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Event Report – Product Roadmapping 101

Somewhere between vision and features, between product manager and owner, and customers, teams & the Board of Directors lies the mysterious Product Roadmap – the topic for our March event in Cape Town.

It’s a blurry landscape and on reflection, I don’t often see roadmaps that work as meaningful guides for developing products.1403 Product Mapping

Tackling such complex topics as vision vs strategy, Annu Augustine took us through the typical traps and challenges facing product managers, and shared her insights from the field with more than a little dry humour.

From all of this, Annu provides a clear set of steps to incorporate strategic vision, profit opportunities and input from internal and external stakeholders, without compromising the product or injuring relationships.

Take a scroll through her slidedeck Product Roadmapping 101


Event Report – Playing Innovation Games

Innovation games help us create and validate new ideas, and our February workshop brought them in abundance… along with a lot of laughter!

false facesWe started with an improv-inspired exercise telling ridiculous and improbable stories.

Our opening game was ‘False Faces’ from Thinkertoys, where the groups listed assumptions about their issue, and then wrote them in reverse. Breakthrough ideas came from asking “what would the world look like in order for the new assumption to be true?”.

With a bunchbodystorming of new ideas, we picked one to validate and used the highly interactive Bodystorming technique to design and test out interactions with our new system.
Much more laughter ensued, and with that came some very viable ideas, which we assessed according to their Consumer Desirability, Business Viability and Technical Feasibility.

Mostly what we took out of the event was the real experience that with a focused creative thinking framework, every one of us is capable of producing breakthrough ideas… so exciting times lie ahead 🙂


Cape Town: Release Planning with Scrum: Controlling the Chaos

Join SUGSA Cape Town on 2 February when we have Release Planning with Scrum: Controlling the Chaos.

When: 2 February 2012, 6:00PM

Topic: Release Planning with Scrum: Controlling the Chaos                    

Sign up: Please sign up here in order to help us with catering.

Allan Gray Portswood office in the Presentation Room on the third floor. You can download a map here. Everyone parking in the Portswood parking area will have to pay for their own parking tickets. There is also parking available in Beach Road.

The Agile Manifesto tells us that we should be responding to change over following a plan.  This encourages us to plan into the future at the last responsible moment.  But we still may need a plan.  A plan can help inform our customers what may be in the next release or by when their favourite feature may appear.  They can help inform stakeholders on the cost of the current focus and hence whether the investment makes sense at this time.  These are Good Things for a business.  The essence of agile planning is to understand that the plan may change.  The plan must be reassessed for validity every time new data comes into the system – usually at the end of a sprint. Plans often allow us to appear more certain than we may actually be.  The hardest part with planning in Scrum is ensuring that everyone understands that things change and we will respond as soon as they do.  Effective agile planning allows us to more reliably respond to the changing business and market needs as early as possible.

In this talk I will discuss some of the techniques that I have used over the last couple of years to do release planning.  I’ll touch on of some of the things that have worked for me and some that haven’t.  The ideas will range from some simple maths, to reporting release progress through a release burnup and overviews, to the how to deal with change and ensuring that people understand what it means.  I hope by the end of the talk I will have shared some ideas and generated some conversation around controlling the chaos that can surround a software development release.

About Patrick Vine:
Patrick VineI started my career more than a decade ago at Microsoft in Redmond. Since then I’ve moved through different companies as developer, architect and manager in diverse technologies and industries.  I first started to dabble in Scrum a couple of years back while working at Yellowtail Software where I helped the roll out of Scrum. While there I gained an appreciation for how well you can manage software using Scrum.  I’ve worked on Fixed Price, Fixed Team, Fixed Budget projects. I am passionate about working with Scrum, learning more about software development and helping teams get better on a daily basis.


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Event Report: Agile Contracting

Many thanks to David Campey for his honest and refreshing talk on Agile Contracting last Thursday for the Cape Town SUGSA group.

David started off by describing the “House of Agile” as a parallel between the four principles of the Agile manifesto and the foundations of a house – the items on the right forming the solid aspects which give structure but create prison-like walls, and how incorporating the items on the left creates windows and doors which allow us to move smoothly through the “House of Agile”.

 Not Started, In Progress, Done    Lots of interest in the room    Sharing some personal experiences

Moving onto contracting, David gave us the analogy of using Agile user stories for writing the needs of a Scrum team into the contract, BDD Given/When/Then scenario planning to facilitate the discussion, and TDD to test the contract in the real world. He wrapped up with a clarification of profit and cost models for Fixed Price, Time & Materials and a true “money for nothing & your change for free” contract that works for both client and vendor.

Peppered with real-world stories we can all relate to, this was a highly entertaining and valuable talk – followed as always by great conversation afterwards. See you all next time!

Cape Town: How can contracts facilitate customer collaboration?

Join our Cape Town group on 5 May when David Campey discusses contracting models for agile projects.

Although “on the right” of the agile manifesto, the contract is a necessary foundation of a working relationship. If handled correctly a contract can bake agility into an engagement and make sure the principles are communicated to board level…

For more info see the Events page. Please help us with catering by signing up here.