Wednesday Afternoon, Half Day
Planning Agile Projects
Convention Ctr — Room 16
Cara Taber, ThoughtWorks, Inc.
Ron Crocker, Motorola, Inc.

Most software projects are very poorly planned. They often have a very impressive chart on the wall describing a plan; but that plan is so out of sync with reality that it is more dangerous than useful. The painful truth is that many projects these days are faced with changing requirements, where even half way through a release cycle you still aren’t sure what needs to go in the product. In such situations many principles of project planning are undermined, and if this isn’t recognized planning falls apart. Despite the uncertainties, agile projects must be planned and can be controlled. In this tutorial we’ll look at a simple yet effective technique that can be used to do that. The core of the ideas are based on the planning approach of XP (Extreme Programming) as described in Planning Extreme Programming. However we’ll take the techniques and extend the ideas to cover a broader range of agile processes to allow the planning approaches to fit in with processes such as Crystal and RUP. The talk will cover the purpose of planning and the basic principles of XP style planning: four variables, project velocity, yesterday’s weather, and division into release and iteration plans. With release planning we’ll look at how requirements are chunked up into features (stories), the relationship between features and use cases, how features are estimated, how features are allocated to iterations. In iteration planning we’ll look at the break down of features into tasks, allocation of tasks to people, sizing of tasks, and how an iteration is tracked. We’ll look at scaling the planning process while sticking to the underlying values, based on experiences running larger projects and global multi-site development.

Attendee Background: no specific background required

Presenters: Cara Taber has been at ThoughtWorks, Inc., an Internet professional services provider specializing in the delivery of highly strategic B2B e-Commerce solutions, for three and a half years. During that time she has been a developer, designer, analyst and project manager. In her current role as Release Plan Manager, she works closely with the team project manager focusing on planning the iterations and orchestrating the monthly 60-person all team iteration kick-off meeting. She has also published an article with Martin Fowler entitled “An Iteration in the Life of an XP Project,” which appeared in the November 2000 issue of the Cutter IT Journal.

Ron Crocker is a Senior Member of Technical Staff in the Network and Advanced Technology department in Motorola, Inc. where he is responsible for cellular system architecture and design. He has over 15 years of experience with object-oriented technologies, starting as a C++ guinea pig.

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