Process So Far
Getting going ……
We began our work together when students from Westfälische Hochschule visited Namibia at the end of February for a week. The first two days we devoted to team building by the coast in Swakup. This meant that by Monday morning we all knew each other and were ready to get on with our work together. The Professors told us we must develop a system to support different departments at university that do bookings, particularly allocating spaces in the car park and reserving venues, such as lecture rooms. We discussed how we would get requirements for the system and how to understand the needs of the main users who currently do the jobs of booking, and then split into two groups with people from each university in each group. On Monday and Tuesday the groups interviewed the people who would be the main users of our system. For this, one group visited the lady whose job it is to allocate car parking spaces, and the other group visited the man who books venues. Then we discussed what we learnt, and realized what we didn’t know so went back to visit the man and spoke to the lady on the phone.
By Tuesday afternoon we started some basic design of the system and firmed this up on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday we also had a change of scenery, we went to a game reserve near Windhoek. Even some of the Namibians had not been on a game drive before, and we all liked to see the rhino. During lunch we discussed our capacities and made an inventory of skills. We found that we all had very different skills and level of experience, so we decide that some of the students from Westfälische Hochschule would be sharing their knowledge with us.
On Thursday we discussed software development process models that would suit our development of the system. We felt that given the tight time frame for work and that we would all be committing to owning the system together, even if we were learning some skills along the way, that an Agile method would be best for us. We learnt about the Scrum framework for Agile, and realized that this might require extra effort to communicate because for the next two months we will be a distributed team: students from Westfälische Hochschule would be working in Germany and students from University of Namibia, in Windhoek. In the days leading up to our decision about Scrum we realized two things about communication that would really affect being able to use Scum effectively. Firstly, the places we work in Namibia do not have reliable access to Internet. In fact, we often had to “bring the Internet” with us, in the form of one of the Namibian’s mobile Internet Wi-Fi routers! Secondly, students from University of Namibia all have full time jobs and some of them have not had much development experience. Therefore, for the rest of the week, we set up some infrastructure for coordination. We appointed students from University of Namibia who had less development experience as “Product Owner” and “Scrum Master”. We also set up communication methods. This includes using Jira for project management and monitoring, which links to Hipchat for ad hoc messaging between team members, Google Drive for sharing project documents and we also set up a virtual machine VM in Germany for all development. Before the students from Westfälische Hochschule went back to Germany, we also decided to have sprint meetings on Wednesday over Skype.
We are now coming to end of the first Sprint. Since early March we have been having weekly Skype meetings and messaging each other on Hip Chat. Although progress has been made, communication has not been easy, and we are all looking forward to the Namibian’s trip to Germany on 1 May to work together at a quicker pace.