Agile Portugal 2010. June 25-26

Keynote: Dave Thomas

Improving the Quality and Productivity of Backlogs Through Envisioning: Collaborative Agile Product Analysis, Architecture and Design

Dave Thomas, Father of OTI, CEO of Bedarra Corporation

Good backlogs are essential to the flow of work through agile teams. Hence they have a clear impact on productivity and quality. While simple in principle, we find that backlogs are often of highly variable quality. Lumpy backlogs stress the team resulting in poor estimates, more rework and poorer quality. Bloated and lumpy backlogs place excessive demands on product owners and business analysts making it hard for them to keep up with the development team. In large organizations, there is often a tendency to use independent backlogs to manage maximize portfolios of features while paying lip service to any dependencies and common architecture. This situation becomes even more problematic when product owners, business analysts, developers, and testers are remotely distributed from each other.

In this talk, we describe how to create and maintain high quality backlogs. We begin by defining the properties of a good backlog. Then we discuss the practices used during Envisioning by integrated product teams of Product Analysts, Owners, Designers, Customers, Architects, Developers and Testers. We explain how Envisioning facilitates portfolio management, improves acceptance testing, reduces business and technical risk; and integrates the voice of the customer into the backlog. We show how envisioning practices help bridge the gap between the developer, designer, analyst, and architect roles in the organization.