Gearing up for Warewolf alpha

It’s been three weeks since we started looking for alpha testers/users for Warewolf software. In that time we have done a lot of planning and preparing for the big release of Warewolf in a private download.

We’re aiming to have the release ready in the next month or so and it has had a very different and interesting impact on the way we do Scrum here at Dev2. Although we have always focused on being more efficient and producing potentially shippable increments after each sprint, there is suddenly a big date looming that we have to be ready for. Many months of hard work are gaining massive meaning when put next to a very definite date and goal. We drew a line in the sand and we are committed to making it happen regardless!

Our sprints are much more focused on the key elements of what we need for the alpha version of Warewolf and we’ve improved a lot at choosing the critical functionality over the “nice to have”. We’ve taken the concept of agile and applied it to the way this SOA platform will be released to the big wide world, and how we will grow and learn through each little step.

In the lead up to Warewolf alpha release I am finding that there are so many new things to get done in time, and a huge amount of new skills that need to be learned in very quickly. It’s a very exciting time to be at Dev2 indeed! My role as ScrumMaster is being extended to the software product – how do I make the release more efficient? How do I take all the impediments out of the way to make sure we can release on time? What must we focus on every day to keep us moving towards our ultimate goal?

There are so many items of work that need to get done from instructional videos to new icons to getting a EULA drawn up. I’ve found it really useful to go back to some principles of Scrum and organise my day as if I was running in my own sprint. I haven’t gone to the depth of assigning effort to everything, but I’ve got a backlog of items running and I know what needs to get done and by when in order for us to be ready.

I have also started spending 10 minutes each day deliberately thinking about the bigger picture and what we are going after. It is very easy to get lost in the detail of the short term and the immediate task without seeing it context of the long term. During this time I ask myself questions like what else do we need for alpha? Is this relevant? What does this mean in the bigger picture? Who do I need support from?

It is very exciting and terrifying at the same time. It is incredible to work with people who are all pulling in the same direction and for the same thing. One day we are going to look back at how we worked together and what we created and be very proud (I already am!).
Watch this space, world!

Wallis Buchan
ScrumMaster