Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Least-Value-First, An Alternative Way To Prioritize Your Backlog.

The conventional agile wisdom* is that a product backlog should be strictly ordered in terms of business value. There are many good reasons for this that are well documented elsewhere and for the overwhelming majority of cases this maxim holds true. It is certainly an ideal that all good Customers and organisations should be striving for.

But it is not the only strategy and in some circumstances there are alternatives that may be more suitable or at the very least worth some examination. I would like to present one such alternative. It may be relevant to you and it is one I have used successfully; you should only consider this to be anecdotal evidence. As usual my thoughts are directed toward larger organisations where greater complexity often demands greater flexibility in approach but this may be helpful to the smaller team also.

The strategy involves not prioritising the most valuable stories first.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

MoSCoW Must Die

The MoSCoW method for prioritising requirements or stories is both flawed and unsuitable for truly agile projects. I have seen many man hours burned attempting to categorise stories in this fashion by people, who frankly, should know better (including me). Do yourself a favour and steer well clear.

There’s a reasonable summary here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MoSCoW_Method

If your business is in any way typical of most organisations then the characteristic you will share with everyone is that there is always more to do than the available time allows. No organisation, no matter how large, can do everything it would like to do. In fact it is more serious than that. No organisation will have the time to do all the things it considers to be absolutely essential.

And here’s why.

Friday, 16 October 2009

The ABC of Stories

Originally posted some years ago, republished and updated here because...


One of the essential tools in the Customer’s armoury is the Story. Its a simple, easy and effective little tool. My four year old nephew could write them. So why is there so much material written about it? Why the endless blogs (guilty) and tedious articles on how to write them? I’ve even seen whole books devoted to the subject!

Fortunately, after nearly ten years of writing them, using them and most satisfyingly, tearing them up I can safely say that I know a thing or two about Stories. So, here is what I consider to be the essentials of writing good Stories. You don’t need to know anything else. (note: this is just about writing the story itself. I don’t discuss prioritisation, planning, releases or any other such horrors)

It helps to remind ourselves of what the purpose of a Story is. This will greatly demystify their production.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

80% of drivers think they are better than average.

The idea of the Superiority Bias is not a new one and yet I find that it permeates software development to such an extent that it is alarming.

The quote that makes up the title of this blog is from a now famous study conducted by McCormick et al in 1986* which tested a number of drivers on eight different aspects of their driving ability.

The outcome was that 80% rated themselves as above average.

This Superiority-Bias, that we often assess ourselves to be better than we actually are, has some fairly profound implications for software and product development. It is also something the shrewd Customer should be aware of.

Our New Blog

Hello All,

We have decided to migrate our articles, blogs and posts to this new location. At the same time its a great way to do a little housekeeping; delete the irrelevant, update the aged.

So, over the coming months some of our old material will reappear in a new and invigorated form. Some of the chaff will be cut.

And of course there will be plenty of new food for thought.