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Re: [XP] User-stories for components

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  • Kim Gräsman
    Hi Steven, ... I agree wholeheartedly with the principle, and I think vertical teams is the way to go. But I ve seen some friction in a larger multi-project
    Message 1 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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      Hi Steven,

      On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 16:25, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
      >
      > A single team should be understanding, testing, implementing and
      > delivering each end-to-end user story no matter how many components
      > the story touches.  Each component should be coded clearly enough and
      > have sufficient unit tests that anybody on any team should be able to
      > extend any component they need to.
      >
      > Siloing the teams horizontally along component lines instead of
      > vertically along functionality lines is a process smell.  It may seem
      > inefficient for developers to not specialize on a particular
      > component, but the communication costs and loss of direct feedback
      > actually creates greater inefficiencies.

      I agree wholeheartedly with the principle, and I think vertical teams
      is the way to go.

      But I've seen some friction in a larger multi-project lately (15+
      projects x 5-10 developers) where vertical developments add features
      to infrastructure code as they need it, and the result is pretty
      shaky.

      Everybody is pretty frustrated with the infrastructure being a moving
      target, and there's chatting by the water coolers wanting
      "responsibility" and "clear component ownership". This worries me, but
      I can see that the current way of doing it is sub-ideal.

      Do you have any tips for coordinating changes among such a large developer base?

      One of my hypotheses is setting up an infrastructure team (heresy, I
      know) and then disperse it among the feature projects with 1-2
      infrastructure devs per feature project, so that they can feel the
      application needs, solve them in-place and/or feed information back to
      the infrastructure group as often as possible. Thoughts?

      Thanks,
      - Kim
    • Torbjörn Gyllebring
      Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill cross-functional teamage? Yes,
      Message 2 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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        Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a
        infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill
        cross-functional teamage?

        Yes, everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the
        infrastructure, database design and other things but I've never found
        any reason that should exclude coordination and vision for those
        components.

        If you call those individuals infrastructure evangelists, and their
        meeting "Scrum of Scrums" would that still be hersesy?

        On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 9:09 PM, Kim Gräsman <kim.grasman@...> wrote:
        > Hi Steven,
        >
        > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 16:25, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
        >>
        >> A single team should be understanding, testing, implementing and
        >> delivering each end-to-end user story no matter how many components
        >> the story touches.  Each component should be coded clearly enough and
        >> have sufficient unit tests that anybody on any team should be able to
        >> extend any component they need to.
        >>
        >> Siloing the teams horizontally along component lines instead of
        >> vertically along functionality lines is a process smell.  It may seem
        >> inefficient for developers to not specialize on a particular
        >> component, but the communication costs and loss of direct feedback
        >> actually creates greater inefficiencies.
        >
        > I agree wholeheartedly with the principle, and I think vertical teams
        > is the way to go.
        >
        > But I've seen some friction in a larger multi-project lately (15+
        > projects x 5-10 developers) where vertical developments add features
        > to infrastructure code as they need it, and the result is pretty
        > shaky.
        >
        > Everybody is pretty frustrated with the infrastructure being a moving
        > target, and there's chatting by the water coolers wanting
        > "responsibility" and "clear component ownership". This worries me, but
        > I can see that the current way of doing it is sub-ideal.
        >
        > Do you have any tips for coordinating changes among such a large developer
        > base?
        >
        > One of my hypotheses is setting up an infrastructure team (heresy, I
        > know) and then disperse it among the feature projects with 1-2
        > infrastructure devs per feature project, so that they can feel the
        > application needs, solve them in-place and/or feed information back to
        > the infrastructure group as often as possible. Thoughts?
        >
        > Thanks,
        > - Kim
        >
        >
      • Kim Gräsman
        Hi Torbjörn, On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 21:33, Torbjörn Gyllebring ... The heresy comment was tongue-in-cheek. Sorry for not making that clearer... It s
        Message 3 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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          Hi Torbjörn,

          On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 21:33, Torbjörn Gyllebring
          <torbjorn.gyllebring@...> wrote:
          > Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a
          > infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill
          > cross-functional teamage?
          >
          > Yes, everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the
          > infrastructure, database design and other things but I've never found
          > any reason that should exclude coordination and vision for those
          > components.
          >
          > If you call those individuals infrastructure evangelists, and their
          > meeting "Scrum of Scrums" would that still be hersesy?

          The 'heresy' comment was tongue-in-cheek. Sorry for not making that clearer...

          It's interesting that you bring up scrum-of-scrums -- I think it would
          play especially well with a team scattered across other feature teams.

          I think there's a clear risk of a specialized infrastructure team
          becoming a bottleneck, as they probably won't have the bandwidth to
          collect all needs and implement them at the same pace feature teams
          deliver. Also, it risks building a bunch of specialists who are stuck
          in their role and mustn't leave for fear of irreplaceability.

          That said, there probably are ways around these problems. Rotation, perhaps?

          - Kim
        • Steven Gordon
          ... Yes, there may be no perfect solution. So, perhaps a hybrid model might work: 1. Have the stories driven vertically by verticals teams. 2. Maintain
          Message 4 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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            On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 1:09 PM, Kim Gräsman <kim.grasman@...> wrote:
            > Hi Steven,
            >
            > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 16:25, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
            >>
            >> A single team should be understanding, testing, implementing and
            >> delivering each end-to-end user story no matter how many components
            >> the story touches.  Each component should be coded clearly enough and
            >> have sufficient unit tests that anybody on any team should be able to
            >> extend any component they need to.
            >>
            >> Siloing the teams horizontally along component lines instead of
            >> vertically along functionality lines is a process smell.  It may seem
            >> inefficient for developers to not specialize on a particular
            >> component, but the communication costs and loss of direct feedback
            >> actually creates greater inefficiencies.
            >
            > I agree wholeheartedly with the principle, and I think vertical teams
            > is the way to go.
            >
            > But I've seen some friction in a larger multi-project lately (15+
            > projects x 5-10 developers) where vertical developments add features
            > to infrastructure code as they need it, and the result is pretty
            > shaky.
            >
            > Everybody is pretty frustrated with the infrastructure being a moving
            > target, and there's chatting by the water coolers wanting
            > "responsibility" and "clear component ownership". This worries me, but
            > I can see that the current way of doing it is sub-ideal.
            >
            > Do you have any tips for coordinating changes among such a large developer
            > base?
            >
            > One of my hypotheses is setting up an infrastructure team (heresy, I
            > know) and then disperse it among the feature projects with 1-2
            > infrastructure devs per feature project, so that they can feel the
            > application needs, solve them in-place and/or feed information back to
            > the infrastructure group as often as possible. Thoughts?
            >
            > Thanks,
            > - Kim

            Yes, there may be no perfect solution. So, perhaps a hybrid model might work:

            1. Have the stories driven vertically by verticals teams.
            2. Maintain additional small teams of infrastructural component
            specialists (guardians).
            3. For each task of a vertically driven story that involves extending
            or modifying a specific infrastructural component, a member of the
            vertical team pairs with a member of the guardian team for that
            component.

            When component team members are idle, they could do one of the
            following depending on priorities:
            - refactoring of their component's code,
            - improvement of the performance of their component (without changing
            functionality),
            - help on any vertical stories outside of their component.

            Steve
          • Steven Gordon
            On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 1:33 PM, Torbjörn Gyllebring ... The problem is the extra layers of communication make for different interpretations of what needs to
            Message 5 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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              On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 1:33 PM, Torbjörn Gyllebring
              <torbjorn.gyllebring@...> wrote:
              > Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a
              > infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill
              > cross-functional teamage?
              >
              > Yes, everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the
              > infrastructure, database design and other things but I've never found
              > any reason that should exclude coordination and vision for those
              > components.
              >
              > If you call those individuals infrastructure evangelists, and their
              > meeting "Scrum of Scrums" would that still be hersesy?
              >

              The problem is the extra layers of communication make for different
              interpretations of what needs to be done in each component and that
              cascading dependencies will often push out the latency time between
              when work first starts on a component and when working software is
              available for the customer to accept or reject.

              One solution is to get extremely formal, spec everything out in detail
              and coordinate a schedule of the work each component team does, but
              that is clearly not in the spirit of Agile. Short of that, if
              different teams are doing different parts of the work at different
              times, there will be different interpretations of what that work was
              supposed to do.
            • Steven Gordon
              ... Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so much that they start including anticipated future functionality in everything they do.
              Message 6 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 2:07 PM, Kim Gräsman <kim.grasman@...> wrote:
                > Hi Torbjörn,
                >
                > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 21:33, Torbjörn Gyllebring
                > <torbjorn.gyllebring@...> wrote:
                >> Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a
                >> infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill
                >> cross-functional teamage?
                >>
                >> Yes, everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the
                >> infrastructure, database design and other things but I've never found
                >> any reason that should exclude coordination and vision for those
                >> components.
                >>
                >> If you call those individuals infrastructure evangelists, and their
                >> meeting "Scrum of Scrums" would that still be hersesy?
                >
                > The 'heresy' comment was tongue-in-cheek. Sorry for not making that
                > clearer...
                >
                > It's interesting that you bring up scrum-of-scrums -- I think it would
                > play especially well with a team scattered across other feature teams.
                >
                > I think there's a clear risk of a specialized infrastructure team
                > becoming a bottleneck, as they probably won't have the bandwidth to
                > collect all needs and implement them at the same pace feature teams
                > deliver.

                Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so
                much that they start including anticipated future functionality in
                everything they do. In the best case, there is just a bunch of YAGNI;
                in the worst case. it turns into churning out widgets and telling the
                application teams that the widgets provide everything they should ever
                need to complete their stories.

                A common factor for this worst case is in the context of product
                lines, where the component teams often take on the mission of
                facilitating interoperability and product consistency by mandating
                what widgets the application teams will use and then proceed to build
                them whether or not they support the stories the application teams are
                currently working on.

                > Also, it risks building a bunch of specialists who are stuck
                > in their role and mustn't leave for fear of irreplaceability.
                >
                > That said, there probably are ways around these problems. Rotation, perhaps?
                >
                > - Kim
                \
              • Rhydian Thomas
                ... That sounds like the model being used at the company I worked for when developing the example component I mentioned in my original post - product lines,
                Message 7 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                  On 05/03/2009, at 8:38 AM, Steven Gordon wrote:
                  > Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so
                  > much that they start including anticipated future functionality in
                  > everything they do. In the best case, there is just a bunch of YAGNI;
                  > in the worst case. it turns into churning out widgets and telling the
                  > application teams that the widgets provide everything they should ever
                  > need to complete their stories.
                  >
                  > A common factor for this worst case is in the context of product
                  > lines, where the component teams often take on the mission of
                  > facilitating interoperability and product consistency by mandating
                  > what widgets the application teams will use and then proceed to build
                  > them whether or not they support the stories the application teams are
                  > currently working on.
                  >

                  That sounds like the model being used at the company I worked for when
                  developing the example component I mentioned in my original post -
                  product lines, goal to build 'flexible', configurable, reusable
                  components that could be pieced together and configured when another
                  customer came along. So perhaps I was struggling to see how user-
                  stories could be used as I was attempting to use an agile practice in
                  a non-agile environment? Can agile work in such an environment?
                • Torbjörn Gyllebring
                  Hi Kim and Steven, I should have been clearer with how I envisioned it based upon Kim s initial post. What I wanted to say was that I see no harm in having a
                  Message 8 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                    Hi Kim and Steven,

                    I should have been clearer with how I envisioned it based upon Kim's
                    initial post.
                    What I wanted to say was that I see no harm in having a component
                    "team" that is scattered between all clients of that component. Let's
                    call them specialists, guardians or evangelists their title really
                    doesn't matter for this discussion, although depending on your culture
                    you should probably choose carefully. As team members for their
                    vertical teams theese individuals are nothing but members with a
                    stronger inclination for that component, no different from Joe the UI
                    dude or Jane the bit-twiddling-sorcess. So Ivan the Infrastructure
                    guide probably likes that sort of work, will probably sign up for to
                    pair on most of them and as such will in that team be steering the
                    infrastructure work. Ivan also meets on an "as-needed" basis with the
                    other members of the infrastructure group to coordinate bigger changes
                    and get a feel for where the rest of the organization is moving, this
                    is in essence a Scrum of Scrums for a specific product, the shared
                    infrastructure, with some close by and really picky customers, all
                    other developers.

                    Yes if it turns into a dedicated "we do nothing but infrastructure
                    work all the time" clique I see a real danger but in the rosy scenario
                    above things should be fine. If big chunks of functioanlity needs to
                    be developed and can't be partioned, iterated, broken down and built
                    by the vertical teams then I guess some sort of rotation scheme could
                    be established to get create a temporary ad-hoc component-only team
                    for some duration.


                    On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:07 PM, Kim Gräsman <kim.grasman@...> wrote:
                    > Hi Torbjörn,
                    >
                    > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 21:33, Torbjörn Gyllebring
                    > <torbjorn.gyllebring@...> wrote:
                    >> Can someone please explain where the notion that actually having a
                    >> infrastructure, database or other team would somehow kill
                    >> cross-functional teamage?
                    >>
                    >> Yes, everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the
                    >> infrastructure, database design and other things but I've never found
                    >> any reason that should exclude coordination and vision for those
                    >> components.
                    >>
                    >> If you call those individuals infrastructure evangelists, and their
                    >> meeting "Scrum of Scrums" would that still be hersesy?
                    >
                    > The 'heresy' comment was tongue-in-cheek. Sorry for not making that
                    > clearer...
                    >
                    > It's interesting that you bring up scrum-of-scrums -- I think it would
                    > play especially well with a team scattered across other feature teams.
                    >
                    > I think there's a clear risk of a specialized infrastructure team
                    > becoming a bottleneck, as they probably won't have the bandwidth to
                    > collect all needs and implement them at the same pace feature teams
                    > deliver. Also, it risks building a bunch of specialists who are stuck
                    > in their role and mustn't leave for fear of irreplaceability.
                    >
                    > That said, there probably are ways around these problems. Rotation, perhaps?
                    >
                    > - Kim
                    >
                    >
                  • Steven Gordon
                    ... Do you mean user stories in an otherwise non-agile approach? I am not sure if that can accomplish much. Do you mean every team iteratively delivers on a
                    Message 9 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                      On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 2:54 PM, Rhydian Thomas <rhydthom@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > On 05/03/2009, at 8:38 AM, Steven Gordon wrote:
                      >> Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so
                      >> much that they start including anticipated future functionality in
                      >> everything they do. In the best case, there is just a bunch of YAGNI;
                      >> in the worst case. it turns into churning out widgets and telling the
                      >> application teams that the widgets provide everything they should ever
                      >> need to complete their stories.
                      >>
                      >> A common factor for this worst case is in the context of product
                      >> lines, where the component teams often take on the mission of
                      >> facilitating interoperability and product consistency by mandating
                      >> what widgets the application teams will use and then proceed to build
                      >> them whether or not they support the stories the application teams are
                      >> currently working on.
                      >>
                      >
                      > That sounds like the model being used at the company I worked for when
                      > developing the example component I mentioned in my original post -
                      > product lines, goal to build 'flexible', configurable, reusable
                      > components that could be pieced together and configured when another
                      > customer came along. So perhaps I was struggling to see how user-
                      > stories could be used as I was attempting to use an agile practice in
                      > a non-agile environment? Can agile work in such an environment?
                      >

                      Do you mean user stories in an otherwise non-agile approach? I am not
                      sure if that can accomplish much.

                      Do you mean every team iteratively delivers on a backlog, but the
                      backlog for the architectural teams are the widgets that would seem to
                      be generally useful for the user stories on the application teams'
                      backlogs? It can work, just not as well as if the architectural teams
                      directly collaborate on the application-level user stories. I would
                      generally expect more bloat, more architecture that goes unused, more
                      code complexity, a higher cost of maintenance, a higher cost of change
                      and a slower responsiveness to change than there should have to be.

                      Engineer utilization would likely be higher under this approach. But,
                      is the goal to keep the engineers busy or minimize how long it takes
                      to deliver features? This is a fallacy that project management falls
                      into because a Gant Chart tells you that maximizing utilization will
                      decrease how long it takes to deliver the whole project.

                      Is the goal of a server farm to maximize utilization of the servers or
                      minimize transaction times? Is the goal of building a new freeway to
                      maximize the number of cars that use it or minimize how long it takes
                      people to go from point A to point B? For some reason, people see the
                      fallacy of maximizing utilization much better with inanimate objects
                      than with people.

                      Steve
                    • Rhydian Thomas
                      Hi Steve, In a nutshell ... the product was a framework which the customer team would take and build a UI on top of and implement various integration points
                      Message 10 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                        Hi Steve,

                        In a nutshell ... the 'product' was a framework which the customer team would take and build a UI on top of and implement various integration points (e.g. with billing servers, content management systems, etc) ... So our aim was to develop and maintain the various components of this framework such that it could accomodate the requirements of the customer team.

                        We used Scrum, development was incremental and iterative, in each iteration we would tackle bugs, feature enhancements, etc. which centred around different component parts.

                        In that context, I wonder whether user-stories could have been used as a requirements tool. Can you use the same concepts of a short narrative to capture the feature, discussion with business owners to ellaborate on detail, acceptance criteria to know when we're done and automate them ... when there is no UI, no real customer.



                        --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 2:54 PM, Rhydian Thomas <rhydthom@...> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > On 05/03/2009, at 8:38 AM, Steven Gordon wrote:
                        > >> Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so
                        > >> much that they start including anticipated future functionality in
                        > >> everything they do. In the best case, there is just a bunch of YAGNI;
                        > >> in the worst case. it turns into churning out widgets and telling the
                        > >> application teams that the widgets provide everything they should ever
                        > >> need to complete their stories.
                        > >>
                        > >> A common factor for this worst case is in the context of product
                        > >> lines, where the component teams often take on the mission of
                        > >> facilitating interoperability and product consistency by mandating
                        > >> what widgets the application teams will use and then proceed to build
                        > >> them whether or not they support the stories the application teams are
                        > >> currently working on.
                        > >>
                        > >
                        > > That sounds like the model being used at the company I worked for when
                        > > developing the example component I mentioned in my original post -
                        > > product lines, goal to build 'flexible', configurable, reusable
                        > > components that could be pieced together and configured when another
                        > > customer came along. So perhaps I was struggling to see how user-
                        > > stories could be used as I was attempting to use an agile practice in
                        > > a non-agile environment? Can agile work in such an environment?
                        > >
                        >
                        > Do you mean user stories in an otherwise non-agile approach? I am not
                        > sure if that can accomplish much.
                        >
                        > Do you mean every team iteratively delivers on a backlog, but the
                        > backlog for the architectural teams are the widgets that would seem to
                        > be generally useful for the user stories on the application teams'
                        > backlogs? It can work, just not as well as if the architectural teams
                        > directly collaborate on the application-level user stories. I would
                        > generally expect more bloat, more architecture that goes unused, more
                        > code complexity, a higher cost of maintenance, a higher cost of change
                        > and a slower responsiveness to change than there should have to be.
                        >
                        > Engineer utilization would likely be higher under this approach. But,
                        > is the goal to keep the engineers busy or minimize how long it takes
                        > to deliver features? This is a fallacy that project management falls
                        > into because a Gant Chart tells you that maximizing utilization will
                        > decrease how long it takes to deliver the whole project.
                        >
                        > Is the goal of a server farm to maximize utilization of the servers or
                        > minimize transaction times? Is the goal of building a new freeway to
                        > maximize the number of cars that use it or minimize how long it takes
                        > people to go from point A to point B? For some reason, people see the
                        > fallacy of maximizing utilization much better with inanimate objects
                        > than with people.
                        >
                        > Steve
                        >
                      • Steven Gordon
                        ... The product is a framework and the real customers are development teams in different organizations around the world that would be using the framework to
                        Message 11 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                          On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 6:21 PM, Rhydian Thomas <rhydthom@...> wrote:
                          > Hi Steve,
                          >
                          > In a nutshell ... the 'product' was a framework which the customer team
                          > would take and build a UI on top of and implement various integration points
                          > (e.g. with billing servers, content management systems, etc) ... So our aim
                          > was to develop and maintain the various components of this framework such
                          > that it could accomodate the requirements of the customer team.
                          >
                          > We used Scrum, development was incremental and iterative, in each iteration
                          > we would tackle bugs, feature enhancements, etc. which centred around
                          > different component parts.
                          >
                          > In that context, I wonder whether user-stories could have been used as a
                          > requirements tool. Can you use the same concepts of a short narrative to
                          > capture the feature, discussion with business owners to ellaborate on
                          > detail, acceptance criteria to know when we're done and automate them ...
                          > when there is no UI, no real customer.
                          >

                          The product is a framework and the real customers are development
                          teams in different organizations around the world that would be using
                          the framework to build whatever their customer's need. Right?

                          To do agile, you would still need a "customer" (i.e., product owner in
                          Scrum) to create user stories that adequately represent what the
                          actual customers need and prioritize them. I am sure it is possible
                          to write appropriate stories.

                          You also need some way for that customer to determine that those
                          stories have been implemented acceptably. That would seem to be
                          difficult without actually utilizing the functionality in the way you
                          would expect a real customer to utilize it.

                          I would strongly suggest that there be a team that builds a typical
                          customer application using the framework product to not only verify
                          that the framework really does what it is supposed to, but also to
                          provide customers with the code of a nice working example of how to
                          use the framework (like the Pet Store app that came along with early
                          releases of J2EE - does it still come with it?). The more coherent,
                          automated test code that comes with the framework and the sample app,
                          the better for your customers.

                          Steve
                        • jmilunsky
                          It really doesn t matter whether you re delivering UI to the customer or not. User stories are still the way to go to manage the requirements process. You
                          Message 12 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                            It really doesn't matter whether you're delivering UI to the customer or not. User stories are still the way to go to manage the requirements process. You should check out Mike Cohn's site. He has a lot of information about Epics, themes, and stories and how to break them down. His site is mountaingoatsoftware.com

                            Hope this helps
                            Jack
                            www.agilebuddy.com
                            blog.agilebuddy.com

                            --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "Rhydian Thomas" <rhydthom@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Hi Steve,
                            >
                            > In a nutshell ... the 'product' was a framework which the customer team would take and build a UI on top of and implement various integration points (e.g. with billing servers, content management systems, etc) ... So our aim was to develop and maintain the various components of this framework such that it could accomodate the requirements of the customer team.
                            >
                            > We used Scrum, development was incremental and iterative, in each iteration we would tackle bugs, feature enhancements, etc. which centred around different component parts.
                            >
                            > In that context, I wonder whether user-stories could have been used as a requirements tool. Can you use the same concepts of a short narrative to capture the feature, discussion with business owners to ellaborate on detail, acceptance criteria to know when we're done and automate them ... when there is no UI, no real customer.
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@> wrote:
                            > >
                            > > On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 2:54 PM, Rhydian Thomas <rhydthom@> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > On 05/03/2009, at 8:38 AM, Steven Gordon wrote:
                            > > >> Many places I have seen component teams, they fear getting behind so
                            > > >> much that they start including anticipated future functionality in
                            > > >> everything they do. In the best case, there is just a bunch of YAGNI;
                            > > >> in the worst case. it turns into churning out widgets and telling the
                            > > >> application teams that the widgets provide everything they should ever
                            > > >> need to complete their stories.
                            > > >>
                            > > >> A common factor for this worst case is in the context of product
                            > > >> lines, where the component teams often take on the mission of
                            > > >> facilitating interoperability and product consistency by mandating
                            > > >> what widgets the application teams will use and then proceed to build
                            > > >> them whether or not they support the stories the application teams are
                            > > >> currently working on.
                            > > >>
                            > > >
                            > > > That sounds like the model being used at the company I worked for when
                            > > > developing the example component I mentioned in my original post -
                            > > > product lines, goal to build 'flexible', configurable, reusable
                            > > > components that could be pieced together and configured when another
                            > > > customer came along. So perhaps I was struggling to see how user-
                            > > > stories could be used as I was attempting to use an agile practice in
                            > > > a non-agile environment? Can agile work in such an environment?
                            > > >
                            > >
                            > > Do you mean user stories in an otherwise non-agile approach? I am not
                            > > sure if that can accomplish much.
                            > >
                            > > Do you mean every team iteratively delivers on a backlog, but the
                            > > backlog for the architectural teams are the widgets that would seem to
                            > > be generally useful for the user stories on the application teams'
                            > > backlogs? It can work, just not as well as if the architectural teams
                            > > directly collaborate on the application-level user stories. I would
                            > > generally expect more bloat, more architecture that goes unused, more
                            > > code complexity, a higher cost of maintenance, a higher cost of change
                            > > and a slower responsiveness to change than there should have to be.
                            > >
                            > > Engineer utilization would likely be higher under this approach. But,
                            > > is the goal to keep the engineers busy or minimize how long it takes
                            > > to deliver features? This is a fallacy that project management falls
                            > > into because a Gant Chart tells you that maximizing utilization will
                            > > decrease how long it takes to deliver the whole project.
                            > >
                            > > Is the goal of a server farm to maximize utilization of the servers or
                            > > minimize transaction times? Is the goal of building a new freeway to
                            > > maximize the number of cars that use it or minimize how long it takes
                            > > people to go from point A to point B? For some reason, people see the
                            > > fallacy of maximizing utilization much better with inanimate objects
                            > > than with people.
                            > >
                            > > Steve
                            > >
                            >
                          • Kim Gräsman
                            Torbjörn, On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 23:12, Torbjörn Gyllebring ... Right, this is precisely what I meant earlier, thanks for reaffirming :-) ... Good point,
                            Message 13 of 27 , Mar 4, 2009
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                              Torbjörn,

                              On Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 23:12, Torbjörn Gyllebring
                              <torbjorn.gyllebring@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > I should have been clearer with how I envisioned it based upon Kim's
                              > initial post.
                              > What I wanted to say was that I see no harm in having a component
                              > "team" that is scattered between all clients of that component. Let's
                              > call them specialists, guardians or evangelists their title really
                              > doesn't matter for this discussion, although depending on your culture
                              > you should probably choose carefully. As team members for their
                              > vertical teams theese individuals are nothing but members with a
                              > stronger inclination for that component, no different from Joe the UI
                              > dude or Jane the bit-twiddling-sorcess. So Ivan the Infrastructure
                              > guide probably likes that sort of work, will probably sign up for to
                              > pair on most of them and as such will in that team be steering the
                              > infrastructure work. Ivan also meets on an "as-needed" basis with the
                              > other members of the infrastructure group to coordinate bigger changes
                              > and get a feel for where the rest of the organization is moving, this
                              > is in essence a Scrum of Scrums for a specific product, the shared
                              > infrastructure, with some close by and really picky customers, all
                              > other developers.

                              Right, this is precisely what I meant earlier, thanks for reaffirming :-)

                              > Yes if it turns into a dedicated "we do nothing but infrastructure
                              > work all the time" clique I see a real danger but in the rosy scenario
                              > above things should be fine. If big chunks of functioanlity needs to
                              > be developed and can't be partioned, iterated, broken down and built
                              > by the vertical teams then I guess some sort of rotation scheme could
                              > be established to get create a temporary ad-hoc component-only team
                              > for some duration.

                              Good point, thanks!

                              Oh, and thanks, Steven, for expounding further.

                              - Kim
                            • tony_t_tubbs
                              ... I ve been wondering about these same things myself, and am enjoying this thread very much. My experience is also with large development organizations with
                              Message 14 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon
                                <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Yes, there may be no perfect solution. So, perhaps a hybrid model
                                might work:
                                >
                                > 1. Have the stories driven vertically by verticals teams.
                                > 2. Maintain additional small teams of infrastructural component
                                > specialists (guardians).
                                > 3. For each task of a vertically driven story that involves extending
                                > or modifying a specific infrastructural component, a member of the
                                > vertical team pairs with a member of the guardian team for that
                                > component.
                                >
                                > When component team members are idle, they could do one of the
                                > following depending on priorities:
                                > - refactoring of their component's code,
                                > - improvement of the performance of their component (without changing
                                > functionality),
                                > - help on any vertical stories outside of their component.
                                >
                                > Steve

                                I've been wondering about these same things myself, and am enjoying this
                                thread very much. My experience is also with large development
                                organizations with many teams, and while reading various agile thoughts
                                I often have the same 'in the real world' thoughts that start flames in
                                these groups. If I may, I'd like to get down to some basic
                                understanding of this whole vertical slice teams idea. I just can't
                                seem to see how that could work. My vast ~15 years of experience fits
                                this description:

                                The organization develops multiple products all related to the same
                                industry. For example financial related could include products dealing
                                with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement plans, etc or medical
                                related could deal with billing, claims processing, insurance
                                verification, verification of inseparability, etc. These products
                                include not only the 1st order applications, but the printing and
                                mailing systems, job queuing systems, etc. Some products produced have
                                a narrow audience (HR department) and others are larger (call center
                                phone reps). This big picture is then subdivided into teams on other
                                continents dealing with international business, and teams in various
                                states for US business. Each one of these divisions is responsible for
                                multiple products that they develop. The clients use a mix of products,
                                and this mix can and often does come from different teams. Though I've
                                found it has always been a struggle, the organization as well as the
                                clients want these products to easily talk to each other and look and
                                feel the same / very similar. This has lead to some specialized teams,
                                such as an infrastructure team and a human factors team, teams that are
                                trying to ensure consistency across the organization but are not
                                typically part of the front-end development teams. The actual
                                development teams also have a division of labor between the desktop(PC,
                                web, etc) and the SQL/COBOL guys who do their stuff on the mainframe.
                                There's also a group everyone works with that controls the database and
                                is there to ensure its integrity. It is my expreienc that this team is
                                the heaviest bottle neck in that everyone else needs access to the data
                                to build their apps. In some environments it is often not possible to
                                schedule a meeting with them with less than a months notice. Human
                                factors folks often come off to development types as if they are all
                                theory, and have no practical experience. I've tended to agree, but am
                                not sure that is exactly a fair representation. I am sure much of the
                                problem is that their design tools are not the same tools developers
                                implement with (Design in Visio and develop in HTML and JavaScript for
                                example). The infrastructure team members often get loaned out to help
                                at least jump start the front-end development, and we (yes I'm on the
                                Infra side) have tried to make the components we produce work like
                                internal open source so that we could pair with teams or teams could
                                enhance things on there own so that we do not become the bottle-neck,
                                but we have not realized this. Most teams still wait on us (they have
                                other tasks they could be working on), and, in my probably biased
                                opinion, use it as something to point fingers at.

                                So, my questions:
                                - Does this vertical slice idea mean developers must know both the PC
                                languages/tools as well as the mainframe? Have you had success finding
                                people that want to do both, or are at least fine with doing so? My
                                experience is that there are folks on each side of that that have no
                                desire to learn the other.

                                - How would you restructure to get the vertical slicing achieved, or
                                even just to start it on the path to agile development? It seems
                                natural that a separate Infra, DB and Usability teams have emerged out
                                of this, I need help seeing how that could become different.

                                - If you were to reverse things as it seems to be the implication from
                                this tread, and each team were to do slices themselves, including the
                                components they use, what would be the technique to ensure the cross
                                application communication, similar look and feel, and all the DB science
                                (fast indexing, normalization, etc) are achieved? (Basically, the
                                desire is that all apps coming from the organization look and feel as if
                                they came from the same organization.)










                                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              • Steven Gordon
                                ... Tony, This is a problem. Consider the following approach where the components have such different technologies: 1. Vertical teams consist of testers and
                                Message 15 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                  On Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 8:15 AM, tony_t_tubbs <tony_t_tubbs@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon
                                  > <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
                                  >>
                                  >> Yes, there may be no perfect solution. So, perhaps a hybrid model
                                  > might work:
                                  >>
                                  >> 1. Have the stories driven vertically by verticals teams.
                                  >> 2. Maintain additional small teams of infrastructural component
                                  >> specialists (guardians).
                                  >> 3. For each task of a vertically driven story that involves extending
                                  >> or modifying a specific infrastructural component, a member of the
                                  >> vertical team pairs with a member of the guardian team for that
                                  >> component.
                                  >>
                                  >> When component team members are idle, they could do one of the
                                  >> following depending on priorities:
                                  >> - refactoring of their component's code,
                                  >> - improvement of the performance of their component (without changing
                                  >> functionality),
                                  >> - help on any vertical stories outside of their component.
                                  >>
                                  >> Steve
                                  >

                                  >
                                  > So, my questions:
                                  > - Does this vertical slice idea mean developers must know both the PC
                                  > languages/tools as well as the mainframe? Have you had success finding
                                  > people that want to do both, or are at least fine with doing so? My
                                  > experience is that there are folks on each side of that that have no
                                  > desire to learn the other.

                                  Tony,

                                  This is a problem.

                                  Consider the following approach where the components have such
                                  different technologies:
                                  1. Vertical teams consist of testers and the generalists (like myself)
                                  who do like working in multiple technologies to make sure things
                                  really work right,
                                  2. Horizontal (component) teams consist of specialists in each
                                  specific technology,
                                  3. Vertical team members implement vertical user stories by
                                  collaborating on specific tasks with appropriate horizontal team
                                  members.

                                  This way the vertical stories are the scheduling and planning
                                  mechanism to deliver the highest priority features within iteration
                                  boundaries so as to reduce miscommunication and feedback latency
                                  times.

                                  >
                                  > - How would you restructure to get the vertical slicing achieved, or
                                  > even just to start it on the path to agile development? It seems
                                  > natural that a separate Infra, DB and Usability teams have emerged out
                                  > of this, I need help seeing how that could become different.

                                  People on these teams would collaborate on vertical stories as
                                  coordinated by the vertical teams.

                                  >
                                  > - If you were to reverse things as it seems to be the implication from
                                  > this tread, and each team were to do slices themselves, including the
                                  > components they use, what would be the technique to ensure the cross
                                  > application communication, similar look and feel, and all the DB science
                                  > (fast indexing, normalization, etc) are achieved? (Basically, the
                                  > desire is that all apps coming from the organization look and feel as if
                                  > they came from the same organization.)
                                  >

                                  The component specialists collaborating on the vertical stories should
                                  be responsible for knowing about these constraints, ensuring they are
                                  met by any changes or new development they are involved in, and
                                  perhaps scheduling intense optimization work to be done when no
                                  vertical team is asking for their time.

                                  ==============================================================================

                                  The key point is that we do not just hand off work to the specialists,
                                  but have generalists who are responsible for delivering working
                                  vertical slices actively collaborate on each piece with specialists.
                                  After the stories work acceptably with sufficient automated tests to
                                  make sure they continue to do so, the specialists can refine the code
                                  for performance and consistency when that is their highest priority
                                  tasks.

                                  This is not to say this approach does not have problems that would
                                  have to be worked through. I know of no organization that uses such
                                  an approach.

                                  Steve
                                • tony_t_tubbs
                                  ... Are you suggesting that the front-end development teams that are currently composed of essentially the UI/View developers (PC,Web folks), and the data
                                  Message 16 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                    --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
                                    > Consider the following approach where the components have such
                                    > different technologies:
                                    > 1. Vertical teams consist of testers and the generalists (like myself)
                                    > who do like working in multiple technologies to make sure things
                                    > really work right,
                                    > 2. Horizontal (component) teams consist of specialists in each
                                    > specific technology,
                                    > 3. Vertical team members implement vertical user stories by
                                    > collaborating on specific tasks with appropriate horizontal team
                                    > members.
                                    >
                                    > This way the vertical stories are the scheduling and planning
                                    > mechanism to deliver the highest priority features within iteration
                                    > boundaries so as to reduce miscommunication and feedback latency
                                    > times.

                                    Are you suggesting that the front-end development teams that are currently composed of essentially the UI/View developers (PC,Web folks), and the data access folks (COBOL/Mainframe) are restructured so that all members of the team code in all layers? I know only a few people who can and like doing so. It seems the PC guys have a strong distaste for doing mainframe work and vise versa. You say "Horizontal (component) teams" above, but I'm not clear who you are referring to by that statement. This seems to be in contrast to the generalists you mention (which I'm thinking means codes in all layers). So, I am not understanding what happens to the UI and data access folks I just mentioned, as they are a tightly coupled team in that the data provided is intended for that UI being built, but they are not generalist nor component folks. Are they rerouted into other teams, or maybe forced (tactfully) into becoming generalists?. Now the infra teams I mentioned I see the component nature of their work (widgets, file uploaders, system loggers, etc.), but I don't see how that applies to the front end guys.

                                    If it is the Human Factors, Infra, and DB teams that are what you called the horizontal teams, then I understand what you've said and find your suggestions do make sense to me. If your comments include the idea of somehow the front end teams have horizontal folks on them, I'm confused.


                                    > This is not to say this approach does not have problems that would
                                    > have to be worked through. I know of no organization that uses such
                                    > an approach.

                                    You mean the approach you've suggested, right? Not the one I've described?
                                  • Steven Gordon
                                    I am not sure how to communicate my proposal more clearly. Do you have the assumption that software development work should always be done by a individual
                                    Message 17 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                      I am not sure how to communicate my proposal more clearly.

                                      Do you have the assumption that software development work should
                                      always be done by a individual person working by themselves in their
                                      little cubicle?

                                      Is it not possible for two poeple to sit together and complete a
                                      software development subtask of a story, where:
                                      - the generalist has the understanding of the vertical story and how
                                      all the components should work together to accomplish that story, and
                                      - the specialist has the deep understanding of the particular
                                      component involved with the specific task and any consistency
                                      constraints for that component?

                                      http://www.google.com/search?q=pair+programming

                                      On Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 10:03 AM, tony_t_tubbs <tony_t_tubbs@...> wrote:
                                      > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...>
                                      > wrote:
                                      >> Consider the following approach where the components have such
                                      >> different technologies:
                                      >> 1. Vertical teams consist of testers and the generalists (like myself)
                                      >> who do like working in multiple technologies to make sure things
                                      >> really work right,
                                      >> 2. Horizontal (component) teams consist of specialists in each
                                      >> specific technology,
                                      >> 3. Vertical team members implement vertical user stories by
                                      >> collaborating on specific tasks with appropriate horizontal team
                                      >> members.
                                      >>
                                      >> This way the vertical stories are the scheduling and planning
                                      >> mechanism to deliver the highest priority features within iteration
                                      >> boundaries so as to reduce miscommunication and feedback latency
                                      >> times.
                                      >
                                      > Are you suggesting that the front-end development teams that are currently
                                      > composed of essentially the UI/View developers (PC,Web folks), and the data
                                      > access folks (COBOL/Mainframe) are restructured so that all members of the
                                      > team code in all layers? I know only a few people who can and like doing so.
                                      > It seems the PC guys have a strong distaste for doing mainframe work and
                                      > vise versa. You say "Horizontal (component) teams" above, but I'm not clear
                                      > who you are referring to by that statement. This seems to be in contrast to
                                      > the generalists you mention (which I'm thinking means codes in all layers).
                                      > So, I am not understanding what happens to the UI and data access folks I
                                      > just mentioned, as they are a tightly coupled team in that the data provided
                                      > is intended for that UI being built, but they are not generalist nor
                                      > component folks. Are they rerouted into other teams, or maybe forced
                                      > (tactfully) into becoming generalists?. Now the infra teams I mentioned I
                                      > see the component nature of their work (widgets, file uploaders, system
                                      > loggers, etc.), but I don't see how that applies to the front end guys.
                                      >
                                      > If it is the Human Factors, Infra, and DB teams that are what you called the
                                      > horizontal teams, then I understand what you've said and find your
                                      > suggestions do make sense to me. If your comments include the idea of
                                      > somehow the front end teams have horizontal folks on them, I'm confused.
                                      >
                                      >> This is not to say this approach does not have problems that would
                                      >> have to be worked through. I know of no organization that uses such
                                      >> an approach.
                                      >
                                      > You mean the approach you've suggested, right? Not the one I've described?
                                      >
                                    • tony_t_tubbs
                                      ... No ... Yes, that is possible, and is being done. This helps clarify for me. The use of specialist in this paragraph implies an OO or data access
                                      Message 18 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                        --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > I am not sure how to communicate my proposal more clearly.
                                        >
                                        > Do you have the assumption that software development work should
                                        > always be done by a individual person working by themselves in their
                                        > little cubicle?

                                        No

                                        > Is it not possible for two poeple to sit together and complete a
                                        > software development subtask of a story, where:
                                        > - the generalist has the understanding of the vertical story and how
                                        > all the components should work together to accomplish that story, and
                                        > - the specialist has the deep understanding of the particular
                                        > component involved with the specific task and any consistency
                                        > constraints for that component?

                                        Yes, that is possible, and is being done. This helps clarify for me. The use of 'specialist' in this paragraph implies an OO or data access specialist. I took the term in the previous post to refer to be Infrastructure, DBAs and Usability only. With this new understanding, it seems to me there are two different and distinct types of specialists. There are the in-team specialist (OO folks and Data folks, and I guess the generalists we don't really have now) who make up the team proper, are focused on a particular product (or three), and live the life of the project. Then there are the out-of-team specialists that have the focus of corporate consistency stuff, BUT instead of coding and throwing components over the wall, they are brought in as needed and pair with the application team (which implies they will need to pair with multiple teams). We have much room for improvement here, but we do have some level of pairing going on. Typically the data folks and the DBAs do some pairing, and the OO folks and us Infra widget makers do some work together. Granted, most of this is done as a sidebar to the product which results in something like a paired approach to throwing components over the wall, but is a start.

                                        Thanks again
                                      • Steven Gordon
                                        ... Glad you get my meaning now. The whole point is to try to find a way to avoid throwing stuff over the wall, because throwing stuff over the wall makes for:
                                        Message 19 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                          On Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 11:54 AM, tony_t_tubbs <tony_t_tubbs@...> wrote:
                                          > --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...>
                                          > wrote:
                                          >>
                                          >> I am not sure how to communicate my proposal more clearly.
                                          >>
                                          >> Do you have the assumption that software development work should
                                          >> always be done by a individual person working by themselves in their
                                          >> little cubicle?
                                          >
                                          > No
                                          >
                                          >> Is it not possible for two poeple to sit together and complete a
                                          >> software development subtask of a story, where:
                                          >> - the generalist has the understanding of the vertical story and how
                                          >> all the components should work together to accomplish that story, and
                                          >> - the specialist has the deep understanding of the particular
                                          >> component involved with the specific task and any consistency
                                          >> constraints for that component?
                                          >
                                          > Yes, that is possible, and is being done. This helps clarify for me. The use
                                          > of 'specialist' in this paragraph implies an OO or data access specialist. I
                                          > took the term in the previous post to refer to be Infrastructure, DBAs and
                                          > Usability only. With this new understanding, it seems to me there are two
                                          > different and distinct types of specialists. There are the in-team
                                          > specialist (OO folks and Data folks, and I guess the generalists we don't
                                          > really have now) who make up the team proper, are focused on a particular
                                          > product (or three), and live the life of the project. Then there are the
                                          > out-of-team specialists that have the focus of corporate consistency stuff,
                                          > BUT instead of coding and throwing components over the wall, they are
                                          > brought in as needed and pair with the application team (which implies they
                                          > will need to pair with multiple teams). We have much room for improvement
                                          > here, but we do have some level of pairing going on. Typically the data
                                          > folks and the DBAs do some pairing, and the OO folks and us Infra widget
                                          > makers do some work together. Granted, most of this is done as a sidebar to
                                          > the product which results in something like a paired approach to throwing
                                          > components over the wall, but is a start.
                                          >
                                          > Thanks again
                                          >

                                          Glad you get my meaning now.

                                          The whole point is to try to find a way to avoid throwing stuff over
                                          the wall, because throwing stuff over the wall makes for:
                                          - miscommunication that lead to incorrect work and eventual rework.
                                          - building more functionality than is actually needed,
                                          - long chains of feedback loops instead of time-bounded, direct feedback loops.

                                          The organizational resistance is usually based on a specialized
                                          division of labor being a more efficient use of resources. If it were
                                          not for the 3 problems above, this might well be true.

                                          Please, understand that I have never seen an organization implement
                                          this approach. I do think it could be made to work well.

                                          Steve
                                        • MasaKevin Maeda
                                          When component team members are idle, they could do one of the following depending on priorities: - refactoring of their component s code, - improvement of
                                          Message 20 of 27 , Mar 5, 2009
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                                            "When component team members are idle, they could do one of the

                                            following depending on priorities:

                                            - refactoring of their component's code,

                                            - improvement of the performance of their component (without changing

                                            functionality) ,

                                            - help on any vertical stories outside of their component."

                                            "One solution is to get extremely formal, spec everything out in detail
                                            and coordinate a schedule of the work each component team does, but
                                            that is clearly not in the spirit of Agile. Short of that, if
                                            different teams are doing different parts of the work at different
                                            times, there will be different interpretations of what that work was
                                            supposed to do."

                                            I would add to the two statements above that I would encourage the team to do more testing before helping on vertical stories outside of their component; and if testing is done right then those tests result in more detailed documentation.

                                            My 2 cents,
                                             Masa K Maeda








                                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                                          • Tim Ottinger
                                            ... - Refactoring code - improvement of performance - help on other stories - improve test coverage ... aw, heck:
                                            Message 21 of 27 , Mar 6, 2009
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                                              ----- Original Message ----
                                              > From: Steven Gordon <sgordonphd@...>
                                              > Yes, there may be no perfect solution. So, perhaps a hybrid model might work:
                                              >
                                              > 1. Have the stories driven vertically by verticals teams.
                                              > 2. Maintain additional small teams of infrastructural component
                                              > specialists (guardians).
                                              > 3. For each task of a vertically driven story that involves extending
                                              > or modifying a specific infrastructural component, a member of the
                                              > vertical team pairs with a member of the guardian team for that
                                              > component.
                                              >
                                              > When component team members are idle, they could do one of the
                                              > following depending on priorities:
                                              > - refactoring of their component's code,
                                              > - improvement of the performance of their component (without changing
                                              > functionality),
                                              > - help on any vertical stories outside of their component.
                                              >
                                              > Steve


                                              - Refactoring code
                                              - improvement of performance
                                              - help on other stories
                                              - improve test coverage

                                              ... aw, heck: http://agileinaflash.blogspot.com/2009/02/what-to-do-when-not-pairing.html


                                              Tim Ottinger
                                              http://agileinaflash.blogspot.com/
                                              http://agileotter.blogspot.com/
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