An Agile Team of One

I am developing some software at work by myself. I have worked on several different styles of Agile team in the past, e.g. Scrum and XP, and I decided to think a little about what Agile practices are appropriate for a team of one.

First up, the daily tag-up, otherwise known in some circles as “the Scrum”, doesn’t serve the same purpose that it does on a larger team. You probably should set aside a moment, perhaps first thing in the morning, to review your progress from the day before, identify any obstacles you need to address to proceed, and make note of what you intend to do today. That should take very little time since you don’t have to explain what you mean to anyone else. Communication is the benefit and the major time sink, of the Scrum.

Next, a backlog is useful. I consider it another name for my todo list but it is a little more formal than some todo lists. I keep it sorted in order of highest priority first. I mark each major item with a status, e.g. ready, in-work, waiting on <resource> etc. I also use an outliner to keep track of my backlog so that I can easily represent subtasks.

I have added a practice that I learned from Dave Winer, called Narrate Your Work. It is particularly useful for me since I don’t have the benefit of a colleague to discuss my project with. By narrating my work, I get down the essence of what I’m doing and why so that I can remember what I’m trying to accomplish and the decisions that I have made along the way.

I haven’t had to do any estimating yet so I haven’t done anything like the planning game. I have a suspicion that you need three or more team members for the planning game to work very well. I also haven’t divided the work up into sprints. That seems like over kill for the one person team.

I will be doing periodic evaluations that will correspond somewhat to the end of sprint retrospectives. I think the key here again is that since I don’t have anyone to discuss it with, it is just a matter of taking a moment to think about what I’ve learned to date in the project.