Managing Requirements Dependencies Between Agile and Lean Teams

Originally posted on Disciplined Agile Delivery:

Sometimes functional dependencies occur between requirements that are being implemented by different teams.  For example, requirement X depends on requirement Y and X is being worked on by team A and Y is being worked on by team B.  This generally isn’t a problem when requirement Y is implemented before requirement X, is a bit of an annoyance if they’re being implemented in parallel (the two teams will need to coordinate their work), and an issue if X is being implemented before Y.  For the rest of this posting we will assume that X depends on Y, X is just about to be implemented, and Y has not yet been implemented.  Previously in Managing Dependencies in Agile Teams we discussed strategies for addressing such dependencies, including reordering the work or mocking out the functionality to be provided by Y.  In this posting we explore the implications of managing requirements dependencies…

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Twenty Minute Rule

Whenever you come home from a long day at work or school,  you were so tired the only things you could find energy to do were mindless life-negating nonsense– television, Netflix, Reddit, Facebook, whatever.

Every night you would somehow find hours of time to do these things (despite being extremely tired).

Replace this time wasting routine with the twenty minute ruleThe moment you get home, you force yourself to do at least twenty minutes of one of the things that makes you better, happy and closer one step to you goals.

 

When people don’t plan, they aren’t ready to take advantage of opportunities that avail themselves, and so they play Angry Birds and watch Netflix because it takes less energy than figuring out something to do at that moment.  I call this the “path of least resistance problem.”  To make ourselves more sensitive to opportunities that can decidedly improve our lives, we need to structure our routines to make the path of least resistance difficult.  One way to do this is the twenty minutes rule.

If we want to do something trivial, something that likely won’t matter in the grand scheme of our lives, like meeting a colleague for lunch, we will pencil a time in our calendars and get it done.  But when we want to do something important and enriching, something we know will matter greatly in the grand scheme of our lives, like writing a book or learning a language, we say “I’ll get around to it.”  We don’t pencil in the twenty minutes a day necessary to become the person we really want to be.  One way to do this is to challenge the impulse to relegate our passions and our ambitions to something our future selves will do down the line.

 

Resource: http://www.quora.com/Lifestyle/What-small-lifestyle-changes-have-the-biggest-impact/answer/Evan-DeFilippis?srid=uOyW&share=1

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If you are not Planning , then you are a bad Developer

No matter how many years you have, if you are not planning (white board/paper) your work and just jump and code, then you are a bad developer.

Developers face coding decisions, many of which are complex, the best developers will plan their work and make good decisions. Bad developers just ‘jump in'; they assume that they can always rewrite code or make up for bad decisions later. Bad developers are not even aware that their decision processes are poor and that they can become much better by planning their work.

Resource : No Experience Required!

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Programming Every Day

Why you should program daily (work or side projects) ?

1- Break-through solutions:

Subconscious will work while you are eating, driving, sleeping, … etc.

2- Productivity:

Everyday a little step towards your goal.

3- Satisfaction:

Feeling progress is important as achieving your goals.

4- Switching:

Easy switch to work on your project, because everything is in the front memory.

How to do it?

1- Time:

Set a specific time and period, what ever happened you should do programming.

2- Place:

Set a specific place and don’t change it.

3- Progress not result:

You are looking for sitting down and do programming, not waiting for a result. And this is better, because your subconscious will be working while you are in a middle of a dilemma.

Resource: Write Code Every Day

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Release Planning

Maximize your return on investment by:

working on one project at a time;
releasing early and often;
adapting your plans;
keeping your options open; and
planning at the last responsible moment.
Use timeboxing to control your schedule. Set the release date, then manage scope to meet that date. This forces important prioritization decisions and makes the endpoint clear.

Prioritized Minimum Marketable Features (MMFs) and stories form the body of your plan. Demonstrate your progress as you develop and use that feedback to revise your plan.

To minimize rework, develop the details of your requirements at the last responsible moment.

Resource: The Art of Agile Development: Release Planning

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What Is a Customer Need?

Much of the confusion concerning the proper role of
customer needs in the innovation process stems from an
unclear understanding of what a customer need is. Solutions,
features and product requirements are not customer needs,
and yet they have all been treated as such at one time or
another.

There are two forms in which customer needs may be
stated that properly reflect the customer’s definition of value.
First, there are job statements. A job is a fundamental goal
that customers are trying to accomplish or a problem they
are trying to resolve in a given situation (e.g., prevent cavities,
learn to play guitar or hang a picture). Second, there are
outcome statements. A desired outcome is a metric that is
used by customers to measure success when getting a job
done. Customers hire particular solutions to get a job done,
and they choose among competing solutions in order to ensure
that their priority outcomes in getting a job done are satisfied.
(For more detailed discussion of jobs and outcomes and their
role in the innovation process, see Anthony W. Ulwick, “Turn
Customer Input into Innovation,” Harvard Business Review,
January 2002; Lance A. Bettencourt and Anthony W. Ulwick,
“The Customer-Centered Innovation Map,” Harvard Business
Review, May 2008; and Anthony W. Ulwick and Lance A. Bettencourt,
“Giving Customers a Fair Hearing,” Sloan Management
Review, Spring 2008.)

Although jobs and outcomes share several characteristics
that enable them to be properly valued in the innovation
process, two in particular are worth noting. First, a good job or
outcome statement does not include any references to how the
customer need might be satisfied. This seems simple enough,
but it is challenging in practice—as it means stripping away
reference to the way things are currently done (as those merely
represent the current solution). Second, a good job or outcome
statement uses unambiguous language that will lead to a common
understanding by anyone who reads it. Thus, imprecise
words such as “reliable,” “durable” and “easy to use” must be
avoided. Such imprecision introduces variation in interpretation
that hampers innovation.

When customer needs are defined as jobs and outcomes
with these two characteristics in mind, they can become the
basis for capturing need statements that customers are able to
articulate, that are relevant across geographies and time and
that are useful for decision making by diverse stakeholders
within the organization.

Resource: What Is a Customer Need?

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5 Myths of Customer Needs

Customer needs can and should guide innovation. So where does
the problem lie?
The answer is both simple and profound: It is the failure to understand exactly what a customer need is.

Five myths that have a particularly pernicious effect.
Like all myths, they have a basis in reality, but their unquestioned acceptance as truth is leading many companies astray—leading to wasted resources, disjointed innovation executions, missed growth opportunities, and product concepts that miss the mark with customers.

Myth No. 1: Customers Can’t Articulate Their Needs

“Ignore Your Customer!” This provocative title for a 1995 article published in Fortune magazine has become the mantra of a generation of product managers who operate under the mistaken belief that customers cannot articulate their needs. Customers will mislead you if you ask them about their needs—or so the thinking goes.

“If you had asked customers, they couldn’t have told you they needed the iPhone. Therefore, it must be true that customers cannot articulate what they need.”
But there’s the rub: However brilliant it may be, the iPhone
is not a customer need. The iPhone—like the microwave and
Walkman before it—is a solution to a customer need. When
companies get solutions and customer needs confused, it confuses
the role of the customer and the company in the innovation
process. Customers articulate their needs; it is up to the
company to create a solution.
It is not the role of the customer to provide technology
ideas to the company, or even to evaluate the potential for a
new technology to satisfy their unmet needs. How would they
know? They are not technology experts.
When customer needs are defined in a manner that distinguishes them
from solutions, not only can customers articulate their needs,
but those needs become the valued foundation the innovation
process requires.

Myth No. 2: Customers Don’t Know What They Need

It is this myth that leads many product managers to conclude—incorrectly—that innovation is the process of “creating a customer need.”
“If the solution we’re going to propose does not yet exist,” the
managers say, “then how can customers possibly know that
they need it?” But again, the managers are confusing solutions
with needs. A product or service may do something that has
never been done before, but the needs it addresses will have
been long-standing.
If a company can learn how customers evaluate how well they’re
able to get jobs done using today’s solutions, then it can learn
precisely where customers have needs that are currently unmet
by any solutions.

Myth No. 3: Different Customers, Different Needs

“If you’ve seen one hospital, you’ve seen one hospital!” This humorous comment captured the recognition that every hospital has its own way of doing things. But it would be dangerous to conclude that because each hospital has its own way of doing things, each hospital is trying to satisfy a different set of needs.
Why this myth, because they are looking at the solutions
customers are currently using—rather than at the job the
customer is trying to get done.
There may be any number of possible solutions to the problems a job presents, but that doesn’t mean that there is more than one job.
If the innovation team focuses on the solution that customers are using, it will limit how they perceive the customers’ actual needs.

Myth No. 4: Customer Needs Change Quickly Over Time

Solutions come and go. Many believe that customer needs change quickly over time. Unfortunately, this mistaken belief leads many to downplay the role of customer needs in guiding strategy and long-term product planning.
If solutions and customer needs are not properly distinguished, companies can mistakenly conclude that needs change rapidly over time.
The reality is that customer needs are quite stable when
properly defined around the job the customer is trying to get
done.
If customer needs do not reference particular
solutions—such as financial planning software—they have a relevance that spans years and decades. It is true that the priorities people attach to these needs will vary over time, as society changes and new solutions are introduced. However, the underlying needs remain
the same.

Myth No. 5: Customer Needs Differ by Org. Purpose

The primary reason for these internal coordination problems
is the absence of a precise and shared language for speaking
about customer needs.
All must first agree on what a good customer need statement is—one that will inform the varied purposes of all.

Resource: Debunking Myths about Customer Needs

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Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory

All you should find out is what the customers’ ultimate output goal is: WHAT they want the product or service to do for them (Needs), not HOW it should do it (Solution).

People do not want a software, they want their job to be done.

While software come and go, the underlying job-to-be-done does not go away.

Instead of trying to improve your existing software, the innovation process is dramatically improved by instead trying to find better ways to get the job done.

Stop studying the software and instead study the job that people are trying to get done.

Analyze the job, not the customer or the software.

By focusing on the job-to-be-done, it becomes possible, for the first time, to know all the customer’s needs and determine which are unmet. It turns out that when customers are executing a job, they have a set of metrics in mind that define the successful execution of that job. These metrics (or desired outcomes) can be captured as actionable customer need statements that replace the customer inputs companies ordinarily capture and use to create new products.

Analyzing the job to discover where customers struggle to get the job done, rather than analyzing the software they use for that purpose.

Software evolve over time to help people get more jobs done. Jobs-to-be-done theory tells us that the more jobs a software can help a customer get done, the more valuable that product is as a software platform in that space.

Always be focused on creating the solutions that will get the job done best.

Focus on helping customers get a job done better.

What software will win in the future? The software that help customers get the job done better. Knowing where customers struggle today to execute the job-to-be-done indicates what a software has to do in the future to win.

We all know that people “hire” products to get jobs done. Office workers hire word-processing software to create documents.

For innovative ideas, first break down the job that customers want done into discrete steps. Then brainstorm ways to make steps easier, faster, or unnecessary.

Validating Questions
Defining the execution step: what are the most central tasks that must be accomplished in getting the job done?
Defining pre-execution steps: what must happen before the core execution step to ensure the job is successfully carried out?
Defining post-execution steps: what must happen after the core execution step to ensure the job is successfully carried out?

Opportunities at the job level
Can the job be executed in a more efficient or effective sequence?
Do some customers struggle more with executing the job than others (for instance, novices versus experts, older versus younger?)
What struggles or inconveniences do customers experience because they must rely on multiple solutions to get the job done?
Is it possible to eliminate the need for particular inputs or outputs from the job?
Is it necessary that the customers execute all steps for which they are currently responsible? Can the burden be automated or shifted to someone else?
How many trends affect the way the job is executed in the future?
In what contexts do customers most struggle with executing the job today? Where else or when else might customers want to execute the job?

Opportunities at the step level
What causes variability (or unreliability) in executing this step? What causes execution to go off track?
Do some customers struggle more than others with this step?
What does this step’s ideal output look like (and in what ways is the current output less than ideal?)
Is this step more difficult to execute successfully in some contexts than others?
What are the biggest drawbacks of current solutions used to execute this step?
What makes executing this step time-consuming or inconvenient?

Defining the job-to-be-done correctly is a prerequisite to predictable success in innovation, because the job becomes the focal point around which the entire innovation process is executed.

Focus on customers that are struggling to get the job done.

The job must be defined as a process; an activity that consists of a series of steps that customers take to complete a task or achieve a goal or objective. This means that the job-to-be-done is always a functional job; not an emotional job.

Rules that define the job correctly:

1. Think about the job from the customer’s perspective.
So don’t ask “what job are people want software for”, rather ask, “what job is the customer trying to get done”. Because customers often cobble together many solutions to try and get the entire job done.

2. Think big; to encompass the entire job, not just a piece of it. A narrow focus will hurt you because customers are looking for products and services that help them get the entire job done better.

To create more value for customers. This means better satisfying the customers’ unmet needs.

Examining customer needs through a jobs-to-be-done lens, a customer need must relate to helping customers get a job done better.

5 Myths of Customer Needs
1. Customers have latent needs; needs they don’t even know they have.
2. Customers struggle to articulate their needs.
3. Customers’ needs change quickly over time.
4. Customers won’t know what they want until they see it.
5. It is impossible to ever know all the customers’ needs.

A customer need is not a solution, product feature, or idea. Nor is it a statement that describes how to make products easier to purchase, set up, install, or interface with. Customers don’t buy products and services to set them up or to interface with them. They buy products and services to get a job done.

Customers don’t know what solutions they want, but a solution is not a need. Customer needs are the metrics customers use to measure how well they’re executing the job-to-be-done.

When we define needs this way, we can readily identify all of them because customers know perfectly well what success means to them when getting a job done.

This perspective changes everything. When needs are thought of in this way, there is no such thing as a latent need or a need a customer can’t articulate. Furthermore, these needs are stable over time: they often don’t change for decades because the job-to-be-done remains the same.

Having a full set of customer needs, defined around the job-to-be-done, impacts all aspects of innovation, including the way opportunities are defined, and the way ideas are constructed, tested and positioned.

Customer needs analysis:

Four-step approach.

1- conduct personal interviews in order to dissect the job the customer is trying to get done into process steps. We call this process “job mapping.” The job map is created so the company and the interviewer have a clear understanding of what job the customer is trying to get done.

2- conduct one or more ethnographic or observational interviews with customers to gain insight into the context in which the job is getting done. This helps the interviewer be more effective at capturing and refining desired outcome statements in subsequent interviews. These interviews also may be used to better flesh out the job map and begin the outcome gathering effort.

3- conduct personal, group or observational interviews to elicit from customers what metrics they use to measure success in executing each step of the job. This is where the bulk of the desired outcome statements are captured and the heart of the customer needs analysis discipline.

4- conduct one-on-one interviews or literature searches if needed to fill in any missing details that remain after completing the first three steps.

Resource: Jobs-To-Be-Done

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Mob Programming

Pair programming keeps two eyes on the code at all times and increases the ability to communicate to each other about the code. Mob programming extends that out just a little bit to a whole team. So essentially everybody working on the same code, the same problem, at the same time, in the same space and on the same computer. Being on the same computer is what sort of makes it a little bit different than the way a lot of teams work.

Any concept that is going to go into code is discussed, as it is going into the code base. So anything that we want to do, has to be verbalized and so we use this role we call driver navigator. The driver is sort of a smart input device. He or she is working at the keyboard taking information from the navigators, who are discussing how we want the code to look, what do we want the objects to do. And that means we have to express it well verbally. We have to understand it well and everybody is watching it at the same time. So if the understanding isn’t there, that’s clear to us, it’s transparent. So we pretty much go from a good idea to vetting it, to getting into the code base and reviewing the code all at the same time.

Every 15 minutes we change. So we keep this roundory we call it or rotation going throughout the day, where everybody is at the keyboard for no more than 15 minutes. And the keyboard is not the seat of honor. It’s just, you are the current input device and we switch it up, so that you can get back to being a navigator as quick as possible.

The value here isn’t, that I have got an idea and therefore I key it in, it’s I have got an idea an therefore I need to be able to express it. And it’s that forcing ourselves to express it in human terms, that really clears the air. We all get to understand it. There is a lot of benefits to this.

Everybody on the team is a coder. But somebody coming on the team might not be a very accomplished coder, but they’ll become one pretty quickly. Because there is this concept of continuous learning that happens and it accelerates your learning. So if you kind of can code a little bit, you’ll become better very quickly, when you work in this situation, because you are constantly exposed to a good way to do your work. All the shortcuts become apparent, all the IDEs we work with, the coding conventions, how code itself works, it’s all exposed and shown continuously. So when you are working alone, you often go: there must be a shortcut for this. You search around on the internet, you don’t know the right keywords to find it. Here you just ask “Hey, is there a shortcut for this”? Or you see someone use one, you go “What did you just do there”? And, we learn quickly. So we’ve got a couple of guys on the team who really started out in the QA world and a couple of us, who started out more coding, but we all have to code and we all have to do QA on this team. So those with the QA skills have become much better coders and those with the coding skills have become much better QA people.

We all get in about the same time, eight o’clock. We spend an hour studying every morning, then we work the rest of the day till five o’clock and then we go home. During the day, we are interacting all day long and as often as not we take a hike at lunch together. We could pass a sandwich shop on the way and pick up something, but our hikes aren’t just a little walk up and down the street, we are actually getting into some hilly areas, dirt trails, and we all seem to enjoy it.

The basic idea though is that, if we’re turning out code and we are delivering projects, everybody is happy. It’s way more important to see that code in use, than anything else. So, it’s kind of a problem, when we see two or three people huddled around doing the same thing and we think, maybe they are redundant, we don’t need them all doing that same thing, but the results are what counts. And I think my manager or my boss, once he saw how serious we were, he just supported it 100%. It didn’t take him long to see that. A matter of fact, can I tell a little bit of the story of how we started doing it?

Resource: Woody Zuill on Mob Programming and No Estimates

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Planning

Rather than try to plan for every eventuality, embrace the possibilities that change brings you. This approach may sound like it’s out of control. It would be, except for eight practices that allow you to control the chaos of endless possibility.

1- Vision : reveals where the project is going and why it’s going there.

2- Release Planning : provides a roadmap for reaching your destination.

3- The Planning Game : combines the expertise of the whole team to create achievable plans.

4- Risk Management : allows the team to make and meet long-term commitments.

5- Iteration Planning : provides structure to the team’s daily activities.

6- Slack : allows the team to reliably deliver results every iteration.

7- Stories : form the line items in the team’s plan.

8- Estimating : enables the team to predict how long their work will take.

Resource: The Art of Agile Development: Chapter 8: Planning

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