Fundamentals Webinar

Q: What does it mean by "no egos?”

A: This means that all participants strive to focus on the issues at hand, as in a retrospective, and not on personalities. Rather than say "Well, Fred didn't...," the focus is on the time allotted for this may not have been sufficient.

 

Q: Is it okay for a scrum master to work in more than one team?

A: Our scrum masters work on several teams. Just pay attention to the individual capacity of the scrum master so as not to over extend them.

 

Q: What are acceptance criteria?

A: Acceptance criteria (AC) are the set of requirements as outlined by the business and the product owner that the user story needs to meet in order to be accepted and then released.

 

Q: Our company often uses the term confirmations in user stories to detail requirements for a project release. Do you see any difference in using this term instead of acceptance criteria?

A: Agile methodologies and terms are, by their nature, flexible and if the terminology you currently use is equal to a term we suggest, you can stick with what you use.

 

Q: How is regression testing handled?

A: Agile stresses building automated tests to help carry the load of regression testing. If a team member's time is used during the week to manage, create, or run such tests that should be accounted for prior to an iteration when determining how much capacity the team has to work on new items.

 

Q: How can you limit scope of development into sprints?

A: As your team matures, you learn what your ideal velocity is, measured in points. Once you know how many points you can complete every two weeks, you can get a feel for if a user story of a certain point size can be completed.

 

Q: How does work on defects impact the iteration mechanics?

A: There are two types of defects. When you find a bug as a result of developing a new user story, the story's acceptance criteria should read that any discovered defects are closed first. If you are unable to rectify a defect before the end of the iteration, the story is considered incomplete. Separate, independent (regression) defects are different. These can be prioritized on your backlog along with user stories, so that the product owner balances correcting technical debt with providing new value. Learn more about defects in CA Agile Central here.

 

Q: If the backlog is only supposed to be 1–4 months in length, where do you store other items the business may want but are not going to be able to be delivered in 1–4 months?

A: We recommend using CA Agile Central Portfolio Manager. You can create long-term portfolio items as placeholders for future initiatives. When it comes time to plan them, you can attach user stories directly to a portfolio, and give executives a friendly, easy way to view rolled-up progress. Learn more here.

 

Q: We use user stories but they tend to point to requirements docs for specifics.

A: Great! This is exactly what we recommend to organizations that need advanced requirement docs. You can put your value statement and general acceptance criteria in the user story, and then attach specification documents.

 

Q: What kind of product backlog sheet should we be using?

A: We recommend using the Backlog page in the CA Agile Central application to manage your backlog. Learn more here.

 

Q: Are there online instructions on adding the Task Cards App?

A: Here is information on the Task Cards App.

 

Q: Certifications often offer scrum master and product owner classes. Do you know if taking a product owner certification will cover the scrum master certificate? I am asking because I am a product owner and we don't have a scrum master.

A: I don't believe it will, as these are two very unique roles. You can check with our education team at Agile University.

 

Q: If people spent time or plan to spend time on things that aren't stories (such as collaboratively grooming the product backlog, defining AC for upcoming stories) should this be mentioned at standup or just omitted from the standup?

A: It can be mentioned, as it helps set expectations for how much story work can or cannot be done that day.

 

Q: If your project has 3–4 primary customers with backlog in scope; how would you recommend the product owner role and prioritization be covered?

A: This sounds like a situation that would have several different teams that are working—one to each customer backlog. This streams the work to the proper team and the backlog is then managed in the iteration for the team.

 

Q: For iterations, is planned velocity the same as the teams capacity for a given sprint?

A: Planned velocity is the total number of user story points (the value used to estimate a story) the team can complete in a single iteration.

 

Q: How does CA Agile Central support managing issues?

A: CA Agile Central provides many functions to help a team manage themselves. You can create, rank, then schedule work. Individuals can take on tasks associated to that work to provide status updates, and if necessary, CA Agile Central has a time tracking function to report employee hours or cost.

 

Q: Can you point to a resource that specifically has guidance on how to track and measure progress on a project using CA Agile Central?

A: Here are a few resources that contain demos related to tracking progress:

 

Q: How does the Agile manager convey priorities to the product owner?

A: The Agile manager is more like a chief product owner. He or she isn't responsible for delivering priorities to the POs. That duty falls to the business, which are C-level executives, board members, and other individuals who tell the product owner what is most important to deliver next.

 

Q: During a two-week iteration, if on fourth day you receive some changes from product owner which makes current iteration work redundant, what should the team do?

A: The scrum master should protect the team from these changes. The product owner has a contract with the team: the requirements at the top of the backlog, if you agree to schedule them, will not change. If the PO breaks this contract, the iteration may need to be shut down and restarted.

 

Q: Could the developer run into the tester’s time?

A: The time isn't thought of as serial blocks, where one stage waits for another. Instead, the developer estimates the size of the feature together. For example, he might say, "Well, this story is about the same as a story we both know, which was 5 points. It will take 5 points of our effort as the entire team to complete it." From there, individuals may have tasks, but the developer begins building code at the same time the tester begins writing a test against the value the user story will provide.

 

Q: Should design work be written as separate user stories?

A: There are times when design work can be a user story; when you identify that the development needs new design in order to deliver the work then you can write user stories for the design work to go into the iteration.

 

Q: What's the unit for capacity, story points, or hours?

A: There are two levels of planning: team resources (capacity to finish x number of points in an iteration) and individual capacity (available working hours a developer or other member has to work on tasks). You first size a story solely by points. Once it's scheduled into an iteration, you then check volunteered task estimates against individual capacity, to make sure one team member or another isn't over-loaded. Learn more here.

 

Q: What in your opinion is the role of UX in an Agile team?

A: UX personnel work great as delivery team members on an Agile team. By joining the effort, they can have early input on work as it is being estimated, designed, and coded. After you incrementally release code to end users, UX can be there to help identify areas for improvement, and create new user stories to polish your features.

 

Q: Does CA Agile Central have the capability to import from an Excel spreadsheet?

A: We do have the ability to import and export using CSV, learn more about it here.

 

Q: Is there a specific role for the business analyst in Agile?

A: We recommend that business analysts (BA) act as delivery team members in Agile. The duties remain the same, and team members still rely on information from a BA to plan and complete work.

 

Q: I understand the benefits of going Agile, but can this be achieved with the same staff? Do companies that go Agile have to replace staff who might be Agile trained yet become impediments?

A: We specialize in these types of transformations. And no, you don't have to replace all of your staff. You can instead transform your staff based on their skills in different areas. We have a crew of coaches ready to come onsite, and work through an iteration live with your team, provide scrum master training, or other services. For more info, contact your technical account manager.

 

Q: Our company discusses parking lot items at the end of the standup meetings each day. Is this an appropriate time to address them? Or should these be taken offline in another meeting or between the parties affected by an item in the parking lot?

A: We'd recommend moving these to another meeting, or taking them offline. Parking lot questions are a great strategy. At CA Agile Central, we cover them at the end of every retrospective.

 

Q: Task estimation should include all functional efforts; such as implement, test, document, and release to production, so should the task break down to multiple tasks for each effort?

A: We'll cover this in more detail in the estimation webinar, but the short answer is no. A task should be no longer than an ideal developer day (6 hours). If you feel you need another level, you may be dealing with an epic user story that needs to be broken down. Learn more about tasking out here.

 

Q: What are the specific activities that the scrum master needs to run during the first month of running an Agile team?

A: While there is no specific document that outlines the duties and responsibilities of a scrum master, Agile University offers certified scrum master training. Additionally, CA Agile Central offers onsite coaching where you can receive very specific training on how the scrum master should fit in with the way you do business.

 

Q: Does the design needs to be completed before we start an iteration?

A: Yes, the team should have enough detail to be able to confidently commit to schedule the work in the iteration, and begin work immediately.

 

Q: If story size should reflect testing time, should stories generally have QA tasks to reflect time spent verifying that the AC have been met?

A: Yes, the team will estimate the size of the story together, and then QA tasks can be associated to track that piece of the work.

 

Q: Does an epic have a format like a user story does?

A: Yes, you want to use the same format for writing an epic user story as a child user story. In fact, you'll often find that you write a story, and during estimation, discover it is too large to finish it in an iteration (making it an epic to be broken down). You can keep the description the same in that instance. Learn more here.

 

Q: To avoid requirements changes during the iterations should there be any sign-off mechanism from product owner before the delivery team starts working on the iteration items (user story)?

A: Yes. If the product owner is present during grooming and then iteration planning meetings, he or she can speak up if there are incorrect or missing requirements in the story description prior to it being planned.

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