Agile Best Practices: Why Your Team Needs a War Room
Today when software development stays in high demand, developers are being pressured to code and modify more, still meeting all client requirements and work deadlines.
In this situation, traditional programming practices are not sufficient. Fortunately, there is a number of Agile best practices that have proven to enable a frequent delivery with high quality.
Among the best practices most Agile practitioners emphasize:
- TDD (Test-driven development)
- Pair programming
- Regular refactoring
- Continuous integration
- Codebase sharing
- Single coding standard for all programmers
- “War-room” work area
In this article, we’re going to have a deeper look at what a “war-room” style actually is and why your Agile team needs it.
What is a War Room?
A war room (also known as a situation room, command center or control room) is a centralized meeting space where project teams and stakeholders can co-locate and visually communicate project activities.
The idea of a war room is to physically gather the entire team into a ‘single location’ to facilitate communication, problem-solving, risk mitigation and status reporting. The single location can be physical, virtual or some combination of the two based on the specifics of the organization’s structure.
Basic principles of War Rooms
Everything in the room is visible to anyone in the organization (team members can see and hear what everyone else in the room is working on), which creates the culture of accountability.
War-room communication includes data visualization of key performance metrics such as budget, schedule, issues, risks and overall project health.
The walls of such rooms are covered with sticky notes, photos, wireframes, and user interface designs. Data, insights, and ideas associated with the project are made physically available to see, touch, organize and start synthesizing ideas.
Project stakeholders visit the room on a regular basis and can quickly get up to speed on progress, current status and any issues that may be facing the team.
What are the concepts of a great War Room?
- Lots of surface area. It’s about user story diagrams, printouts, research notes, sketches of possible solutions, a detailed storyboard, and so on. To accommodate all that stuff, you need a lot of space in the room: whiteboards, windows, and empty walls.
- Space dedicated to projects, not meetings. Do not turn your war room into another conference room. It’s better to remove your war room from your company’s room-scheduling calendar.
- As many whiteboards as you can provide. You may choose different options: floor-to-ceiling wall-mounted, IdeaPaint boards, normal wall-mounted boards, rolling boards, etc.
- Flexible furniture. Sometimes teams need to talk a lot, they want chairs and open space. Other times, they are drawing on paper and they need desks. The ideal war room consists of furniture that’s lightweight or on wheels, so it’s easy to move.
War Room Benefits
- Direct verbal communication between team members that saves time on phone conversations and emails
- Increased team commitment and feeling of togetherness
- Increased responsibility
- Single source of information for leaders, team members, contributors, and other project stakeholders
- Increased awareness of performance and other project metrics due to high-level data analysis and visualization
How have you set up project spaces for your team? What do you think about the War Room? Feel free to comment!