When folks set out to estimate the amount of work they have to do for a particular user story (what’s a user story? that’s another post…), they have to decide how they’re going to estimate the level of effort. There are two popular ways to estimate user stories: ideal hours (if you did nothing else but this task) and story points. What’s the difference, and which should you choose? Read more



I thought it would be interesting to start a series on agile concepts, giving a simple definition (or at least as good as can manage) and some examples. I decided to start with the Cone of Certainty. Read more



One of the fundamental tools in a Scrum project is the retrospective, the regular meeting at which the team looks at what they’ve been doing, and thinks about ways to improve. To my way of thinking, it’s sort of like the project post mortems we used to have, only better. But not all retrospectives are created equal. Read more



I sometimes wonder about whether large companies can be agile. When I think about how a company grows organically, one of the first things that seems reasonable is that as you add more testers, for example, you hire a testing manager, and they have their own group.  The same applies to database administrators, business analysts and the like, and you arrive at something that looks very like the average modern company today.  When you set out to create a project team, it’s obvious with this structure you’re going to need specialists from a number of different domains to fulfill all the requirements of your project. Read more



Firstly, apologies for the long delay in posting anything, my current client has a project in trouble, and I’m doing what I can to help them keep it moving.  I wanted to share some thoughts on what it takes for a business to be successful with agile adoption, in particular, what you have to be willing to do as a company in order to achieve the kinds of success that people brag about when they talk about agile development.  This is likely the first of several posts on the topic, and we’re going to talk about estimating and measuring progress on an agile project. Read more



Something has been bothering me about the way I see many teams handle retrospectives. To be fair, it’s really several things. These common mistakes do more than make a retrospective less effective, they destroy any ability to achieve the purposes of a retrospective. Read more



I consider myself fairly pragmatic when it comes to agility in software development, or at least I used to… I’m having second thoughts.  As long as I’ve been around agile development (it’s been, what 6 or 7 years…) I’ve been exposed to what some people call Agilistas.  You probably recognize what I mean if you’ve met one: they refer to principal thinkers in the field by first name, and have a tendency to absolutist statements like “there are no project managers in agile, we don’t need them.”  I’m beginning to think they may have a point, just not the one they think they have. Read more



I’m happy to announce the availability of the first two courses in my series of agile training courses, a one-day agile overview course, and a two-day course called Agile for Data Professionals. There are a number of other courses in the works, but if you find yourself with a burning need for one of my courses, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to move it to the top of the queue.

For information on the classes visit the new Training Page!



Project managers will sometimes refer to the “iron triangle” of time, resources and scope for a project. The idea here is that each of these facets of a project are the leg of some theoretical triangle, and you can adjust your project by making one of the legs shorter if you need to.  How does that relate to software projects? Read more



It’s amazing to me the lengths people will go to in order to have something “useful” to do at work.  The problem is, in their quest to have something to do, they tend to make more work for, and slow down, the rest of us. Read more

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