Agile Developer’s Journal: A Day in the Life

[article]
Summary:

People are creatures of habit, particularly programmers: We seek consistency, whether it is the tried-and-true waterfall/SDLC method or our morning routine of reading the newspaper with a hot cup of coffee. Companies or projects looking to adopt an agile process neglect the fundamental concern of an individual developer: "What will my day to day look like working in an agile environment?"

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat.

“A Day in the Life” — The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

People are creatures of habit, particularly programmers: We seek consistency, whether it is the tried-and-true waterfall/SDLC method or our morning routine of reading the newspaper with a hot cup of coffee. Companies or projects looking to adopt an agile process usually begin by asking, "What is the return on investment?" and "Will projects be delivered better, faster and cheaper?" While these are excellent management-focused questions, they neglect the fundamental concern of an individual developer: "What will my day-to-day look like working in an agile environment?"

People are creatures of habit, particularly programmers: We seek consistency, whether it is the tried-and-true waterfall/SDLC method or our morning routine of reading the newspaper with a hot cup of coffee. Companies or projects looking to adopt an agile process usually begin by asking, "What is the return on investment?" and "Will projects be delivered better, faster, and cheaper?" While these are excellent management-focused questions, they neglect the fundamental concern of an individual developer: "What will my day to day look like working in an agile environment?"

Let’s ease this concern by walking through a typical “day in the life” of an agile developer. Specifically, we’ll look at a typical mid-iteration day (agile prescribes a planning/demo session followed by a one- to four-week-long iteration). We will examine the developer’s responsibilities, challenges, and gratifications. We will also look at typical daily interactions the developer experiences. While there are many forms of agile, our focus is a Scrum management and an XP engineering process that utilizes local (collocated) team members.

Background
At the personal finance company “Re-Balancing Act,” I am a developer working in a dynamic team tasked with delivering a Web 2.0 financial application. The application will allow clients to enter in their current portfolio (stocks, bonds, etc.) and will provide a suggested rebalance based upon criteria such as age, income, and risk tolerance (with all the fancy visuals Web 2.0 technologies offers). The agile team consists of six developers, a ScrumMaster who maintains the agile process, and a client manager who represents the stakeholders.

The team observes the key agile communication practice of collocation where the ScrumMaster and developers are situated in a large room at shared desks. Continuing with another agile practice, the room has a large white board for collaboration and an office across the hall is well stocked with snacks and drinks. However, even with the allure of food, the client manager decided to keep his large corner office and is sitting down the hall. Diagram 1.1 depicts our office setup.

Figure 1

 

Diagram 1.1 – Office Setup

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About the author

Geoffrey Bourne's picture Geoffrey Bourne

Geoffrey Bourne has 12 years of experience in the financial IT field, successfully managing several globally distributed Agile teams in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hong Kong, Japan, and the U.S. He has worked at J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and several start-ups. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Washington amp; Lee University and is a certified Sun Java Developer and PMP. Geoffrey is currently a Vice President at a major financial institution in the New York Private Bank and Personal Wealth Management divisions and can be contacted at gbourne@gmail.com

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