March 2008

To make my life easier with introducing people to Scrum I did prepare a short presentation. You can view it here.

And, BTW, I’m happy to report here that a new version of our Scrum tool – Banana Scrum – was released last Friday. Development is still going on, even though I can only put people who are not engaged in other projects on that work.

Right now I decide we’ll do a sprint concentrating on “cleanup” – mostly features or development that aims at improving overall usability and compatibility with different browsers. Even though IE 6&7 + Firefox + Safari work flawlessly we had some problems with Opera.

We have released a new version of our on-line hosted Scrum tool last week – the Banana Scrum. The most important addition is, of course, the automatic registration form, but we also improved the way in which the user interface works. We start to get ideas from our users, who generally like the tool but will undoubtedly help us make it better.

Which is good, since I think there is a definite need for a simple, on-line tool to assist agile teams in their work. Which leads me to another topic – resistance to any such tools. When someone asked about a tool for Scrum on the Yahoo Scrum group there was a bunch of answers advising not to use any tools – use a wall with velcro attached index cards or, at the very least, Excel.

Agile community in general and Scrum community in particular seems to be very attached to “good old” physical artifacts, like index cards, hand-drawn burndowns, hand sorted backlogs etc. I can respect that but I’m a completely different person – I’m a “paperless guy”.

The only thing I still prefer on paper is books. Hand drawn brundowns can be nice if everyone sits in the same room from 9 to 5, but we have a much more relaxed atmosphere – everyone has to be in for the Daily Scrum but otherwise people can work from where they want when they want. Whiteboard is great for sketching things or making notes during a meeting but I don’t think it is good to make it a permanent repository for anything. I think if we work with computers and systems and web apps we should use them. How credible we are telling other people our applications can save their business if we stick to index cards and velcro?

So, I don’t like it when some agile gurus look down us, paperless guys, when we confess we use software tools to manage our projects rather than walls, cards and boards. I don’t think it is a good idea to be too dogmatic about tools, I agree with that, but it also applies to the old paraphernalia of the paper age.