Kanban Experience Complete – Thank You LSSC10

So last week we wrapped up our final regression cycle prior to releasing so I decided to have a project retro with all team members (product owners included). What no one knew is that I took probable 20 pictures over the course of the last 4 months as memories. I put these memories into a PowerPoint and asked everyone to write down what memories they had about that picture. Each team member wrote down on one sticky note what their thoughts were. Based on the sticky notes, we captured the top things we wanted to change, continue to do, or stop doing going forward. Here are some of the results.

  1. Continue to use the “wall” as our visual control. Everyone thought it provided great visibility to what was going on. (Big thanks for Chris Schinkle for the presentation that inspired me)
  2. Continue to use WIP limits in each column. Most of the conversations were related to completing testing prior to starting a new card. Team members would say, “’let’s finish this card, prior to starting a new one.”
  3.  Let stick to 15 minutes during the standup. Sometime we started problem solving during this meeting.
  4.  Let’s implement Mercurial so that we don’t have headaches over branching and merging.

Overall, everyone learned a lot and had fun doing it. Bottom line is LSSC10 was well worth it. Now, off to Agile2010 to learn some more.


Product Owner Kanban Board

This week we received our upstream whiteboard, also referred to as our Product Owner Kanban board. Here is a list of reasons why we decided to go with Product Owner Kanban board:

  1. Needed to provide development with a view of what was coming
  2. Needed to ensure that the Product Owner was completing certain activities before development started working on a feature (“Making work Ready”)
  3. Noticed that some features were too big to work on prior to giving them to development (Breaking work down)
  4. Didn’t have a standard way of handing work off
  5. Wanted to prevent piling work onto development
  6. Product Owner felt left out without his on board J

Almost all of these reasons were identified when the development team made their work visible and when we noticed that work was getting bottlenecked in testing.

Later this week I’ll post some status reports that I have created for stakeholders that show progress.

Here is our some of the pictures of our new Product Owner Kanban board as well as a link to some slides I created.

Always open to suggestions if you have any.


Paper Airplane Game

Today we did an exercise to see the benefits of setting Work In Progress Limits (WIP). The exercise is called The Airplane Factory Game.


Here were our takeaways:

1)      If a new request is added, it is easier to complete it if we have balance and WIP limits.

2)      Having everyone work as fast as they can doesn’t work.

3)      We also had a good discussion about adding requirements to something that is just about done. It’s better to file a requirements defect and fix it right away rather then moving that feature back to do. Right now our team struggles with requirements changing just as we are about to complete a feature.

Overall, it was a good team building experience and a lot of fun. Plus we learned something we can use in our work.

Kanban Board – Making Work Visible – Day 7

I continue to change things to make it feel better for the team and myself. This week I have added a few things to help:

1)      Bug avatars – I added bugs to cards that have open defects. So now you can look a card and visually see how many open defects there are.

2)      Policies – I also started adding “policies” to column. These are kind of like checklist to make sure we are doing the correct things prior to moving it to the next column.

3)      Road Blocks – I also made it visible if a card is blocked by something. You can see a big “roadblock” sticker. This helps to quickly identify what is preventing a card from moving forward.

4)      Snake on the Wall – I also started to make it visible if people are working on something other than the cards, this way we can reflect if we need to make a change in the department to address something. http://www.infoq.com/news/2008/12/snake-on-the-wall

Some of the things that we are struggling with now are:

  • WIP – I really need to crack down on how much work can be started at once. We didn’t have anything for testing to test so they just started testing all kinds of weird combinations that created a bunch of defects.
  • Done vs. Done/Done – There are some features that work and work fine, but since there are open defects, the Product Owner team thinks they are not done. I’d argue and say that it is working as expected, and we are chasing the 20% perfection that could go on forever. At some point you have to move on.
  • Metrics – Need to start keeping track of how long cards stay in a column. It is kind of tuff right now because most cards are in progress or testing because we are just finishing up a project. However, I think I should just start or I will continue to make excuses on not tracking it.

Overall the board is working great to make things visible and drive the right behaviors.

Day 2 – Kanban Board

Today was not very productive. Had all kinds of other meetings plus a doctors appointment. I did however make some lines on the baord which already created plenty of dicussions. Both testing and development were excited about the board and willing to give it a try. They all agreed that our electronic board “hides” data and does not give a good view.

Tomorrow I only have one meeting and hope to make a major dent.

I think I am going to start with what @markotaipale recommended.

Day 1 – Kanban Board

Here is our new white board where my Kanban board will go. I stopped at Office Depot and picked up all kinds of stickers and dots to help with making work visible.
My thoughts on columns are:
1) Done – Not in Production
2) Testing
3) Ready for Testing
4) Development
5) Ready for Development
6) Backlog

I am sure it will change, but I thought we could start with this. Let me know if you have other tricks or thoughts.