Monthly Archives: October 2009

SDC Speakers Anounced

Software Ecucation has finalised the keynote speakers for SDC 2010 next year, and there’s a great lineup:

Tim Lister, (USA) Principal of the Atlantic Systems Guild, author and analysis trainer. 

Tim is co-author, with Tom DeMarco, of the acclaimed  “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams”.  His latest book, co-authored with his Guild partners, “Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies” won the Jolt Award for Best General Computing Book 2008-2009. 

Tim’s keynote, “Managing Front End Risk – It’s Always a Risky Business at the Start takes an in-depth look at the risks inherent in the early stages of a project and offers proven mitigation strategies.  As Tim says, “Being a good manager or analyst is hard; that’s why these jobs are so much fun!”

Diana Larsen, (USA) Chair of the Agile Alliance Board, author and Co-Founder FutureWorks Consulting.

Chair of the Agile Alliance Board of Directors and co-author of: “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great!”  Diana partners with leaders and teams of software development projects to improve project performance, support and sustain change and build collaborative workplaces.  

Diana’s keynote, “Clarity Rules! Six Collaboration Skills Critical to Effective, Successful Teams” describes not only the skills involved in creating successful teams, but also provides clear techniques to get them active within teams.

This theme carries over into her interactive workshop, “Creating a Climate for Project Team Success”, during which Diana will explore ways to optimise four key factors in the workplace: motivation, environment, support and trust.

James Shore, (USA) Founder, Titanium IT, author and Gordon Pask Award winner for Contributions to Agile Practice from the Agile Alliance.

A thought leader in the Agile software development community, James was the inaugural recipient of the prestigious Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice from the Agile Alliance and is co-author of the book, “The Art of Agile Development”.

In his keynote, “The Vanishing Analyst” James takes a look at the changing role of the business analyst and shows how it continues to be as crucial as ever.

James’s workshop, “Beyond Story Cards: Agile Requirements Collaboration” looks at where requirements live in Agile, how various roles fit in, where stories come from and what happens after they are created.

Philippe Kruchten, (Canada) Professor of Software Engineering, University of British Columbia and Founder, Kruchten Engineering Services

Lead developer of the software engineering process: Rational Unified Process ® (RUP), Philippe’s books on RUP (“An Introduction” and “A Practitioner’s Guide”)  have sold over 200,000 copies and been translated into nine languages.

Philippe’s keynote, “What Colours are Your Backlog?” takes a look at how the product backlog has become a key artifact in any software development project.  He examines the content of a backlog and how you balance the needs of all interested parties.

In his workshop, “Iteration and Release Planning”, Philippe comments that iteration planning and release planning seem very simple: you pour features in a backlog, shake, prioritise, implement and deliver. In reality, it is a tad more complicated. This workshop examines various techniques that help project leaders plan and track iterations and releases in a chaotic environment.

Nigel Dalton, (Australia) General Manager, IT, Lonely Planet

A recent speaker at Agile Australia 2009, Nigel is the latest addition to the conference programme.  Details of Nigel’s keynote will be announced shortly.

The Software Development Conference is to be held in Wellington on 22-23 March and in Sydney on 25-26 March 2010. 

The conference theme for 2010 is Business Analysts get Agile

A full press release can be found at

Posted by Shane Hastie

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Posted by on October 29, 2009 in Agile, SDC 2010


Agile testing strategies

One of the participants in a course asked me about test strategies for agile projects.

Drawing on my extensive testing background I responded that I had heard of them and that I had also heard they were probably a good idea.

But I think he may have wanted a more extensive answer.  He is doing test strategies on both waterfall and agile projects and his team are still using a long-winded document with a lot of cutting and pasting from previous projects.

He understands that strategy is more about the creation of the strategy than the publishing of a document and is comfortable with the idea that he collaborates and thinks before documenting the outcomes.  But he is looking for a more effective way to document the test strategy and maybe have a template or approach that works for his agile projects.

Can anyone give him better advise than my sage comment “I have heard it is a good idea to have one.”?

Posted by James King


Posted by on October 21, 2009 in Agile, Test Strategy, Testing


Telling Stories & Test Pairing

STANZ 2009 was a fabulous event and I am so sorry it is over. It is great to be able to get so involved with some of the best minds in our industry. Karen N Johnson gave a number of presentations and a workshop in New Zealand. It was a pleasure to meet her and discuss various techniques and approaches.

One session of Karen’s that I sat in on was “Test Pairing” – how you can combine your testing to get the maximum benefits. It opened with an excellent discussion on the various types of testing that are available to us as testers. Karen challenged us to think about these test types and others…and it was a challenge. She has compiled a very comprehensive list. The thing that I like about it is that the definitions AND examples are the sort of information that you want to have available when you are talking testing to non-testers, and new testers, and testers who you don’t know. They provide an excellent reference point for common understanding. Karen laced her talk with hints and tips that made it truely invaluable. I’ve found at least 2 new tools and reference sites for my work! (perlclip and Karen also discussed a lot of the test types that are often forgotten or prioritised lower in the test effort. The use of exercises and open discussions from the floor was fabulous as it meant we were able to learn rather than just listen! I got so many hints and tips from this session that I would need 2 blogs to list them all! If you want them, let me know.

Karen’s key note address was about story telling. Which when you think about it, is what we do…and Karen drew that analogy very very well. Her presentation was a delight…a real change of pace. Slides with a picture and a single word! The audience’s world was rocked!!! Karen has become involved in various story telling groups and is working on the art of story telling and then has translated it into the testing world. Given that it is our role to provide information, it would behove us to do it in the best possible manner. Karen gave us hints and tips and pointers on how to make the most of our communication – given that is the primary role of testing – I thought it was great to have more information. It was a really enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable presentation!

Karen also participated in the panel session in New Zealand and nearly reduced us all to tears. One of the delegates asked “what was the best piece of advice that you have ever been given” to the panel. Karen responded with a heart warming story about her mentor, learning, the value of sharing and the place of knowledge in our world. It was great! None of the other panel members wanted to follow after that one! She aced it!

Posted by Sharon Robson


Posted by on October 16, 2009 in Testing, Uncategorized


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Agile Methods Gaining Ground

In Q1 this year Forrester Research conducted a survey of organisations to guage the uptake of Agile methods.  The results: approx 30% of organisations today say they are using Agile methods, up from 8-10% 2 years ago.

Chris West from Forrester presented the results at the recent HP Virtual Conference.

In his presentation he discussed the impact of Agile methods on governance, and in the way team roles and interaction change. 

He states:

“We are seeing a trajectory change,” West said. “The specialization of labor is being replaced by a model that provides frequent delivery, increased customer involvement and a different team organization.”

The move from a waterfall approach to Agile does not mean there is a reduction in governance. Rather, in West’s view, a different type of lifecycle governance is required, where milestones are set up to help manage risk and ensure effective communications.

The Agile method also affects the roles that different staff members play in the software development process. West said that business analysts move from being documenters to being decision makers.

“They are empowered to make decisions about the business,” West said. “They are now product or functional owners now and they understand the problems and that allows the team to deliver the software faster.”

A full report on the talk can be found at

Posted by Shane Hastie

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Posted by on October 14, 2009 in Agile


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Make all work visible!

I have recently been working with  some Agile teams who were struggling to deliver their planned velocity.  Stories were identified and estimated, elaborated and planned and the  team started work only to discover that no matter how carefully they planned they were ubable to deliver value at the rate they thought they should.

During a retrospective we discussed why this should be, everyone was conforatble that the time they had estimated was realistic and when tracking tasks their plan vs actual ratio was very close.  

Further  discussion identified that team members were also working on “maintenance” and business-as-usual tasks, but these tasks were not being tracked as part of the team’s work.  We delved deeper and identified that over the previous iteration some of the team had been working on these “high priority” tasks for more than half of their working time. 

We conducted an experiment and wrote story cards for each piece of non-project work the team had been working on, and subtracted the time spent on this work from the available time in the iteration and low-and-behold there was the missing velocity.

Subsequently we’ve made an alteration to the story wall – we put a horizontal line across it with the project stories tracked above the line and non-project work shown below it.  Now our velocity estimates take into account the average time spent on “below-the-line” work (I heard one team refer to these tasks as submarine work), and we’re back on track in terms of estimate-actual velocity delivered, AND the business customers understand why the delivery rate has slowed down – look at the story wall, there’s all this work which is not project related!

A simple change that’s reduced tension and increased communication within and outside the teams.

Posted by Shane Hastie


Posted by on October 6, 2009 in Agile