Agile Lifecycle Management with the agileLUNCHBOX Meetup Group

Kevin Fox

Kevin Fox discussing ICC’s use of Rational Team Concert

The TechLife Columbus agileLUNCHBOX group was convening in my neighborhood at Information Control Corporation (ICC) in the north end of Columbus on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.  I hadn’t attended any of this groups meet ups before, but the topic, From turntables to iPods – should we give ALM tools another look?, sounded pretty interesting.  I’ve been an agile practitioner for sometime (remember agile is something you are, not something you do) and I’d taken Pillar’s workshop, A day in the life of Agile, this spring in an attempt to hone my management skill set.  I clicked on the attending button and was schedule to learn a bit while meeting some new peers.

It was a beautiful day and ICC is only a couple miles up the Alum Creek bike trail from my house, so I set it out about an hour ahead of time and pedaled my way north.  ICC is right off of I-270 at Cleveland Ave, so I had no trouble finding the building on Corporate Exchange and making my way to the third floor conference room.  The meeting was scheduled for 11:30AM  and the nice lunch provided from Qdoba Mexican Grill was much appreciated after pedaling five miles.  I had the opportunity to meet ICC’s Director of Application and Integration Service Delivery, Dharmesh Sorathia, and chat a bit before the presentation.  I also saw a few folks I recognized, including Joe Ours who delivered a great workshop on Cucumber at last months ATDD group meeting.

Kevin Fox, an Enterprise Architect at ICC, started his presentation promptly at noon.  If you’ve ever placed a post-it note with a user story in the backlog column of a whiteboard, you’ll get the analog turn-table reference.  Post-it notes are an affective method to define user stories and engage in sprint planning, but leave much to be desired when management wants to determine a teams velocity from story points, or view a teams burn down chart.  They can also be quite difficult to save and transport!

Kevin covered a few reasons why “the cobblers kids have no shoes” with discussion from the audience.  These include the ease of adding and removing post-its, the team interaction of the whiteboard, and bad experiences from early adoption of automated products. I’ve attempted to use some Redmine plugins for storyboarding, and could relate to the short comings of early adoption.  Alas, as Kevin stated, Technology never stands still.  Just as turntables were supplanted by cassette, then by compact disc, followed by the iPod, it might be time for an iPhone for your Agile Lifecycle Management.

The .Net world can look to Team Foundation Server, while the Java enthusiast has Rational Team Concert as an ALM tool.  These tools all have some form of ATDD (Acceptance Test Driven Development), TDD (Test Driven Development), Distributed Version Control, Continuous Integration, Repository Management, and Reporting Service.  Kevin discussed some of the advantages his team has experienced from automated ALM with Rational Team Concert.  The audience expressed a bit of skepticism about the impact of automation on the human experience of agile planning.  Tool adaptibility was identified as a necessity, as well as embracing some of the tools process management.

It was an excellent presentation and discussion for agile practioners.  My interest has been peeked to try an ALM tool.  Perhaps a workshop with RTC at a future agileLUNCHBOX meet up?  A few other ALM’s to check out include: VersionOne TeamRoom, CollabNet TeamForge, and Redmine.

I met another cyclist at the meeting, Damien Calloway.  Turns out that he’s a student just getting into the field and he was heading my way south on the bike trail to his job at Easton.  We had a great conversation as we rode back south and we’re planning on doing a bit of paired programming over the summer!

Check out the next agileLUNCHBOX.