One night in Karlsruhe aka: Scrum at SAP, Siemens ... Guiness vs. JUG

This morning I returned from my trip to Karlsruhe to the XPDays and the JUG-KA. I left Cologne yesterday at about 4.30 with my car and arrived at the Best Western Queens Hotel Karlsruhe at 7.30 am. I had breakfast and was waiting for Johannes Link's official XPDays Welcome.

My first session was "XP = legales (agiles) Doping für Projektleiter in Grossunternehmen" ("xp - legal doping for project manager"). It was very good showing some insight into an agile project at DBV-Winterthurversicherung. The most funny think was that they did admit implementing a performance bottleneck into their application consciously. The customer was pleased about the performance nevertheless ... and the development team removed the bottleneck in babysteps synchronously to adding new features.

The next session was "Why Agile Projects Fail" with Joseph Pelrine. Jiri Lundak, the second speaker, could not attend because of job reasons. You all know Joseph .. his performance is unique and the content brisk. He is so right that you must solve the hidden problems in teams, the casual challenges, not the symptoms. But: how seldom is this? Only the good guys, the good coaches know who to find the original reasons for conflicts. He also pointed out to try something out, to make a concrete (development) step, DO something instead of analysing. I like these lateral thinkers. There are so many agile people on the market who do not know what agile is, who read something and adopt this opinion withouth thinking ...

My second session was "Das Ganze sehen - Organisationsweite Optimierung bei Einführung von agiler Entwicklung" ("to see the whole - agile processes") at Siemens AG. Also this session was very good. It gave information about Siemens' strategy to introduce and work with agile processes (Scrum) in their complex, heterogenous company environment. They open stated that their timeboxing was not always timeboxing because of many necessary Siemens downstream activities.

I used the keynote time to take a bit sleep in my hotel room after my small three hours night. This hour was ok, but not enough.

Later I joined the session "Einfachheit in Softwareprojekten" ("simplicity in software projects"). Stefan Roock tried to be funny and it worked many times. The talk was more based on a show style performance and the funny slides, not on the content. One message was that it is not necessary to use a build server or a bug tracker system. "You must keep your project simple and these infrastructure componentes are overhead." I have to say, this is a nice thesis, but in practice ... ?!? Also the statement that the guys in one of his projects had daily problems day after day the same problem with working with Eclipse was questionable. He does not know if they manage the problem and reduce the daily waste time because he left the project.

My last session was "Was folgt nach Scrum bei SAP?" ("what happens after Scrum at SAP"). Christian Schmidkonz and Henrik Stotz explained that there have been many agile Scrum projects at SAP so far. For 2008 they plan to spread Scrum to more locations, to intensify and deepen the single Scrum projects and make agility to a company strategy. The also want to introduce TDD, accelerate the role of the "product owner" and retrospective ... but please: do the retrospectives in frequent intervals, and do them right, otherwise your team is dead (if it ever was a "team").

Overall the whole event was very good. The sessions were of high quality and gave a good status quo of the struggles and insights of consultants and companies.

After this first part some nice guys drove me downtown. I had the talk "Agile Developing of Rich UI Applications" for the JUG Karlsruhe in the university. Afterwards we went in several bars for some drinks finding the way between football fans. The Guiness in Karlsruhe is perfect, also this other local beer I drunk later ... I do not remember its name probably because of the Guiness drinks before. A nice journey and I'm happy that I had the chance had some nice talks to some very nice guys ...

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