lundi 23 août 2010

Fundamentals of agility: Time boxing

The time boxing is a main part of agility. But, it’s a difficult idea to explain precisely and to implement. The basic idea is to control and encapsulate the time of the action.

The time boxing allow to an agile team and its members to control the working time and the time limit for the realization by cutting in tasks. Each task is so small it’s possible to define exactly the working time and respect this time. This way of working is applied on all the activities from the realization to the meeting and the personal projects. In fact, it’s a way of thinking, each time I’m going to do something; I begin with the valuation of the work. If the time is too big, which mean that the valuation is imprecise, I break up it to valuate each part as well as the integration.

The simplest sample is the management of meetings. For the industrial quality a meeting is defined in order of priority by the agenda, the length, the participants with a role, a day and a time, and a place. A meeting doesn’t respect the agenda or the length failed. When you prepare a meeting, you start by define a target. This target gives the points to tackle. Each point is evaluated. If a point is difficult to define or estimate, it will be split. When all the points are completely define and valuate, the agenda is done. Careful, a meeting can’t take more than 2 hours. Otherwise the points discussed after will be skimmed over or settled. In this case, you must organise some meetings with smaller targets perfectly defined and a synthesis meeting. Sometime, you can organize a meeting with some targets; you should separate them with ns introductions and conclusions to allow to the members to know the target of the meeting at a time.

Define a time for a task and do it in the time expected show the control on the achievement.

This is a basic aspect of the agility. In fact, when the set up Agile Methods is to delivery in a defined time some functions divided in tasks. These functions are done which means that they can be tested and tested, with no bugs. The only remarks must be improvements to obtain a perfect adequacy with the needs of customers and users. The definition of the done is an essential part of the agility.

Now, we can master the working time because if the breaking up of the tasks is enough short. The tasks are already known and their valuation known. A known task was not necessarily done before but a similar task was done in which you can valuate the new easily.

In another part, this mastering of the working time allows a realistic undertaking toward customers. They can see unlike previous experiences, the deliveries are done in the time with a good quality. They use less time to test the delivery and these tests are about the functional part and the imprecision on the product that is generally associated to communication troubles between the customer and the product owner. Some points often minor are difficult to explain precisely.

This way also avoids starting an unrealistic project. Often for a customer or a user, a function is simple in his opinion but lead to difficult troubles for the programmer. If the customer participates to the planning meeting, he can understand the difficulties to realize these functions. The explanation shows to a customer that the evaluation is realistic and is the sum of the tasks from which he isn’t used to thinking.

This communication way is another basic part of agility. It leans to the transparency and the honesty. It is naturally going to a trust relation where the parts communicate more information to each other what avoid mistakes and allow finishing more quickly a good and efficient solution.

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