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A stranger in a strange land: A graphic designer in a dot NET Agile sprint planning world

Josh Frankel: Stranger in a Strange Land a Graphic Designer in a .NET Agile planning meeting

April 30th 2009 | Josh Frankel

Stranger in a strange land: A graphic designer in a .NET Agile Sprint planning world

Agile Planning is an effective way of gauging how much work can get done in a given period of time. By measuring things in relative units of effort one should be able to approximate units of work required for a task. Our team uses a point system to avoid being influenced by a system based on hours. Hours may seem easier to use but they are not necesarily representative of the proportional relationship between work that has been completed and work that needs to be accomplished.

Shortly after joining Thycotic as a Web designer I was given a brief overview of Test Driven Development and Agile Planning practices and immediately recruited to participate in the bi-weekly sprint meetings. But with my skill set rooted firmly in the design arena and my vast development skills limited to CSS and HTML-I had absolutely no idea what was being discussed.

As the team went through the challenges and methods of each task I realized that my grasp of programming was comparable to my grasp of Mandarin Chinese. When it came to discussing point efforts needed for tasks, my guesses were wildly different from the rest of the team’s.

It’s been a few months now and sprint planning meetings are a lot easier. My assessment of the point effort needed for a task is usually pretty close to the developer’s approximations. Although I understand the planning terminology, I still don’t know squat about programming- for the purpose of Agile sprint planning, I really don’t need to. I only need a grasp of how or what is going to be done based on it’s relative difficulty to other tasks. What I’m trying to figure out during each sprint meeting though, is how much harder the current task is when compared to one that’s worth one point.

With buzzwords like ‘synergy’ and ‘cross-functional’ being thrown around so much, isn’t it time consideration was given to how Agile techniques might be expanded and enriched by those of us outside the traditional developer role?

Josh Frankel is the junior graphic designer and marketing team member at Thycotic Software Ltd, an agile software consulting and product development company based in Washington DC.  Secret Server is our flagship enterprise password management product.
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