Experiences in Release Planning: Two Days in the Life of an Agile Newbie


said he and Sergey were going to download Python tonight and try.

Assuming Sergey would be successful was now our only hope. By applying his idea, we created a new plan that seemed to have some flexibility built into it (though admittedly, the backlog was bigger, not smaller, than we had hoped) and there was the new risk added "Python doesn't work" (see Figure 4). But Scott didn't seem very worried about Python, and if he wasn't worried, I wasn't worried. And, if it did work, we could free up a developer to document the API and to train the other teams in its use!  

Figure 4: Our revised plan  

And our only remaining issue was the risk of the new technology, which we would address in the first iteration. Exhausted, we went to bed and slept. Not well, but slept. When I woke up the next morning, I had an email and a download from Sergey and Scott in my in basket. Sergey had stayed up most of the night. He had downloaded Python and implemented 10 of the 30 total screens that we were accountable to port! Not tested, and not fully implemented, have you, but close enough to prove feasibility! Scott validated the work and we went off to breakfast.

Day Two

8:30 - 9:00 Re-Scoping

Honestly, we eagerly anticipated Day 2 and I looked forward to my time to present. But first, the product managers gave a short presentation about the revised scope and objectives for the first internal release (IR1). They had revised priorities for a few teams (including my team) and agreed to start the port of two applications for the first internal release but that we would demo only the first to our customer at IR1. "Wait a minute," I said, "I didn't say we couldn't do both by then, I just said we couldn't commit to it." "Fine," she replied, "we'll commit the first to our customer, and we'll have an internal stretch goal of porting the second."

9:00-11:00 Refining our Plan

We felt pretty good about our plan and the next two hours weren't so busy for us. By the time of this meeting, Sergey's work had circulated around the team and three other developers were also testing Python and reporting good results. One agreed to do the API work as well. We made some additional mods to the plan, talked to some of the other teams about dependencies, went through the plan with Roger (the system architect from corporate that I had met only the day before), and finalized our results. We also started a more detailed iteration planning session for iteration 1, though we didn't complete that before the general session started. That's ok , we thought, we still have Monday to finalize the plan for the first iteration.

11:00-13:00 Release Plan Review 2

We didn't think the release plan meeting would take so long this time around, but it did as the teams were pretty tired and there was a little more problem solving this time around. Probably because no one wanted to spend another day at this, so we were really getting down to business . Most of the time was spent with team "Beemer," who was doing some longer term game development work on a new platform. When this team presented, Bill noted that it had no value delivery (nothing demonstrable) planned in IR1, he questioned why and what they were doing. There were some really awkward moments for a time there and some of us couldn't help but snicker at the fact that

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