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How to make your Dev team exceptional

High quality software that meets the business needs can only come from an exceptional development team. Lets talk about the secret sauce needed to make your team exceptional.

Stand-ups every day? Check.
Impediment-removing Scrum Master? Check.
Product Owner who understands prioritising? Check.
Teams that deliver working code every sprint? Check.
Review every sprint? Check.
Retrospective every sprint? Check.

Does this make your business truly Agile? For me there are a couple of checklist items missing:

Development practices that deliver high quality code?

A team of developers who understand one another and operate as a cohesive unit?

Team productivity doesn’t drop when a particular team member is away?

How would you answer? How would your developers answer?

It’s bring-a-dev-day at SUGSA! In fact bring your whole development team.

About Austin Fagan

I work for Unboxed Consulting.

I started writing software in 1999. I think I’m as bad now as I was then. So I don’t code now, my team keeps me as far from the codebase as they can, they shudder at the thought of me coding. I still can’t help being passionate about development. Weird.

I’ve been lucky enough to be exposed to Agile techniques and great development practice since 2006 and I’ve been boring people silly about both since.


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Agile India 2012

Agile Alliance is happy to present Asia’s largest Agile conference. Agile India 2012 is the first Agile Alliance conference to be held outside North America.

Come and join us for three spectacular days in India’s technology hub—Bengaluru. Learn and share your experience in software development and agile adoption with various speakers and attendees from different parts of Asia and around the world. Participate and exchange ideas with researchers and academics from around the world as they showcase the best of international research on Agile software development.

Agile India 2012 will have many sessions on all aspects of agile including agile product management. Learn more at Agile India 2012.

I am actively looking for speakers for the agile product management stage, for any further information, please contact me at:

Hoping to see some of the passionate South African agilists there!

Vote for JHB September topic

[poll id=”4″]

Coaching Circles Retrospective

Another round of coaching circles has drawn to a close. We held a retrospective on Monday at 6pm. Here are some of the things we discovered in the retrospective.

We started with a quick checkin, here are some of the words people used to describe the coaching circles:

So what did we learn?

Most people agree that we are doing some things right and should keep doing them.

  • Meeting once every 2 weeks
  • Keeping groups to 5-6 people
  • Timeboxing to 90 minutes
  • Rotating facilitators
  • Having a range of venues including some in the northern suburbs
  • Communicating our learnings via the agile anonymous google group

We also agreed on a few changes.

  • We should try only send emails about whether we can make the circle or not to our direct circle members, not the whole AA group
  • Facilitators should do a SUGSA blog post on the topic after each circle
  • We should extend the circles so that we have 4 sessions in a particular round
  • All circles should have snacks, we are all jealous of the Tiramisu group!
  • We should write up a ‘tips for facilitators’ document to help first time facilitators know what to do
  • We should try be a bit more organized in how we assign people to circles at the kickoff
  • People hosting a venue should be at the kickoff to meet people from their circles, especially newbies

The actions we agreed.

  • Karen to do a blog post on the retro (and here it is).
  • Karen to send out a mailer to the SUGSA list about the next kickoff on 18 July (watch for that soon)
  • Karen to announce the next round of circles at Thursday’s SUGSA meeting (let’s hope I remember)
  • Emil to setup a google spreadsheet for upcoming circles so that people can offer venues and put their names against circles before the kickoff
  • Neil will start a document on tips for facilitators and will share it with the AA group

That’s it. Watch out for a mailer soon on the next circle kickoff session, it will be on 18 July at 6pm, still confirming the venue…

Hope to see some new faces joining our circles soon, and for those of you in Jhb, I’ve also been running a skype circle with some folks in Jhb to show them the ropes, once that wraps up next week, I’m sure the Jhb SUGSA folks will kickoff some circles there too.

Software Tester Job Available

Date posted: 3 July 2011

Mix Telematics is looking for an experienced software tester to join our dynamic team of testers in an agile software division. If you have attention to detail, thrive on challenges and have all the skills needed to fill this super vacancy, contact us immediately or see the attached spec for more detail.

Job Specification: MiX Telematics – Software Tester

Mail CV’s to: or

Web site revamp continued

… the action behind the new look!  If following the link is troublesome, please try

ScrumMaster Job available

SUGSA was approached by some members who wanted to let other members know about Scrum positions available at their company. We decided to ask the community what we should do. The majority voted that they would like to hear about these jobs. Previously we had a page for this, but with the website redesign we’ve decided to change this to blog posts on our community page. SUGSA does not profit financially from this, and does not vet either the jobs or the candidates involved.

If you are interested in applying for one of the jobs please follow the instructions below for the job you are interested in.

If you are interested in posting a job at your company, please email sugsa-com [at] googlegroups [dot] com, and we will do a blog post on your behalf.

Date Posted: 12 April 2011
Position: ScrumMaster
Company: Allan Gray
Contact Person: Michael Groenewald
Job Specification: Allan Gray ScrumMaster Job Spec
How to apply: If you are interested and believe you will be able to excel in this role , please send your CV to Michael Groenewald (michael [dot] groenewald [at] allangray [dot] co [dot] za) for consideration.

Web site revamp

One Saturday of 3 furious sprints and an ambitious backlog has created the brand new web site that you see now.

The committee would appreciate your feedback on the new look-and-feel.

…and maybe you would like to add a few stories to the backlog!

More Coaching Circles

We are starting new round of agile coaching circles on Monday 9 May. What is an agile coaching circle you ask?

Here is my definition: It’s a group of likeminded peers who get together regular for a fixed period of time, to share experiences and knowledge and grow their skills towards becoming better agilists.

Who is it for: It’s not just for aspiring coaches or ScrumMasters. Anyone interested in sharing there experiences with agile, and learning from peers can join.

What does it involve: We start with a combined kickoff for anyone interested in the circles on 9 May. Here is were we will split into smaller groups based on what time and location suits people best. Each circle will meet for a 90 minute session every fortnight for 3 sessions, then we will have a combined retrospective with all sessions. In total you are committing to 5 x 90 minute slots over a 10 week period.

What if I want to attend more sessions: We have found it best to regroup after a certain number of sessions 1) so that new people can join and 2) so that people whose circumstances have changed can drop out, or switch to circle at a different time/place. When this round is over, we will run another. This is the 3rd round, and everyone from round 1 is still involved.

Not yet convinced? Here are what previous circle attendees have to say about it:

Coaching circles provide a platform to openly discuss commonly-encountered situations and brainstorm approaches in an environment where no-one is invested in the outcome so the thoughts and ideas flow freely.

Coaching Circles are bi-weekly informal get-togethers at somebody’s house, where we dig deeper into areas of Scrum that we are interested in and/or grappling with, to learn from our shared knowledge & experiences.

The agile coaching circles present a major opportunity to meet with likeminded people and, in a friendly and collaborative environment, be exposed to real world issues and how people are solving them.

A fun, relaxed and inspiring get together with people who are passionate about agile. Much like the MasterCard ads … priceless 🙂

A coaching circle is a safe and friendly place to have frank discussions about all things Agile.You can dig deep into work-related issues regarding Scrum, or other, implementations and learn loads from other people’s experience.

A coaching circle is light and informal. Its a great forum where a small group can come together exchange ideas and learn from one another. And drink wine. And eat tiramisu.

Okay I’m sold, now what? Come to the kickoff session

Monday 9 May 2011 6pm to 7.30pm

12 Park Villa Road, Observatory.

RSVP to info [at] scrum [dot] org [dot] za

Election Results

The votes are in. Your SUGSA committee for 2011 will be:

  • Alwyn Van Wyk
  • Carlo Kruger
  • Karen Greaves
  • Cara Faye
  • Patrick Vine
  • Pieter Norman
  • Vahid Pourahmary

Congratulations to all. Looking forward to another successful year of events, learning and conversations.