XP Days Benelux 2013 – Call for Session Proposals

XP Days Benelux is an international conference where we learn to bring software to life and grow mature systems that support business needs.

It provides an excellent environment for exchanging ideas, hands-on exercises and extreme experiences.

The best way to learn is to facilitate a session. We like sessions where you explore ideas as well as questions.

The conference will be held on 28 and 29 November, 2013 in Mechelen, Belgium.

The best way to learn is to facilitate a session at XP Days!

We’re looking for sessions where you explore ideas as well as questions. Sessions that dig deeper, going beyond the basic techniques and practices. We really want to find out why/how things work or don’t work. We invite you to propose:

  • hands on coding/design/architecture sessions;
  • discovery sessions – open ended workshops that explore new topics, common problems, promising techniques, or burning questions;
  • experiential learning sessions; get people learning by doing & reflecting; for example games or simulations.

We’re not only interested in agile and software related topics but we also want to explore boundaries and cross borders. What can we learn from other disciplines or sciences?

Available timeslots are 75 and 150 minutes.

We also welcome short experience reports (30 minutes) that focus on what didn’t work and why.

Do you have an interesting story, idea or question?

Send us your session idea today.

What’s so special about XP Days?

For one thing, we constantly try to apply XP, agile, lean, systems thinking, theory of constraints and all the other stuff we talk about. It wouldn’t be an agile conference if it wasn’t organised by using agile values, principles and techniques.

Call for Sessions Agile Tour Brussels 2013

The Agile Belgium Community is calling for speakers for the Agile Conference: Agile Tour Brussels 2013. This event will take place on the 27th of September in Brussels Belgium.

Deadline for submission:  20th of June 2013

What’s Agile Tour Brussels?

It’s the 2nd edition of the conference Agile Tour Brussels. Last year we gathered attendees and speakers from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland to share our passion for Agile. The purpose of this conference is to gather in one place Agile practitioners and people wanting to know more about Agile.

At Agile Tour Brussels you will speak to a mix of attendees who are either completely new to Agile, experienced or experts.

We are looking for any kind of sessions (Lecture, interactive talk, workshop, technical,…) on any topics like Scrum, XP, KanBan, Lean, Devops, Leadership, Lean Startup, Coaching, System thinking, Product Aspect, Agile Games,…

We are looking for different levels of sessions, sessions for beginner, advanced and expert. We are also looking for new and experienced speakers.

How to submit a session?

To submit a session, fill in the form located here: http://at2013.agiletour.org/fr/callForSpeaker.html

If you never registered to the website agiletour.org, you will be asked to create an account.

Tips for a successful submission:

  • Don’t forget to specify that you are applying for Agile Tour Belgium – Brussels
  • Specify the size of the audience you’d like to have for your session (e.g < 100 persons)
  • Sessions must be in English
  • We would prefer to have session of 1 hour maximum

All information about the event and previous edition can be found on www.atbru.be

If you have any questions, feel free to drop an email at bruno@atbru.be

Thanks in advance for your support!

The Agile Tour Brussels Organization Team.

Agile @ the university (UCL) Show & Tell

Agile at the university

Marc explained previously how the UCL computer science department runs their student project as an agile project: teams of 4 students develop an Android application of their own choosing. Professor Yves Deville acted as the customer of the team, Marc Lainez provided agile coaching and the teaching assistants acted as onsite coaches.

Shortly before the final release of the projects, the university invited Agile Belgium to attend the Show & Tell of the teams.

agileucl_showntell agileucl_participants

The project

Professor Deville explained the context, objectives and challenges of the project: this is a one semester project for 60 students in 15 4-person teams. The students are expected to apply cross-disciplinary skills required to design, build and deliver an application. The project is a practical introduction to both mobile computing and agile, which are new to most of the students. Agile is new for the teaching staff too, they’ve only had a few introductory sessions about agile.

agileucl_context agileucl_objectivesagileucl_challenge

The coaches

Marc Lainez, who had presented agile sessions before at the university, and Agilar helped the teaching team to devise a simple agile process. Every team used the same process and constraints. Octo Technology provided their Appaloosa private app store so that students could publish application updates for their customer, coaches and beta users.

Running this project in the university with little agile experience entailed accepting some compromises:

  • Automated testing was recommended but not mandatory. Very few teams had any automated tests, which could pose a problem when the applications are developed further
  • Pair programming was recommended, not mandatory. In their retrospectives the students gave feedback on when they would and wouldn’t use pair programming
  • Because the project didn’t have a dedicated room for kanban boards and other information radiators, the teams used an online tool to track progress and collaborate
  • Although the students came up with the ideas for the products, the professor acted as their customer.
  • Because neither students nor teaching staff worked on the products full time, coaching and retrospective time was limited. For example, there were only 30 minutes per team to perform an iteration retrospective and getting ready for the next iteration.

agileucl_compromises agileucl_retro agileucl_coaches agileucl_coachespro

The teams and their product

The first team presented CheckMyBeer, a beer guide and rating application. They liked pair programming and Trello for collaboration and communication and were very motivated as they worked on an application they had chosen. The regular sprints helped them to deliver and avoid “student syndrome

agileucl_team1a agileucl_team1b

The second team developed the “Bouboule” game. They also found the project very motivating and liked the prioritisation, estimation techniques and opportunities to change course that agile gave them.

agileucl_team2a agileucl_team2b

A third team developed “LLNCampus” a friendlier and more integrated view on the existing data on the campus website.   This has the potential to become the premier way that students get information about courses, lecture rooms and facilities on the campus.

agileucl_team3a

The next team developed “Safe Area“, a tool that provides different techniques to keep confidential information on the phone (like keys, codes and passwords) safe. Special mention to the value of regular and fast feedback from your clients and users.

agileucl_team4a agileucl_team4b

The final team presented “Treasure Hunt”, an application that allows you to script small “adventures” so that you can create treasure hunts, touristic information or travelogues. Again, the value of rapid customer feedback allowed them to refine their original idea and take their product into unexpected directions. We often discover what an application is (also) useful for by using it. You may discover a whole new market and then “pivot“, as the cool kids say nowadays.

agileucl_team5a agileucl_team5b

All the teams have been able to develop and publish an application, using a new methodology and new technology while having only a limited amount of time. There’s never enough time, you discover what your customer needs as you go along, there’s technology churn, tools don’t work as expected, there are team issues… It’s just like real life. :-)

You can find all the applications on the UCL/INGI developer page.

Looking back

Overall, teachers and students seemed happy with the agile approach:

  • Regular customer feedback made it possible to focus on those few features that really add value, instead of trying to force in all the features you’d imagined needing at the start of the project
  • The customer and coach roles took a lot of time from the teaching staff, but that investment provided value in steering the project and resolving issues. Having a bit more time for retrospectives and sprint preparation would have been useful. One customer, two onsite coaches and one meta-coach all working part-time on the project is not a lot to follow up 15 product teams.
  • Despite the effort required by the process, the structure in two-week sprints clearly helped to focus teams and even out the workload. No more last minute late night hacking sessions. Well… a lot less than usual :-)
  • Teams experimented with agile practices. Some teams fully applied pair programming, others only used it in some circumstances. Some teams liked standup meetings, others didn’t need them as they paired and collaborated so much already. The important thing is to know what the techniques are, how they work and why you would use them so that you can decide what to use in your context
  • The teams managed to get a product from scratch into the Android marketplace in a few weeks of part-time work. Impressive.

This is a great initiative by the UCL. I wish more schools and universities allowed their students to experience an agile project. I can only dream of students entering the workplace with a successful agile project under their belt and who think this is the “normal” way of creating products. Professor Deville and Marc Lainez will publish their experiences in a paper so that other universities can learn from the experience. We’ll let you know when the paper is available.

If any other universities or schools want to know more about agile, the Agile Belgium community is here to help. Contact us.

Thank you UCL computer science department, Marc Lainez and Octo Technology for making this project possible. Thank you to the students for their feedback on agile and their warm welcome.