Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Releases with themes

When I'm doing agile training, I commonly advise customers to give names to releases and iterations to help them decide which stories belong in which iteration, but it's not something that I see many customers do and since I rarely take that role not something I do much myself either. But today I got some direct experience!

Cogent is building a software application to help you organize your personal work, and I'm acting in the sponsor role. The details of the functionality are being sorted out by someone else, but I'm the person focussed on the operational requirements and how we get it to the billable stage as quickly as possible (everyone else in interested in this too, but it's my particular role). Yesterday afternoon I added operational stories to our list, and then prioritised the list story by story, and got what looked like a reasonable response.

Today I went back and created some themed releases, and gave them names.

  1. Homely - Ugly, but interesting. This release is usable, but won't win any design awards. We want it first because we're using the application internally now, so functionality is important. This is the release we'll pass to "friendly" testers for feedback, so it needs to support a small set of concurrent users without getting too slow. Codename : Homer

  2. Prettified - Like Homer, but certainly nicer looking and generally more usable. We still won't be confident in our backup plan, nor have stress tested the application, but it will look professional and be generally usable. Codename : Marge

  3. Robust - we need this one to be tough, so it can withstand the abuse of a lot of people. This is the point where we can do an open beta - still not charging, but giving the general public access. Codename : Bart

  4. Billable - something that we feel we could reasonably charge money for. Codename : Lisa

With these releases in mind I went back and looked at my priorities again, and found that some of them were quite different. If you are a customer on an agile project, I strongly encourage you to do the same thing - you may be surprised by the difference it makes.

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