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An Appreciative Inquiry Into an Exceptionally Successful Agile Project

An Appreciative Inquiry Into an Exceptionally Successful Agile Project

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Published by: api-26528332 on Jan 01, 2010
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09/28/2010

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An appreciative inquiry into an exceptionallysuccessful Agile project
Summary
Appreciative inquiry is a philosophy which believes that a team
which inquiresinto problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same but anorganization which tries to appreciate what is best in itself will discover moreand more of what is good. Appreciative Inquiry utilizes a cycle of 4 processes
 
 
Discover
:
Identify the processes that work well
 
 
Dream
:
Envision the processes that would work well in the future
 
 
Design
:
Plan the new processes
 
 
Deliver: Implement the proposed design
 
Our current project is a large, long development exercise with 40 peopleworking on it for about 10 months. It has been highly successful, it wasdelivered on time, on budget and everyone starting from the client CIO to theend users of the system have been very satisfied with the project. When weconducted an Appreciative inquiry into our project, wewere genuinely surprised at the number of small things we had donedifferently from our regular project and we were convinced that the impact ofall those added together to create the exceptional results.
 In
this experience report we will share the outputs of the 'discover' phase ofour appreciative inquiry into the project. We hope that looking at what workedin our context will give you food for thought to apply to your own projects.
 
Session Type
 
60 min, Talk
 
Structure of the Session
 
Below is the outline of the structure of the session. It also provides someexamples of processes that worked for us, which we will describe in thissession.
 
Share the project context
 
 
Size
o
 
40 people at peak
 
Duration/Timelines
o
 
12 months
 
Technology
o
 
.Net
 
Business Context
o
 
Call Centre application for a Railway ticket retailer in the UK
o
 
Critical to meet the timelines and the budget for 2009
 
Results
o
 
Share some of the quotes from the clients
 
Describe the processes that worked well
 
 
Inception
 
o
 
Covered NFRs in good detail
o
 
Visited the live Call Centre before the inception
o
 
Had access to the old call centre app 2-3 weeks before inception
o
 
Took detailed notes for each and every session during theinception
 
 
Use of 
mindmaps
to structure the notes
 
Keeping daily notes
 
Release planning
 
o
 
Ensuring that stories were created for handling
NFRs
. Thesestories were estimated and made part of the releaseplan.(Performance was a "Feature")
o
 
Focused on getting the simple booking flow
working end toend
as soon as possible to ensure that we eliminate risk.
o
 
This was a technique followed across features (get something endto end working rather than complete every bit and piece in thefeature - the stories were split, prioritized and played that way)
 
Development
o
 
Easy and uncomplicated machine setup.
 
o
 
Task list
for each story
 
 
Testing
o
 
QAs never lagged in terms of story completion.
 
o
 
Focus on getting stories QA complete (including automation)in the same iteration
 
o
 
Running regression tests daily (well, almost)
 
o
 
Retry logic handled to circumvent regression environment timingissues - enabled to get Regression coverage to 95+%, only genuinefailures caught after that - no false negatives
 
 
Business Analysis
o
 
QA and BA wall along with usual story wall.
 
 
BA wall enabled BA to track how stories are moving inanalysis pipeline and whether we will have enough workcoming up for devs
 
 
Also helped in eliciting dev help in analysing technical / service stories
 
 
BAs could sign up for story analysis and pick up WIP story ifone of the BAs is not in
 
 
QAs when have bandwidth could look at future stories thatare complete on BA wall and start writing test scenarios forthose stories
 
 
Project Management and Execution
o
 
Built a working prototype very early using HTMLs, JS and dummyaspxs.
 
Impact:
Devs could focus purely on building the core domainfunctionality. Most of the work for linking pages together,interraction patterns etc was already done.
 
 
Impact:
We could show the prototype the the end users (Callcentre agents in Mumbai) and get very valueable feedbackon usability. It was easy to incorporate any changes in theprototype and in the actual app going forward since it wasdone so early.
 
Impact:
It also eased our conversations with the SMEsabout upcoming functionality. We could enhance theprototype with
o
 
Devs working as BA/QA without ceremony around it
 
 
Impact:
Ensured that the gap between Dev complete andQA comeplete never increased
 
 
Impact:
Ensured better analysis of the stories since BAscould pair with the Devs for technical analysis wheneverneeded
 
o
 
Use of mindmaps instead of ppt for showcases
 
 
Impact
: We were able to get the showcases mindmapscreated very quickly
 
 
Impact
: Audience liked the fact that the mindmaps allowedthem to view the agenda at all times
 
 
Impact
: We were able to capture comments
 
o
 
Story kickoffs
instead of IPM tasking
 
 
User Experience/ UI Design
o
 
Aditya(Usability Expert) was involved right from the begining of theproject.
 
Impact
: We were able to focus on usability and user interaction patterns early on. The development team, alongwith the customer team, reached a concensus on howdifferent kind of user interractions would be handled in theapp.
o
 
Visited the actual Call centre to get feedback on HTML prototypeearly to get feedback from actual users
 
Impact
: We gathered a lot of context about what the currentapp does. What are the important features etc via the callcentre visits
o
 
Standardized on the behavior of our UI elements pretty early (eg.How will all panels collapse/expand, how will panels respond tokeyboard shortcuts, how will our search results be shown
o
 
Had Ramakant (HTML/CSS expert) on the team right from thebeginning.
 
Impact
: Devs did not need to spend too much time in gettingHTML/CSS correct. This was very efficient, we were able tocreate UI much quicker 
o
 
Praveen (Java Script expert) joined the team early on. He is a UIspecialist with a lot of experience in Java Script.
 
Impact:
This meant the other devs did not get stuck toomuch with Java Script issues
o
 
Javascript unit testing.
 
 
Impact:
It made the javascript code to be clean as we had towrite tests.
 

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