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Distributed requirement handling


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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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Distributed requirement handling

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