PNW Drupal Summit field trip!

PNW Drupal Summit field trip!


A bunch of the Affinity Bridge crew went down to Seattle the weekend before last for the much anticipated Pacific North West Drupal Summit - Mack, Robin, Shiraz, Shawn, and myself (Ariane) made it down (Zoe was meant to come but picked up a cold in Italy and didn't want to contagious it to everyone), and Dave Tarc and Scott Nelson who have been collaborating on a couple projects rounded out the posse. It's always great catching up with the rest of the PNW Drupallers, it really is a hotbed of Drupal activity, and we were lucky enough to be joined by many of our Drupal friends and colleagues who came in from Portland, Idaho, and even Montana.

There were many excellent conference sessions birds of a feather sessions (BOFs), which are more informal).  Robin did a session on Aegir and Drush (slides are up, blog post to come), Shawn led a BOF on performance tools for Drupal websites (stay tuned for forthcoming blog post), and I did a BOF on Agile development and project management (PM). I also really enjoyed Katherine Senzee from Acquia's Drupal7 talk (which yes, I'd seen before, but Drupal7 is just so full of great new features, I don't tire of hearing about it!), and Greg Dunlap from Palantir's session on Deploy module, since we've been doing a lot of talking and thinking about deployment methods here at AB lately.  There were piles of other sessions that sounded really interesting, and lucky for us videos and slides are being posted, so we can catch up on the ones we missed!

The Agile project management/development BOF I moderated was actually one of the highlights of the weekend for me; I had done it once before at the Washington DC Drupalcon in the spring, but a new group of people made it really different and just as interesting (if not more, now that i've got another nearly 8 months under my belt). It was well attended, and there were some really great conversations and sharing of experiences from other PMs and devs who have been (or want to start) using Agile methods. (There seems to be partial video footage out there, so I'm going to see about getting that posted.)

We covered several areas, including estimating, testing, project planning, running sprints, client communication, billing.  Some of the points that stuck in my mind:

  • Emphasizing the importance of writing proper "stories" to include user-acceptance tests right off the bat, so that you know when a feature is done and meeting all requirements (and so that you to help you know what to make your automated tests test for).
  • Differing opinions on how to do quotes and manage budgets when you have a flexible scope - some process change requests for each change to the initial scope, others bill hourly... interesting to try and discover whether there is something in between those options.
  • Also differing approaches on how early and how often to show work to clients - we were definitely on the early/frequent end of the spectrum, which we find helps avoid finding out late in the game that something doesn't properly meet client needs, or doesn't function as anticipated. This also can lead to changing requirements or scope during the lifecycle of a project, but we see this as a positive, making sure our clients have the best final product.  As long as it is understood up front that new features will mean either cutting other features or an increase in build time and budget, we find flexibility and an Agile approach are a good match.
  • Different ways of keeping clients in the loop on progress - per sprint demos from early on vs. demoing only once in beta, involving a product owner in dev meetings, whether or not to give clients access to project management software.
  • Estimates and billing: hourly billing versus per-project, estimating based on hours, points, or work (ie. people work at different speeds and levels, so hours or hour-based points systems are not even good measures of amounts of work)

I'm sure there was a ton of other great topics covered, and hopefully I'll be able to get the bit of video footage of the session and comb through it some more. Will post links on this post and on our twitter account @affinitybridge if/when we get it. A couple people noted it'd be great to be able to continue the conversation, so if anyone has some ideas on that (the little used Project Management group on g.d.o?) post them down in the comments.

Thanks again a million to the great Drupallers in Seattle, especially Jared Stoneberg from Stoneberg Design who spearheaded the event organization, Greg Dunlap, Josh Kopel, John Walling, and Gregory Heller and Robin Barre CivicActions for all their hard work making that come together, and to Adobe for the excellent donation of their space.