Thursday, January 8, 2009

Quick Status

We've had some upheaval and change with RIF and new directions. There are essentially three projects running now. One is for data management and product support relief, one is for performance improvement, and one is a new feature that is expected to provide crucial value and income for the company. We also have a very small project going to lower costs and improve accuracy of some important financial data transfer with external parties.

What is going well:
  • These really seem to be the right high-value things for us to work on.
  • Customer involvement is up. Each team has direct contact with the people who will benefit from the feature, or a reasonable (set of) surrogate(s).
  • Those who "get it" are beefing up their code-test efforts. I can't really say they're doing TDD properly, but there are ATs first and usually there are UTs written in the course of the work. We'll get there.
  • Amongst certain team members, pairing is up.
  • I'm able to spend more time on the testing practice
  • We've begun doing code reviews
  • Dan and I are working out the kinks in our branch management.
What is going badly:
  • We're getting burnout from developers working really hard to get things done. Tempers are up, sarcasm is up, and I'm waiting to see how much quality is taking a hit.
  • Tracking has lapsed despite my efforts. It's hard to say how close some projects are to completion, because there is no burn-up, no card wall, etc.
  • Some projects are running on heroic efforts of individuals, and individuals who like being the unquestioned, process-free supermen. Compliance with process is the lowest I've seen it here.
  • Pressure to be busier, look busier, stay longer is up. Sustainable pace is not really part of the game plan being pushed down. Mistakes being made, tests being skipped, branch management, etc. It never pays to rush software.
  • Code review is a poor substitute for good pairing, though it beats poor pairing in some ways.
My greatest concerns at this time are:
  • Without tracking, points-completed and points-remaining may not reach convergence in any predictable way. Features are likely to be late. I'm betting another three weeks in QA round-tripping. I hope not, but that's my expectation.
  • In superman projects, I fear there is insufficient quality practice and "finished" work will get later and later, or will be pushed with glaring defects.
  • Too much WIP. Things once started, even nearly-completed, are back-burnered.
  • Burnout will increase, with lethargy and apathy and histrionics diminshing professionalism and discipline.
My hopes are:
  • Customer involvement will continue.
  • Existing tests will prove their value.
  • We can resume sustainable pace and discipline soon.
  • I am able to put enough time into testing to improve the experience and value
  • Our branch management will be better.
  • We'll be able to soon gauge whether these change will provide the value we anticipated.