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Looking forward to 2013

First and foremost, the biggest change in 2013 is that I will be responsible for and managing the development team. To help the team with the challenges we will face in 2013 I will need to stay hand on too, so that should make time management critical just to make sure I can personally fit it all in. This will probably be the biggest challenge I have faced in the last few years and something that I'm looking forward to getting started with.

Another change for 2013 will be refining our agile process. For the 2nd half of 2012 we followed a scrum methodology, successfully developing and deploying an MVC replacement for an old ASP legacy application. Feedback from the technical teams resulted in us modifying the process, removing task hour estimation from the sprint planning session with no measurable negative effect. Additional feedback from the business indicated that sprints were causing some friction when defining stories and planning releases. The 6-9 month development cycles of waterfall just don't work for most software applications, but at the same time, the artificial barriers that an 'x' week sprint causes can confuse the business. As we'd come to similar conclusions in my previous role, we are going to try to develop a "Kanban" methodology that will work for us.

  • We want to keep the short and frequent feedback loops and engagement with the business.
  • We also want to keep most stories as small as they can possibly be (days rather than weeks), but for some functionality we just don't want to be forced to break up a story just to make it fit within a sprint (but I must stress that we hope these to be the exception, otherwise it is just waterfall by the back door).
  • We also want to look into releasing at the end of every story so the business can get the value of development work as quickly as possible.

To help the business adjust to the harsh economic climate that we still face, the biggest challenge is going to be making sure that every single bit of effort really counts! This really does include everything, we need to improve the deployment process of all our application suite, making sure we really can live continuous integration / deployment. All development work needs to address both existing bugs / performance issues whilst providing much needed new functionality. As a part of this we should get the chance to learn Puppet, refine our TeamCity skills, potentially look at a DVCS and most importantly have fun developing!

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