When you explain the iterative/incremental nature of Agile, most people coming from a waterfall lifecycle say “What? No up-front planning at all?” Some Agile coaches would glibly say yes, but the truth is more complex. Sprint Zero is an Agile term for a time-boxed amount of up-front planning. During Sprint Zero, you identify value stories, get a decent backlog of user stories and you do some architectural proof-of-concepts. The trick is to balance between insufficient planning and analysis paralysis.
Estimating and planning are critical to the success of any software project, also in the case of distributed agile development. Research has acknowledged that conventional agile methods need to be adjusted when applied in distributed contexts. However, we argue that also new tools are needed for enabling effective distributed agile practices. This article presents eConference3P, a tool for supporting distributed agile teams who applies the planning poker technique to perform collaborative user story estimation. The planning poker technique builds on the combination of multiple expert opinions, represented using the visual metaphor of poker cards, which results in quick but reliable estimates.
This short presentation explains why software metrics are not the panacea that we thought they might be 20 years ago. This is why moving from a predictive model to a reactive approach is the only rational course.
Mike Cohn wrote an interesting post where he discusses he allows or even encourages to estimate with story points as large as 20, 40, and 100. He explains that they are useful when you need first and not necessarily precise estimate of the general size of a new project being considered.
Agile estimating and planning in a Scrum project will not prevent your boss from asking: “Will you make the date?” This video explains how to use Scrum and the “Cone of Uncertainty” to provide an answer like: “60% probability.”
Marc Löffler shares in this blog post 11 hints to improve all the Scrum meetings. He discusses daily stand-up meeting where he suggests to show colleagues what your currently working on instead of just talking about it. He also make proposals to improve the sprint planning, sprint reviews and retrospectives.
In this blog post, George Dinwiddie explains how to use the first iteration in a Scrum project to deliver some working software and not just building a backlog and setting up infrastructure for the next iterations that will deliver increments of functionality.