Sunday, February 15, 2009

Agile Thinking – Enhance Personal Productivity

It’s a tough world right now, most organizations are being asked to get more done with less. In an earlier post I talked about MoSCoW ratings as a way to prioritize user stories. MoSCoW ratings can be used to prioritize many things. Prioritizing tasks with MoSCoW ratings in a to-do is list is just one way of using Agile thinking to boost personal productivity.

When I am overwhelmed I use MoSCoW to prioritize personal tasks.

M - MUST do this task. In this context MUST is similar to Steven Covey’s Important / Urgent Quadrant. Schedule time to handle this task now.

S - SHOULD do this task. The world won’t end if it is not done today. But it’s a task that if it does not get done could lead to problems. This task should remain in your personal task backlog (to do list).

C - COULD do this task. This task is neither urgent nor important now. This task could remain in your personal task backlog (to do list) or be delegated.

W - WON'T do this task. Doing this task won’t move the project forward or provide any value. Delete this task.

We can’t add more hours in the day but we can spend the time we do have on the right things By looking applying MoSCoW ratings to tasks and responsibilities, you can make sure you are focused on the right priorities and remove waste by not spending time on needless tasks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

User Acceptance Tests - Test for Success and Build Confidence in Your Agile Team

Getting users stories from your product owner is one of many ways software requirements are conveyed to the agile team. However there is one key companion to the user story, the user acceptance test. The user acceptance test closes the cycle by providing the criteria the product owner will use the test the user story. The agile team can use both the user story and user acceptance test together to ensure they understand requirements from the product owner.

Just as when writing user stories, sometimes the product owners need help with writing user acceptance tests. It’s common to have a QA engineer assist in the process of writing user acceptance tests. I recommend using a QA engineer to make sure the software tests are clear of ambiguity.

At the end of the sprint, the agile team demonstrates the completed user stories to the product owner and validates success by executing the user acceptance tests. This software product demonstration confirms to the product owner that the software meets the requirements specified via user stories.

Running a software product demonstration and passing all the user acceptance tests is a big confidence builder for the team and the product owner.

User Story + User Acceptance Test = Clearer understanding of what the product owner wants and how the agile team can test for success.