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Visual Collaboration for Agile Development and Scrum

Visual Collaboration for Agile Development and Scrum

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Virginia based media management and distribution provider V Brick Systems needed a way to continue its daily scrum sessions when it opened a second development office in Connecticut. Learn how Human Productivity Lab's Howard Lichtman designed an implemented an agile-scrum solution to keep the collaboration running smoothly.
Virginia based media management and distribution provider V Brick Systems needed a way to continue its daily scrum sessions when it opened a second development office in Connecticut. Learn how Human Productivity Lab's Howard Lichtman designed an implemented an agile-scrum solution to keep the collaboration running smoothly.

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Published by: Human Productivity Lab on Jun 18, 2013
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46
 
www.TelepresenceOptions.com
 Visual Collaboration for AgileSoftware Development and Scrum
by
steve wilson
the Problem: scrum DisPersal
W
hat’s a ScrumMaster to do? When media management anddistribution provider VBrick Systems opened a seconddevelopment oce in January, it needed a way to continueholding its daily Scrum sessions, Scrum o Scrums, and ReleasePlanning Sessions—the key components o the Agile sowaredevelopment methodology it relies on or work organization. Te15-minute Scrum at the start o every morning gets the company’sdevelopers on track and covers the time they report their progresson projects to the ScrumMaster, who tracks the project workow on a Scrum “Big Visible Chart” and makes changes to identiy blockages. Tis process literally gives everyone a picture o whatthey need to do or the day.“Te Scrum idea seems simple, but it’s a hard discipline,”says Bryan Watts, one o VBrick’s ScrumMasters. “People wantto say ‘Here’s what I did yesterday and here’s why,’ but all theScrumMaster needs to hear is what you’re doing today and i you’re blocked or not—to keep it short, sweet and on track.”With the oce expansion, these invaluable Scrum sessionshad the potential to become a logistical nightmare. How to gatherthe developers in Connecticut and the new oce in Herndon,Virginia (as well as employees working rom home) or individualprogress updates, sprint planning sessions and reviews? How to get everyones eyeballs on the same Big Visible Chart and itsever-moving Post-It Notes? How to gauge body language overconerence calls? How to keep on giving VBrick’s customers thequality o service they’d come to expect?“With the expansion we suddenly had developers all over the
VBrick’s Scrum room combines video-conerencing and data collaborationdelivered to a large interactive white-board. A collaborative PC either hostsor is connected to all o VBrick’s pro-ductivity applications, including Micro-sot Lync, Microsot Ofce, VersionOneand internal tools. A Crestron panelsimplifes calling and data display. Theroom has been designed to be eec-tive or both video and local meetings.
 
Summer 2012 47
place—in Connecticut, Virginia and athome,” says Henry Zektser, VBrick’s chie soware architect. “We had to get everyoneon the same page, literally and guratively.We needed to nd a way that they’d be ableto see and interact with each other as i they were all in the same room. Ultimately,we had to nd a seamless solution thatwould bring everyone together so that they all had a shared, solid understanding o what was going on.”
the consultation: scrum meetshuman ProDuctivity lab
T
he project came to ruition throughserendipity. Over lunch with VBrick’sCEO, HPL President Howard Lichtmandiscussed a recent project designing anAgile-Scrum solution or a 2,000-persontelecommunications company. Lichtmanrecounts the CEO’s reaction: “He said,‘that’s unny. We just opened a new ocein Virginia, we just hired a new CO andchie soware architect working out o that oce that will be managing teamsin Connecticut and remotely, and we justput our developers through Agile-Scrumtraining.’” Tey discussed how VBrick already had in place some o the necessary components: LieSize videoconerencingendpoints, Microso Lync, and VBrick’sown Distributed Media Engine, a platormdesigned to record, store, archive, andstream videoconerencing sessions, amongother applications. Te challenge wastying it all together into a system thatwould make it easy to use and optimizethe less-than-ideal conerence roomspace. And then there were the small butessential touches needed to make thecompany’s visual collaboration as efectiveas possible—camera angles, lighting,control system, and user interace; and allo the various elements that make visualcollaboration run more smoothly.
the next steP: beyonD thescrum
I
n the rst ew months o operation,the system required a ew minutes o backend work to make sure everyonecould log in successully and the HPLmade changes to the Crestron menu thatimproved the ease-o-use. But now thatthe companies have streamlined the sign-on process into a one-button experience,the company plans to use the new systemor more than Scrum. VBrick’s VicePresident o Product Rick Rumbarger sayshe plans to roll out the room or otherareas o the company in coming months,including executive-level meetings,project management, and I. “Te HPLsdesign supercharged our Scrum sessionsbut also provided tools to improve every meeting held in that room,” he says. “Now we plan to use it or everything.”
the solution in action:scrumming along
O
nce in place, the Agile-Scrum roomworked better than the company hadhoped. Now, at the daily Scrum, sprintplanning sessions, and other development-related meetings, the ScrumMaster has thepower to share the company’s VersionOneAgile-Scrum project management toolsto large-ormat screens at each locationor over web conerence to the laptops o remote participants. Te participants canwork efectively with data, whiteboardinginteractively with remote sites, annotatingover diagrams and saving those annotationsand whiteboard drawings to les that canbe worked on at later times or emailed to allparticipants directly rom the room.“Being able to have that whiteboard upin both rooms during the Scrum makes ahuge diference,” says Watts. “Te ScrumMaster can be touching tiles and say ‘OKwe’ll throw this down until later, butwe’ll bump this up instead.’ I can makechanges in ront o the group and remoteparticipants and capture their eedback in VersionOne as the discussions arehappening.”Te SMARBoard’s ability to shareother images has also proven a boonor the team. “Te solution has madethe process o explaining and workingthrough problems much more ecient.For example, not long ago we were usinga particular diagram that was very denseand would have been a pain to explain toeveryone over the phone. But with thissolution we were able to call it up on thewhiteboard and work it through it in veminutes,” says Zektser. “Tis is signicant,because not only does it save precioustime, it also makes comprehending theprocess so much easier or everyoneinvolved. It makes meetings go aster, butit also saves a lot o efort and conusionon the backend, because there’s no
agile softwareDeveloPment& scrum: a P
Agile sotware development, or theuninitiated, is an iterative and incrementalsotware development methodolog with a ew simple ke precepts: workingsotware is delivered requentl withcontinuous eedack rom customersand stakeholders, while the sotwaredevelopment ccle is time-oxed andlocked-down into “sprints” where nochanges are permitted until the currentplanned unctionalit is fnished.Agile teams are small (the average sizeis seven memers plus or minus two) andcross-unctional, including people dedicatedto planning, designing, coding, and testing.Team memers ideall work together ina collaorative workspace where the requentl rain storm, prolem solve andparticipate in a short, fteen minute dail meeting called a Scrum. During Scrums,team memers report on what the didesterda, what the’re doing toda andwhat roadlocks stand in their wa. TheScrumMaster manages the process,keeping the team ocused on the currentsprint goal and deliverales with help roman all-encompassing “big Visile Chart”similar to a Kanan oard.
VBrick Sotware Architect and ScrumMaster BryanWatts makes a change to his team’s Task Boardin VersionOne in Herndon where it is mirrored ona large-ormat display in Connecticut. The set-upalso reaches remote team members over webconerencing, and the meeting is recorded orthose who can’t make it.

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