Agile Boot Camp: An Immersive Introduction

Summary:

While not a silver bullet, Agile Methodologies are quickly becoming the most practical way to create outstanding software. Scrum, Extreme Programming, Lean, Dynamic Systems Development Method, Feature Driven Development and other methods each have their strengths. While there are significant similarities that have brought them together under the Agile umbrella, each method brings unique strengths that can be utilized for your team success. Rarely do organizations adopt one methodology in it’s pure form. Rather success is achieved by combining the best practices, creating a hybrid approach. The only way to Agile success is practice. Agile is an art more than a science. The art of Agile must be practiced and finely tuned over multiple iterations. In this three-day Agile Boot Camp you will put the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques taught to work. The classroom will be broken up into Agile teams and your expert instructor will drive each team through the Agile process from Vision down to Daily planning and execution. Your instructor will answer questions with real world experience, as all of our instructors have Agile experience “in the trenches.”

This three-day, classroom is set up in pods/teams. Each team looks like a real-world development unit in Agile with Project Manager/Scrum Master, Business Analyst, Tester and Development. The teams will work through the Agile process including Iteration planning, Product road mapping and backlogging, estimating, user story development iteration execution, and retrospectives by working off of real work scenarios.
Specifically, you will:

Practice how to be and develop a self-organized team
Create and communicate a Product Vision
Understand your customer and develop customer roles and personas
Initiate the requirements process by developing user stories and your product backlog
Put together product themes from your user stories and establish a desired product roadmap
Conduct story point estimating to determine effort needed for user stories to ultimately determine iteration(s) length
Take into consideration assumed team velocity with story point estimates and user story priorities to come up with you release plan
Engage the planning and execution of your iteration(s)
Conduct retrospectives after each iteration
Run a course retrospective to enable an individual plan of execution on how to conduct Agile in your environment.

What you will learn:

Practice and maintain a regular cadence when delivering working software each iteration
Follow the team approach; start as a team, finish as a team
Gain knowledge and understanding of Agile principles with context on why they are so important for each team
Embrace planning from Vision down to Daily level, recognizing the value of continuous planning over following a plan
Build a backlog of prioritized stories that provides emergent requirements for analysis that also fosters customer engagement and understanding
Engage in more effective estimating (story points) and become more accurate by being less precise
Pull together Agile release plans that connect you back to business expectations – including hard date commitments and fixed price models
Apply Agile testing strategies based on unit and acceptance testing, which creates a bottom up confirmation that your software works
Avoid the top mistakes made when rolling out Agile practices and how to craft an adoption strategy that will work in your organizational culture

Who should attend:

Because this is an immersion course and the intent is to engage in the practices every Agile team will employ, this course is recommended for all team members responsible for delivering outstanding software. That includes, but is not limited to, the following roles:

  • Business Analyst
  • Technical Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Software Engineer/Programmer
  • Development Manager
  • Product Manager
  • Product Analyst
  • Tester
  • QA Engineer
  • Documentation Specialist

The Agile Boot Camp is a perfect place for cross functional “teams” to become familiar with Agile methods and learn the basics together. It’s also a wonderful springboard for team building & learning. Bring your project detail to work on in class.

Course Outline:

  1. Agile Introduction and Overview
    • Why Agile
    • Agile Methods
    • Agile Benefits
    • Agile Basics – understanding the lingo
  2. Forming the Agile Team 
    • Team Roles
    • Process Expectations
    • Self organizing teams – where flexibility exists
    • Communication – inside and outTeam Exercise: Teams will engage in a fun exercise that will reinforce the importance of, and power behind, self organizing teams. As with sports teams, individual roles are important, but even more important is the need to work toward a common goal together. At times that means blurring the lines of traditional roles. Great teams will not define themselves by their individual roles.
  3. Product Vision
    • Five Levels of Planning in Agile
    – Vision
    – Roadmap
    – Release
    – Iteration
    – Daily
    • Importance of Product Vision
    • Creating and communicating visionTeam Exercise: Writing a vision statement. This can be very relevant if teams have not been operating with this level planning. If teams are already operating with a clear vision, it is an opportunity to revisit. Each team is expected to have an actual vision statement for their product that would be a solid foundation to build upon. The Product Vision is then posted in a very visible place for the team to reference throughout the remainder of the exercises.
  4. Focus on the Customer
    • User Roles
    • Customer Personas
    • Customer ParticipationTeam Exercise: Each team is tasked with identifying key customer roles, giving them a name, and describing key attributes about the customer. These customer personas are presented to other teams and good idea sharing takes place.
  5. Creating a Product Backlog
    • User Stories
    • Acceptance Tests
    • What makes a good story (sizing and substance)
    • Story Writing Workshop
    Team Exercise: Each team will conduct a brainstorming session for creating a product backlog in the form of user stories. Each team will present some of their user stories and the instructor will lead discussion about where teams hit the mark and areas for improvement (Instructor will not have all of the ideas, this is a great opportunity for team dynamic). After some feedback and sharing, each team will take a second pass at creating some user stories.
  6. Product Roadmap
    • Product Themes
    • Importance of Focus
    • Creating the Roadmap
    • Communication
    • Maintaining the Roadmap
    Team Exercise: Each team will group their user stories into common product themes and present them to the larger group. This helps teams to recognize that at times it makes sense to prioritize beyond just individual user stories. Teams then utilize the product themes to establish a desired product roadmap. Like the vision statement, the roadmap is then posted for the team to reference throughout the remainder of the course.
  7. Prioritizing the Product Backlog
    • Methods for prioritizing
    • Building Trust
    • Expectations for prioritizing stories
    Team Exercise: Teams are tasked with assigning a priority to their user stories at the appropriate level of detail.
  8. Estimating
    • Actual vs Relative estimating
    • Story Points
    • Planning Poker
    • Estimating Team velocity
    Team Exercise: Teams are tasked with assigning story point estimates to enough user stories to extend at least a few iterations into the future. The method for determining the story point estimates will be Planning Poker. Teams will be given enough time to begin to see some consistency in their team and triangulate relative sizing of their stories. Teams are then asked to estimate their team’s velocity.
  9. Release Planning
    • Utilizing velocity
    • Continuous Integration
    • Regular cadence
    Team Exercise: Teams are tasked with building a release plan by incorporating priority, story point estimates, team velocity and customer/product owner input to assign stories to iterations with desired release points.
  10. Story Review
    • Getting to the details
    • Methods
    • Keeping cadence
    Team Exercise: At the appropriate time, teams need to get to the precise details of what is expected. This can be done in a number of ways, including screen mockups, data design, process flows, use cases, etc. Teams will have an opportunity to get to the details of the user stories that are planned for the upcoming iteration planning. This practice helps teams maintain a regular cadence when delivering working software each iteration.
  11. Iteration Planning
    • Task breakdown
    • Time estimates
    • Definition of “done”
    • Active participation
    Team Exercise: Teams are tasked with discussing the details of the stories that, based on the estimated team velocity, may be completed in the first iteration. As the details are discussed, the tasks will be identified that would be needed to achieve the desired result. Teams will discover that at times user stories need to be split into multiple stories and re-estimated. Next, with all of the tasks identified, teams assign actual time estimates to the tasks identified. Finally, the team will revisit the sizing of the iteration to determine if they have the appropriate time and resources to meet their commitment. Led by the instructor, the larger group discusses the pitfalls of committing more than can be delivered and the importance of making and meeting commitments for both the team and the customer. One of the keys to success in Agile is a regular cadence of commitment and delivery for both customer and developer teams.
  12. Iteration Execution
    • Collaboration – value individuals and interactions
    – Communication
    – Daily Standup (Scrum)
    – Taskboards
    • Cadence
    Team Exercise: Taskboards are an invaluable communication tool during each iteration. Each team is tasked with coming up with their task board that communicates clearly their commitments for the iteration and progress against those commitments. This usually proves to be a very creative and engaging exercise. Teams present their taskboards to the larger group, generating further good idea sharing among the larger team. At their task boards, each team then can hold a daily standup, with one person on the team responsible for ensuring the integrity of the meeting and other team members playing out assigned behavioral roles. With the larger group we will discuss the critical role of an effective daily scrum. Finally, the entire group can share perspectives on the definition of done and the importance of determining that as a team. The instructor will share his or her perspective from experience on an iterative approach to the definition of “done.” Team approach is reinforced…start as a team, finish as a team.
  13. Measuring and Communicating Progress
    • Actual effort and remaining effort
    • Burndown charts
    • Tools and Reporting
    • Your company specific measuresCourse discussion: Instructor will lead a discussion on the effectiveness of the measurements appropriate for Your company. We need to have further discussion regarding what measurement and communication tools are needed/expected at your company.
  14. Iteration Review and Demo
    • Iteration Review
    • Demos – a change from the past
  15. Retrospectives
    • What we did well
    • What did not go so well
    • What will we improveTeam Exercise: Teams will hold a retrospective on their experience during the course, specifically on what they learned during the exercises with their team. Each team is then tasked with identifying what things they plan to incorporate into their next iteration.
  16. Bringing it All Together
    • Process Overview
    • Transparency
    • Cadence
    • Team RoadmapTeam Exercise: Teams will establish a roadmap for adopting the most useful principles and practices learned during the course. The larger group will discuss how this Team Roadmap will be maintained as part of ongoing retrospectives. The instructor will share insights into how teams have successfully adopted Agile principles and practices as well as what pitfalls to avoid. Most teams find this to be the most useful exercise of the course as they apply what they have learned to their situation.

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