Chris Flaat's WebLog

Discussion of software processes and MSFT developer technologies.

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  • Blog Post: Trying out pair programming

    Greetings all – My team has been reporting success with pair programming, so I wanted to try it out myself. This week one of my reports and I paired up to do a bit of maintenance work where we’re moving some automated tests around and setting aside some to act as compatibility tests. So it wasn...
  • Blog Post: Software metrics primarily useful as negative indicators?

    Dear Readers – I was thinking about metrics, and it occurred to me that most of the metrics we commonly use in the industry are really good as negative indicators of quality, efficiency, testing, etc. but lousy positive indicators. That is, most software metrics are really good at telling you when...
  • Blog Post: Sprint 9 complete

    Hi all – Well, we did sprint 9 broken up into two subteams, and it went quite well overall. The tone of the team in the sprint retrospective was generally positive, and the “things that could be improved” were generally focused on the way we were executing on specific work items rather than focusing...
  • Blog Post: Bridging the Gap, etc.

    Greetings all – My apologies for being behind on posting. Things have been really crazy around here with VS2005 shutting down and work on the next major release ramping up. I’ve been tasked to help out with some engineering improvement initiatives going on in the division and this has soaked up...
  • Blog Post: Agile 2005

    Hi all - Several people from MSBuild, the Developer Division, and Microsoft went to Agile 2005 last week in Denver . It was very worthwhile. I really enjoyed the keynotes and getting to meet a lot of others at MSFT doing agile methods as well as people from industry & academia. I can now put a...
  • Blog Post: Pondering next steps

    Hi all - With sprint 5 done, we are now in a quiet period, as we have balanced most of the resources on our project toward helping Whidbey get finished. We will probably pull some resources back soon, however. I have been thinking about how to get the part of our team that isn't using Scrum onto...
  • Blog Post: Managing the Product Backlog

    There was a question from Dave Froslie on what we use to store our Product Backlog. We use an internal wiki page. Wiki's are nice because they're easy to view, easy to edit (not only for the Product Owner but also for people with suggestions who can add them in a suggestion section at the bottom for...
  • Blog Post: Question about Scrum, waterfall, and more

    Hi all – A reader named Steve Henke writes with some questions: First, you mentioned your concern about waterfall being used in the next major division release but with even more centralized control than before. Why do you expect more centralized control? Because of results from your team...
  • Blog Post: Scrum and development methods

    I got a question from René Landgrebe about what development methods we use along with Scrum. He writes: "I wonder what developing method you use in combination with SCRUM. I read about combining XP and SCRUM is very reasonable. So, what combination do you use? XP, Test-driven development, feature...
  • Blog Post: Sprint 5 complete

    Greetings all – Well, sprint 5 ended and yesterday we had the sprint review. Overall the sprint was successful, although we did have one work item bleed over (which we of course disclosed to the stakeholders at the sprint review). We had small turnout from stakeholders & management. We...
  • Blog Post: Trying to tame our estimates

    Greetings all – It would seem that our estimates are slowly getting better with time. When I compare the burndown chart for sprint 5 with the prior three charts, it’s quite good. The first three look like a silhouette of the Olympic mountain range, whereas sprint 5 trends downward fairly nicely. Sprint...
  • Blog Post: Scrum and Productivity

    Hi all – A reader named David Wylie wrote and commented the following (I’m posting his question here with his permission): I am new to scrum, and one of the selling points is significantly increase productivity. Have you experienced this, or is it just a different way of managing? This is an interesting...
  • Blog Post: Scrutiny and scheduling

    Well, yesterday after much time spent learning the subtleties of Excel’s SUMIF formula and the difference between B7 and $B$7, I was able to add a handy new feature to our daily scrum spreadsheet: the ability to sum up the work remaining by person. I added a graph too. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound...
  • Blog Post: Expanded internal interest in Scrum

    Today Dave Froslie was visiting Redmond from the Fargo MSFT site, and gave a talk to a VS team about Scrum, which I also attended as an observer. It was a good meeting, and I'm hopeful that this team will give Scrum a try. I invited them to our team's daily scrum meeting -- we'll see if they come! A...
  • Blog Post: Team member "borrowed"

    Well, effective this week we had one of our Scrum team members "borrowed" by another team for 6 weeks. (My manager insists that it was purely my decision, although it was one of those "either do this or come up with a better alternative" decisions. :-) ). But it was for the good of the overall team,...
  • Blog Post: StickyMinds article on implementing Scrum

    Here is an interesting article on Scrum that I was pointed to by Apoorva Joshi. Alicia Yanik talks about how implementing Scrum was not at all easy for her project. However, things are now running smoothly for her group and she says that while Scrum was difficult to implement it was also very rewarding...
  • Blog Post: "Ideal line" plotted on scrum burndown chart

    Hi all - One new thing we're doing with this sprint is adding an "ideal line" to our scrum burndown chart. This helps us see where we're at with respect to our plans, and is nicer than using an imaginary line. Because in Scrum we use 30 calendar days, our chart spans weekends, and the ideal line is therefore...
  • Blog Post: Sprint 5 planning

    Greetings all – Well, our Product Owner got the product backlog ready in time for the first sprint planning meeting, where we pick the product backlog items we’ll use for the sprint. This planning meeting happened yesterday & went pretty smoothly, and everyone seems to feel pretty good about the...
  • Blog Post: Sprint 5 beginning

    Greetings all - Well, next week we’re going to start sprint 5. We had a couple of weeks between the end of sprint 4 & the start of sprint 5, mainly since we had some distractions like an office move and a whole-team offsite fixing bugs for the main MSBuild product. One of the troubling phenomena...
  • Blog Post: Sprint 4 ending (mostly) happily

    Well, my dear readers, I’m pleased to report that we got things pulled together for sprint 4 and are on track to complete it successfully today, barring unforeseen complications. One of the problems we’ve had is that our overarching mission timeline is basically impossible, and most of us on the effort...
  • Blog Post: Continued use of Scrum

    Dear Readers – We continue to use Scrum on our project, and we’re now finishing our third sprint (numbered sprint 4 to match up with pre-Scrum milestone numbering). It’s been a stressful sprint. We had a bunch of very hard changes which took much longer than we expected, and this week it became clear...
  • Blog Post: Update on Scrum

    Greetings all - Our use of Scrum is continuing, and we’re still quite happy with it. Our second sprint (numbered “sprint 3” to line up with our previous milestone numbering) was fairly successful and we had a lot of good representation from management and stakeholders at the product review. During the...
  • Blog Post: Comments on first scrum sprint

    Hi all - Wanted to reply to a couple of comments about my prior entry about having completed our first scrum sprint. A reader named Laurent May writes: "What software tools did you use to manage your sprint development methodology? We are are currently using Excel, but are looking for alternative solutions...
  • Blog Post: First Scrum sprint complete!

    Dear Readers - I'm happy to report that our first Scrum sprint has completed, and it seems to have gone quite well. We had a clear plan of what to do, delivered on the sprint goal (with one caveat), and have done our planning for the next sprint. I really like the flow of Scrum. Having a postmortem ...
  • Blog Post: Thanks for the Scrum support!

    Thanks for the supportive comments about my last post. I am aware of the scrumdevelopment mailing list and wade through it periodically, although I find it kind of like drinking from a fire hose! At the Certified ScrumMaster class I heard about ScrumWiki and saw a demo of ScrumWorks. By all accounts...
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