Does your Kanban board have swim lanes?

•July 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

It may sound either an odd question, or a sensible question depending on your kanban board today, but a lot of people seem to ignore the swim lane benefits, and just go with the column standard kanban board.

Given kanban is lean, if your using an electronic board as a lot of us are these days, its probably worth playing with a few of the options in your chosen kanban product to see if you can gain further agility though surfacing of cards.  Swim lanes can clearly call out the progress within work stream or features within the application delivery that previously were hidden within the column order.

Further, options for surfacing further data on the story card itself may aid in clarity of the micro/macro picture e.g usage of tags on the card.  More interestingly tracking staleness per column, which could aid in understanding flow and WIP.

Gamification of Kanban

•July 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

In the world of agile software engineering, the keyword is agility.  Stories for example aren’t called out in the agile manifest.  In reality, little is called out specifically in the manifest, apart from the need for collaboration and working software:)
In the world of corporate scrum, many firms at the management level want to track story actuals, thus venturing down the road of comparing estimates vs actuals start, and then the inevitable story size of points vs hours.  I wonder if the amount of effort involved in estimation couldn’t be better used in delivering more stories that themselves are delivering business value as a measure of the return on investment.
More recently we’ve had the discussion on no estimates, which in some quarters works well, since the trust between business and technology teams is high.  Trust being the keyword here, coupled with more than likely leveraging Kanban over scrum as a lean process to deliver business value.
This nicely brings us to gamification.  Gamification has accelerated in the last few years in many different area.  However, I’ve not seen is used much in software engineering, other than the unofficial Excel sheets of bugs, releases and such.
My proposal is therefore the following, which is more suited to Kanban, but at the end of the day can be tuned to whatever software development process you are following:
  • Ensure you have an ordered backlog of business value stories that have A/C, adhere to a sensible story format.
  • Drop estimation
  • Engineers get 20? points for completing a story (Done).
  • A Done stories that has defects raised before moving to production, loose a point per defect
  • Whether you have an automated Continuous Deployment process or manual process, the team member who performed the release to production gets 5 points.
  • Testers get 10? points per defect
  • Put in place a team wide scoreboard
  • Each month, the greatest scorer get some small prize e.g. voucher etc
  • Retrospect on the above and improve e.g. maybe the business assign business value points to stories to enhance the ordered backlog?

Net out, you’d hope that velocity has improved, and defects have dropped.  Which at the end of the day is what we all want, whether we are management or software engineers, we want to know we are making a difference, and delivering value.

AI, and the Value of Data

•July 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

O’Reilly’s article, “The dynamic forces shaping AI”, provide an interesting read on the historical landscape of data within AI, and the possible future paths AI may influence Data, Talent, Compute and Algo.

fact crucial in creating the most valuable and impactful AI systems is usually credited to Google

Stating the obvious, clearly there is opportunity for talent:)

Blockchain OS for Banks

•July 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Yesterdays press release from ThoughtMachine offers a hint of things to come in many ways.

it employs smart contracts and machine learning to enable banks to offer a vast array of financial products – or roll out new ones in days. It is 100% future-proof.

Further, and equally of interest is the compliance angle that should facilitate uptake due to the MiFid and Basel regulations:

When it comes to compliance, every transaction is reported in real time so banks can determine their exact financial position at any moment. These tools are in the core of Vault OS, making implementation of capital-adequacy standards such as Basel III automatic.

Its also interesting to see the Machine Learning angle, not surprising given the Google staffers influence on the solution:

Our machine learning team builds systems that analyse banking behaviour to better guide people with their financial lives.

Of no surprise, VaultOS sounds like its already being tested by banks:

The start-up has been working with about ten banks, Taylor said, at least one of which would be starting a trial using the new system in August. He expects the system to be up-and-running within about a year.


Mining Datasets

•July 4, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Mining of Massive DataSets, although a few years old, offers an interesting read on stream-clustering algorithm.  PDF of the book is available here, coupled with a web site from the authors, and slides on many chapters.

Following on from the previous blog posting, if you venture down the Bag-Of-Words road of feature engineering, you may then want to begin looking at clustering.

Feature Engineering

•July 4, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Although not published yet, Mastering Feature Engineering early release looks like its going to be a interesting read.

Feature engineering is the process of using domain knowledge of the data to create features that make machine learning algorithms work.

Machine Learning Mastery has a lengthly blog posting on the topic, with a number of links at the end of the posting.

Its of no surprise that Mastering Feature Engineering tackles Bag-of-words, since its a useful feature engineering tool when looking at any text e.g cv’s, documentation, etc

BBVA and Scrum – Breaking the Corporate Chains

•July 1, 2016 • 1 Comment

Looks like BBVA are making great strides with scum within the context of  corporate culture.  Its great to hear they are prepared to break the historical chains that have constrained them, with the obvious Return on Investment (ROI) of business value derived from transformation projects.

moving away from rigid organizational and functional structures toward a much more collaborative way of working

Anyone know if BBVA are using SAFe, LeSS, DAD or something else?  Some LinkedIn profiles hint to SAFe.


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