Feeling Constrainted with Agile Development

In an earlier post about Agile I mentioned that I’m on the fence about it, I said that largely because of the number of meetings I have each week. I’m feeling tied to the Outlook calendar and the constant chime of a meeting reminder. I’ve never used the full Outlook, though did use Outlook Express for a long time but when it fell victim to the Internet Explorer update schedule I gave up on it and moved to Mozilla’s Thunderbird mail client which I’ve been using since well before the 1.0 release.

The main problem is I’m involved in three distinct areas ASP.NET, VCL and test automation each of which have different deliverables. At the beginning of the Highlander project after a few lengthy discussions we decided to move Zombie, our GUI automation framework, into the core BDS source tree and invest R&D resources into improving and maintaining the code base. Having worked on Zombie for six years while I was in QA I was in a good position to hit the ground running though it meant troubleshooting whatever problems QA ran into until things stablized. The troubleshooting phase wreaked havoc with other work I’d been assigned during the sprint because it was a higher priority to deal with automation issues.

Here are some things that would make me feel more Agile:

  • Fewer emails (particularly those related to new meetings, changed meetings etc.)
  • Fewer standups
  • I miss being co-located with QA their now on the second floor (R&D is on the third)
  • More visibility into areas of the product I don’t work on
  • Better task progress tracking software we’re currently using a web client and I believe a thick client UI would be much more efficient.

One thing that would help is an Exchange calendar tray application that requires a tiny amount of system resource but reminds me of meetings. Does the MSN chat client have this? I Googled all over and couldn’t find what I was looking for so I’ve settled on using the Outlook web client. I have a Delphi utility application I wrote that I consider to be my swiss army knife and I tweaked it so the IE window running the Outlook client isn’t in the foreground it becomes transparent. Additionally, it refreshes the browser every few minutes cirrcumventing the auto logoff timer thus keeping me logged in all day.

3 thoughts on “Feeling Constrainted with Agile Development

  1. Having "been Agile" for a little over a year now …
    – Fewer emails: not possible =)
    – Fewer standups: not possible =|
    – Co-located: when you’re shared among teams, not possible
    – More visibility: attend the reviews of teams who work in those areas.
    – Better tracking software: There isn’t any. Not because no one has written any its just that there is no one-size-fits-all. I think it’s best to roll your own.
    It’s definitely a different way of working; it takes some getting used to.

  2. The Agile goal is just a focus on quick, flexible and quality. This is all about generating functional code that is tested and proven correct all in four to six hours and having a build at the end of the day that marketing can sell and distribute. Very few shops can do this.
    The best communication is face-to-face. Splitting QA and R&D? Ouch! In an agile environment, you put them together. In our XP process, a QA person (with the customer) is part of the story/task startup to make sure the developers can have tests to prove when the story is complete. Even though TDD is used, QA is part of the proof at the end of the story to make sure the developers did everything necessary for the story and as a ‘hand off’ to QA. This means that everyone should be in the same 60’x60′ room with no walls.
    Start a ‘Tear Down the Walls’ campaign by playing some Pink Floyd really loud.
    Your meeting issue sounds like your ‘customers’ and management is separated from the development effort… I would think that if they really wanted to know what is going on that they all would be at the stand ups listening to the details… that is were the battles are being won. I am sure that a developer would like to here the CEO talk about what they accomplished the previous day and the goals today.

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