A nice iPhone tool for agile development
From time to time I like to check for new applications for my iPhone. It’s pretty amazing how quickly the base of applications is growing, so I usually discover nice surprises.
So today I decided to look for application that was SCRUM-specific. Sincerely I didn’t expect to find anything, nor I had any concrete application in mind. The app store search dialog suggested ScrumTools. It’s a very very simple, but still useful, iPhone app. In its current version it offers two things:
- A timer for controlling the daily meeting length.
- An electronic deck for playing the planning poker activity.
Although books usually recommend it, I had never used a timer to control the daily meeting length. If you don’t take care, these meetings can be easily longer than the 15 minutes recommendation. Since members of the team expose their problems, discussions about how to solve things tend to appear quite often. The solution is as simple as delaying further discussions for specific meetings. The iPhone ScrumTools alerts at 10, 5 and 1 minutes remaining (the normal iPhone timer won’t do this). I thing is a very good way of focusing the meeting in answering the three questions
Regarding to the Planning Poker activity, if you don’t know what it is about, you should read Mike Cohn’s book on Agile Estimating and Planning. It’s the best book on agile development I have read. Planning Poker is a technique for estimating size in software development. Basically, for each story:
- The story is presented and the team discuss about it.
- The members of the team choose a card that represents their estimation. We use story points in the set proposed by Cohn (1,2,3,5,8,13).
- Everyone turn their cards over at the same time.
- The members with the lowest and highest estimation expose their reasons, and
the estimation process is repeated.
The book tells that teams will find consensus soon. I was a bit skeptical about this after reading the book, but practice has taught me that a consensus is usually reached quickly.