What We Use

This week I’m listing out the tools that we use in an average iteration, focused on what helps us on our Agile Journey. I will expand a little on how and why we use them. Basic office and job tools such as furniture and email are not being mentioned. Assume that we have a Microsoft tool for basic things like this that are not mentioned.

Whiteboard

Technically we use two in addition to any that team members have for their own process. (As a side note I’ve been known to use whiteboard markers on my monitors for notes and such while coding.) We have one large whiteboard that we post the iteration status on. All tasks and the stories they are under are tracked here. We do it in a kind of Kanban/Burn-Down mash-up. It is our information radiator and is updated at least daily. We also have a smaller whiteboard that shows a larger planning picture. This is where we track which iteration will have releases and what stories are expected in each.

Post-it Notes

Lots of post-it notes. In colors. Currently we only enforce one color representing stories. In future retrospectives I will propose the idea of other colors specifically for development tasks, testing tasks, bugs, and hot fixes. Both whiteboards use post-it notes so requirements and work can easily get shuffled around as the environment and business priorities change.

MS Visual Studio & Team Foundation Server

We are a Microsoft shop. Some groups here are using other technologies, but the applications we maintain are all .Net. All work on post-its is also tracked here. Source control and version release management as well.

MS Excel & Project

Upper management has formats they want their project data in. This is mostly Excel with some Project. These reports are really more about visibility for the executive team than anything else. Decisions are not made by the team based on these tools.

Google Hang-outs

This is a new one. We are on multiple campuses. For co-ordination between teams this is the latest new tool. It is used by the PO/PM to connect with other PO/PMs in the company.

Lync/Conference Call Service

We are co-located. In the rare event a team member is unable to make a scheduled meeting in person our team has a permanent conference call code with our corporate provider. Between that and Lync we can get most of what we need to for interaction during those meetings.

Nexus 7

Really this could be any tablet. I use it as a timer for time-boxed meetings as needed. Depending on conference room equipment, product being worked on, and tablet chosen these could be used for demos at the end of a sprint as well.

Planning Poker Cards – Size (XS-XL)

After estimation meetings either the PO or SM translates the relative sizes back to story points. These can then be calculated to rough hour estimates based on a rolling historical velocity measure as needed.

Survey Monkey

This is a great tool for getting anonymous feedback leading into a retrospective. This is important as most of the time real anonymous feedback will be better than any other kind. Sure, the ideal high-performing, mature team might be able to give brutally honest feedback to each others faces. Let’s be honest though, most teams never get to that point.

 

I think that pretty much covers what we use  to help ourselves be more Agile. What kinds of tools do you use? How? Why?

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