On a previous project we used a white-board wall for release planning – a ‘Release Planning Wall’. As it became quite an important tool for us, I thought it would be pleasant to post our ‘wall configuration’ here for future use.
The release planning wall is quite different from a typical ‘card wall’. A standard card wall will track stories through their life cycle (i.e. ready-to-play, dev complete, QA complete etc) and would cover one to two iterations. This wall tracks stories in the overall context a particular release.
The rather squashed up image below can be seen properly here. I should point out that the diagram uses dummy data.
Below is a real application of the release planning wall, as modelled above.
As you can hopefully see, the wall is essentially segmented into individual iterations that form a release. Above each iteration-segment is displayed the iteration number, the target velocity and the actual velocity (if that iteration has been played). In each iteration-segment lies information about each invidual story, including its title or primary reference, its estimate, and it’s status (quite simply, whether or not it’s been signed off). In the images above the status is simply a tick next to each story, the estimate a number.
The images above have the names of developers next to each story. This can be useful for communication purposes, but it’s not a crucial feature of the wall. It may not be applicable in circumstances where multiple development pairs are working on the same story in parallel.
The release planning wall serves a few objectives. Firstly it gives anyone caring to look at it an overall status report of the current release in play. It can be immediately seen which iteration it currently is, the work that has gone into the release thus far, the work that is outstanding, and the capacity the release has left for additional work to be squeezed in.
Secondly it gives release planners a useful tool when assessing which stories they can fit into particular iterations. I’ve seen many examples of customers and business analysts standing in front of the wall, discussing the timeline of when various stories can be played. By having a story’s estimate and the target velocity for each iteration at hand, they can easily determine if a story can fit into a particular iteration, and which stories they can perhaps juggle around so that this can be achieved.
Significantly, the wall gives context to the development team members. In enables everyone to visualize the breadth of the iteration, and where abouts development is in the overall time-line of the current release, and therefore to some degree the whole project. BA’s tend to ‘own’ this wall, while developers will typically make changes to the story card wall which is more granular.
Go Release Planning Wall!
Here’s another release planning wall using this format. This was taken some time ago and is now looking much busier.
Earlier this week I had the following random experience.
I was entering my current workplace on Brick Lane, and as I do every day I got on one of the rather ponderous lifts that takes me to the fifth floor. I tutted as the lift when down to the basement rather than going up. Ah well. It happens.
Two guys get in on the lower floor and the conversation was this:
(life closes and starts going up)
guy #1: Glad I didn’t go to Tottenham on saturday
guy #2: yeah.
me (thinking of my football team that played at Tottenham over the weekend): Are you guys Derby fans?
guy #1: Yeah, are you?
guy #1: No way! Quite a beating hey. Where abouts you from in Derby?
me: well my mum lives in (I give the name of my Mum’s village)
guy #1: No way, that’s where I live
me: Ha! On (name removed) lane?
guy #1: Just off it actually, road just before the Navi pub
me: Huh! Nice pub. What a coincidence! (small break as the left ascends) I’m off the sawley beer festival this weekend
guy #1: The harrington one? Me too – no way!
me: jezzz, I’m going on Sunday – you?
guy #1: Yeah Sunday! See you there – small world!
me: yeah, see you there!
The lift opens on his floor and the two chaps exit.
This year I have attempted to get a little closer to nature.
In my garden I’ve planted a courgette plant, a load of tomato plants, some garlic, cabbage and cauliflower. The tomato plants have failed miserably, as I didn’t know I was suppose to actively maintain the darn things; I’ve watched with fascination as they grew and grew, until they had over-grown themselves into hideous bushes. Needless to say, in pursuit of establishing a new world order they neglected to provide me with any tomatoes.
Ah well. The cabbage and cauliflower are still going, although a couple of have been destroyed after having become the center of a military campaign for a fleet of smallish caterpillar type things. The garlic was dug up by a bird (presumably).
So it has been hard and enduring. But alas, I have a full blown courgette production system in my back yard! There are 2-3 outputted a week, and they seem to grow around an inch a day. How utterly thrilling it is.
I’ve been up at night with my torch on guard against the snails. There have been so many of them, but as of the last week or so they appear vanquished. After receiving some good advice from a fellow garden warrior I installed a large snail shaped device that when filled with beers lures and traps the little suckers in to meet a sweet and sticky end. I found Asda’s premium large to be a particular temptation for them.
The other battle I’ve faced and sort of lost is that the plant has some kind of disease. It has white/yellow patches all over it’s leaves. I’ve put together a rather effective policy of ignoring it and hoping that the courgettes don’t make me feel ill during the night.
See the white patches on the leaves? Ah well. I’ve eat the courgettes raw and there seems to be no problem.
Next year I’ll will anticipate an even greater harvest of vegetables, including tomatoes. I will be able to then go and conquer first prize at the village festival.
The ice cream was pleasant.
I feel compelled to write about the culinary delights I’ve experienced over the last month or so. This is clearly a brag of sorts, so as usual I serve up my humble apologies in advance.
First off was the leatherne bottel. It’s a lovely restaurant by the thames in Goring. I’ve been there before a few years ago when it was owned and run by my wife’s uncle who has since sadly passed away. The food is as good I as remember it being back then, having recently picked up the Johansens Most Excellent Restaurant award for this year. I had a terrine confit of rabbit for starters, which was delicate and fantastic. In fact it inspired me to make a terrine of my own, but I’m not sure mine lived up to my expectations. At one point I was mashing up pigs liver and I remember wondering how on earth this could ever be appetising. It’s in my fridge at the moment and my wife is politely pretending it’s not there.
The main course was a honey glazed pork belly – something I’ve also made at home with dubious results. The pork was lovely, not fatty but very tender. Mmmm. We then delved into cheese and I had some chocolatey thing for desert.
Of course though, there was some wine. A lot of it. We eased into the afternoon by having a chablis premier cru 2003, which was very elegant and lovely. I have to concede I’m becoming a bit of a chablis fan of late, I love the place and wine. Simultaineously the ladies had pink champagne which I was assured was it’s usual lovely self.
Moving forward we tackled a mersault, which was lovely – a bit jammy, typically full of flavour for a bungundian white. After this we upped our game to the delights of two premier cru Cortons. I love Corton, as I’ve blogged about a couple of times. It’s a real treat whenever I get to have it.
We stayed with the red until the cheese course, where we reverted back to white and tackled a puligny montrachet premier cru which was very sesame-seedy. It was very intense, very much a contrast to the chablis. Rounding off an extremely pleasant occasion we had a armagnac.
The table where we sat
The next big feast of the month was to be my wife’s birthday, at Foliage in Knightsbridge at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. I’ve heard good things about this place from a colleague who proclaimed that the food is simply unbeatable in London. It certainly was that. We opted for a gastronomic tasting surpise menu, leaving it up to the chef to decide what we should eat. There’s about 6 courses and I also had a cheese board (a little miffed I had to pay 17 quid for it). The food was unlike anything I’d had before. The main item on the plate, whether it be salmon, duck or veg, often came out with different types foam on it. Foam! I remember some fantastic scallops with a pea puree and little chunks of pear. The food was just incredible, I would recommend anyone to go there.
For the wine we had a cheeky bottle of Chablis premier cru vallions, which was outstanding. I really loved that wine and I was rather sad that Kath liked it too. After that we had some pinot noir, a glass of champagne and a Tokjai. I could definately have used an additional brandy as I got the bill though. The mandarin oriental has a funky cocktail bar, which I would also recommend for special occasion.
The final meal that completes the triad was a ThoughtWorks event. At TW we have sponsors who guide you through life at the company, dishing out advice when needed and helping out with the review process. I have the splendid fortune of having a sponsor who likes to take her sponsees out for dinner occasionally as a group, and this time it was at Vinopolis the wine museum. We had a fantastic, if not slightly boozy night. We managed to sneek in a couple of burgundies, namely a Nuit St George which was lovely and a Saint Aubin. It was fun night, although I am suffering a little today because of it.
Plan for the rest of the summer – diet!!