Jolla Market share forecast

Sort of a joke and sort of isn’t.

2.7M smartphones are sold every day nowadays according to @tomiahonen.

Jolla has sold 450 phones (or a little less) on its launch day on Nov 27th, some speculations and rumors tell that total preorder size is around 20K units (and at maximum could be 50K – “A typical factory batch size” mentioned by Jolla’s spokes person. We also know that Finnish DNA operator starts shipping around Dec 9 and Jolla seems to be busy shipping only preordered phones during December.

Well, speculating on 1K sales a day since Dec 9 and Jolla online store to start shipments on the same day, we get the graph of “shipped to customers” smartphones market share about.

Error margin? Well, if Jolla has not 20K phones ready, but 60K (on the higher side of 50K standard batch size), then Jolla is competing for 0.072% market share by the end of 2013, not for 0.024%. Guys made lots of great work and wearing my developer’s hat I can confirm that coding for Sailfish OS is a joy, but there is a long way ahead for the Jolla boat still.

How to make your QML applications scale to and look nice on Symbian, MeeGo/Harmattan and android

Yesterday I was talking at the 2nd Tampere barcamp about how you can make your application automatically scale to different devices, yet allow for pixel perfect fine-tuning when needed. We used this approach for Easy Discount Calculator that is to my understanding the first real app available simultaneously for Symbian, MeeGo/Harmattan and Android (on some Android devices it runs smoothly, on som it has problems due to bugs in not yet mature the porting technology).

Unfortunately the presentation may not make much sense to you if you haven’t been to the barcamp as well, but you may like to have a look at the application on your device. Here are the links to the app stores:
Easy Discount Calculator for Nokia devices. BTW right now it is the second in the top seller Business apps for Nokia N9.
Easy Discount Calculator for Android devices

Tampere Goes Agile 2011 – conference photos

A couple of days earlier, on Saturday, Sep 17 in a city of Tampere I was co-organizing the conference called Tampere Goes Agile. Conference was a big success, preparations were challenging and interesting and I should really write about it. For now, here is the slideshow for the conference photos. If you want your photos to appear here, tag them on flickr with tamperegoesagile.

There are no comments allowed on this blog (until I find time to solve the overspamming problem), but feel free to copy-paste the slideshow code to wherever you like. The best way for providing feedback is a tweet tagged with #tamperegoesagile or a blog post with a tweet linking to it.


Created with flickr slideshow.

Agile Eastern Europe 2011. A unique conference and a unique marketing opportunity

As some of you may know, I used to go to quite many Agile conferences from relatively academic XP20XX to pretty-much industrial Agile20XX. Yet there was always one conference that remained special for me – Agile Eastern Europe that happened first time in Kiev, Ukraine in 2009.

Even from the first time it was a huge event never seen before in the region. The reasons were three:
– The region was ripe for a big event. Agile was still in its infancy and a number of local conferences just had to turn into something big
– Excellent speaker line up. The team did excellent job attracting the best speakers one could hope for, including David Hussman, J.B. Raisenberg, Jurgen Appelo and others. Yours truly was also speaking on Estimating and Planning, though in a somewhat different league
– A unique location that is visa-free to nearly whole world. It is pretty much the only country in the world where EU, US, Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian people can meet without any visa hassles

AGILEEE 2011

This year AGILEEE is going to happen again and I am glad to help with finding sponsors for it. Besides being a great place for participants, AGILEEE is also an excellent marketing opportunity with the crowd full of influence on the company purchasing decision. Last year we had people from 22 countries (twenty two!), nearly half of 450 participants were project managers and executives.

positions

So if you happen to know a company with software industry related interests in the region or just a maker of a tool for the software developers, tell them about this post or about my direct contacts: marketing@agileee.org. skype:artem.marchenko, phone: +358-50-486-1137, twitter:AgileArtem

Technical stories – are they included on the backlog?

Introduction

If you’re not already a member of the Scrum development group on Yahoo, you really should join. There’s a fortune of information changing hands and you can learn so much from the interactions. Just recently there was a huge debate on the topic of technical stories.

The question

The underlying question the team debated was should technical stories appear on the backlog.

If they are on the backlog, it means the technical stories are to be prioritized by the PO. This may not be such a good idea considering that PO’s are generally going to be biased towards prioritizing features and functionality over technical stories. Examples given were “Installing Cruise Control”, upgrading DB from MySQL to Oracle, Setting up VMWare etc. Most thought leaders on the forum argued that technical stories should not appear on the backlog, overwhelmingly so in fact. But some rightfully point out that all work requiring development resources should appear on the backlog.

What does Scrum say?

If you take a look at the definition from the Scrum Guide on Scrum.org, it states:

“The Product Backlog represents everything necessary to develop and launch a successful product. It is a list of all features, functions, technologies, enhancements, and bug fixes that constitute the changes that will be made to the product for future releases.”

“The Sprint Backlog consists of the tasks the Team performs to turn Product Backlog items into a “done” increment. Many are developed during the Sprint Planning Meeting. It is all of the work that the Team identifies as necessary to meet the Sprint goal.”

So what’s the right answer?

Well, my answer is it depends and it depends on the context. For example, if your definition of done includes unit tests, automated tests etc then these work items don’t need to be specific items on a backlog. This is stuff that gets done by the development team and there is no negotiation. Estimates need to include the time required to complete all of these elements of the definition of done.

But what about the type of story asked by one of the members “As a development team member, I want the existing unit tests to run under CruiseControl, so that I know if anything breaks”. Where does this belong?

Well this is a perfectly written story but the story really has no ultimate value for the end user at least not directly. In this particular case I’d therefore suggest the following:

This type of story definitely doesn’t belong on the product backlog but would be a perfect task that could exist on the Sprint backlog assuming you’re tracking tasks. I am still in the Scrum camp on task breakdown as opposed to the XP folks who prefer to work just at the story level. If you’re doing task level breakdown during the sprint planning meeting then this type of Story or work could exist on the Sprint Backlog as a task and the time associated with doing this can be tracked on the burndown. Most XP folks will say this is just micro-managing all over again.

To quote Ron Jefferies: “Technical stories have been found to be an inferior idea by many practitioners who have tried both ways. I don’t know of a single one who would go back.” Now Ron is a really smart guy and has ton’s of experience and it’s hard to argue against his opinions or any of the other smart folks on that forum.

In conclusion

I suggest you decide how to handle this as a team and do what you (the team) think is best. I will state however that the XP folks appear to be the most progressive in forging new ground in agile efficiencies and techniques so watch what they say carefully and even consider what they say.

What’s the ideal Sprint length

Introduction

I may have blogged about this previously. I have written so many blogs, I can’t recall any more. However questions regarding Sprint length surface on the forums regularly.

As per usual, the answers one must give always depends on the context and every context is different than the next. So let me start with the context – this is an excerpt of a post on the scrum development group on Yahoo. Incidentally, Yahoo groups is a good place to hang out. You learn a lot from all the questions and the different contexts facing teams around the world.

The Context

A team of 5 members currently working with 10-day sprints. They haven’t managed in the previous 5 sprints to have 100% of the User Stories completed. It is typically around 60-70% completeness.

There is proposal to increase the sprint duration to 15 days “because doing review meetings and planning every 10 days is a lot of overhead” according to the team.

My thoughts

Let me start out by stating some facts …

The official Scrum sprint length is 30 days. However I don’t think (I don’t have facts to back me up on this but it’s the sense I get from all the communications on all the forums) there are many teams working to 30 days any more.

Much of the Agile community agrees that shorter Sprints are better. So 2 week Sprints and even 1 week Sprints are becoming more the norm.

Why are shorter Sprints better?

1. Well we have learned from the Lean folks that shorter Sprints means less work-in-progress which means shorter cycle times and overall less waste.

2. Additionally, shorter Sprints tends to stress your process, revealing any flaws. Like no automated build process, automated test harnesses our unit test frameworks. Fixing these flaws has a tendency to provide leaps in productivity gains for your organization.

So assuming you buy the argument that shorter Sprints are better. My initial quick answer to the question is don’t try to lengthen the Sprint. Rather try to figure out why you’re only hitting 60% – 70% of your originally committed goals.

By the way, 60% – 70% may not be that bad, after all you have a team that is currently demonstrating a consistent output Sprint after Sprint.

So that leads me to think that either the story point estimation is not consistent, or the team is just over-committing. So I would suggest that they do the following.

Try to really assess what is going on in the retrospective. Let team members speak freely about their thoughts on the matter.

I would definitely spend a little bit of time re-assessing the size of a few completed items i.e. if the story was 10 points originally, what would they estimate the size now, after the fact. Re-assessing the relative size may well fix the problem.

Some folks, most notably Ron Jefferies, would argue why do you need to get your estimation down pat. Well in my opinion for one, predictability goes a long way to help remove team stress. So its great for a team to say we can commit to say 100 points and deliver between 90 and 110 each Sprint. The business will love you for this.

Whats good about this problem in and of itself is that Scrum is doing what it’s supposed to do; surface issues for the team to resolve. And if the team feels that going to 15 day Sprints is the right thing to do, so be it – it might well be. But I would try to first figure out why 2 weeks is not cutting it. Many teams make it work so it should be doable.

Hope this helps if you’re in the same boat. If not at least if it provides food for thought!

Jack
agilebuddy

Agile Project Management Questions Answered

Agile Project Management Questions Answered.I was asked recently to answer 5 questions about agile project management for a feature on PM Boulevard. I thought you might appreciate seeing them here too…

1. How has the Agile practice evolved over the last two years?

I don’t personally think that agile practices have particularly changed in the last two years, however there is clearly a stronger emphasis on some elements more than others now.

Scrum certainly seems to have crossed into the mainstream since I started my blog. Even though it was less than 3 years ago, Scrum still felt quite new and innovative in the UK at that time. I work in the web development sector and now every company I meet seems to be doing Scrum.

Another change is the interest in agile from the project management community. This seems significant as people start to think more about how best to apply agile on larger projects. Looking at Google Trends, which shows search volumes over time, the graph below shows that search demand for ‘agile project management’ started relatively late in terms of agile adoption, and interest is still growing strongly now.



The other thing that seems to be a clear trend during 2009 is a much stronger emphasis on Lean software development from the agile community. It seems to have really gathered pace in the last year or so.

2. What would you tell someone who thinks Agile is just another fad?

I don’t think agile can be called a fad now! Admittedly it may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly not a small minority any more. Again using Google Trends to gauge search demand and therefore people’s interest in a topic, ‘agile software development’ has been in high demand on Google as far back as 2005 (although it’s obviously been around a lot longer than that), and has remained high ever since. I don’t think something can be called a fad when the buzz has been going for over 5 years already and is continuing to grow strongly. For anyone that hates the idea of agile and is secretly hoping it might just go away, you’d better get used to it because I think it’s here to stay!

3. What are some tools that you use?

I know this might sound like it isn’t much help to others, but we don’t actually use any project management tools or any specific agile tools. Those who read my blog will know I’m a big fan of Excel and the whiteboard, although clearly agile project management tools would be a useful addition in some circumstances, particularly where teams or stakeholders are distributed across multiple locations or projects are particularly large.

In my experience, I’ve had several development teams practicing agile web development using Scrum, and they have been able to operate Scrum on a team-by-team basis without the need for any specialist tools to help manage. Instead we have placed a much stronger emphasis on face-to-face communication and collaboration, using Excel to manage product backlogs, user stories to convey requirements, and whiteboards to provide visibility.

4. Do you think that Agile and the PMBOK can coexist?

I definitely think agile and PMBOK can coexist, although some elements of PMBOK would be irrelevant to apply on an agile project. However there are plenty of elements of PMBOK that are not addressed at all within agile methodologies, for instance project initiation, cost management, risk management and various other aspects too.

I think the problem here is that a project manager must know PMBOK-style project management methods like PRINCE2 and agile methods such as Scrum very well to be able to choose the right techniques for the right situation. This obviously demands a lot of skill and experience from the project manager and is potentially very difficult for anyone new to either method. This is where experienced project managers that have successfully transitioned to agile have a really strong advantage over others who have only really managed projects with one approach or the other. It gives them the ability to blend the methods based on the unique characteristics of their particular situation, which along with leadership skills might be the thing that differentiates a good project manager from a great one.

I have blogged about this topic before here: Agile Project Management Is Not Enough!

5. Can you recommend a book, blog, podcast, Web site, or other information source to our readers that you find interesting or intriguing right now?

Apart from my own, I would recommend various other blogs, some of which you’ll find in the sidebar of my blog. My personal favourites at the moment are Leading Agile by Mike Cottmeyer, Succeeding with Agile by Mike Cohn, and Agile Techniques on InfoQ. In terms of books, you’ll also find some books I can recommend on my blog; they’re on an Amazon affiliate widget in the middle of each page. ‘Agile Project Management with Scrum’ by Ken Schwaber and ‘Agile Estimating and Planning’ by Mike Cohn are particularly recommended.

Kelly.

Photo by Marco Bellucci