Sunday, January 02, 2011

Diving into the Abyss

We had a couple more brain storming sessions on moving a team onto the kanban train.

The biggest concern during these two sessions focused on our build process and software control systems.  We currently use Subversion.  Much of the discussion was around the complexities of checking in and backing out code.  How can our cadence flow in order to give testers builds of high quality and builds of trust.  I believe the final solution discussed was that we need to move from Subversion to GIT.

The development team believes GIT is a more friendly change control system for moving software around.  We shall see, but we do not have GIT today and we are about to jump into the abyss.

From my perspective, there are two potential issues when the team arrives for work on Tuesday.  One concern is that not all of the stakeholders were present during our brainstorming sessions.  I believe some team members will be surprised on Tuesday, but most will jump into the kanban abyss with both feet.  The other concern is that the WIP is already way over the estimated capacity.

Despite the WIP we decided to make the leap.  I stopped by the office on Friday and the Development Lead had a carefully crafted kanban board drawn across a couple of white boards.  He has a 9 foot magnetized board on order, but it has not arrived.  "See the team is already adjusting."  The large portion of the WIP is currently in the completed state and ready for acceptance testing.  The entire team (developers and testers) is going to start with this phase, write acceptance tests when they are not available, actuate the code, and test the pending features.  Viewing the kanban board I also noticed several key stories and defects have been placed in the ready state.

I am looking forward as an observer/consultant to see the giant green start button get pushed on Tuesday and the new process will begin to flow.  During our brain storming sessions to other key concepts were often mentioned.  During daily stand up meetings we have the ability to make minor adjustments.  Communication will be important.  The second concept was the big RED button.  The big RED button is "stop the presses" button.  I am hoping that for the first one week release cycle the red button is not used.

Unfortunately there is a high volume of risk with this release as the team jumps into the abyss.  If the team does a good job conducting thorough code reviews, acceptance tests and the test team stays on top of their game, then we may have the parachutes to float gently to the bottom of the abyss.  If we happen to land hard then we have the retrospective and make the first adjustments to the process.

The team is leaping and I believe 2011 is going to be a great year!

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