Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scrum and xp from the trenches

I've just finished reading Scrum and xp from the trenches. To see that everybody trying to adapt Scrum is running into the same kind of problems perks me up. Scrum like its written in the books is quite dogmatic but this book gives some good pragmatic advices.

Two remarks about what I've read related to the project I'm currently working on:
  1. We are trying to adapt a simple estimation method where we compare the complexity of use-cases choosing a number from 1,2,3,5,8,13 ... One use-cases is randomly chosen as a 'reference use-case' and all other use-cases are estimated by comparing it with the 'reference use-case'. Estimating use-cases is a reoccurring activity in our project and the problem is that every team member has always to remember a 'reference use-case' in its details to be able to give an estimate to another use-case. Using that method we had a kind of 'currency' to determine the real value in time (how many hours is one point?). Calculating 'Total Points in a Sprint' * 'currency' gives us the total amount of working hour of the team in a Sprint.
  2. Maybe we should switch over to a system where 1 Point is '1 ideal programming day'. We could still use an exponentially growing number like 0.25, 0,5, 1,2,3,5,8,13... to address the growing uncertainty. The drawback is that we might have to deal now with number less than 1 but on the other hand it gives us a better feeling on how much work is related to one certain number. Furthermore our 'currency' gets a 'focus factor' and that's easier to understand by managers and addresses directly the question why we cannot deliver as fast as in an 'ideal environment'. I guess comparing use-cases according to their complexity is a good choice for a single 'planning-meeting'. However in our case where we estimate a small number of use-cases monthly, it's better to pin the points to '1 ideal programming day'.

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