that makes some products blue-chip products while other that just as good end up being ordinaray products.

I also heard Andy Hunt talking about how to refactor your wetware, Kevlin Henney talked about the Agility Cube and Jeff Sutherland
presented Project Management with Scrum. The conference ended with a panel debate about the complexity we are facing in modern software development. All in all a great day at the conference.

Øredev 2007 – Day 1

I blogged a short comment every day during JavaOne this summer. These days I am attending the Øredev 2007 Conference and I can not be any less ambitious now, so here we go 🙂

Day 1 opened with a keynote by Andy Hunt that was talking about “How hard can it be?“. It turns out that the answer to this question is that “it is as hard as we make it“.

In one session Rickard Öberg gave a crash course in Qi4j and Context Driven Design. Floyd Marinescu talked about trends and future of enterprise Java™. We got a presentation of JavaFX by Torbjörn Frizon where he coded the presentation viewer on the fly…  Rob Harrop gave an introduction to Spring Batch and Jeff Sutherland talked about The Agile Enterprise.

The afternoon keynote was held by Dan North where he talked about Best Practices or Better “Best” Practices or No Best Practices at all.  He kept his promise to let us out to get our well deserved beer on time 🙂

All in all a great day on the conference that ended with dinner, stand-up comedy and a couple of beers. Tomorrow I plan on winning an iPod in the exhibition hall…!!

ScrumWorks works

I have been playing around with ScrumWorks™ Basic Edition which is a free project management tool for Scrum and other agile methods.

ScrumWorks™ Basic features are:

  • Product backlog and release management
  • Categorization of backlog items using themes
  • Sprint task tracking for teams
  • Reports
  • Impediment tracking
  • User and team manager
  • Excel import/export
  • Web Services API
  • Automated and manual database backups

It was easy to install. Just download the file, unzip it and run the installer. Online help is good and it is pretty easy to understand if you know the basic terminology of Scrum.

More information and downloads can be found on the Danube Technolgies website.

The Second Sprint

Our second sprint started this week with a sprint planning meeting. We are suffering a bit from lack of involvement from the PO, but apart from that the feeling is that this planning meeting went smoother than the first. The team is getting more familiar with Scrum.

We even introduced story cards to facilitate the process. These were nice to have, but not as appreciated by the team as I had thought they would be. We will have to have a look at what information to present on these cards to make them the tool they are supposed to be…

After all, the nice thing with an agile approach is the flexibility so everything does not have to be perfect the first time 🙂


We had a retrospective after the first sprint yesterday.
The team was satisfied with the flexibility Scrum gives them. They really enjoyed the freedom with responsibility way of thinking. Rather than sit and wait for decisions to be made, they were able to make them themselves and proceed with their work.

As for areas of improvement, we identified that we have to focus more on the test part in the next sprint. We also had some minor problems with test data during the demo, so this has to be prepared more carefully. To address these issues, we have included fields for “How to Test” and “How to Demo” on our story cards. In that way we will be reminded to think of this every time we look at the cards…

The First Sprint

We are in the middle of the first sprint in my project since Scrum was introduced as development method. This is my first experience acting as ScrumMaster and I will try to share some of my thoughts as we go.

Just as everybody else that are using Scrum, we are using a slightly modified version. But that is, as I see it, one of the great advantages of agile methods.
Main differences from mainstream Scrum are:
– Sprint length is set to three week iterations rather than 30 days
– “Done” is defined as ready for system test rather than production ready
– Sprint planning was done over a couple of days rather than in a one day sprint meeting. The actual sprint planning meeting was kept short (1 hour)

Apart from this, we are doing it mostly by the book.

Doctor Scrum

In this article (swedish), you can read about how they want to introduce Scrum-thinking in a hospital in Lund. By using experiences from Toyota’s “Lean Production”, they think they can do work that today takes over a month in only three hours! This is cool!