Friday, March 14, 2008

New Course: Agile Project Management with Target Process

When I took over the WLC Project, we were using the Wiki and Excel to manage our many to do lists. Soon we reached the limits of Excel and needed a proper tool to effectively manage the many stories, make the information available at multiple locations, and keep track of our progress. After an evaluation, we chose Target Process, and have been happily using it ever since.

So now that I am independent, I checked out TP and discovered that they don't offer any courses yet, a need which I have set out to fill.
Agile Project Management with Target Process

How to plan, manage and control agile software development projects using Target Process. A hands on introduction to the concepts needed by and tasks performed by the agile Project Manager (Scrum Master), Customer or Program Manager (“Product Owner”).

Focused on the key performance indicators, Scope, Time, Quality and Price, the participant gets a step by step introduction to using Target Process to achieve the key goals of managing, controlling and successfully completing software development projects.

Objectives
After completing this course, the project or program manager will be able to successfully plan, manage and control software development projects using Target Process.

Audience
Program Managers, Project Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners and Developers

Location
Date: May 21 & 22, 2008
Time: 9.00 to 17.00
Location: namics ag, konradstrasse 12/14, 8005 Zürich Switzerland
Participants must bring their own laptop to access the practice environment.

Cost
Early Bird Registration (payment received by April 15) CHF 1'296.--
Regular Registration CHF 1'496.--
Prices include 7.6% VAT.
Full information about the course is available online. And of course you can register online.

BTW - TargetProcess is supporting this effort Marketing Director Andrey Mihailenko and CTO Michael Dubakov will be present. The number of participants to this first edition is limited to 12.

Scrum Breakfast in Zürich, April 2, 2008: From Scream to Scrum, A Customer Tells His Side of the Story.

Two months ago, Marcello Leonardi presented his experiences as Scrum Master of the White Label Classifieds project. This month, Patrick Weiss, customer and Product Owner for the same project (and others), will tell his side of the story at the Scrum Breakfast in Zürich.

Patrick Weiss is the Leader of eSolutions at Publiconnect and is responsible for the conception and development of booking tools (e.g. MyPubliconnect) and While Label Classified Market Portals (e.g. nzzexecutive.ch, publicjobs.ch, osthome.ch). Previously he was responsible for Product Management in Marketing at the Publicitas HQ and responsible for Advertising for various publications, including Coop-Presse, Baslerstab, etc. Presently he is working on completing the Omnium Global Executive MBA from the HSG and Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto. As Product Owner (or "Chief Pig"), he has logged 30 Sprints over 1 1/2 years, corresponding to a total project volume of around 5 Million Swiss Francs.

Patrick's talk will focus on
  1. Introduction of Scrum in the WLC and MyP+ Projects
  2. Planing, developing and releasing of Publisherconnect v5.0
  3. Lessons learned
Date: 4 April 2008 (always the first Wednesday of the Month)
Time: Doors open at 8.00am, conclusion 10.00am.
The talk starts at 8.35 (so that you can come by train at 8.30 and still be on time).
Location: namics ag, Konradstrasse 12, CH-8005 Zürich

The talk will be held in German.

Attendance is free and our sponsor namics provides the coffee, gipfeli (croissants) and orange juice. To register, just send me a private message or better register on xing.

The Scrum Breakfast is monthly exchange of information around Scrum. The breakfast offers discussion, information and hands-on experience to CIO's, executive and operational project managers. The program starts with a short presentation about on an in interesting topic around Scrum. Then follows a moderated discussion among the participants to encourage an exchange of know-how and experiences.

The Scrum Breakfast takes place the first Wednesday of each month. The doors open at 8am and the talk starts at 8.35 (so people coming by train can arrive at 8.30 and still catch the start of the talk). The presentations & discussion are usually in German.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Lessons in Lean (1)

When I wrote the Fingerspeller Flashcards, I thought I should pre-load the graphics (and the dictionaries) so that when a character is displayed, it is available instantly.

This had a small problem with it: Each alphabet, say ASL, has 26 to 30 images (actually more, since each letter needs at least 2 images) and each image is 30KB. So I had 1 MB of images plus the program (another 200KB), so all in all some 1.2 MB of data had to be downloaded before the program was ready to go.

This has a major disadvange: With a 128Mbit/s ISDN internet connection (very fast dialup, equal to 16 KByte/s), it took at least 75 seconds to get the application ready to go. Even my 3.5 Mbit/s Cable connection needed almost 4 seconds (although 4 seconds is fast enough that I didn't think about it much). But the long delays made the program unusable for most of my users.

The program only displays one letter at time. But it was downloading all the images in advance, just in case one was needed, and this meant none were available for a minute and half (and even a basic DSL line needed 40 seconds), longer than most users are willing to wait. If it would load just what it needed, it could be ready much sooner.

This is like writing detailed specifications before you start implementing. You have so much specification, just figuring out where to start take a significant amount of time. You can't see the forest for the trees. And because everything is "Must have", the whole project must be finished any value can be obtained from the project.

This is the biggest drawback of the procurement process as practiced by the Swiss government and other big institutions. Massive, very detailed specifications produce huge projects which must be implemented in their entirety before they can be used at all. A product that can't be used has no return on investment.

Time to ROI is probably the most under-appreciated cost factor in software projects.

How did I solve my problem? Easy: load the images on demand. There is a delay of 1.5 seconds between the point when I know I need the image and when I actually have to display it, which at 128Kbit is enough to download 24KBytes. This is "Just in Time" Delivery.

So I changed to code load images only on demand, and did some other compression on the HTML and javascript. In the second iteration, I reduced the image size from 30K to 15K. Result: The start page now needs about 2.7 seconds to load on a 128K line.

I need to find a way to get the images down to 8K (suggestions on how to do so would be most welcome!) to make the process really robust, but the improvement was immediately visible in my Google Analytics stats.

This is Lean Thinking. Eliminate waste, focus on delivering value, and improve continuously. This is also Scrum, with its plan - do - evaluate - improve loop, which focuses on implementing the most important functionality this month, getting it done, and then repeating process next month.