Global SCRUM GATHERING® New Orleans 2014 - The Product

My last blog post covered some important points I took away from the Scrum Alliance Global Scrum Gathering in New Orleans that pertained to The Team. This was an excellent conference and I learned many new things. Also, practices that I use regularly were expanded and important details were added to my knowledge base.
This post is about The Product. My final post will be for The Scrum Master.

The Product

I focused my session attendance on Product Planning, User Story development, User Experience and Execution.

Product Planning

One of the sessions I attended used the MoSCoW planning technique combined with Size and Dependency of stories.

The MoSCoW technique organizes stories as follows:

  • Must Have
  • Should Have if all possible workarounds exists
  • Could have if not affected by anything else
  • Would like in the future but not necessary now.

We then identify the size of the story using your favorite size measure along with any dependencies.

We identified priority as follows:

  • Small Must Haves are at the top of the backlog, larger stories follow.
  • Dependent stories are included with the must haves.
  • Should Haves and their dependencies are next.
  • Could Haves and their dependencies are next
  • Would like to have are last.

We decide what fits into a sprint or release by reviewing order of the stories in the backlog and their dependencies. Our velocity may require us to shuffle the backlog order to accommodate story dependencies.

This seems to me to be a good alternative to simple drag-and-drop for stories in a backlog. I will look for an opportunity to use this in one of my future projects.

Estimation

The closing keynote was presented by Richard Sheridan of Menlo Innovations. This keynote got a standing ovation and I recommend that you take the time to watch it.

Menlo uses a very simple process that closely follows XP practices. For estimation, they estimate their stories in hours. They use hand written stories and post them on the wall.

The physical paper for each story is folded to represent the size of the story. A 16 hour story is an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper. An 8 hour story is folded in half. A 4 hour story is folded in half again.

A planning sheet is used that represents the capacity for a week’s worth of work. At planning meetings, Menlo’s clients place the folded sheets they want delivered in the next week on the planning sheet. 

This simple and unambitious approach struck me as very powerful. It shows what will be delivered and more important, what will not. Watch the keynote to see the details of this and much more.

User Stories

I attended a very interesting session that presented a simple technique for splitting user stories. This very simple technique recommends:

  • Conjunctions – look at connector words like and, or, if ect.
  • Generic Words – look for generic words that can be replaced with more specific terms.
  • Acceptance Criteria – look at a stories acceptance criteria, perhaps it can be another story.
  • Timeline Analysis – pretend a story is done. Review what happens when the story is used. This may lead to smaller stories.

All of these points are available on a single Quick Reference Guide.

It was also recommended that stores be split by a non-technical person.

I also noticed that many people at the conference use personas as a way to define user stories.

User Experience

The topic of user experience came up a number of times. Menlo actually develops separate stories for UX work. One person mentioned the term Lean UX.  A book is available in addition to the blog post.

An interesting point some mentioned about lean UX is using low fidelity artifacts like paper prototypes.

Execution

The opening keynote was by Kenneth Rubin who wrote the book Essential Scrum. He used the analogy of a relay race. He pointed out that we should Follow The Baton Not The Runner. The point here is the deliverable is what is important.

In relation to planning, he pointed out that the reason we plan, is to make meaningful decisions and have a reasonable chance for success. 

Throughout the conference I heard people mention the Last Responsible Moment and Definition of Ready. I plan to keep these concepts in the front of my mind more in the future.

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