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Planning Game and Tracking Velocity

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  • dbrady@es.com
    Question. I m about to start playing the Planning Game in earnest, and I ve discovered that my little lab notebook doesn t *quite* impose enough structure for
    Message 1 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
      Question.

      I'm about to start playing the Planning Game in earnest, and I've discovered
      that my little lab notebook doesn't *quite* impose enough structure for what
      I need. I've tried using an Excel spreadsheet, but that's even worse. When
      I *do* remember to fire it up, I can never get the time formulae to work
      right.

      I've convinced my manager to let me play the planning game and track
      velocity as an experiment to see if my estimates and scheduling is/gets any
      better than the currently standard SASTW* model.

      * ShrugAndSayTwoWeeks

      I've heard several opinions on this group that writing time tracking
      software just isn't the way to go. It does strike me as not being the
      SimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork.

      So, I'm wondering... does anyone have any paper forms they use regularly?
      Something that lets them keep track of

      (*) What needs to be done
      (*) How long that's expected to take
      (*) What got done
      (*) How long it actually took

      with an eye towards being able to easily calculate velocity and such?

      Thanks,

      -dB
      --
      David Brady
      dbrady@...
      I don't know or trust Demeter.
    • Andrey V Khavryutchenko
      dbrady, ... d So, I m wondering... does anyone have any paper forms they use d regularly? Something that lets them keep track of d (*) What needs to be
      Message 2 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
        dbrady,

        >>>>> "d" == dbrady wrote:

        d> So, I'm wondering... does anyone have any paper forms they use
        d> regularly? Something that lets them keep track of

        d> (*) What needs to be done
        d> (*) How long that's expected to take
        d> (*) What got done
        d> (*) How long it actually took

        d> with an eye towards being able to easily calculate velocity and such?

        The latest one is not necessary to calculate velocity "and such". What is
        the goal of collecting this metric?

        BTW, I'm going to build web-app, supporting XP style of project management
        anyway, since my case is little different from 'classic' XP. I have got a
        remote customers (real , not XP) and they are _very_ keen on keeping track
        on project progress.

        --
        Andrey V Khavryutchenko http://kds.com.ua/
        Offshore Software Development http://www.kbi.kiev.ua/~akhavr

        When something truly important needs to be said it often
        makes people uncomfortable -- Roger Toennis
      • Dossy
        ... The popular answer to this question is a 4x6 index card . ... How many stories are you going to complete in an iteration? Four? Five? Ten? To sum up 10
        Message 3 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
          On 2001.01.31, dbrady@... <dbrady@...> wrote:
          > So, I'm wondering... does anyone have any paper forms they use regularly?

          The popular answer to this question is "a 4x6 index card".


          > Something that lets them keep track of
          >
          > (*) What needs to be done
          > (*) How long that's expected to take
          > (*) What got done
          > (*) How long it actually took
          >
          > with an eye towards being able to easily calculate velocity and such?

          How many stories are you going to complete in an iteration? Four?
          Five? Ten? To sum up 10 numbers (one off of each index card)
          shouldn't take but a few minutes, at worst. IMHO, that's easy
          enough to calculate velocity.

          You write down a Story per card, break it up into tasks (if necessary)
          on the same card, write estimates on the card ... then, say, on
          the back write down who did what and when and how long they spent
          doing it.

          If you really need more space, staple two cards together. That
          should be rare enough that you won't have many stapled cards to
          really be bothered by it ...

          They're lightweight (in both use and physically), ultra-portable,
          inexpensive and easily obtainable ... and the learning curve is
          really smooth. (Anyone who's challenged by using index cards
          probably are the same people who actually need the explanation
          of how to wear a seat-belt when you're sitting on an airplane...)


          - Dossy

          --
          Dossy Shiobara mail: dossy@...
          Panoptic Computer Network web: http://www.panoptic.com/
        • Ron Jeffries
          ... Use no formulae. Just track Velocity. See the Velocity index entry in XPI or in PXP. Why is your lab notebook not structured enough? All you need for
          Message 4 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
            At 10:22 AM 1/31/2001 -0700, it seemed like dbrady@... wrote:
            >Question.
            >
            >I'm about to start playing the Planning Game in earnest, and I've discovered
            >that my little lab notebook doesn't *quite* impose enough structure for what
            >I need. I've tried using an Excel spreadsheet, but that's even worse. When
            >I *do* remember to fire it up, I can never get the time formulae to work
            >right.

            Use no formulae. Just track Velocity. See the Velocity index entry in XPI
            or in PXP.

            Why is your lab notebook not structured enough? All you need for velocity
            is story points done over time. All you need for task tracking is time-in,
            time-to-go for each task. What happens if you track that and wait to see
            what else you want to know?

            How many programmers are there? A dozen will easily fit in a couple of
            notebook pages.

            >I've convinced my manager to let me play the planning game and track
            >velocity as an experiment to see if my estimates and scheduling is/gets any
            >better than the currently standard SASTW* model.
            >
            >* ShrugAndSayTwoWeeks
            >
            >I've heard several opinions on this group that writing time tracking
            >software just isn't the way to go. It does strike me as not being the
            >SimplestThingThatCouldPossiblyWork.
            >
            >So, I'm wondering... does anyone have any paper forms they use regularly?
            >Something that lets them keep track of
            >
            >(*) What needs to be done
            >(*) How long that's expected to take
            >(*) What got done
            >(*) How long it actually took
            >
            >with an eye towards being able to easily calculate velocity and such?

            Again, velocity is not calculated, it is recorded. Velocity is the sum of
            the estimates on the stories actually accomplished in the iteration. If you
            want to track tasks, task velocity is the sum of the estimates on the tasks
            that actually got done (but I'd only count them if the story was complete,
            because it's so important to complete stories).

            Completion is measured by acceptance tests, because of course you have
            automated acceptance tests for all stories. (?)

            If you are into serious complexity, write the task estimates and reals on
            the back of the story cards.

            Go simple, young man. Nothing else is worth doing until you can do the
            simple thing.

            So ... what are your followup questions and comments?

            Ronald E Jeffries
            http://www.XProgramming.com
            http://www.objectmentor.com
          • Gareth Reeves
            We write our stories on index cards for Release Planning purposes and have a giant pin board where they get prioritized. For Iteration planning we use flip
            Message 5 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
              We write our stories on index cards for Release Planning purposes and have a
              giant pin board where they get prioritized. For Iteration planning we use
              flip charts for the task breakdown of the story. Developers then sign up for
              the task by putting their initials and time estimate along side the task
              description. Estimates are done in relative degrees of difficulty, i.e. if a
              similar task took 2 last time then we estimate it as 2 this time.

              We know how many unit were successfully implemented last iteration and so
              the business team simply pick the same amount of work for this iteration. We
              just add up the numbers next to the task...

              Once the stories and tasks are assigned for the iteration we take the papers
              off the flip charts and tape them up around the room. Once a task is
              completed the owner checks it off...

              The simplest thing that could possibly work... and it works very well.

              On the last project that I coached we had a planning room that was dedicated
              to the project and the walls were covered in white boards. We used those
              instead of flipcharts. For historical (i hate saying CYA) purposes we would
              take pictures of the walls with a digital camera.

              Do you really *really* need some software to do this??

              Gareth
            • Ron Jeffries
              Outstanding. You win the Ron Jeffries Planning Game Award. Collect the next time we re both in the same bar. For use with digital cameras consider
              Message 6 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
                Outstanding. You win the Ron Jeffries Planning Game Award. Collect the next
                time we're both in the same bar.

                For use with digital cameras consider www.pixid.com, the WhiteboardPhoto
                product. Based on my use of it, it works as advertised.

                Go, Gareth!

                R

                At 02:56 PM 1/31/2001 -0600, it seemed like Gareth Reeves wrote:
                >We write our stories on index cards for Release Planning purposes and have a
                >giant pin board where they get prioritized. For Iteration planning we use
                >flip charts for the task breakdown of the story. Developers then sign up for
                >the task by putting their initials and time estimate along side the task
                >description. Estimates are done in relative degrees of difficulty, i.e. if a
                >similar task took 2 last time then we estimate it as 2 this time.
                >
                >We know how many unit were successfully implemented last iteration and so
                >the business team simply pick the same amount of work for this iteration. We
                >just add up the numbers next to the task...
                >
                >Once the stories and tasks are assigned for the iteration we take the papers
                >off the flip charts and tape them up around the room. Once a task is
                >completed the owner checks it off...
                >
                >The simplest thing that could possibly work... and it works very well.
                >
                >On the last project that I coached we had a planning room that was dedicated
                >to the project and the walls were covered in white boards. We used those
                >instead of flipcharts. For historical (i hate saying CYA) purposes we would
                >take pictures of the walls with a digital camera.
                >
                >Do you really *really* need some software to do this??
                >
                >Gareth
                >
                >
                >
                >To Post a message, send it to: extremeprogramming@...
                >
                >To Unsubscribe, send a blank message to:
                >extremeprogramming-unsubscribe@...
                >
                >Ad-free courtesy of objectmentor.com


                Ronald E Jeffries
                http://www.XProgramming.com
                http://www.objectmentor.com
              • jent@ioink.com
                In my little shop of (4) programmers, we have one big white board showing the current iteration with story and task numbers. story task task task story task
                Message 7 of 8 , Jan 31, 2001
                  In my little shop of (4) programmers, we have one big white board
                  showing the current iteration with story and task numbers.

                  story
                  task
                  task
                  task
                  story
                  task
                  task
                  task
                  task
                  task

                  Each task is half a day, unless otherwise noted. (3-6 hours is
                  allowed per task). We all figure out the tasks together, then the
                  person who signs up gets a chance to adjust (this works well because
                  we have a high concentration of less experienced developers who are
                  learning how to plan and estimate). Then I, as the tracker, get to
                  set up the dates.

                  Each task's target completion date with a half day granularity is
                  posted on the wall on an erasable 30 day calendar (each person has a
                  color) big as life. That is pretty much it for schedule tracking,
                  very low maintenance because everyone can see what is going on.

                  We also have an automated time tracking system that tracks stories,
                  but not tasks. This works OK for its purpose, which is to track
                  actual engineering hours. It has proven to be pretty much useless
                  for historical metrics, though. In trying to use the history for
                  preparing new estimates, and I ask "what stories have we done that
                  are similar to this one?" everyone gets all hung up on
                  what "similar" means. I am currently stuck in my own "function
                  point" oriented thought process on this topic and have not come up
                  with a good solution (i.e. one that can be done in a reasonable
                  amount of time by the developers themselves). Also, the experience
                  level (maybe my own) is probably playing a big role in this issue.

                  Our on time record has improved about 200% since we started planning
                  this way. This makes me VERY heppy. Before it was take-your-best-
                  guess-then-double-it-and-pray. The process of task oriented
                  estimating (simple but effective) has made all the difference. Being
                  able to map the task to a calendar within a day or so is such a huge
                  leap in status tracking, I will never work without a plan on this
                  level again.

                  The key is to keep it small. Trying to estimate 500 tasks this way
                  would certainly be a disaster, not to mention giving you a headache
                  from the smell of the erasable markers.
                • Gareth Reeves
                  ... Something in my brain makes it impossible to say no to beer... You re on. Gareth
                  Message 8 of 8 , Feb 1, 2001
                    > Outstanding. You win the Ron Jeffries Planning Game Award.
                    > Collect the next
                    > time we're both in the same bar.

                    Something in my brain makes it impossible to say no to beer... You're on.

                    Gareth
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