Eye on the Ball

It is a project management week for me on three fronts.

1. I’ll be teaching Gantt charts as well as Scrum burndown charts in the OOAD (Object-oriented Analysis and Design) class on Tuesday.

2. We are testing out Scrumy this week for SnupNow.

3. Our first pilot site is a project management consulting company, specializing in earned value. I hope to talk to them this week since our meeting last week was canceled.

While I was googling for tools that students could use for an assignment, I looked again for a Scrum tool that might work well for SnupNow. I tried out Planigle earlier and it did not feel like a good match, and I have alluded to our disastrous attempt integrating Agilo with trac. We have roughly 200 open tickets in trac (requirements, tasks, and bug-tracking software), with more than 500 closed tickets in that system. I would like to have something that integrates with trac. My second choice would be something I could migrate to from trac.

That might not be the ticket, however. So far, so good using Scrumy for a couple of days, except that we are duplicating data. Worse yet, I have no doubt that we have some information now in Scrumy that is not in trac, while we definitely have lots in trac that is not in scrumy…heavy sigh. There is not even a good place in scrumy to put the trac ticket number, although in some cases I tried to put it in the description of a story or task. At this point, I do not see a way to replace one with the other.

With it’s visual appeal (see my purposely blurry screenshot below), I think scrumy might help the team with our focus and productivity. I also like the connection of the requirements (stories) to the tasks, something we only do manually in trac, if at all. I decided to go for it and paid the few dollars for the pro version so I could password-protect the project.

Some SnupNow Stories and Tasks in Scrumy.com

Some SnupNow Stories and Tasks in Scrumy.com

I often decide what I will work on in a week, get those things in my sights and then tackle many other things, sometimes not getting done what I set out to do. This should be no surprise to anyone in this industry, not to mention to anyone who knows me.

I look forward to seeing the burndown chart. With many stories added during the week, I’m sure it will not look like it should. We can then work to improve that, with a visual that just might help us do so. Seeing the sprint start with a certain number of stories and increase over the course of the week as we all toss more into it, while also chunking down, knock on wood, might be a very helpful visual. Of course, since we are just starting out and did not do a real sprint planning session, it already shows. I’m thinking we might need to do 1 week sprints, as 1 month and 2-week iterations have not been highly successful, but this is what the burndown chart looks like right now.

Scrumy Burndown chart start, not yet doing it right

Scrumy Burndown chart start, not yet doing it right

I have tried doing a manual burndown chart, and that was just a ton of work from our ticket system. I’m also not ready to figure out how to customize and write our own burndown charts in trac, although I did initially write a burndown report that was less than satisfying.

A Subset of our Open Trac TicketsReport with Open Trac Tickets

To get from here to alpha delivery in January, I really need to get and stay focused, while also trying to provide whatever others on the team need in order to do the same. That is much harder to do while teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays, of course. During the week, my brain can be all over the place right now. That isn’t good.

When I started dating my husband, I found myself participating in a very athletic family. In addition to the Thanksgiving football games (snow or no snow), they were having a family softball game. While I played tennis and table tennis, that was about it. There I was up to bat, petrified, knowing I sucked at this sport. His sister pitched to me. I swung and missed. My boyfriend called out “keep your eye on the ball.”

Holy revelation, batman! Although I guess I did that in tennis, this was a lightbulb moment for me. I thought “Hey, that just might work.” I watched the ball, swung, and connected. Really. That worked. My husband still laughs about how this whole “eye on the ball thing” was new to me.

With my mind all over the map right now, I need to focus, to keep my eye on the ball and hit a line drive. I know I want a home run, but it is a team effort. I need to get on base and when others do the same, we will make it around those bases. Scrumy, I hope you can help.

OK, Dawn, OK SnupNow team, keep your eye on the ball.