A planning session

The team realizes it’s time to step away from the computers and train of thoughts and head over to a conference room for the meeting. Reluctantly keyboards are abandoned, screens locked and everyone shuffling their feet like 5 year olds asked to clean up all the while the code conversations carry on well into the conference room. Until the Scrum Master interrupts.

– We have been asked to estimate this task of upgrading a component to a new version.

Everyone nods and discuss what such a change would mean and after a while dive into code on the projector. Solutions are discussed, details are demanded, implementations analyzed. The code archaeology session is well underway when someone says:

– So there are two possible solutions then?
– Yes, basically, responds one developer and continues to list which classes should possibly be modified.

The conversation carries on a little longer until the same person speaks again, carefully.

– Will the two solutions take a different amount of time to implement?
– No, that’s not likely, another developer answers while the others aren’t leaving their train of thought on the code and classes.

The person now addresses the Scrum Master instead while the developer’s discussion is getting more heated regarding the state of the legacy code they will be forced to work in.

– What kind of estimate are they asking for? I mean, what granularity, number of sprints or so?
– Yes, exactly, just to get a feeling of roughly how much time it could take, the scrum master answers.
– How long do we think it’s going to take then? This time, the person speaks a little louder, making sure to interrupt the conversation and gets everyone’s answer.
– About 2 sprint I would say, answers one person. Everyone nods and agrees and the conversation moves from bashing the old code to discussing benefits and drawbacks of the different solutions.

– So, I guess we’re done then?

The room goes silent and the person meets everyone’s questioning looks.

– If both solutions take about the same time, which is about 2 sprints and that’s the kind of estimate we are asking for, then we have our answer, right?
– You can leave if you don’t want to be here, offers a developer, clearly annoyed by the interruptions, and tries to go back the debate on which solution to choose.
– My point is that we can all leave, retorts the person, interrupting again.

The silence is tense.

– Everyone here has something they would rather be doing and we don’t even know when we will be asked to do this change. By then we will have to go through this discussion again with the same arguments and the same procedure of digging through the code because we will have forgotten about it. Our goal was to give an estimate, and we have that. Let’s go and do some work!

The conference room is left with a light, relieved step and the team is filled with anticipation of the work that will be done in the 40 extra minutes suddenly gifted to the them.

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