Xpresspost Days

Image by Rwk via TravelPod

At the end of the last release in December, we had our first FedEx Day with good results. One of the main pieces of feedback received was “Now what?”.  Some of the things that people had worked on were very solid product ideas but needed more time to complete and integrate into the product.

For our second iteration of FedEx days, we made some changes to address this:

  • we extended the time frame from 1 to 3 days
  • we changed the name to Xpresspost Days to reflect the longer delivery time
  • the product owner committed to including at least one item in the next release
  • the demo was run via a ReadyTalk session so the entire company could participate

I was a little worried about what the team’s energy levels would be like since we were coming off 6 hard weeks of sustained effort to complete the last release. Overall, the freedom to work and experiment on pet projects greatly outweighed the collective fatigue and the team jumped into the exercise with great gusto.  We also jumped into the Belgian Waffles, home-made preserves and Turkish coffee with great enthusiasm on the third morning (thanks Irina!).

The closing demo featured a significant number of product and process ideas:

  • accessing information: we prototyped some great and surprising ways to quickly filter the contents of the infrastructure tree and to visually present more information about an object
  • controlling infrastructure: we added a number of handy commands for administrators to help them manage their virtual environment and understand how they are using it
  • visualizing information: we also prototyped charts and graphs for visualizing categories of search results (and quickly discovered how much additional work there is to do…)
  • build servers: after batting the idea around forever, we
    retired our tried and tested CruiseControl build servers in favour of
    Jenkins (big win for the visibility and control of builds!)
  • understanding our journey: we have been very good at capturing the outcomes of our retrospectives so we compiled the results from the last three years to get a pulse on where we are strong, where we are sufficient, and where we are slipping

At least three of these items will find their way into our 4.2 release, as well as a feature that was prototyped during our first FedEx day.

We closed with a small retrospective at the end of the demo, with particularly good buy-in from product management.  For the next iteration of FedEx days, we will be making the following changes:

  • extend the time period from 3 to 5 days to take advantage of the momentum we have built
  • have a demo after 2 days to select the best items to continue working on
  • attempt to complete the selected items before the end of the last day