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©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Agile Project Experiences
The Story of Three Little Pigs
Craig Smith
Suncorp, Australia
Dr Paul King
ASERT, Australia
Agile 2008 - 1
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Topics
• Introduction
• Straw
• Sticks
• Bricks
• Conclusions
Agile 2008 - 2Image source: http://www.threelittlepigs.ca/game
The projects
• Every project will have different
characteristics
– Shouldn’t expect one size to fit all
• Straw
– Insurance processing system
– Most team members fairly new to agile
– Team geographically dispersed
• Sticks
– Batch processing system enhancement
– Deemed too small for agile
– Small enough to plan up front?
• Bricks
– Large enterprise document processing
system built across 3 phases/2 years
– Very XP focused within but sometimes
misunderstood outside the team
Agile 2008 - 3
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Images source: http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~odenbach/pigs
Project ‘Straw’ …
• Challenges
– Geographically and technically
dispersed team
• Senior technicians in one city, graduates
and vendor in another
• Rotational travel, daily scrum and
project meetings for communication
• Pair programming  Peer programming
– Daily sitdown
• Conference phone call = sit down habit
• No easy way to reference visual cues
– The four-week syndrome
• Follow Scrum “by the book”
• Not enough planning, filling tasks to time
• Revert to 2 week sprints, XP planning
game
– Releasing before we are done
• Release sprint at beginning of last week
• No urgency for tests and backlog Agile 2008 - 4
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
… Project ‘Straw’
• Lessons Learnt
– One chance to influence
• Education on techniques not enough,
such as TDD and pair programming
• Need a coach or mentor to reinforce
– Challenge the different
• Knocking over roadblocks helps teams
that follow
• Commitment from management helps
– Technology helps, but
collocation is better
• Video conferencing and virtual
desktops made team feel close
• When team travelled and were really
together, productivity appeared better
Agile 2008 - 5
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Project ‘Sticks’ …
• Challenges
– The busy customer
• Not colocated and busy on many tasks
• Use of IM for quick discussion
• Agile sessions such as iteration kickoff
and retrospective important
– Start waterfall, finish agile
• Not too late to start
• Rewrite requirements to storycards and
prioritize
• Wrote storycards for customer with
them reviewing to aid acceptance
• Use of XPlanner and Wiki to share
progress and information
Agile 2008 - 6
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
… Project ‘Sticks’
• Lessons Learnt
– Just because you’re small
doesn’t mean you drop the
ball
• Demonstrate use of techniques even on
a fairly small project, no overhead
• Pair programming used for skills
transfer and shared experiences
– Short project equals short
iteration cycles and big
progress
• One week iterations for quick progress
updates
• Customer knew work was on track and
meeting goals
Agile 2008 - 7
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Project ‘Bricks’ …
• Challenges
– Honesty leads to trust
• Train management to recognize
honesty, not jump to fix small issues
• Move from questioning to sheltering
– Bring your own screwdriver
• Making do with the surroundings
sometimes means some DIY
• Clamps, partitions, whiteboards
• Opted for more isolated but more
suitable accommodation
– Be careful what you promote
• Enthusiasm is not always shared by
management and peers
• Fly under the radar and demonstrate
techniques through results
Agile 2008 - 8
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
… Project ‘Bricks’
• Lessons Learnt
– Build it and they will come
• Good people are attracted to good
teams, through word of mouth
• Others admired culture and practices
– Turning the dials to eleven
and doing XP to the extreme
• Innovative and continuous
improvement environment
• High commitment to code quality
– Everyone has a voice
• Technical team discussions to solve
problems
• FIX and TODO comments to document
discussions and direction
– Design up-front when
appropriate
• Customer API designed up front
• Rest of system designed on demand Agile 2008 - 9
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Conclusion …
• What to do about wolves?
– Wolves are any influences that threaten
to blow away project success
• Internal wolves dressed as sheep
• Packs of non-believer wolves looking for
any strange-looking projects to devour
• And even well-meaning management
wolves not familiar with where we keep
our pots of boiling water!
– We certainly observed many kinds of
wolves at one stage or another
• Some were threatened because reward
structures ended with delivery to
production not success in production
• Some were skeptical because we had no
shared understanding of what quality or
agile meant (a new CIO wolf is fixing this
organization wide now)
– While many of these wolves were very
capable of large scale huffing and
puffing, in the case of our three projects,
they were resilient enough to not be
blown down
Agile 2008 - 10
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Image source: gamehiker.com
… Conclusion
• Moral of the story
– Can’t construct all projects of the
finest materials
– No defined template that can be
rolled out verbatim to agile practices
– Storycard estimation remains difficult
but an appropriate set of tools and
agile responsiveness help
– Obtaining and keeping team focus is
a key for an agile team and different
for every project
• Futures
– An agile change program is being
lead by senior management and
rolled out across the organization
and the current projects that we are
involved in are using the lessons
learnt from these
Agile 2008 - 11
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Image source: The Bleachers, Steve Moore
Sneak peek…
For Agile 2009 in Chicago...
Agile 2008 - 12
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
Working Title
“Goldilocks & The Three Bears”...
Projects aren‘t getting blown over
anymore.
It all about the warmth of the porridge
and removing the lumps...
About the contributing organizations
• About ASERT
– ASERT helps organisations define and make best use of their
eBusiness platforms by providing professional and cost-
effective training and consulting & system development
solutions including but not limited to Agile development,
Java/J2EE development, Groovy and Grails development, SOA
and web services implementations and agile deployment.
• About Suncorp
– Suncorp is one of Australia and New Zealand's largest
diversified financial services providers, supplying banking,
insurance and wealth management products to around 7 million
customers through well-established and recognized brands
such as AAMI, Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency,
Shannons, Vero, Asteron and Tyndall, as well as Suncorp and
GIO. Today, Suncorp is Australia's sixth largest bank and
second largest domestic general insurance group, with over
16,000 staff. Suncorp has representation in 450 offices,
branches and agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Agile 2008 - 13
©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008

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Agile Project Experiences - The Story of Three Little Pigs

  • 1. ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Agile Project Experiences The Story of Three Little Pigs Craig Smith Suncorp, Australia Dr Paul King ASERT, Australia Agile 2008 - 1
  • 2. ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Topics • Introduction • Straw • Sticks • Bricks • Conclusions Agile 2008 - 2Image source: http://www.threelittlepigs.ca/game
  • 3. The projects • Every project will have different characteristics – Shouldn’t expect one size to fit all • Straw – Insurance processing system – Most team members fairly new to agile – Team geographically dispersed • Sticks – Batch processing system enhancement – Deemed too small for agile – Small enough to plan up front? • Bricks – Large enterprise document processing system built across 3 phases/2 years – Very XP focused within but sometimes misunderstood outside the team Agile 2008 - 3 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Images source: http://math-www.uni-paderborn.de/~odenbach/pigs
  • 4. Project ‘Straw’ … • Challenges – Geographically and technically dispersed team • Senior technicians in one city, graduates and vendor in another • Rotational travel, daily scrum and project meetings for communication • Pair programming  Peer programming – Daily sitdown • Conference phone call = sit down habit • No easy way to reference visual cues – The four-week syndrome • Follow Scrum “by the book” • Not enough planning, filling tasks to time • Revert to 2 week sprints, XP planning game – Releasing before we are done • Release sprint at beginning of last week • No urgency for tests and backlog Agile 2008 - 4 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 5. … Project ‘Straw’ • Lessons Learnt – One chance to influence • Education on techniques not enough, such as TDD and pair programming • Need a coach or mentor to reinforce – Challenge the different • Knocking over roadblocks helps teams that follow • Commitment from management helps – Technology helps, but collocation is better • Video conferencing and virtual desktops made team feel close • When team travelled and were really together, productivity appeared better Agile 2008 - 5 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 6. Project ‘Sticks’ … • Challenges – The busy customer • Not colocated and busy on many tasks • Use of IM for quick discussion • Agile sessions such as iteration kickoff and retrospective important – Start waterfall, finish agile • Not too late to start • Rewrite requirements to storycards and prioritize • Wrote storycards for customer with them reviewing to aid acceptance • Use of XPlanner and Wiki to share progress and information Agile 2008 - 6 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 7. … Project ‘Sticks’ • Lessons Learnt – Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you drop the ball • Demonstrate use of techniques even on a fairly small project, no overhead • Pair programming used for skills transfer and shared experiences – Short project equals short iteration cycles and big progress • One week iterations for quick progress updates • Customer knew work was on track and meeting goals Agile 2008 - 7 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 8. Project ‘Bricks’ … • Challenges – Honesty leads to trust • Train management to recognize honesty, not jump to fix small issues • Move from questioning to sheltering – Bring your own screwdriver • Making do with the surroundings sometimes means some DIY • Clamps, partitions, whiteboards • Opted for more isolated but more suitable accommodation – Be careful what you promote • Enthusiasm is not always shared by management and peers • Fly under the radar and demonstrate techniques through results Agile 2008 - 8 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 9. … Project ‘Bricks’ • Lessons Learnt – Build it and they will come • Good people are attracted to good teams, through word of mouth • Others admired culture and practices – Turning the dials to eleven and doing XP to the extreme • Innovative and continuous improvement environment • High commitment to code quality – Everyone has a voice • Technical team discussions to solve problems • FIX and TODO comments to document discussions and direction – Design up-front when appropriate • Customer API designed up front • Rest of system designed on demand Agile 2008 - 9 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008
  • 10. Conclusion … • What to do about wolves? – Wolves are any influences that threaten to blow away project success • Internal wolves dressed as sheep • Packs of non-believer wolves looking for any strange-looking projects to devour • And even well-meaning management wolves not familiar with where we keep our pots of boiling water! – We certainly observed many kinds of wolves at one stage or another • Some were threatened because reward structures ended with delivery to production not success in production • Some were skeptical because we had no shared understanding of what quality or agile meant (a new CIO wolf is fixing this organization wide now) – While many of these wolves were very capable of large scale huffing and puffing, in the case of our three projects, they were resilient enough to not be blown down Agile 2008 - 10 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Image source: gamehiker.com
  • 11. … Conclusion • Moral of the story – Can’t construct all projects of the finest materials – No defined template that can be rolled out verbatim to agile practices – Storycard estimation remains difficult but an appropriate set of tools and agile responsiveness help – Obtaining and keeping team focus is a key for an agile team and different for every project • Futures – An agile change program is being lead by senior management and rolled out across the organization and the current projects that we are involved in are using the lessons learnt from these Agile 2008 - 11 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Image source: The Bleachers, Steve Moore
  • 12. Sneak peek… For Agile 2009 in Chicago... Agile 2008 - 12 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008 Working Title “Goldilocks & The Three Bears”... Projects aren‘t getting blown over anymore. It all about the warmth of the porridge and removing the lumps...
  • 13. About the contributing organizations • About ASERT – ASERT helps organisations define and make best use of their eBusiness platforms by providing professional and cost- effective training and consulting & system development solutions including but not limited to Agile development, Java/J2EE development, Groovy and Grails development, SOA and web services implementations and agile deployment. • About Suncorp – Suncorp is one of Australia and New Zealand's largest diversified financial services providers, supplying banking, insurance and wealth management products to around 7 million customers through well-established and recognized brands such as AAMI, Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency, Shannons, Vero, Asteron and Tyndall, as well as Suncorp and GIO. Today, Suncorp is Australia's sixth largest bank and second largest domestic general insurance group, with over 16,000 staff. Suncorp has representation in 450 offices, branches and agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand. Agile 2008 - 13 ©ASERT/Suncorp2006-2008