The ScrumMaster Returns

I’m currently being a ScrumMaster/mentor for a team on a new Smart Client project (I always think I should be rolling a 20–sided die with each build). It’s a big step for the team as they’re generally VB6 and non-OO/non-.NET developers. It’s also a pretty big step for the client as they’re new to Agile as I’ve been introducing little things over the last few months (unit tests, continuous integration, presentations on various patterns, etc.). Now the rubber hits the road and we’re full on Scrum (well almost, still need to convince them to estimate with story points intead of hours). The project officially kicked off Monday (when I was still off the grid somewhere in B.C.) and just I got back today to do some slight course corrections with the team (rebuilding the solution tree, focusing more on the domain and tests rather than the UI and back-end infrastructure, etc.). I’ll probably be blogging more on the project and how things are going and some lessons learned from the Scrum side of things (in between what SharePoint I can wiggle in between my daily stand-ups).

The other cool thing is that this is the first project I’m using Conchango’s Scrum for Team System plug-in in a non-pet project manner. I’ve managed a bunch of little projects since the plug-in came out, and even took some Enterprise projects that were “Scrum-like” (read: doing items iteratively, but not really so it never worked out) and built a “what-if” scenario with it in VSTS, but now I’m giving the tool a real run for it’s money (free!) and seeing where it can go. So far things are coming along, although there are a couple of glitches like the product backlog isn’t filling up on the dashboard (the report works though). I think it’s due to the fact that I didn’t assign relative weights to the items or something, but not sure. The burn-down is coming along (even if it’s only the 2nd day) as the team is really digging entering the work remaining rather than how many hours they scrutinized over what they did. While the burn-down is currently looking like a burn-up (the projected end date is a few months off our original iteration due to some flux in the estimates) I’m confident it’ll come down and start leveling out to what it should be.

If you haven’t checked out the plugin and want to do some real Scrum planning and tracking with VSTS, please check it out. I was strugging with the start of this project, screwing around with spreadsheets that I’ve used in the past and decided to try out the plug-in to fully manage the project. The PM is digging it as he can easily see where things are at and has no worries about what’s being done (and what’s to be done) and I find it works better than MSF for Agile and is simpler to use (although I’m still hunting around for a webcast where a Microsquishy explained MSF for Agile in Scrum terms which may change my opinion). The plugin is free and you can just add it to your VSTS setup quickly if you want to try it out. You download it here from Conchango’s site (which also has a lot of great documentation and resources on Scrum in general as it applies to the tool) and check it out.

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