Octopus: planning for v1

Since I started working on Octopus, I've been using AgileZen as a task board. The graph below gives an idea of how the work has progressed:

Cumulative flow diagram from AgileZen

There are a few nice things this graph suggests:

  • The backlog is always growing thanks to great suggestions from the beta testing group
  • The archive is also always growing, because work is actually getting completed

(The slowdown in change during July/August is due to my moving overseas)

On a fixed time, fixed scope project I'd ideally want to see backlog growing much slower, if at all, as the project nears completion. For product development, however, I think it's actually healthy for the backlog to be growing as quickly as the 'done' column.

So far I've been following this methodology, but as I prepare for an Octopus version 1.0, I want to get a little more disciplined about my process. One of the things I miss working as a one-man-band is the "closure" that comes when working on actual sprints - the sprint planning and sprint review sessions in Scrum are a good way to book-end a few weeks of work.

To improve my process, here's what I am going to start doing:

  1. Run two-week 'sprints'
  2. On the first Monday, choose the work to do, and move it from the backlog to the 'Sprint' column
  3. Post the sprint plan on my blog
  4. Do the work
  5. On the last Sunday (since most of the Octopus work is done on weekends), move work from 'done' into 'archive'
  6. Send an email to the beta testing list with what features were completed, so people know what to expect
  7. Celebrate with cake

During the two weeks I'll also spend a good amount of time on support (I'll blog about how I use Tender for that), so each sprint probably won't go exactly as planned.

How do you approach your personal projects? What else could I do to improve my process? My first 'sprint' should start on Monday, 12th September.

A picture of me

Welcome, my name is Paul Stovell. I live in Brisbane and work on Octopus Deploy, an automated deployment tool.

Prior to founding Octopus Deploy, I worked for an investment bank in London building WPF applications, and before that I worked for Readify, an Australian .NET consulting firm. I also worked on a number of open source projects and was an active user group presenter. I was a Microsoft MVP for WPF from 2006 to 2013.