All posts by Ariel Schapiro

End of Iteration ;)

As some of you know, I’m closing a chapter of my professional life in Southworks today and starting a new one in Microsoft Argentina (DPE) from next week.

It’s been a 6.5 years chapter actually, that started for me in an earlier version of the Southworks that exists today. I think we grew a lot, in part because of the awesome team we helped to build together and also because of the help of very talented and generous people, passionate of getting better every day. I believe the current version of Southworks is the result of that hard work: a well-respected and growing company that earned its place of high quality service, that world-changing agents trust and where many talented engineers find a place to grow and share.

Lots of projects, trips, experiences and people come to my mind now. Ale Jack, Mawolo, Fede Jack, Tincho Cacciola, TimO, Mariano S, Lito, Beto, Martin Salias, EZ, Johnny and JPG are some of the “oldest” friends here (in representation of the whole team which includes many, many awesome people that I’ve been interacting with in the last years): well let me thank you for the incredible help, guidance, support and teamwork of these years. I guess I’ll be happy in the future if I get a 1% of what I felt, grew and did at Southworks; and I guess I will because I’ll carry the Southworks flag with me.

I’m simply happy of spending my last 6.5 years working at Southworks but honestly I don’t think that our story together ends here. As I said before, this is just an End of Iteration, and I’m looking forward to keep working and growing together in the following iteration! I’ll be around, you’ll see….and we’ll keep having moments like these:

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See you soon and keep it up!

Agiles@BsAs: Distributed Agile Teams

Agile methodologies may find their comfort zone with co-located teams and with customers that are at hand for giving quick and valuable feedback. Is it possible to keep agility in distributed teams scenarios, where the customer is miles away and testers at the other side of the world? What are the main challenges when face-to-face communication is minimized and the time zone and cultural differences are an everyday factor? What approaches, processes and tools can help overcoming these challenges?

2 weeks ago I had the privilege to present at the Agiles@BsAs monthly meeting a topic that addresses these questions: “Agile Distributed Teams”. In particular, I shared some stats and findings of co-located vs. distributed approaches for agile teams and shared some approaches that tend to minimize the impact of being remote. You can find the deck used in the event here.

What are the challenges you are facing in this arena and how do you face them?

“ISO + Agile” Workshop at Rosario

How to keep your company’s ISO certification while achieving the flexibility of the agile practices out there? Which may be the common myths, challenges and tips in the quest for such combination?

These are some of the questions that together with Nicolas and Ezequiel we were invited to answer a few days ago in Rosario, Santa Fe. We facilitated a half-day workshop in the “Polo Tecnológico” were 16 software companies’ representatives from the area learned the fundamentals of agile practices and then simulated working in an ISO certified scenario with common challenges that are often targeted by agile methods. At the end we discussed around a possible approach that takes advantage of the traceability and reusability of standards such as ISO and also of the flexibility and risk management attributes of agile practices.

I’m amazed by the involvement and passion of the audience and also thankful for the organizers’ warmth.
Thanks and see you next time Rosario!

teams that simulated the ISO + Agile scenario

Get the deck used for the workshop here (parts in Spanish).

Paper published at 39 JAIIO

Long time no post. During the last months, I’ve been focused on planning my wedding, and now that I’m back it might be time to resume blogging :). Let’s start with the 39th edition of the Argentinean Conferences on Computer Science (JAIIO) that took place back in September.

These conferences are held since 1961 and host a wide variety of symposiums that take care of different topics related to computer science, ranging from Software Engineering, AI, HPC, security, to health, agricultural and industrial technologies.

It was in the Software Engineering symposium where I presented the paper I co-authored with Nicolas Paez: “Lightweight Framework for Quality Assurance in SMEs”. Here is the abstract:

Based on their business needs, many software Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) differentiate through the high quality of their deliverables, compliancy with standards and alignment with engineering best practices.

This paper explains how an SME in that context, successfully used a lightweight framework based on premises like self-assessment, tailoring, automation and positive peer pressure that assured a high level of service quality while removing the implied costs that would be derived from implementing a Quality Assurance (QA) department.

The framework aligned with the company’s agile processes allowing teams, through the implementation of short iterations, to assess their compliancy with a tailored quality baseline and make reviews with the help of cross-teams Quality Reviewers. The result was a low cost framework that helped to grow factors like overall process quality while increasing quality perceived from the customer.

The discussion that followed with the audience was interesting and feedback was useful for the next round of publications, to be made in the near future I hope ;).

Agiles 2009 Brazil

I had the chance to speak at the second Latin-American Conference on Agile Development Methodologies, running now in Florianópolis, Brazil. I’m having a really good time attending to some talks offered by great personalities of the Agile movement such as Brian Marick who gave an excellent opening keynote, Diana Larsen who’s talk about generating trust in teams I found really exciting, Roy Singham (founder and chairman of ThoughtWorks, Inc.) who made from yesterday’s closure keynote an inspiring message of South America opportunities in the years coming and Dave Nicolette, a guru of agile metrics who’s work I follow very closely.

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My session was about a process of measuring cross-project indicators that an agile company can follow once they are compliance with the baseline of measurements such as velocity, code quality. More details here.

Two collages from Southworks spoke at this event too: Martin Salias gave a high level view of practices to follow after succesfully adopting agile culture and practices, while Nicolas Paez gave a workshop around agile estimation and planning. We filmed our talks so I guess some time in the future they’ll be published.

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If you follow (or intend to follow :)) agile practices and didn’t get the chance to go to any edition of Agiles, I really recommend you don’t loose the next edition (country to be defined) and in the meantime contact your local agile community for other local events.

Stay tunned for more updates!

Agiles@BsAs monthly meeting

Last Tuesday I attended to June’s meeting of an agile practitioners group called "Agiles" (Spanish). The topic for that meeting in particular was "How do you start your projects?". Overall product planning and project, team and process setup were some of the activities discussed as part of the first iteration of an agile project.

The format for the meeting was similar to a Lightning Talk; in this case a series of time-boxed presentations and Q&A (7 +3 mins). Presentations were very interesting, but especially I always find this kind of talks formats very effective: as opposed to long open discussions, they help the audience to get quickly to the point, have a fare amount of questions and then move to the next presentation. This way the audience (customer?) gets added value after a short iteration, in this case of 10 minutes. Any similitude with agile goals? :)

July 14th meeting will be around estimation in agile projects and they’ll use the same Lightning Talk format.

Agile: Mission Impossible?: Case study presented in Update 08 conference

Last Wednesday I participated in a panel called “Agile: Mission Impossible?” where I presented one of Southworks‘s case studies where we successfully implemented Agile methodologies (Scrum + XP mix) in scenarios out of the Agile comfort zone.

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We had good feedback from the audience, as well as lots of questions from people facing similar scenarios. Let’s summarize the case study presented…

“Your mission, if you choose to accept it…”

Apart from the goal of delivering a mission critical product implemented with emerging technologies, the case study in particular that I presented had the following constraints:

  1. “Distributed2: The whole team was divided in 2: Southworks team (1 architect + 1 lead + 2 devs) and the client’s team (3-4 devs). These teams were distributed in space, separated by 360 miles. But they were also distributed in time: their working hours differed in 2+ hours.
  2. “coached to coach”: Goals included the adoption of agile methodologies by client’s development teams up to the point where they must be ready to coach other teams within the client on successfully implementing agile.
  3. “Agile = 0″: The client’s team had no experience in agile methodologies or tools such as TDD, pair programming, refactoring, etc.
  4. “Tech = 0″: The client’s team had no experience in the models their where going to implement such as S+S or the technologies they were going to use: MVC, Ajax, WCF, Linq
The approach

After accepting that “mission” we used the product we started to build as the real-world scenario for applying a coaching roadmap that consisted of a mix of:

  1. Global (team + stakeholders) methodology understanding
  2. Continuous teamwork practice
  3. Ownership enforcement
  4. Partial team rotation to foster the knowledge transfer
The results

As part of the results of the case study, the product was delivered on time, on budget, with “over-delivery” features. The client’s team had learnt and successfully implemented agile methodologies as well as the new technologies, which they successfully started to apply to other projects in their organization.

Have you ever worked on similar scenarios? How did you solve them?

Heroes happen {here}: Windows 2008 Server launch in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Last Thursday was the time for Argentina to launch Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008. This event was part of the launches wave that started back on the 27th of February when Steve Ballmer presented those products in Los Angeles California.

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This event in particular associated the heroes happen {here}campaign with a popular sport in Argentina: the soccer. The main event was a soccer match between professional soccer players and a team made of Microsoft developers and IT pro’s. As part of a big analogy, the software team used Windows Server 2008 on their defense, SQL Server 2008 on their middle field and Visual Studio 2008 on their offensive and that strategy allowed them to won the match.

Some pictures from the event

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Soccer match between professional soccer players and a team made of Microsoft developers and IT pro’s. You can see Alejandro Ponicke as a DT in the background.

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Jorge Garcia, Augusto Alvarez, Matias Woloski, Ezequiel Glinsky, Johnny Halife and me: watching the soccer match.

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Augusto Alvarez, Paulo Arancibia, Miguel Saez, me and Johnny Halife

Being “on top of” vs “behind of”

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When your goal is to put the box in another place in a dark room, you can choose to concentrate in start pushing without focusing on other forces coming from the other side OR you can first use your torch to enlighten from above overseeing the whole process, getting to see things that may affect the operation (moving a box) in advance.

I guess this analogy can point out the difference between “doing something” and “take care of getting something done“.

What do you think?

CSF and LitwareHR: Kickoff week

Last week I’ve been working with Puru Amradkar, Eugenio Pace and people from Microsoft’s Connected Services Framework (CSF) team, kicking off a new project that is both related with LitwareHR and CSF.

I had a great time on the design sessions with people from the CSF team like Puru Amradkar, Bala Balabaskaran, Balamurugan Kuthanoor and Arun Chandrasekhar. Their collaboration on the project was really valuable.

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Image 1: From left to right: me, Puru Amradkar and Eugenio Pace.

LitwareHR is a software as a Service (SaaS) reference implementation application published last February by Microsoft’s Architecture Strategy Team. As a single-instance and multi-tenant application, it covers SaaS typical aspects as the tenant provisioning, multi-tenant security, presentation configuration, datamodel configuration and business processes configuration.

So what about CSF? It helps telecommunications operators to integrate content services with their internal networks and business systems. In a SaaS hoster context, it could help with integrating their billing and order handling systems with SaaS applications developed by SaaS ISV’s.

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Image 2: CSF Communication Architecture.

Some CSF Links