Now that the New Year is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to add another chapter to my Going Agile series. My last entry left off at the point where we had prepared our backlog, created team rules and defined “Done”. Now we were ready for our first Iteration Planning meeting.
In our “team room” we had all the essentials in place for this meeting: stacks of color-coded cards (for capturing the various to do’s, or tasks), pens and highlighters, our Scrum board (with pins) to stick our tasks onto, and a keg of Red Bull, because we had no clue as to how long this meeting was going to last.
Everyone was anxious to get started, so I (as the Product Owner) introduced the first story that we were going to work on. I gave as much detail as I could about what the feature was, what it should do, the benefits the users would get from it, and so on. The team asked questions, and I answered them as best I could.
Once I was done talking, the most remarkable thing happened: the team started to write down the various tasks required to complete the story. It started off quietly, as all the team members started writing on their cards, and to be honest, I was a little concerned that this was going to be the way this meeting would go. (Where’s the Red Bull, because this is shaping up to be a long and painful session.) But then the questions started coming from all sides –developers asking other developers questions, testers asking developers questions, documentation asking developers questions, developers asking testers questions, follow up questions, and so on. I vividly remember watching this, and the frenetic pace at which things were happening. I had worked with this team for a few years (doing Waterfall development), but I had never seen this level and intensity of communication and cooperation from the team. Once all the questions were asked (and answered), the task cards were collected and posted to our Scrum board. On to the next story, rinse and repeat…
The meeting lasted another few hours as we worked our way down the backlog and watched the new tasks go up on the Scrum board. By the end of the meeting, we were ready to start our Iteration. As the team left the room, they each moved a task from the “To Do” column to the ‘In Progress’ column, and the Iteration was underway.
It was truly incredible to see this team come together and work as a team so quickly, and to see how motivated they were to move to this new way of developing software. The next chapter in this series will look at the trials and tribulations of that first iteration.