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Distributed requirement handling


Adopting some agile practices, like stand-up meetings and yellow notes, is easy. The hard part is handling requirements and estimates, especially in a distributed environment. Describing, refining, …

Adopting some agile practices, like stand-up meetings and yellow notes, is easy. The hard part is handling requirements and estimates, especially in a distributed environment. Describing, refining, communicating and prioritizing requirements is difficult for business developers. Estimating and understanding requirements is difficult for developers. This talk describes a flexible sharing regime, implemented in a distributed in-house development environment, which succeeded in improving requirement handling and estimation.

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  • 1 – Svært god2 – God3 – Middels 4 – Dårlig 5 – Svært dårligX – Vet ikke


  • 1. Distributed Requirement Handling
    Kjetil Moløkken-Østvold – Conceptos Consulting
    XP2010, 2.-3. June, Trondheim
  • 2. The easy part when implementing agile processes
    Having some meetings while not sitting down
    Moving yellow notes around a whiteboard
    Using strange titles (career as a ScrumMaster anyone?)
  • 3. The hard part when implementing agile processes
    Developing and prioritizing requirements
    Providing (accurate) estimates
    Collaborating between developers and customers
  • 4. The hard part is even harder in a distributed environment
  • 5. The case: Lindorff
    Lindorff Group
    Lindorff Group is a leading outsourced receivables management company in Europe and on a global basis
    Lindorff has approximately 2200 employees
    Offices in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Russia and Sweden
    NextLevel Project
    Developers in Oslo and Bø
    Testers and business developers in Oslo, Røyken and Trondheim
    Users/customers in Røyken, Oslo, Trondheim and other areas
  • 6. Internal improvement study Q4 – 2007, findings:
    Poor routines for communicating and prioritizing requirements
    Effort overruns
    Internal collaboration rated as average
  • 7. Describing, refining, prioritizing and communicating requirements is difficult for business people
    Understanding, estimating and developing requirements is difficult for software developers
  • 8. Problem: inefficient communication
  • 9. Solution
    • Implement a flexible sharing regime for requirements, prioritization and estimates
    • 10. Lindorff joined a project financed by Innovation Norway
    • 11. Main development partner was Symphonical
  • About Symphonical
    Symphonical is a web-based collaboration platform, that integrates documents, tasks and communication
    Cloud based (Amazon) since 2008
    Spin-off from Simula Research Laboratory
  • 12. Example features used by Lindorff
    Live (collaboration)
    Sharing (to collaborators)
    Voting/estimation (for requirements/user stories)
    Conversations (history, replaces mail etc.)
    Template – default text on notes (requirements/user stories)
    Tool – reuse settings/templates
  • 13. Results
  • 14.
    • Lindorff improved on all studied areas
    • 15. Respondents provided ratings (1-5, 1=best)
    Main results (two years after)
    • Effort overrun (perceived) was reduced from an average of 25% to 12%
  • Responses from Lindorff
    • Requirement handling
    • 16. All respondents (IT and business) reported that use of Symphonical had greatly improved how requirements were specified, refined and communicated
    • 17. Estimation
    • 18. About half reported that Symphonical had improved the estimation process
    • 19. The other half reported no discernible impact from Symphonical by itself (though it could have played a role along with other improvements)
    • 20. Responses to a large extend depended on company role, with business perceiving most value
  • Lessons learned
    Analyze your situation regarding requirements and overruns
    Get rid of static documents (word, excel etc.) shared via email
    Implement a web-based collaboration platform
  • 21. Thank you!
    Kenny Rogers (The Gambler):“Then somewhere in the darkness, the gambler he broke even. But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep”
    This research project was funded by Innovation Norway
    Caveat Emptor: the author of this presentation is a member of the board of directors at Symphonical, and has ownership interests in the company