Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Agile Project Management Tools - Mingle, Rally, or...?

I previously posted on comparing different agile project management tools: Mingle, ScrumWorks and an Excel file with dates, hours and a burn down chart. After hearing several agile consultants at Code Camp, I thought I should pass on their (better?) response. 

The question on a tool recommendation came from an audience member who said they had been using Rally, and end the end required one person full time just to manage the tool and data. KenKolcheir, who works for ThoughtWorks, obviously recommended Mingle, with a laugh, but I heartily agree it is a great, easy to use tool. Denise Phillips recommended VersionOne.

But the consensus from all the panelists was to keep it as simple as you can. If you can get by with cards on Post-Its stuck to a wall, do it. Also, this method provides a ready "information radiator" that helps visibility, communication and focus for those nearby or come and go interacting with the team. If you choose to use a the tools from ThoughtWorks, Rally, VersionOne, or Microsoft's Team System 2008, it would be very helpful to have a large monitor or fatscreen on the wall with your cards or a dashboard (with burndown, etc) as the information radiator.

I tried Post-Its, but switched to Mingle so our CEO could access the product and sprint backlogs from his computer and be more directly involved. This is what we needed and has been a key to the success of the organization really getting behind scrum.

Monday, October 27, 2008

USC SoCal Code Camp Presentation Docs

Below are the handouts used for the presentations at the SoCal Code Camp at USC. 

Session 1 - Leading a Team and Developing Team Members - Currently or hopefully leading a small team, managing a project, or over a department? We reviewed the research from several top management experts including Jim Collin's Good to Great, Marcus Buckingham's First Break All the Rules, and Ken Blanchard's One Minute Manager. Using agile as our team context, we reviewed leadership, management, the difference, and what is the role of management today when agile teams are self-managing - the Agile Manager and organizational change. The handout is here

Session 2 - Agile Scrum Method with Strength-Based Teams - This session was an overview of the Scrum agile process, tools I've used such as cards and Mingle, and highlights a strengths-based approach which takes advantage of using team members for tasks and roles where they are more likely to excel. Scrum is simple (but not easy) and a tremendous help to achieving success in projects. Agile environments are designed to capitalize on each individual's unique strengths, but there's not much guidance out there on how to do this. This workshop reviewed the different approaches and levels I've used with a strengths-based approach on my Scrum teams. The handout is here.

Session 3 - Discovering Your Strengths - What are you naturally best at? How can you leverage that to become world class? It might be innovation, bringing out the best in others, or knocking out task after task. Many of us don't know our strengths, much less how to build our work day and careers around these natural talents. Instead, guided by our managers and others, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to address these "areas for improvement", while our strengths lie dormant. We review some of the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and watched the first of six videos from Marcus Buckingham's strengths video series. We covered how to leverage your strengths and how to continue to develop them. The handout is coming...

Session 4 - Agile Panel Discussion with Phil Scott - Neudesic, Denise Phillips, Paul Hodgetts - AgileLogic  and Ken Kolchier - ThoughtWorks. No notes yet but I will try to collect the questions and answers. 

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Code Camp Connections

If you are coming to the SoCal Code Camp, you can stay connected to others through the SoCal Code Camp group on LinkedIn. Click here to join and connect with others who are a part of it. Also, you get get real time updates and join the code camp conversation on Twitter. Click here and then click Follow.