Technical User Stories – 3 Reasons NOT to Have Them

Ron Jeffries is well known. He’s so well known that he doesn’t even have to tell you who he is. You should just know. A quick trip to his Twitter page tells you that. #ronjeffries #pwnd

Regardless, we always perk up whenever we read something he has to say. Usually it’s pretty interesting stuff. His latest blog entry tells us that we do not need technical user stories. Period.

Why is that?

Let’s break it down for the rest of us peons, shall we?

“One of the pillars of Scrum is for the Product Owner (PO) to prioritize work for the team, so that the best possible product can be delivered within the desired time and budget. Clearly, the PO is (should be) capable of pinpointing the most value. Therefore, it isn’t too smart for a development team to focus on anything other than what the PO wants.”

Since technical user stories have the promise of providing faster velocity in the future, and are different from the PO’s user stories, you end up having a priority and time dilemma: PO user stories VS. Technical user stories.

Ron Jeffries 3 Reasons to NOT Have Technical User Stories

Continue reading “Technical User Stories – 3 Reasons NOT to Have Them”

Week Retrospective 17 – Agile Sucks, Giveaway, and Denouncing Your CSM

Posts this week:

Metrics this week:

Continue reading “Week Retrospective 17 – Agile Sucks, Giveaway, and Denouncing Your CSM”

Scrum Pocket Guide – Giveaway!

This month’s giveaway is a fun one, especially tailored to our ScrumMaster audience!

Peter Saddington has recently published a Scrum Pocket Guide primer in eBook format (PDF). Details below:

There is a solid way to build software quickly, efficiently, and collaboratively. You’ve found it. This eBook on Agile software development with Scrum.

  • Any level of ScrumMaster or Project Lead can utilize this book to refine and develop their facilitation and Agile knowledge
  • Simple and easy application for you and your team
  • Know when you are ready to apply the principles through questions to ask yourself or your team
  • See the value of Agile principles applied through case studies

***Download the Introduction to the book and example chapter on High Performance Teams [here]***

Want a free copy of the Scrum Pocket Guide?

3 FULL COPIES (value $17) with 2 ways to enter:

  1. Tweet this post.
  2. Comment below.

Contest will run till end of February. Get on it. Free swag #ftw.

Want more information on the book? Get on over to:

State of Agile 2010 – Full Contributor Submissions

Agile Scout State of Agile 2010 Blog Series

Thanks to all that participated! We look forward to Agile in 2011!

Read the blog series on The State of Agile 2010 here.

Want to contribute to our next State of Agile, be a guest on Agile Scout LIVE, or contribute to Agile Scout as a writer? Let us know at info [at] agilescout [dot] com.

Wasting Time as an Agile Developer? 5 Ways to Fix Time-Bandits at Work

As developers, we are, at the end of the day, the critical path between completion and non-completion of a project. I mean, let’s face it. If we didn’t do our jobs, all the project managers out there would be out of a job! (I kid, I kid!)

Russ Sherk, a developer at Klocwork, tells us about the 5 biggest ways to waste time as a developer and what to do. Not only does Russ give us the ways to fix the issue, we’d like to add on a couple of pointers on how Agile can help with time-wasting for developers too.

Top 5 Time Wasters for Agile Developers and Fixes

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[News] – Confradar – Know Where Awesome Conferences are Happening

I absolutely love this service. Why? Because I had this idea last year and dang near built it myself! I’m always interested in going to the coolest tech conferences and any local Agile events that I can get to. But there isn’t a really good site out there that provides all of that information.

Well, that is no longer the case: is here.

The smart guys over at Agilers built this baby and it’s already getting some pretty good traction.

Do you have a conference to add? Sign up. It’s free. Get the word out.


Denounce Your CSM?

Denounce: “To publicly declare to be wrong or evil.”

An author (Scott Ambler) on the Dr. Dobbs has recently written a very compelling article on the whole Agile-certification issue.

Very much like Tobias Mayer, who late last year denounced the Scrum Alliance and all of the certifications, Scott calls all CSM’s to denounce their CSM certification.

Scott states:

  1. My hope is that all Certified ScrumMasters (CSMs) will denounce the CSM designation if they haven’t done so already. You attended a workshop; it’s nothing to brag about. Also, if you work for an organization that still wants their agile staff to have the CSM designation then you should help ensure that whoever is inflicting that constraint fully understands what it takes to “earn” the CSM.
  2. My belief is that the Certified Scrum Trainers (CSTs), and the Scrum Alliance in general, can do a lot better. In reality, you’re the ones who need to denounce the CSM scheme and to declare it over.
  3. I’m impressed with the recently formed International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) and their strategy surrounding agile certification. They appear to be on the right track and my hope is that they find a way to stay on it. Anyone offering agile training services should consider looking into this.
  4. Finally, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — The Scrum community, and to a lesser extent the agile community in general, has embarrassed itself by tolerating the CSM scheme. Enough is enough. We can do better, and until we do so, our integrity debt continues to grow.

Are you a Certified Scrum Master (CSM)? What do you think about DENOUNCING your certification?

[HT: Dr. Dobbs]

Project Managers are Killing the Profession – What to do?

“Project Managers are killing the profession.”

Jim Hannon recently posted about how underperforming and weak project managers are destroying the value of project management as a whole and is ruining the project management world for the rest of us.

Doh. That’s a bummer.

If you can get past the terrible grammar and poorly edited article, you’ll find that the three main views of project management include the following:

  1. “The PM is just a note taker.”
  2. “The PM speaks in lingo I cannot understand.”
  3. “The PM is just an obstacle and adds really no value.”

It was interesting to read through Jim’s article during the same week that another article was released on this exact topic, and gives some remedies to the above assertions!

Well, I’d like you, Jim, to meet our friend Donna, the Agilista PM. In Donna’s article on Agile Project Managers, she asserts that hiring managers WANT good Agile project managers!

Continue reading “Project Managers are Killing the Profession – What to do?”

Traps and Pitfalls of Agile Software Development

This past Black Friday 2010 I found myself outside Best Buy in a line all the way around the building in the freezing cold. As I fumbled with the thrown-out Black Friday specials pamphlet I found on the ground I wondered whether this was all worth it. An hour later, I was inside dodging the crowded tables of technology and gadgets galore. My shopping-discernment had all but dissipated into a mere memory and my buyer-rationalization began full force.

It’s easy to rationalize why we should buy something. It’s far easier to weigh the positives than the negatives. I could tell you 10 different reasons why I need the new Macbook Air. But stop me mid-sentence and ask me about the negatives? Be off with you fiend! Maybe if I had @agileforall‘s terrible experience with the new Macbook Air I may not get one…

But sometimes it’s best if we look at the negatives first. Sometimes it’s easier to find out what you want or like, by first, considering what you don’t want or dislike.

That’s what a group of guys did at the 2009 Salt Lake Agile Roundtable did. We like what they had to say.

Why Agile Fails or Why Agile Sucks:

Continue reading “Traps and Pitfalls of Agile Software Development”

[Sunday Fun] – Justin Bieber can Make Agile Awesome

With the popularity of Justin Bieber with pre-pubescent girls and some (read: many) older fans. It seems that the formula for awesomeness is as follows:


(X) + Justin Bieber = Awesome, where (X) = Anything


(Agile Scout) + Justin Bieber = Awesome

A fun little site we came across is, a simple web app that turns your website into pure awesomeness with Justin Bieber. *Note – They spelled Bieber wrong… hmm.

Continue reading “[Sunday Fun] – Justin Bieber can Make Agile Awesome”

Week Retrospective 16 – Test-Driven Development and Agile Misunderstanding

Blog posts this week:

Metrics this week:

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LIVE with Derek Huether – 2011.01.22

Thanks to all that joined in this edition of Agile Scout LIVE.

We had a lively discussion around Agile and communication and came away with a couple of pragmatic steps on how to involve different people into the discussions.

You can find out more about Agile Scout LIVE here.

Make sure you check out Derek on twitter at @derekhuether and on his blog

Agile Manifesto 2.1 – “MoreAgile Manifesto”

An interesting article by Geert Bossuyt caught our eye recently about a fresh way to look at the Agile Manifesto, or what he is calling “MoreAgile Manifesto.” We wrote about Agile Manifesto 2.0 before, and we really like the spin that Geert put together, in sum:

  • Teamwork & responsibility over Individuals and Interaction – You need great individuals and the better they interact the better it is.
  • Business Value over Working software – Software in itself has no value. It’s what you do with it.
  • Partnership elaboration over Customer collaboration – Collaborating with your customer is important, but working on a partnership is better.
  • Prepare for change over Respond to Change – It’s even stronger to create a setting where change is normal.

So, after 10 years of Agile, is it time to re-look at the manifesto? Read the Agile Scout manifesto here.

[HT: Xebia]

Pivotal Tracker Goes Freemium and Paid

For all those out there that use Pivotal Tracker as an Agile management tool are in for some news:

Pivotal Tracker will still be a free tool until July 19, 2011.

After that, Pivotal Tracker will be $7 per month.

This is an interesting turn of events that we’re hopeful will turn out for the best for them. It does, however change our review a bit on the tool: [Find our Agile tool review on Pivotal Tracker here]

It will still be free for public projects, non-profits, and educators. So if you’re in this bucket then you should be fine.

Pricing details:

  • $7 per month for up to 3 collaborators across up to 2 private projects, with 1GB of storage for file attachments $18 per month for up to 7 collaborators, up to 4 private projects, 3GB storage, and use of the Get Satisfaction, Lighthouse, and Bugzilla integrations
  • SSL encryption, Campfire and Twitter notifications, as well as API use is available for all plans. Community support, via, will continue to be open for all users.
  • Individual use will continue to be free, with no collaborators, up to 2 private projects, and up to 200MB of storage for file attachments.
  • More information on pricing is available on the new pricing page.

“At the end of the day, we’re establishing a paid model so that we can keep improving Pivotal Tracker aggressively based on your feedback, add operational capacity, and provide responsive support.” – Dan Podsedly

[See our review of Pivotal Tracker here]

Is “Agile” a Misused IT Word? – Or Just Misunderstood?

Ok. I had fun creating this poorly crafted photoshop. But when I came upon a blog that talked about misunderstood IT words the first thing that popped into my head was:

“These kids with gold and diamond grills in their mouths.”

I’m sure they would say that they dont’ misuse gold and diamonds. We (the public) just don’t understand them.

So is “Agile” a misunderstood word? I recently had coffee with a fellow Agile coach, Andrew Fuqua (@andrewmfuqua), and we talked about the necessity for Agile-thought leaders to continue to blog, continue to write, continue to educate. There is a ton of noise out there. Not all of it positive, nor really informative.

Continue reading “Is “Agile” a Misused IT Word? – Or Just Misunderstood?”

Learn More Agile Software Development Methods This Year

Forrester says “Agile Development is rapidly becoming the Norm.” As per their survey report on Agile Development Management Tools, Q2 2010, 35% of the organizations surveyed described Agile as their primary development tool. Another 16% uses iterative development. But make sure you look down the list. There are a ton of other Agile methodologies that exist under the Agile framework.

  • Agile Modeling
  • Feature-driven development (FDD)
  • Test-driven development (TDD)
  • eXtreme Programming (XP)
  • Lean development
  • Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF)
  • Agile data method
  • Adaptive Software Development
  • Six Sigma
  • Crystal
  • Behavior-driven development (BDD)
  • Etc.

Have you taken a good look at some of these? I’m currently re-reading Crystal Clear: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams by Cockburn. This book is a solid read. I would highly recommend.

If your team is doing Scrum or another methodology, understand that there are a lot of others out there. We recently wrote about Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) as a little gem to look into. Make 2011 a year when you reach out beyond what you know about Agile and learn just a little bit more and grow your craft. There is still so much still to learn! Be kaizen about it!

Mature Agile adoption? Hmm…

Continue reading “Learn More Agile Software Development Methods This Year”

LIVE Interview with Derek Huether 1/22/2011 – 10:30am

LIVE Interview this Saturday with guest @derekhuether at 10:30am EST 1/22/2011.

We’ll be broadcasting with live chat so you can ask Derek anything you want, or just join us for the web cast and see two Agile-fantics go at it. Oh, and he’s also the Project Management Zombie guy.

You can find Derek Huether on his blog at and on Twitter @derekhuether.

We’ll see you Saturday!

[Video] – Agile Scrum at Facebook

Video journalist Craig Duff took a look inside Facebook’s engineering department for a whole day and we got to see a very Agile process at work. This video came with good timing as we wrote about Mark Zuckerberg and Agile just last week.

“As we get closer to launch we work closer together, data team, engineers, designers.” – Peter Deng, Product Owner of Facebook Profiles

Peter Deng meets with the data team in the afternoon and as a Product Owner works closely with the team giving direction and course correction as needed. Very cool!

“Being all together in one room with PMs, Designers, and Product Owners helps.” – Josh Wiseman, Profile Team Engineering Manager

All the engineers at Facebook enjoy working closely together.

“We try to move very quickly here at Facebook and get user feedback very quickly.” – Peter Deng

Every action by Facebook users are recorded and used by the engineering team to understand how to better build the UI and educate users with educational text. What you’ll find on the Facebook engineering page is exactly that, a very fine-tuned process of collecting data, iterating, changing, and moving quickly to customer needs and demands:

Per the Facebook Engineering Page:

Continue reading “[Video] – Agile Scrum at Facebook”

Agile Development and RE-WORK – Look at Test-Driven Development (TDD)

You’ve probably heard that almost 50% of development is re-work, right? Yep, I’ve heard it, but I really wanted to know where this number came from so we did a bit of research. According to the Standish Group, their Chaos Report year after year tells us that IT development work is really near 50% re-work.

  1. Most people ask the question: “WHY IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?”
  2. Then people use a construction analogy: Imagine having a contractor build your new $500,000 home. But then told you they had to re-do 40-50% of it over time costing you well over your budget. You may just sue them.

I simply ask: Why is re-work given such a bad rap? As a developer, re-work is just another way of building quality software incrementally. In software development, re-work is the name of the game and it’s a fact of life for a developer. We can split hairs and have different definitions of “re-work,” but in the end, I believe we should think of re-work as something not to combat, but to embrace and minimize if you can.

You’ll never get rid of re-work. But you can minimize a little of it. For example:

  • You could just “understand” the real requirement and have it “documented” in a full BRD.
  • You could daily review the requirement with the Product Owner and make needed changes daily.
  • You could go through a detailed requirement translation exercise to functional specifications.
  • You could review functional specifications, design, architectural implications to fine-grained detail.
  • You could just repeat some/all these steps until zero ambiguity and requirements are fully understood and documented.
  • You could just code uber fast, deploy it, then fix 50% of the bugs that come out of it in the next iteration.

Sound a bit facetious? You bet. So what’s the answer to re-work? What makes sense in an Agile shop?

Answer: Test-driven development

Continue reading “Agile Development and RE-WORK – Look at Test-Driven Development (TDD)”

[Sunday Fun] – Agile Scout the Gamer? – Runescape Online Game

A little bit of Sunday fun here. Our Agile Scout Bots were scouring the internet and we came across… another Agile Scout!!! And we thought we had bought up or registered every “Agile Scout” out there…

It seems that there is a very skilled (or dedicated) player out there named “Agile Scout” on the popular free online game Runescape. Never heard of it.

So this brings up the Sunday question:

“Do you try to own all digital real estate you can when you have a brand?”


Week Retrospective 15 – Ty Pennington and the Agile Methodology Hater

This week has been a good one. We launched Agile Scout LIVE and held our very first LIVE interview. A total of 19 people showed up for the webcast simultaneously. That isn’t that bad considering we just launched and dropped a Twitter and RSS note  just hours before the actual event.

The first live interview went very well, aside from a couple of A/V issues in the beginning. No worries!

Our survey that we put out on when the best time to have LIVE interviews tells us that many people would like to see it Saturday. Interesting. Very interesting.

Make sure you take the survey here. We’ll want to be pretty consistant with our LIVE sessions, so even though there is no ‘best’ time, we’ll have to pick something.

In other news: This week in traffic we found that somebody out there has been searching for “Agile methodology hater” and came to our site 10 times.

Interesting huh? Sounds like a blog post to us!

Continue reading “Week Retrospective 15 – Ty Pennington and the Agile Methodology Hater”

Facebook’s Zuckerberg allows his Development Teams to Build the Product

A fun article by Jason Calacanis titled: “What I Learned from Zuckerberg’s Mistakes” was a great read. The biggest takeaway for us?

Zuckerberg has developers build the product:

“Facebook’s success — and mistakes — are based on its developer-driven culture, not because Zuckerberg is some evil mastermind.

The Zuckerberg Doctrine: Developers design products with significantly improved speed and functionality compared to product managers and designers, outweighing potential mistakes and drawbacks.”

Then it really hit me: Developer-driven startups always produce product faster.” – Jason Calacanis

Is this Agile? I would say so. But does this mean that we don’t need the Product Owner (An definitive Scrum actor in the whole Agile process)? Or maybe this just applies to technology startups…


[HT: Launch]

LIVE Interview with Victor Hernandez – 1/13/2011

01.13.2011 – LIVE Interview with Victor Hernandez from Agile Scout on Vimeo.

Thanks to all that participated. We had a couple of technical difficulties in the beginning, but we worked it out. Hey, we’re Agile after all right?

Total viewers was 19 people! Not bad for a last minute interview session!

Thanks again to Victor Hernandez, you can find him @vhernandez

[Make sure to check out] for the next episodes!

LIVE with Victor Hernandez – 1/13/2011, 12:30pm EST

Our first Agile Scout LIVE session comes to you in 1 hour – 1/13/2011, 12:30 EST.

This was originally going to be a test session, but we were able to grab Victor Hernandez, a Product Specialist at Version One to come on the show with us today.

We’re really excited and looking forward to it!

Make sure to TUNE in to the LIVE CHAT!

[Agile Guide] – Agile Business Intelligence – Why Agile Works with BI

As the need for business intelligence grows, companies need ways to make smarter decisions based on historical, current, and predictive data. Business intelligence (BI) isn’t just reporting. Better business intelligence is better decision-making. Sometimes called a decision support system (DSS), the way BI systems are built can have major impacts on the way a business moves and adjusts to demanding market conditions.

Sounds like serious business? Yes, it can be.

Sean McClowry tells us that it is about time for Agile BI to take the stage-front. Since Agile prides itself in collaboration, frequent releases, accommodating change, and relentlessly managing scope, it just makes sense that as BI becomes more important to businesses, an Agile approach should be the way to go.

“BI professionals have long been advocates of 90-day increments… However, incremental isn’t agile no matter how short the increments or how fast the iterations. The agile difference is in participation and interaction–not just building things quickly, but building the right things quickly. The participative model of agile brings with it the promise of breaking away from the “just another report” syndrome that plagues virtually every BI team.” – Sean McClowry

So how does Agile BI work?

Continue reading “[Agile Guide] – Agile Business Intelligence – Why Agile Works with BI”

[Agile Guide] – Agile for Technical Writers

We don’t often hear about the trials and tribulations of a technical writer. Frankly, that’s a space that may need more bloggers like Giri from to provide more valuable free content for other professional technical writers.

In Scrum, for example, we only really hear about three main players: The Scrum Team, the Product Owner, and the ScrumMaster. What about other players? In some businesses, technical writers are crucial to the entire process as they design, write, create, maintain, and update technical documentation.

What is interesting here is that there is a larger idea at stake: The idea of documentation for companies that run their businesses in an Agile manner.

Ever work for the government or DoD? What’s that documentation process look like? Doing Agile on a major security project that needs tons of documentation on development for audit reasons? Ah, the list can go on and on.

So how in the heck do you update and maintain technical documentation in an Agile environment when everything is subject to change?

Continue reading “[Agile Guide] – Agile for Technical Writers”