Andrew Barker

Thoughts and Tools for successful (IT) projects

Agile Software Development-Switching stories mid sprint

3 years and 9 months ago
By Drew


I blogged about this some time ago and then posted the blog on various agile forums to judge peoples responses.

Most of the responses were well reasoned, however, one of the responses I received shocked me somewhat and so I feel that it's worth blogging about this particular situation once more.

The response I received was «You're not serious you're going to ignore the PO» and «You can't be a slave to the process»

In all fairness, there are many situations under which the need to switch stories arise. And the specifics were not really provided. For example:

How long are the sprints?
How far into the current sprint are you?
Are there stories that have yet to start that is of similar size that you can switch it out with?
Is this a critical issue that needs to be fixed ASAP as customers are complaining and may negatively impact revenues?

Those are some of the questions that need to be asked when making that decision.

In response to being a slave to the process...

Well you're either a slave to the process or the team is a slave to any chicken in the company who shouts the loudest. Lets go back to basics and why the Sprint is there in the first place. It's designed to provide stability for the team to get stuff done. Hopefully you're doing short sprints so it's not a lot of time before the team pops it's head up again and asks for more direction.

If the team listens to whatever the next flavor of the month is, then we're back to square one where there's just chaos and nothing gets done. Seriously, smart people figured out why we need to do it this way. There is strong evidence to support that this makes a difference, a really positive difference. So lets not willy nilly and go changing plans whenever someone in the organization feels like there's something more important to do.

Moreover, in this situation, I think it's important the team asks some serious questions as to why suddenly there's a story that's so super urgent that it calls for a change in plan. Lets say you're doing 2 weeks sprints and lets say you're midway. This means in reality that 5 days ago, nothing was more important (top priority items get selected to go into the sprint). Why all of sudden is their a need to change direction so soon after. Additionally can't it wait another 5 days?

Now I am sure there are times where such a situation arises and that's fine. I would never be so hard-line to suggest that the team doesn't collaborate over this and decide what are the best options. And in such a case, it's important that the team does this.

But lets be very careful how we deal with this. Because once you do this once, it's a slippery slope after that.

So what would I do. As already mentioned above, I would sit down with the team. Have the PO explain the dilemma. Thereafter, it's up to the team to decide if there is an easy swap out that doesn't impact the Sprint goals and productivity. Ultimately if it is possible, I am sure most teams would do it any ways. Level heads should prevail.

Facebook Style Friend Request System Database Design.

3 years and 9 months ago
By abarker
I received few tutorial requests from my readers that asked to me, how to design Facebook style friend request system using MySQL. I had posted few tutorials about twitter style friend follow and follower concept designs, Facebook friend system is involved with few pending steps such as sending a request and accepting a request. Here I have discussed how to design a database and implementation of SQL queries, hope this post will help you to understand the friend system.

Friend Request System Database Design.

Read more »

via 9lessons Programming Blog

10 Business Analysis Skills for this year

6 years ago
By Drew

Nice list of meta skills to consider.

think of the BA role as a broker of information, getting big picture and details from many different people, groups, executives, subject matter experts, vendors, technical resources, etc

1) Conceptual Modeling Skills

2) Communicating Details and Concepts

3) Curiosity

4) Decomposing the Abstract into Details

5) Mentoring and Coaching

6) Communicating Risks

7) Leveraging the «parking lot»

8) Change Management

9) Asking WHY?

10) Impromptu Whiteboard Drawing

via The Top 10 Business Analysis Skills for 2012.

Tracking A Project's True Benefits

6 years ago
By Drew

Is it on time? Under budget? Possibly these are the least important questions to worry about. This article offers a few other metrics to consider about regarding the value and purpose of a given project.


we often get so caught up in the process of tracking our projects that we focus on tracking the project management and not the project itself. Cost and schedule matter, but project results matter more

via Genius PMO: Tracking A Project's Financial Benefit Is Pure Genius - PM Hut.

Are You Meeting the User Experience Hierarchy of Needs?

6 years and 2 months ago
By Drew

Short and sweet... and makes sense to me.

Hierarchy of needs

The basic needs in the UX pyramid are functionality and information. The higher needs are aesthetics and usability.

via Are You Meeting the User Experience Hierarchy of Needs? - UX Movement.

Stop Gathering Requirements

6 years and 2 months ago
By Drew

...where do requirements come from? They are analyzed into existence. Requirements are defined or created by the business analyst. The business analyst's job is to define the solution to a business problem. The requirements document is the representation of the complete and accurate statement of what must be done to solve the business problem. Requirements are a business analyst's job, not to gather, but to create.

via Stop Gathering Requirements | Steve Blais.

Elicitation in a New Domain

6 years and 3 months ago
By Drew

This is likely to be useful for me in the near future.

a few simple tricks to help effectively elicit requirements in these unfamiliar situations

via Elicitation in the Dark: Finding Your Way to Success in a New Domain.

Playing with Project Management

6 years and 3 months ago
By Drew

Interesting application of 'Gaming' here.

Software development projects are notorious for blowing past deadlines and through budgets, however managers try to track progress and motivate workers to hit milestones. A startup called RedCritter is taking a new approach, with software that turns the task of measuring performance and sticking to a schedule into something more like a game.

via Playing with Project Management - Technology Review.

I wonder how well this would really work. I'd imagine the intended player audience makes a difference.

Reminds me some of Jane McGonigal's work.


Mind the Gap – The Capability Gap

6 years and 3 months ago
By Drew

I really like the material at Bridging the Gap. Very good BA content there.

The purpose of Assess Capability Gaps is:

«To identify new capabilities required by the enterprise to meet the business need.»

via Mind the Gap – The Capability Gap (BABOK 5.2).

How To Run A Creative Design Process For A Big Project

6 years and 3 months ago
By Drew

Although written by a Drupal consultant, this is a great structure for any IT project.

How do we get people to agree on things when there are sometimes as many as 10 voices in the room?

Here are some pieces of the puzzle for you to chew on.

via How To Run A Creative Design Process For A Big Project | Chapter Three.

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