Some thoughts on KPI’s in agile organizations

At my current client I have been asked to suggest some KPI’s (that’s Key Performance Indicators for us non-business people). This is a bit scary for me of two reasons – I don’t feel to at home with the task and I don’t feel at easy with many of the KPI’s that I hear is being used.

Let’s read up on them first and then I’ll talk about the one I suggested and why.

What is a KPI anyway?

From the Wikipedia page we learn that it’s a “type of performance measurement” and that “KPIs are commonly used by an organization to evaluate its success”.

Ok – later down they actually had a section for IT that cited commonly used KPI’s as; Availability, Mean time between failure, Mean time to repair, Unplanned availability.

So far it sounded alright and sound to me. But...

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Some common Kanban questions–my suggestions

I have been talking about Kanban a lot the last couple of years. Sometimes to the point where I think that I must have talked a hole in the head of the those closest to me. But from time to time you get great response, for example;

Anna (an Avega Group colleague) attended one of my Kanban introductions and became inspired. She started to implement parts of the practices I’ve suggested at her client and soon ran into some questions. She sent me an email and asked for my suggestions on how to act in certain situations.

I of course answered but also felt the questions was not only good, they were also common. So I thought that I’ll share my suggestions here. Bear in mind, as I also told Anna, that Kanban is really just a couple of simple rules – how you apply them...

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“If you quit today”–make someone happy

I have been working as a contractor for the better part of my career. Due to the nature of consultancy and the IT-business in general I’ve seen a lot of colleagues come and go. Brilliant people in many cases, people that you miss so bad when they have quit. So when the ubiquitous “Thank you for the time here”-mail comes I always try to write them a short sentence saying that I’ve really appreciated their company, competence and just being around them. And it hits me every time; why didn’t I say anything of this while we were colleagues? It’s so stupid. It’s so simple. And it takes about 5 minutes to write. I always find the time when they send the notice that they will quite. So I will try this out – send people a “If you quit today … I would love to have said this first”-note...

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What is agile?

About a year ago I got asked by my project manager to “just give a quick intro and overview; What is agile? 20 minutes or so…” That didn’t feel to bad – but when I got home and started to prepare it struck me; it’s really hard to sum up agile!

For me agile has been become more a less a lifestyle and much of the things I argue for or fight against is about agile or being agile. And also, now that agile is 10 years old, the buzzword has gone into the next phase and almost anything good or cool that people does, related to software is branded with agile ™.

Is TDD agile? If your not doing TDD are you not agile? Standups? Boards? The list goes on and on and I couldn’t come up with an intelligent answer. Either everything had to be included...

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Applying the Switch framework to broken builds

I’m rereading a great book – Switch by the Heath Brothers and it inspires me. The last time I read this book it inspired me to write a post and it’s happening again.

The book is about change, how to accomplish change and especially in situations where you are not in power or control. In short – how to talk to and influence others to understand the need for change and follow through on it.

One very smart thing is that you can download a cheat sheet that contains the ideas in a nutshell – the Switch Framework – for free. Of course it’s not much use if you haven’t read the book, so you better do that first. Could very well be the best book you read.

I thought I would apply the reasoning in the framework to a real life situation and...

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Log4Net, RollingFile named by Date and the staticLogFileName setting

We have been chasing some strange logging bugs for a while in my current project. We are using log4net to do our logging and it works fine … until a couple of weeks ago. Some logging didn’t occur, in another case we didn’t get new files…

The fix is, very simple, but quite surprising and I thought I’ll share something on what we did to fix it.

We are using a RollingFileAppender and common strategy for how to handle the log files; we’re creating a new file for each new date. In order to achieve this we have set the following configuration:

 <appender name="RollingLogFileAppender" type="log4net.Appender.RollingFileAppender"> <file value="{a path here}" /> <appendToFile value="true" /> <rollingStyle value="Date" /> <datePattern value="yyyyMMdd" /> <layout...
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Creating a Tools-Only NuGet Package

I have started to help out in a new OSS project. The last one was SpecFlow and now it’s Pickles. Pickles is a tool that takes .feature-files from SpecFlow or Cucumber and turns it into a nice living documentation. It’s a great addition to SpecFlow.

Ok – one of the things I have been doing in the Pickles project is to create NuGet packages for the project different runners and especially lately the PowerShell runner. This will be the main way to interact with Pickles locally, which basically means that you’ll just write a command in the Package Manager Console to generate the documentation frictionless. Later you will probably run it as part of your Nant or MsBuild build files.

I learned a great deal about PowerShell and NuGet when I put that NuGet package together and since it was quite some time since I blogged...

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What I learned from 'From User stories to Acceptance tests' with Gojko Adzic

I’ve just returned back home from a course. It’s the first course I’ve attended in over a year and I’m always amazed how much you can learn in a short time; if the course and teacher is good and if you engage yourself in the course.

This time I knew it would be great since Gojko Adzic was the teacher and the subject was something that I find really interesting and useful - Specification by example. I would be completely impossible to write down even a fraction of all the stuff I picked up during the two days but I thought I stop at the main points and write down what stood out for me.

As I’ve been following the BDD and Specification by example community intensively for two years I had quite a lot of knowledge on before hand - the main points I wanted to get out...

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BDD and technical scenarios

I got a question from Sham (Shamresh Khan) that I thought was interesting and also common. So I thought I post my answer here in the public and maybe we all can learn a bit.

Sham’s question was something like this:

…some of my scenarios/examples, may be very technical (i.e. checking some algorithm for example). If I write these tests under a user story (using the Gherkin syntax), a business analyst will be able to see them which may confuse them as they try to work out what scenarios exist under the user story or am I wrong here? Maybe all tests should be visible under a user story?


This is really one of the things we struggle with when coming from using TDD for a while and then starting doing BDD. In my opinion BDD is more than anything a communication tool that...

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OreDev 2011 - day 3

Last day was great. I didn’t go to anything that was really bad and I had some real highlights with Dan North, Gojko Adzic and Mark Rendle on Zen standing out as the best.

After a short and intense Lean Coffee I’m not sitting and waiting for the keynote with Jeff Atwood, who apparently just introduced himself and then went off the stage yesterday. Let’s see if he does the keynote himself today

Jeff Atwood on StackOverflow

Jeff did the talk himself (and talked fast, fast, fast!). He talked about how programmers need rules and likes to follow (or even create) rules. Take Facebook for example - who has a “list of their friends” at home. No-one! But a geek could understand social networks by creating rules around them. A list of friend for example.

Huh - I didn’t know that Jeff Atwood did invent the game-ification part of StackOverflow...

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