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Downloading Confessions of a serial product owner

Can now be made more easily thanks to Franco Martinig at

http://www.devagile.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=346!

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Teams in an agile organisation

Version One just posted an interesting blog post on how you view teams in a successful agile organization. You should view the organization is built by separate building blocks, which together form the organization. Everyone who’s ever built something with Lego can recognize what they mean. And this can also give ground for interesting exercises for organizations adapting agile patterns. You can divide a group into different teams. All teams get the objective to build something. But when they are finished, they are to take all their different parts and make one model made up from the different team’s models (like a company which organization is optimized for the need of the specific grouping but not the whole organization). You can also play different games with special parts: when are they good (create a very special model) and when are they bad (lacking or too many).

Categories: Uncategorized

Thinking the best of people

One of my new favorite blogs, Predictably Irrational, covers many aspects of the human mind which is really worth some thought. Yesterday’s post was no different.

And, as it turns out, that is quite literally true: Harvard researchers Kurt Gray and Daniel Wegner recently found that we experience greater pain when we perceive it to be deliberately inflicted, rather than by accident.

What’s more, deliberate pain was not just more acute, it also lasted longer: whereas participants rated the unintentional shocks less and less unpleasant as the experiment progressed, the intentional shocks remained just as painful.

I have no research backing me up on this, but couldn’t it be true that this does not only apply to physical pain? If we think for example that someone is disturbing us deliberately, we react harder than if we think it was an accident? Thinking "he did that on purpose" makes stuff harder to take. We get irritated. But thinking that something is deliberate is not the same as knowing and try to remember that if you think something is deliberate, you make the pain bigger. So, why not spill the beans and stop guessing? Or even better, why think stuff is deliberate in the first place?

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Getting the best developers available

IMAG0027

Getting things to grow is a joy for many. Last spring my house was filled with plants, growing from seeds to full grown plants. I don’t know if it’s true that your own tomatoes taste better. But it was fun.

Getting things to grow is also hard work, about being patient and knowing what you’re doing. Yelling at plants or presenting them with a time line does not make them grow harder. Well, yes, breathing on plants do have some effect but that does not help if you’ve watered them too little or too much.

To summarize: it’s easier to kill a plant than to make it grow.

It is also easier to kill the creativity of a developer than grooming it and building it. Yes, there are developers not worth the name as there are plants that will never grow. But if we ignore that problem (before discussed on my previous blog), you must think that you have a number of developers and that you should everything to make them the best developers available. But what am I talking about? Well, if you have the developer Brad. There is Brad and you should make your best enabling him to the best that he can be. How you do that is up to you, your organization and the person in question. Agile methodologies include many tools enabling developers becoming the best version of themselves. But like with plants, individuals need to be considered just as such. And if you instead want the worst available developer, try following the advice of Geek Daily. In an earlier post, the reader who is a developer himself can also read some advice on how you can become the worst developer that you can be. It is so easy.

Franco Trindade also discusses a perspective on getting the best team effort and how we often are schooled and rewarded into preferring individual achievements rather than team success. His post is called The forces of Destruction, after a citation by W E Deming. For example, we’re individually graded in school.

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Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 15 – Reporting progress a more in detail

In part 14 of this tutorial, I covered the basic principle for reporting progress, so you need to grasp this chapter before moving on to this part.

When work does not follow duration

Have you ever worked on a task where the actual work does not follow the progress of the duration. Or in other words: have you ever been in a situation where most of the work is spent on the last part of the task?
If you use the default settings of Microsoft Project, you can use % Complete to specify how you’ve progressed and if you change the value, Actual Work and Actual Duration is changed. But if you want to change these values independent of each other, you can do so. First you need to remove the link between these values. This is accomplished by changing a setting.
Choose Tools–>Options–>Calculation. Deselect Updating Task status Updates Resource Status:


Now you can insert the field % Work Complete and change these values independent of each other:

When different resources work with different pace

But this is probably not what you really have in mind. The most value for this setting can be done when different resources on a task work with different pace. To be able to track this you can for example view Gantt chart and then select Window–>Split. Right Click the grey area of the form and select Resource Work. If you’ve disabled the link between % Complete and % Work Complete you can using this form update progress for different resources on a specific task.
In the example below, we can see that originally two resources were set on the task (since the Baseline Work is 0 for one of the resources). The first resource is almost done with the task and the last resource is done. But we’ve added a new resource which has not started.

When you need to track progress over time

If you need to know when resources spent time on the different tasks you can also select to work in the Resource Usage View or the Task Usage View. If you right click in the chart part you can select to add the field Actual Work. Here you can enter actual work on all assignment rows (white). I also often include the field Remaining Work in the table part so I can see how much time remains of current plan. Observe that you can on both places also choose to view the Baseline Work to see the original plan.

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Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 14 – Reporting progress simplest ways

For some, this is when Microsoft Project gets really interesting, for most, this is when you give up using the program. The most important thing you can do is decide how much effort you want to put into reporting progress. The second most important is what you want to track.

This first post is just going to show the easiest ways: an upcoming post will cover the more complicated methods.

The simplest solution – just track percentage complete

The easiest thing you can do is that you can simply just select how much of the task has been completed.

For accomplishing this you have a field called % Complete.

If you insert this column in the Gantt chart you can simply change the value. Another method is selecting Window—>Split and change the value there:

TaskForm

You can also select View—>Toolbar—>Tracking. This toolbar include butcons for some different values for % Complete.

When you start changing this value you can see that something happens to your bars in the Gantt chart. They become filled with a black line. This shows the actual progress.

Finished_task

But how is it calculated?

Well, up until now, we’ve talked about Duration and Baseline Duration. The difference between these two values were covered in the previous session of this class but to put it shortly: the Duration value shows us the current plan and Baseline Duration shows us the plan when we started the project (or the last time you saved a baseline).

Now we add two more columns into this mess: Actual Duration and Remaining Duration.

Duration = Actual Duration + Remaining Duration

The part of Duration which is Actual Duration is % Complete. Easy as pie! Or not…

I gave the example with Duration, but you can also add the same thinking to Work, Cost, etc. You can easily insert these columns and watch the values for yourself.

So, when it comes to the easiest way to track progress, it’s simply just adding this column and change % Complete.

The easiest way to get a feeling for the project is showing Project—>Project Information—>Statistics. Her you can see the current plan, Baseline, Actuals and remaining.

projstats

Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 13 – Save Baseline, A K A Start the project

Before you get cracking at completing your new project using Microsoft Project, you need to stop and think. What do you track during the project?

During the project you need to:

  • Track progress, in other words: how much resources are spent and how much time did this take
  • Make changes to the current plan
  • Compare changes in plans and actual work with the original plan

To enable these tasks, you need to track these. And now it’s time to get back to the terms Work, Duration, Unit and Cost. The meaning of these fields are in fact:

  • Work= The planned workload, according to current plan
  • Duration = The planned length, according to current plan
  • Unit =The planned allocation, according to current plan

If you look at other columns like Cost, Start, Finish, etc, you can see the same pattern: they are all about the current plan.

If you right click a column in for example Gantt chart and select Insert—>Column you can view the column list by browsing the Field name dropdown:

InsertColumn

If you scroll up to B you can see a lot of columns starting with the text Baseline. If you continue scrolling to A you find a lot of columns starting with Actual. This is what they mean:

  • Baseline Work= The planned workload, according to Baseline plan
  • Baseline Duration = The planned length, according to Baseline plan
  • Baseline Unit =The planned allocation, according to Baseline plan

 

  • Actual Work= Actual workload, according to current reports
  • Actual Duration = Actual length, according to current reports
  • Actual Unit =Actual allocation, according to current reports

Baseline is a snapshot of the plan at a given time. To save Baseline, you select Tools—>Tracking—>Save Baseline. In the dialog box you can select which baseline you want to save (you can save up to 10 baselines).

SaveBaseline

Observe that you can save the Baseline for only selected tasks or the entire project.

When you click OK, the values in the current plan (Work, duration, start, finish, cost, unit, etc) is copied to the baseline columns (Baseline Work, Baseline duration, Baseline start, Baseline finish, cost, unit, etc). So, if you view one of these columns now you can see that they are now filled. You could have accomplished the same if you manually had copied the information. But this is of course a bit faster…

You can now go a head and make changes to your plan. Since the values has been copied, you can compare them later, for example in Tools—>Project—>Project Information—>Statistics.

You can now also switch view to View—>Tracking Gantt.

TrackingGantt

The grey bars are your Baseline values while the colored are your current plan.

When you switch to the Tracking Gantt you can now see that some of the bars are red. They are the tasks which cannot be delayed without delaying the whole projects. Exactly how much they can delay the project can be found in the column Total Slack. Select Format—>Bar styles and take a look at the definitions in the chart part and you’ll probably get a hang of this.

One tip for the road: don’t delete tasks, assignments, etc after you’ve saved a baseline. Since the baseline values are stored on the same rows in the tables, the baseline values are then lost forever.

Next stop in this guide will be tracking progress!