Story points only for things that provide business value

This was an idea that recently came up during training. One of the large values of using Scrum is the visibility it can provide to the rest of the business organization – clients, product owners, managers, etc. It helps plainly set out what the team can handle, and identify issues that are preventing features from getting done.

As a team gets it’s velocity defined, it may be beneficial to not assign story points to stories in an iteration related to working on legacy systems, production issues, long-standing (or recurring) bugs/defects, or things that in general derive from various forms of “technical debt”. Many managers (or product owners, etc), especially the more teams they have to track, will usually not take the time to really investigate why a team may be having troubles, and making the issues more obvious (such as a low velocity) may be a way to help clearly signal them there are issues that need to be addressed. After given the “green light” to tackle some technical debt, future iterations would see an increased velocity.

On the other hand, you’d still probably need to story point those “non-business value” stories, because you will still want to track when they’ll be resolved, and to be able to include them in releases. Perhaps you’d run multiple iterations in parallel – one for business value, one for everything else, and assign velocity independently. Of course, that has the overhead of managing two parallel iterations, which might be problematic depending on your Scrum tracking methods.

I think it’s an interesting idea that has some merit, but still has some kinks. I like the principals behind it, just not sure how it’s best to proceed with it.

Does the .NET community need an attitude change?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my perceptions are skewed for some reason or another. It’d be nice. And no, this is not an “Evil Rob” post.

It seems to me that the .NET community is becoming more and more of a popularity contest. A person’s ability to “play around” with new technology, and blog/twitter/whatever a lot about it seems to be more important than providing actual working solutions. I really hope that’s not the case. Developers should be able to get job based on their ability to provide business value to the client, in whatever form that may be – which is unlikely to be by making small demos or “widgets” of functionality.

It seems that unless you’re working with the latest and greatest technology, that any work you’re doing is useless, and you’re a subpar developer. It seems that cliques and an elitist mentality are emerging, which is unavoidable, but there’s a chance it’s becoming the prominent (or at least prominent enough) mentality in our community. Instead of being a community focused on sharing knowledge, it’s more of a one-ups-manship contest.

The reason all this is coming to a head, is because I’d like to blog about the work I’m doing. I found myself thinking “Man, no one cares about this.”, and “Eh it’s webforms, I don’t want to catch flack for it”. Then it occurred to me that there’s no way I’m the only developer out there still dealing with a legacy webforms app, that will be facing the same challenges I have. Maintenance is a large part of what we do, and something we should always plan for. So it’s always good to know about how to make those old apps easier to work with, or to fix that random bug that pops up in software no one has looked at in a year.

By the same point, we definitely need people blogging and trying out new things with the new tech. I know that for myself, and surely many others, a lot of the enjoyment comes from facing challenges, and finding new, efficient, and interesting ways to overcome them. Without checking out the new stuff, we’d be stuck in a rut.

So it all matters. New stuff matters. Old stuff matters. And it’s important that we keep a good balance with everything, so we can accept and all grow together as a community, and not become a circle-jerk of assholes.

I should also take this time to say that this is NOT an attack on any one (or group) of people. I’m not saying that “popular” people in the community are not (or can not) be competent developers producing fully functional software. This has just been my perception of how things have trended over the past couple of years. I really, really, REALLY hope I’m wrong.

With all this said, I plan on blogging about what I’m actually doing more. I’m also very lazy, so if it doesn’t happen, it’s not because I became shy again.

So please leave me some comments! Am I way off of my rocker here? Am I insecure because my mommy didn’t hold me when I was a child and my vagina is full of sand? Or did I hit on a few nuggets of truth?

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