Saturday, May 1, 2010

The hand-off kanban email

Effective communication is key for distributed Agile development teams. Many technologies and applications are very helpful for improving the communication channel for distributed teams. To name a few: video conferencing, phone, email, wiki, instant messages, text messages, and shared documents online.

A simple and straight-to-the-point update email is a must have for distributed teams. A daily update email sent at the end of the da-=y is named the hand off email. It works like this: whenever the working hours are over for the team members on a given location, the team on that location sends the hand off email for the whole team. Typically, the hand off email provides an effective summary for the whole team and the people interested in knowing how the work progressed. In this brief post I will share a simple format for a hand off email that has been working well for my current distributed project. Please note that such email is complementary and not a replacement for many other effective communication mechanisms.

The Context: my current distributed project happens in between two locations with a time zone difference of 5 hours, a city in the USA West Coast and a city in the south of Brazil. The sponsors and product owner are in the USA West Coast and the development team is in Brazil.

The format for this email has evolved over time. The first version was very informal; it listed everything that happened during the day. The second version followed the daily scrum format; what the team did today, what the team will do tomorrow, and if there is any blocker. The current email format has been influenced by the daily scrum format, the kanban task wall, and workflow stages (as per our card wall).

The figure below depicts the physical card wall used in this project.

From the picture you can see that the story goes through the following workflow stages:
Backlog -> Q -> in Dev -> Q -> in QA -> Q -> Signed off (done)


Q represents the queue prior to an action stage. For example, a story in the Q prior to In QA is waiting for someone to perform QA activities on it. Our team does a tasking of the story prior to moving it to the In Dev stage. The tasking activity and follow up has influenced our card wall and the email format described below.

The following are the story workflow stages listed at the daily email updates. Please note that a story first appears in the email when it goes for Tasking. The team uses other tools for storing and managing the product backlog, the iteration backlog, and the stories attributes and lifecycle. Once again, the email is used for a quick status update, not a replacement for all other tools and activities.

[Story]: Tasking -> in Dev -> Q -> in QA -> Q -> signed off (done)

A story is tasked before starting its development. These are a few sample tasks from a story my team is currently working on: (1) create new JSP form, (2) save JSP attributes in the DB, (3) update automated test for scenario A and B.

Below is a sample email:

Blockers
• This is blocking the team
• This is blocking story N
• CLOSED: yesterday blocker was fixed…

On the card wall:

NEW [Story1] tasking (John)

[Story2] (Story Title) tasking -> in Dev (Mary)
Doing: [task 2.1] task brief description
To do: [task 2.2] task brief description
To do: [task 2.3] task brief description

[Story3] (Story Title) tasking -> in Dev (Paul)
Done: [task 3.1] task brief description
Done: [task 3.2] task brief description
Doing: [task 3.3] task brief description

[Story4] (Story Title) tasking -> in Dev -> Q -> in QA (Phil)
Done: [task 4.1] task brief description
Done: [task 1.2] task brief description

[Story5] (Story Title) tasking -> in Dev -> Q -> in QA -> Q -> Sign off (Sandy)
Done: [task 1] task brief description
Done: [task 2] task brief description
Done: [task 3] task brief description

[Story6] (Story Title) tasking -> in Dev -> Q -> in QA -> Q -> Sign off (Sandy) -> signed off


After a few weeks using the email, the team got used to marking information in bold, italic, underline, colors, or within [] () {}. In fact the email content got a little too colorful, and then it came back to a simple normal and bold text style.

Two final recommendations: (1)keep the email simple and let people do a reply all whenever they feel like discussing further details. (2) Inspect and adapt: the email style should match your team needs, not the other way around.

11 comments:

ally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ally said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonthansmith said...

We have been specializing in Custom decks, fences, sheds and basements for the past 30 years! rochester decks

贝贝 said...

The Tax Return Crack-Up<3>
Granted, there are usuallyMicrosoft Office 2010write-ups when presidential contenders make their tax returns available, but the coverage falls far short of the Office 2010
full court press (pardon the pun) that the Clintons have received. What's Microsoft Office 2007different now?Office 2007One possibility is that most upper middle class Democrats, and therefore most Microsoft OfficeOffice 2007 keyeditors and reporters of our nation's big papers as well as Office 2007 downloadtelevision producers, are Obama supporters who think that Hillary should hurry up Office 2007 Professionaland drop out of the race already.Microsoft outlook
Microsoft outlook 2010Whom elite liberals are pulling for really does shape political coverage in ways

GuildWars2Items said...

A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who means a lot to you, only to find out in the end that it was never meant to be and you just have to let go EQ2 Plat, It takes strength to do what is right EQ2 Platinum, No matter the ending is perfect or not, you cannot disappear from my world EQ2 Gold.

GuildWars2Items said...

You have a forever friend for life, and forever has no end D3 Gold Sale, and if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete, because you need not worry Diablo iii Gold, your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay Buy Diablo iii Gold.

dte said...

The consequences of today are determined by the actions of the past scarlet blade gold. To change your future, alter your decisions today scarlet blade gold, Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards scarlet blade gold, but it takes character to keep you there.

dte said...

The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason why you held on so long eq2 platinum, when the words "I love you" were said by you for the first time, my world blossoms eq2 plat, Look into my eyes, you will see what you mean to me eq2 gold.

Shelia Smithson said...

A separate Diablo 3 Gold section in the history of the world tend to be huge instanced dungeons. So far, eight of them, every single using their own particular tale associated with one of the excellent numbers from the game playing world and story go walking when you're able to plunge in to the so-called internet explorer method Diablo3bay.

somnus11258 said...

What a beautiful dragonfly and what wonderful post!!I am a china tour lover,You can learn more: China tour operator | China tour packages | China city travel

Learn Chinese language on hanbridgemandarin said...

Hanbridge has adopted a structured and interactive educational approach to enable you to learn Mandarin effectively and reach your targeted proficiency level. Clear pronunciation, the proper use of tones, real-life topics, and bilingual instruction all combine to ensure you will be able to communicate effectively.

More Chinese learning tags : Learning Chinese | learn Chinese language | Chinese language course