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Chapter 03 (Agile BI Book)

This blog post presents a preliminary version of Chapter 3 of the collaborative Agile BI book. You can access the various sections currently available and you may register to join this collaborative effort to start contributing. I also invite you to comment this content at the bottom of the blog post. 




It was 2:15 pm on the Friday afternoon and Jordan and the development team were gathered in the meeting room making sure everything was in place for the presentation. Everyone was fairly relaxed with a sense of accomplishment. A few of the developers were making jokes in preparation for the demonstration that was about to take place.

Jordan had facilitated many demonstrations in the last 18 months and he was always impressed to see how pleased the developers were to present their work to their client. The product demonstration gave the developer the opportunity to present their work and get a sense of accomplishment. Over the years, Jordan had been happy to see that most teams he had worked with gelled quickly and their commitment to getting the job done was greatly increased when the team self-organized, as was the case again for this project.

Catherine walked in with a few of her employees. Immediately people from the marketing team initiated discussion with the software development team. Catherine looked at Jordan and said, “Do you remember when our teams sat silently at opposite end of the table waiting for the first person the open fire toward the other group?”

Jordan burst laughing, “Was it that bad? You make it sound as if Marketing and IT were enemies!”

“Weren’t we?” asked Catherine half-jokingly. “When you took over this project, things had slightly improved but with the previous project manager, this project was a disaster”.

“I know and they trapped me into this project. I wonder what I did to deserve this treatment?” said Jordan smiling. “All I can say is, the team and I are really enjoying working on the project. These end of sprints demo are a great way to get together and look at the great work that has been done to date”.

“I agree.”, said Catherine. “Are we going for beers after the presentation?”

Before Jordan could answer, Scott walked in with Alessia.

“We have important people joining us today” joked Catherine.

“That’s because I keep hearing good things about your project” replied Alessia.

“I’d like to ask everyone to take a seat” said Jordan. “We are just about ready to begin”.

“Kim, did you bring the cards so the team can demonstration he features that have been implemented” asked Catherine.

“Yes. Yes, I did” answered Kim. “I’ll sit next to Brian so he can demo them for everyone”.

The room was configured like other training room with a desk in the front of the room where Brian was sitting. His mouse and keyboard were linked to the main monitor that was used to project against the wall. next to Brian was a chair where Kim could sit and read the index cards on which were written the product features. Everyone else took a seat facing in the direction of the projector. Alessia and Scott took two seats available in the first row.

“OK, it’s 2:30 pm. Let’s begin” said Jordan.

“As a customer, I want to be able to add an item to my shopping so I can initiate the checkout process”, said Kim.

With a few click of the mouse and the relevant content, Brian demonstrated the feature to the audience.

“That’s great” said Kim. “I don’t really like the icon you selected for the shopping cart but I know, we’re not going to discuss this now. I’ll take a note for when we discuss the design and graphical interface”.

“Next. As a customer, I want to be able to specify my billing address so I can pay for the product I am purchasing” said Kim.

Once again, Brian clicked on a field, entered some text and press the submit button.

“Exactly” said Kim.

Alessia jumped in. “Why aren’t you also demonstrating the shipping feature at the same time”

“I’m sorry Alessia. Chickens are not allowed to participate in the product demonstration” said Jordan. “I can stay at the end of the meeting to explain our process. Let us continue the demonstration so we can stick to our time box”.

Alessia was shocked. In most meetings, people can interject and ask questions. Remembering how helpful Jordan had been earlier in the week with the coffee machine, she decided not to say anything for the time being but she wondered if being called a chicken was as bad as it sounded.

The product demonstration lasted over 90 minutes with most features being accepted as presented. Despite the fact the her question hadn’t been answered, she felt the presentation had been successful especially based on the constructive team dynamics she had witnessed. Once the meeting was over, she excused herself and walked back to her office.

On her way to her office, Alessia stopped for a coffee. Although it was past 4 pm, she wanted to get a jolt of caffeine to wrap up the week before leaving for the week-end. As she was pouring milk into her cup, Jordan walked in. “I thought I would find you here” he said. “You left before I could answer your question. I hope you didn’t take it the wrong way when I asked for you to wait until the end of the meeting to answer your question”.

“That part, I was fine with. What’s the issue with the chicken” asked Alessia.

“If you have a few minutes I can tell you about that” replied Jordan.

“Sure, come to my office. I have a few questions for you” said Alessia.

As the two walked toward her office, Alessia started “I am impressed with the team dynamic I saw this afternoon. A few months ago, all I heard were complains from marketing and from our team how catastrophic this project was and now, it sounds like everyone is pushing in the same direction. What happened?”

“The short answer is that we started doing things differently. The longer answer a friend of mine had tried a new approach in his organization with a lot of success and after I heard about it I asked Scott to attend a training. I started to apply my learning to this project. It was a disaster anyway when I took it over so I thought I couldn’t make it worst but trying a new approach. So I did.” said Jordan.

“How do you call this approach and most importantly can we send more people to this training?” quickly asked Alessia.

“Yes you can send more people but before you do, would you mind if I asked you a few questions?” asked Jordan.

“Sure” replied Alessia.

“The project management approach I’m using is called SCRUM and it is part of an Agile approach to software development.” said Jordan as they entered Alessia’s office.

“Have a seat” she said.

“Thank you. So what problems are you trying to address?” asked Jordan.

Alessia pointed toward the white board she had used earlier in the week.

“You have a lot of issues” said Jordan “Can I help?”

“Tell me something I don’t already know… Yes, maybe you can help” replied Alessia. “Can we apply your project management approach to our BI project?”

“I don’t know for sure but off the top of my head, I would be tempted to say, yes. Would you like me to look into it?” asked Jordan.

“If you don’t mind, give it some thoughts and maybe we can discuss your ideas next week?” said Alessia.

“Wow, it’s already passed 5 pm! Sure, give me a few days and I’ll schedule a meeting with you next week” said Jordan. “Have a good week-end”.


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