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JHB July event: Introduce agility through user stories


Discovery, 155 West Street, Ground Floor Auditorium , Sandton map


The technique of expressing requirements as user stories is one of the most broadly applicable techniques introduced by the agile processes. User stories are an effective approach on all time constrained projects and are a great way to begin introducing agility to your projects.

In this talk, we will look at
  • Identifying and writing good user stories
  • Guidelines for writing better stories
  • How user role modelling can help when gathering a project’s initial stories
  • Determining how much work to do up-front and how much to do just-in-time


Jaco Viljoen is a passionate about uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. He was certified as a ScrumMaster by Mike Cohn in Silicon Valley, California. He currently works as principal consultant at IndigoCube. He also holds a masters degree in Computer Science.

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Event Report: Discovering the value of DDD

Many thanks to Herman Lintvelt for presenting this entertaining workshop on Domain-Driven Design.  There is clearly an interest and hunger for details around DDD with over 100 sign-ups for this event and an awesome turn out on the night.

We started with group work, brainstorming the common problems of software development and writing those up. Herman proceeded to briefly touch on the issues and suggest that DDD could perhaps help with many of the problems.


Herman illustrated the power of a ubiquitous language that provides a common understanding between developer and business.  When discussing a design based on the developer’s understanding and in his language vs. a DDD design discussed with the developer meeting the business with a common language.  The example was the building of a Scrum tool which the audience emoted with well and generated many entertaining comments along the way.  Thanks to Aslam for volunteering to help out with this.

It came around a full circle and after discussing more interesting details we closed with briefly touching on all the problems that were raised initially.  If you’d like to check out the slides they are here.

As always we ended off with food and drink with many people continuing to discuss the topic relatively late.

Hope to see everyone at the next event which will probably focus on  Retrospectives.

Event Report: Agile Games

WOW!! A big thank you to both Karen and Sam for facilitating a high energy and involved session last Thursday at the monthly Cape Town SUGSA event.

We pretty much dived right into the first game as soon as the session started, without giving us a moment to ponder about what to expect. At first we started with some uncertain smiles but that quickly turned into pure enjoyment as we were laughing, having fun and applying the games to real life scenarios that we are faced with almost every day in our professions.

These were the games played:
Vampire of Straussberg
Columbian Hypnotist
Movers and shakers
Jumping Circle

Get set! Go! Feedback after each activity

At the end of the session, we had a encore moment where we decided there was enough time for an extra game. Hats off to both Karen and Sam for their excellent preparation and still having a few games up their sleeves. The energy definitely ignited a lot of interesting and exciting conversations during drinks and snacks.

And thats Agile Games


A huge thanks to all participants on the evening for making it memorable. The evening definitely proved that learning can be fun and entertaining.


Event Report: Scrum at Allan Gray

A big thank you to both Tarryn Mushfieldt and Margarethe de Cafmeyer from Allen Gray for sharing their extensive SCRUM knowledge with the JHB SUGSA SCRUM crowed.

Tarryn opened the evening by taking the audience through the process that Allan Gray has been using since 2008 to implement SCRUM as a development methodology when delivering their application functionality. The presentation was incredibly practical to those using or hoping to use SCRUM in a large enterprise and this was evident through the large volume of questions and debate that Tarryn fielded from the JHB audience.

Margarethe de Cafmeyer followed with a very interesting presentation on
standardizing testing in an agile environment where she presented a very useful and quantitative approach to the measurement of quality in their software releases.

One person attending had the following to say about the evening:

The evening was energising and filled with lots of input, questions and interactions with the 2 speakers. The presentations triggered lots of thoughts and questions and the group entered into in-depth conversations around these questions with each other and the speakers.

We left there thinking the evening was too short and that we wanted more time to discuss the things we are so passionate about.

After the event both speakers were later open to chat with the audience over some refreshments. It was a great evening to interact with high skilled SCRUM practitioners who have experience from the trenches!

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!

Event Report: Collaborative Workspaces

Tonight we were privileged to hold the Collaborative Workspaces event in Chris Tisdall’s awesome Theatre of Dreams aka BriteBlue’s offices in Hout Street. It just felt right having conversations on this topic in such a collaboration-rich space.

The event was structured as a World Cafe conversation. After introducing the Café concept, Peter gave a 10-minute impulse on the why’s and how’s of designing collaborative spaces. Collaborative spaces slides.

The table hosts announced their topics and we held two 20-minute conversation rounds. Each host then got 2 minutes to summarise their table discussions (see summaries below). Snacks and drinks were available while the Café ran.

We closed with murmur groups and a Guest Book (see picture) with feedback on the event.

Conversation summaries:

{Will be added when I can figure out how to overcome the size problems. Sorry!}

Event Report: Scrum at Allan Gray

On the rather swampy night of 3 Feb, a capacity crowd squeezed into our sponsor DVT‘s offices to hang on every word from our speakers.  It was a fascinating insight into a company that is now three years into their Scrum journey. For those who were somewhat new to Scrum hearing this story and what the keys to success were was an invaluable experience.

Event Report: SUGSA Jhb Kickoff

We just want to say thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to join the event last week.

A comment from the group: “I thought that last nights SUGSA meeting was a really good success. What was so great is that the audience seemed to REALLY get involved! Thanks for setting it up!”

I must say, we had lots of very interesting questions and discussion points that were stimulated from the presentation last night. We really started the year on a good note and have definitely taken the first step towards our goal: “to create an environment for a group of passionate people to raise their challenges and to interact and exchange ideas and solutions around Scrum”.

We had a chat with the attendees and have decided that we will move the start time to be promptly at 5:30pm for the next event. Please arrive from 5:15pm to get some snacks and a drink before we get going.

We have promised some information for download last night, so here are the links:

Next Event:

Place: Johannesburg, Sandton
Date: Monday, March 28, 2011 from 5:15 PM – 8:00 PM (GMT+0200)
Speaker: Gabrielle Benefield
Discovery Health
155 West Street, Sandton
Ground Floor 155 West Auditorium
South Africa

Jo’burg: SUGSA Kickoff

When: 25 January 2011, 5:30PM

Venue: Discovery Health, 155 West Street, Sandton, Ground Floor 155 West Auditorium, Johannesburg


The presenters, Kevin Shine & Tania van Wyk de Vries (also members of the SUGSA commitee), will have a discussion about the basics of the scrum framework and some lessons they have learned while implementing SCRUM at the organisations they work in.

Kevin, is a scrum master at PruProtect a division of Discovery. Former Java developer and agile enthusiast, Kevin has been a certified scrum master for 2 years and has completed the Professional Scrum Master 1 certification. Kevin has had a lot of experience in moving a waterfall company to a scrum approach and has encounterd many of the resistance factors and challenges that can be associated to this.

Tania has played the role of both SCRUM Master and Product Owner on other projects, and are at the moment doing new product development, using the SCRUM framework in a very small team.

Come and share time with other like minded individuals.

To register visit: SUGSA JHB

Event Report: How to stay sane as a Product Owner

A new voice in our local community, Rian van der Merwe spoke eloquently (and with good humour) from his perspective about the role of the Product Owner. Illustrated with lots of stories about the practical challenges in his role at Yola, what came through strongly was although they may not do Scrum “by the book” the spirit of Scrum and Agile was what really mattered.

You can find slides here and Rian has also just published a blog post which details his thinking.
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