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Alex Gray

Alex is a professional, versatile and enthusiastic Lean & Agile Trainer/Coach with 20 year’s experience in varied IT projects and roles. A member of the BCS Agile Expert Panel, and an author of the BCS Foundation in Agile Practices syllabus, examination and course materials.
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Recent Posts

How to Prioritise Using Mince Pies

I love mince pies. FACT.


It was a day in late November, and I was catching the late train home after a long day in the office. I needed a drink, so I went to the food and drink place in St Pancras International. I asked for my coffee, and was offered a Mince Pie for an extra £1. Ooh that’s a good offer, I thought, so I said ‘Okay’.


Whilst sitting on the train I sipped my drink and devoured my Mince Pie. The coffee was good, but the mince pie was average at best. Especially for a £1, I thought. Perhaps it wasn't such a good deal!


So I posted a picture of my pie to our Slack channel, and jokingly gave it a score of 6 out of 10. Our Slack channel went berserk with ‘You’ve had a mince pie - why have you scored it?’ ‘OMG you scored it’ etc. And I thought, well yes, I have had a mince pie, and yes I have scored it... I wonder how others compare, and I wonder which one is best!


And that is where it all started.

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It's Totally Excellent, Dudes! | Technical Excellence and How to Promote It

It’s 1989 in San Dimas, California, and strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Bill and Ted have been spending all their time trying to create a metal band - “Wyld Stallyns” - all at the expense of their education.  

Somewhere in the future the year is 2688 A.D., and the world exists in an utopian society due to the inspirational “Wyld Stallyns”.

Little did Bill and Ted know the consequences of failing their final year at high school. A bogus outcome could have a devastating impact not just on their future, but also the whole of humanity. Ted’s dad would send him to military school if he failed his final history oral report, ending the chance of “Wyld Stallyns” being successful.

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IT and the Business - Separation or Collaboration?

12-Oct-2016 11:00:00 IT Agile Business insider Business success


Contrary to what one might think, IT and the Business are not always perfectly integrated. Sometimes, there is a clear distinction between ‘Us, IT’ and ‘Them, the Business’, when in fact these two should never be separated. Here’s why.

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The Agile Business Analyst (Agile BA) vs. The Traditional Business Analyst


When an organisation or a team are transforming their way of working from traditional to an Agile approach, traditional roles like Business Analyst, which were a phase of a traditional project, don’t simply cease to exist - they transform into their Agile equivalents.


How does an Agile Business Analyst differ to a traditional Business Analyst? Well, there will be a lot of similarities, but also possibly some stark differences.

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Agile Requirements with User Stories

06-Sep-2016 10:30:00 Agile How-To Agile techniques & tools

This blog post will explain what Agile Requirements are, and guide you through writing and using User Stories.

What are Agile Requirements?

 

As we cannot possibly know all requirements of our products at their inception, it is futile to spend time creating a detailed Requirements Specification Document upfront. Instead, we should use Agile Requirements. 

 

Agile Requirements are requirements that are allowed to, in fact encouraged, to evolve over the lifetime of a product. We are learning more and more about our product during its development through feedback from Customers, Users, Stakeholders and Developers.  Using this feedback, we can regularly choose to add requirements, remove requirements, add more details to requirements, change their priority, and so on, to make sure our Agile requirements will deliver the most value to the business as soon as possible.

 

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Evolving From Scrum To Scrumban And Beyond

20-Jul-2016 11:00:00 Scrum Scrum team Kanban Agile teams How-To

This blog is a case study of an Agile implementation which started off as a classic Scrum implementation, and then evolved to use Scrumban and Kanban techniques.

In the Beginning.


It is day 1 of sprint 1 for a team.  


To set some context, a Business Analyst had spent several months preparing a product backlog of nicely written user stories. They were conveniently written in the user story format:

‘As a <who>’

‘I want <what>’.

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How To Create High-Performing Teams


Often we talk about creating high-performing teams. What do we need to consider when creating a high-performing team, and how exactly do we do it? This blog article will answer your questions.

Can a High Performing Team be created just like that?


If you're in a project, and you're creating a new team, typically you get people from different parts of the organisation together into what you call a team. At the end of the project (which by definition is a temporary structure), that team gets crashed or abandoned.

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Why Agile? [White paper included]

28-Jun-2016 16:23:35 Agile Business insider Business agility

Whenever we start a course, no matter how expert the people in the group are, or whenever we engage with a new client in consulting, we like to pose the following question: Why do we do this Agile ‘thing’?.

 

So, indeed, why do we do Agile? Let's have a closer look.

Traditional methods - Waterfall

 

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Which prioritisation method is right for me?

26-May-2016 17:46:06 Prioritisation Agile How-To

Imagine this scenario: you’ve created your initial product backlog. The requirements on your backlog have been broken down just enough, not too much, but just enough to be able to prioritise delivery of features to the customer.  How do you prioritise, who does it and what options do you have?

Firstly, it is important to have a vision. In fact, the product backlog should have been created with this vision in mind. The vision helps communicate to everyone involved what the outcome of the product should be.

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Scrum And Kanban: What Should I Use?

Written by Alex Gray

 

When I am training Scrum courses, I often like to ask attendees: ‘Is anyone using Kanban’? More often than not, a number of people on the course will say ‘Yes we have Kanban boards’. So I say: ‘Great! Have you mapped your workflow on your board, and are you applying WIP (Work In Progress) limits?’ To which the answer repeatedly is ‘No, we just use a Kanban board’.

What follows next is that I am asked to explain the difference between Scrum and Kanban. Which is when I normally get the question: ‘Should we use Scrum orKanban?’

Let’s look at some of the possible deciding factors.

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