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Join the SUGSA Committee

Enjoy SUGSA events, want to get a bit more involved? Why not join next year’s committee? Nominations for the 2013 Cape Town SUGSA Committee, are now open to all SUGSA members.

We promise you dinner and drinks with international agile celebrities (when they come for our annual event), highly entertaining committee meetings, an opportunity to be part of a great team all passionate about building a great community, a chance to organise a world class events, your name and photo on our fantastic website 🙂

All we ask in return is commitment for 1 year to working as part of a team of 7 people to organise monthly events, an annual conference, a great website, and any other new ideas people have to enrich our community. You can expect to spend about 1-2 hours a week on committee business during normal months, with a peak of about 4 hours a week for the 3 months around the annual event.

If you would like to nominate yourself to be on the committee, please forward a picture, short bio, and statement about why members should vote for you to before 21 November 2012.

After 21 November 2012, the list of nominees will be posted on our website, and voting will take place electronically leading up to the December monthly event. Each SUGSA member is entitled to vote. The committee will be chosen based on the 7 nominees who have received the most votes. The new committee will be announced at the December SUGSA event, and will be expected to perform committee duties from January 2013.

New Product Owner role in CT

A technology company based in Cape Town is looking for a Product Owner to join their product department.

Working closely with a dynamic product management team, you will start by structuring and communicating a vision for your product and then testing this with various thought-leaders from around the organisation. Performing solid and pragmatic analysis into the business requirement is essential. This process will have you engage with each corner of the company, including Marketing, Sales, Call Centers, Legal and others.

Continuously showing real business value and prioritizing features based on ROI, you must find ways to reduce the time to market whilst still ensuring maximum quality.

You will be responsible for accepting or rejecting the software, and make the call if it is viable to be released to customers.

Driving the final testing, acceptance and adoption of the working software within the company is a key final requirement of the process.

Not only is this role within the software development realm, but you will be key in continuously challenging and changing the paradigm to provide better processes and solutions for staff and customers

Qualifications and Experience

  •  Tertiary education with a minimum of two years business analysis experience
  • Experience in agile software development, especially in the Product Owner role, will be highly advantageous
  • Experience in working with technology or software-based products
  • Proven track record in project management


Duties & Responsibilities

  • Structure and communicate a product vision
  • Initiate a project
  • Engage and represent various business stakeholders
  • Set clear goals for the development team to achieve
  • Create, groom, prioritize and order the product backlog based on real business value and ROI
  • Facilitate incremental and continuous feedback cycle between the software and the business stakeholders
  • Determine acceptance tests and facilitate the execution thereof
  • Compile and distribute information radiators which show transparent project progress
  • Retrospect and seek ways to continuous improve the introduction of new software into the business
  • Provide leadership, motivation and challenge a development team throughout the software development cycle


Should you know of anyone in your network who may be interested, please contact tcoleridge(at)mweb(dot)com

Coaching Circle Retrospective

Another round of coaching circles has come to an end. As usual we wrapped up with a retrospective.

We had a good representative from most of the circles for a great retro, despite the miserable weather. Red wine and a roaring fire definitely helped.

We started with a checkin for people to share their story about why they joined coaching circles. Followed by some brainstorming on what benefits people received, what they learned, things they tried because of the circles, as well as things they regret.

But all retro’s come down to actions. We tried to keep it simple. We loked at things we should keep and things we should add. Here is what we found.

Things to keep:

  • The fortnightly cadence and 90 minute duration
  • Intention setting at the end of each circle
  • Discussions about more broader topics that just Scrum
  • Big group circles, they did work!

Things to add:

  • Clearer expectations of what each circle is about, e.g. topics, level, etc
  • Enough mentors for each circle
  • Commitment from circle attendees to be at all sessions
  • Homework between sessions
  • Sharing more personal stories

We agreed that to achieve these we would essentially do 2 things

  1. Change the kickoff to include the first session where working agreements are set, commitment made clear, expectations of each circle discuss while everyone is together in a large group.
  2. Provide some guidelines to facilitators to help ensure they cover things we have learned in the past.

So if you are keen to join the next round of circles, be sure to be at the Kickoff this time.

Coaching Circle Retrospective

The first round of coaching circles for 2012 came to an end in April; closing with a retrospective as usual.

Feedback from the group in general was that they enjoyed the circles, particularly those new to the group who started with a mentoring circle. All agree a mentoring circle is a good place to start if you are new to Scrum, or new to the coaching circles. These more structured circles give people a good idea of what to expect in future.

There were a few comments about circles that didn’t work as well this round due to a small number of people, which reminded us that these circles work well if the participants are committed to attending all of the session for a particular round. Spotty attendance tends to impact the whole group.

Fueled by some wine and an inspiration for radical brainstorming we came up with some novel suggestions including doing coaching circles while lying on the floor staring at the ceiling rather than other members, bring along our pets (always present at my coaching circles:), and starting our own reality tv show.

So out came the sticky dots for some dot voting on the ideas we thought would most benefit the next round. They were:

Everyone agreed drinks and snacks make circles better so at the start each circle should discuss how they will deal with it, will everyone bring every session, or will it rotate, etc.

We also agreed that sometimes there would be benefit bringing visitors. Although the trust and safety of the circle is important, we thought this time around circle members could bring a visitor to a circle as long as the rest of the group agreed in advance.

Since venues is a common problem, the idea was raised of having a circle type next round where the venue rotates to each person in the circle’s house. This would mean a new venue each time, but would be less onerous on a single person to provide a venue for every session. We will see how popular the idea is at the kickoff.

And finally it was agreed that people enjoy sharing their work stress with like minded individuals and so we agreed that all circles should allow some time each session for people just to unwind and share their current work problems, before tackling the topic for the session.

That’s it. Thanks to those who attended the retro for the interesting discussion. The next kickoff will be on 7 May at Allan Gray, facilitated by Sam, since I will be in Germany 🙂 If you want to join a circle starting in May be sure to attend the kick off. You can signup for the event or find our more about coaching circles.

Lean IT Workshop

The Lean Institute of Africa is a non-profit company with the aim of promoting lean management in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

They are running a Lean IT workshop in Johannesburg on 16 May. Cost is R3500.

For more information please see their website:; the attached flyer or contact Lisa Mulder at 021 406 1477 or

Job on a Scrum Team

Looking for some growth or a new opportunity?

Interested in working in a Scrum team, please see the job spec below fo a company looking for a C# .NET developer to join a Scrum team in Cape Town.

We are looking for a senior developer for a 1 year contract with the below skills set. There is a good chance of extending the contract if both parties are satisfied after the initial period. The position is available immediately, the candidate will be working at our offices in Cape Town city centre or remotely from home.

Essential skills at a senior level:

  • Relational database design
  • SQL / T-SQL
  • C#
  • Stored Procedures
  • LINQ
  • HTML
  • Javascript
  • MS Visual Studio
  • .NET 4.0
  • Sequel Server 2008 R2
  • IIS (Internet Information Services)
  • Any Source Control system (e.g. SVN)
  • Continuous Integration (Cruise Control)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills

Optional skills:

  • MS Test
  • GUI Design
  • MDX
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
  • Web Client Factory Software (WCFS)
  • Entity Framework
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • SSIS
  • SSRS
  • SSAS
  • Scrum / Agile
  • Specflow
  • Selenium
  • Experience in working on global systems & entities framework would be an advantage.

We are an IT company founded in 1996 and have developed several internet applications of our own. Our current project involves the enhancement and development of new modules for a global, multilingual internet application.
The candidate will be working in a 6 member team of developers using the latest  Microsoft technologies. We are looking for a candidate with extensive experience in the required skills in the context of web application development, enthusiasm and commitment to quality and delivering on time.

If you are interested in this position please contact

December SUGSA event – Pecha Kucha

First of all, the fact that I am only blogging about last months event, a mere two hours from the start of this months event, is definite grounds for an apology! Better late than never they say?

The first Thursday in December. Four confident looking presenters got themselves geared up. No walk in the park this. Each presenter had only 6 minutes to get their message across. Each slide had to be no longer than 20 seconds. What I didn’t know, until that evening, was that each slide had to automatically be set to transition after 20 seconds. No pressure!

First up was Sheetal Gordhan. Scrum is not for the faint hearted was her topic!

I’m looking at my notes now, and I see the Ken Schwaber quote: “Scrum is hard”. And right next to that I have Sheetal paraphase: “This kak is hard”. I like Sheetal’s version 🙂 I remember us all having a good chuckle, leaned back in our seats and took in a nice big gulp on our drinks. Our evening was set, we were here to have some fun!

Sheetal’s presentation reminded us that only a small percentage of teams are actually successful in Scrum. It’s really not easy and we need to prepare ourselves when we embark on this journey. Even though there are 1,000’s of articles online, it’s still not enough to prepare us for what lies ahead.

I can honestly say that I, in 6 minutes, had learned more about what a newbie organisation to Scrum should expect than I have in any course attended or article read.

My favourite slide of Sheetal’s. Hmmm, this is a tough one, there are so many. I liked the Google statistics of how many results one can expect when searching for Scrum information. But one that really stood out for me was the All Blacks doing the haka. Titled ‘Scrum Rituals’.( Remember, this event was in early December, only a few weeks after the All Blacks were crowned World Champs!). What are your development teams rituals? The usual stand-up and retrospective, or do you have something unique?

Next up was Meloné van Heerden, with her presentation entitled, What makes a great leader. Meloné had recently attended a course on this subject, and used the opportunity to apply her learning’s into the software development, in particular, Scrum, environment. One could see that the learning’s had a big impact of her, as her talk was passionate and energetic.

The subject of an ‘authentic leader’. What is an authentic leader? Or rather, what makes a leader authentic? Mel took us through the 6 step of process of discovering the authentic ‘you’. A necessary self-awareness process. A look at intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

My favourite slide of Meloné’s. I personally liked the way in which she modelled the need to effectively set a leadership example, with well-known figures. Nelson Mandela and Barrack Obama featured, with Obama’s family an example of how important it is to build a support network. But my favourite would have to be a slide which represented who we sometimes don’t change. Any guess who features? Have a look at the photo below.

Next up, the good man David Campey. David had an interesting approach. Each of his slides represented a photo he had taken of his agile working environment. We got to meet his team. His manager. His Product Owner.

It told a story of a project. Starting from a photo of his Product Owner, looking very visionary in a room with blue-sky type walls, through to photo’s of his team hard at planning, and ending with his team out on a boat trip 🙂

I’ve always found it fascinating to see how other organisations work. How they approach their Scrum repertoire. Especially local companies.

David’s presentation was recorded, so please have a look for yourself. I’ve already sent this out to my development teams. Motivational stuff!

And finally, Karen Greaves, who needed little introduction off course! Her talk was titled: “Agile Management: How to create a culture to help your team succeed.” It was awesome! Need I say more. Who thought a talk about management could be fun 🙂

Thank you to everyone that attended. And a big thank you to our four brave presenters. You were all superstars!

And the winners are…


Last month we ran a “nominate for Neuland” competition for people to nominate the most influential agilists in their environments. I’m please to annouce our winners who each get a pack with a SUGSA moleskin notebook and 4 Neuland markers. A big thanks also to the community for appreciating those around you. See below for the inspiring text we received for the nominations.

  • Aslam Khan
  • Samantha Laing
  • Melone Van Heerden
  • Claude Botes
  • Sharna Sammy
  • Gerald Stober
  • Kevin Trethewey
  • Maritza Van Den Heuvel
  • Rian Van Der Merwe
  • Andre Venter

Aslam Khan received two nominations

I nominate Aslam Khan. Why?  For being involved in the world community and for share his learning with all of us that software development is hard but it is possible to learn how to make less of a mess some of the time.  He is inspiring with his positive, humble, patient attitude to helping people understand simple design and agile software development.  There needs to be more developers in the South African agile community like Aslam.

I nominate Aslam Khan. Though he doesn’t like stationary at all. Aslam has inspired and motivated me to do thing I never thought possible in the last year. He remains calm and thinks out of the box. He usually pokes at me to look at situations from all angles and then encourages (and pushes?) me off a ledge I am scared of.Thanks to Aslam I have become more, believe more and behave less 🙂

Samantha Laing received two nominations

I would like to nominate Sam Laing as she is always willing to help, introduced the coaching dojos concept to the community and is shamelessly addicted to the acquisition of neuland markers.

Sam Laing for two reasons:

1: Agile Games! Fun! Awesome! With great learning comes great laughter 😉

2: Sam is a source of wisdom and strength in our company’s agile transition. She is always focused on how to move forward from a situation, not only offering insight but helping each of us to find the path of action we are most committed to taking for ourselves, which makes her an excellent coach. And in all our challenges and successes, Sam exercises greater diplomacy than anyone I think I’ve ever worked with – deep respect.

3. (Yes, of course there’s a third). Sam’s appreciation for Stationary is beyond measure. She deserves Neulands! And they will definitely be going to an awesome home 😉

Melone Van Heerden received two nominations

We would like to nominate Melone van Heerden from Allan Gray.  Two and a half years ago, she was the first dedicated Scrum master in the retail IT development space at Allan Gray. It was her responsibility to prove that dedicated scrum masters can be justified in our organisation. With relatively little experience and no role models for support, she worked exceptionally hard at making it a success.

Based on her impact in the teams she managed, our company decided to recognise scrum masters as a first class citizen in the development space and we employed an additional 2 dedicated scrum masters for retail IT – a ‘luxury’ which many agile environments don’t have.

We believe that Melone was instrumental in making this luxury a reality for all our scrum teams. This year she took Scrum to our Institutional business. Our institutional business has replaced their core system and recognised the success of Agile in the retail business unit.  The institutional development team had a fairly different culture and she had to show that Agile could add value in their environment.  At the same time she had to continue to run her scrum teams on the Retail side.

As a learning organisation Allan Gray tested its assumptions with regards to Agile in retail IT. We considered structural reporting changes and the implementation of the scrum master role in two teams. The teams having experienced both dedicated and part time scrum masters accepted only the structural changes, supporting the scrum master role as it has evolved in the past three years. The success of Melone and the other scrum masters has convinced our organisation of their importance in a variety of ways.

We have yet to meet somebody who is as passionate about what they believe in as Melone – she eats, sleeps, breathes and believes in agile – its thanks to Mel that Allan Gray can consider themselves part of the South African agile thought leadership!

I’d like to nominate Melone Van Heerden. She is a regular attendee at the monthly SUGSA meetings, and although she is not a committee member she has been instrumental in securing the Allan Gray venue for the monthly SUGSA meetings. She works behind the scenes for every event to make sure we have the room setup we need, the slides preloaded, and the signin sheet at reception. What impresses me most about Mel is her humility and willingness to learn from others. She never thinks of herself as an expert, even though she is probably one of the few (many only) people I know who have held a ScrumMaster position at a single organisation for 2 and a half years.

Claude Botes

Claude Botes age 23, he is a colleague of mine. I started working at a software developement house recently, KRS (Khanyisa Real Systems). Our developement team is one of 3 working for the same client, each team works on a different part of the system (with regard to business value). We currently have a scrum master, who is very efficient at her job. But what about my colleague Claude? Well, Claude has been a developer for at least 5 years now and understands the project and all its dependencies extremely well from a technical perspective. It is this combined with what I have to say next, that puts Claude on an extremely good footing toward an agile management role. Over the last while, Claude has upped his game dramatically. He has started ensuring the team understands the project from a business perspective, and at the same time makes sure they understand its importance, that they invest in the project / system and ultimately fall in love with it.

Claude has opened my eyes to the agile movement. He has made me realise that agile is not one method, but a consumption of many that make up an agile approach. He has taken the time to comprehensively study material and now sends out a weekly letter on attaining an agile approach. Claudes key feature is that he hits the developer with the language and the desires a developer has. He speaks to the people who make the system, and who are therefore the ones who need to be invested in, from the same platform. His desire to build relationships and coach the people who need it, not only make me want to see agile in my developement style, but life in general.

Although our company is aiding Claudes objectives generously, personally, I think Claude deserves more investment and opportunity than he can get from any single software developement house. From the time I’ve known him, he’s proven himself not only to be a man of his word, but one of solidarity. We’ve spoken about many things and what strikes me about his way of life, is how he is where he is because of his own sweat and toil. He works for what he gets, in and out of the workplace. This, is evident in his approach to agile coaching. This is evident to not only myself, but others too. Unfortunately, I am not able to convey to you just how he shapes our team, coaches individuals and pushes for agile objectives, because I simply do not have the experience in project oversight and guidance to do so. So although I have said some things here, be sure I have missed many key points. So whether you’s consider Claude as a nominee or not, I’d just like to assert that he has definitely made a difference in the way I see software developement. Thanks bro…

Sharna Sammy

I’d like to nominate Sharna Sammy. Although she is new to the agile community, she heard about agile through her husband who works at Web Africa, she immediately understood it to be something great she could use. She jumped straight in and gave it a try. She also gave a lightning talk at this year’s Scrum Gathering, and is now a member of a mentoring circle. What inspires me most is her enthusiam to learn as much as she can, and her undying energy for trying new things.

Gerald Stober

My nomination is for Gerald Stober.  He has been inspired my agile journey this year by being instrumental as a mentor. We have had healthy debates, sessions of knowledge sharing and experiences. He opened my eyes to see the benefits of scrum when you internalise and see the potential it has (I previously came from a PM background) We have been doing Scrum in our  teams for just under 2 years and it was time to take our team a level up in the process. I myself had to be certain that my level of knowledge and role as SM could unleash what the team was about to experience.

He encouraged me to attend the SUGSA events, the Scrum Safari and Agile circles (which we currently host at our office). Through this I was able to mingle and converse with like minded agile enthusiast. My hunger for being more versed in Agile practices increased and so did my passion within my role, I wanted everyone to feel the excitement.   Through engagements, watching video’s by different Agile practitioners, daily emails, reading and  pushing me into situations that made me “bring my role” as SM to the team,  Gerald influenced how I thought about things, approaches to use  and to gain the confidence to be able to nurture, facilitate and help my team to grow and mature within the process.

Kevin Trethewey

My vote goes for a scrum passionate member of that first JHB coaching circle: Kevin from

Maritza Van Den Heuvel

I’d like to nominate Maritza van den Heuvel for the inspirational agilist thingy. She is ferociously  passionate product owner, she runs two (count em two) blogs including one on doing Kanban with her kids. She was instrumental in bringing David Anderson to South Africa and effectively kickstarting the interest in South Africa as a result. She ran an awesome session on Product Ownership at the Gathering. If only SUGSA meetings weren’t in the evenings we’d see more of her, but her voracious twitterings are a remarkably close substitute, and of course I can’t wait to see what her contribution to the upcoming “Scrumban” new edition is likely to be.

Rian Van Der Merwe

My nomination is Rian van der Merwe, Head of Product and User Experience Design at As a Product Owner, I consider Rian an inspiration and role model. Through his talks and blog I have picked up lots of good  ideas to further the agile product management cause in my own environment. When I needed some specific advice about getting User-Centred Design going at my previous company, I was also able to bounce ideas off him over e-mail. Despite his success, he remains approachable and willing to share. That’s what being agile is all about!

Andre Venter

I would like to nominate Andre Venter. I have been a systems analyst for many years and I’ve always gone the “go live in one go” route.  Andre is quite an evangelist on the scrum issue and for my current project I’ve tried to use the principles of scrum that he has painstakingly explained to me J.  I was dubious to begin with and although I’m not going the ‘pure’ scrum route, I’ve split the project into functions and am working on taking them live one at a time.  It’s working very well and both my boss and users are happy since they are able to see something that is working without waiting so long that they’ve forgotten what they asked for 😉


Nominate for Neuland

As you may know if you attended this year’s Scrum Gathering, here at SUGSA we LOVE Neuland markers. We happen to have a few left over from the goodie bags, so we thought about running a competition: Nominate for Neuland:

Nominate  the people who have been most influential in your agile journey this year. They don’t need to be a member of SUGSA, but they need to be living in South Africa. Write up a short paragraph on why they have inspired you, and send it to info <at> scrum <dot> org <dot> za, before 21 November.

We will  post a list of nominees with their stories, and ask the community to vote for the 10 most deserving agilists. Each winner will receive an awesome gift pack including a SUGSA moleskin journal and 4 Neuland Big One markers.

Get nominating!

Oh and the small print… Any SUGSA committee members are excluded from winning, since you know we love those markers so much we might just rig the votes to get them 🙂

2012 SUGSA Committee Nominations

Nominations for the 2012 Cape Town SUGSA Committee, are now open to all SUGSA members.

If you would like to nominate yourself to be on the committee, please forward a picture, short bio, and statement about why members should vote for you to before 21 November 2011.

After the nomination deadline has passed, the list of nominees will be circulated to all SUGSA members, and voting will take place electronically leading up to the December monthly event. Each SUGSA member is entitled to vote for up to three nominees. The committee will be chosen based on up to five nominees who have received the most votes.