Author: Henrik Kniberg
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
Aimed at: Agile developers and project managers
Pros: Interesting and practical in words and pictures
Reviewed by: Andrew Johnson
This book has the subtitle "Managing Large-Scale Projects with Kanban" and focuses on a single project.
If the title of this book sounds familiar, you may already have come across the author's book "Scrum and XP from the Trenches" which provides an account of how one Swedish company implemented Scrum and XP with a team of approximately 40 people. In this book Henrik Kniberg details the experiences of the Swedish police as they implement a new digital investigation system, a project that combined XP, Scrum, and Kanban in a 60-person project.
The new system is called PUST (Polisens mobila UtredningsSTöd) which can be translated as Police Mobile Investigative Support and the basic ideas is to equip every police car with a small laptop, a mobile Internet application and a web app to handle collection of all the information that previously would have required a lot of paperwork to be filed.
PUST was rolled out nationwide in Sweden in April 2011 to a great deal of media attention for the fact that petty crimes can now be processed six times faster and police can send more time in the field and less time at the station. This book looks at the work that went to getting the project up and running and scaling it from from a pilot project in a single region with a few users to a nationwide system capable of adding new functionality.
This sounds like an interesting project. Yes - but discovering how group of sixty developers worked together on it is even more fascinating.
This is a book in which a lot of information is presented in pictures. The first part of the book, which is about the progress of the project includes many photographs to give the reader a sense of being on the inside. The second part, which goes into the detail of the practices, uses diagrams and cartoons. This is highly appropriate for a book on "Kanban" which, as explained on page 112, is a Japenese word that means "visual card" (or sign).
Part I starts by looking at customer engagement and team structure. Then in Chapter 3 the notion of the daily "cocktail party" is introduced - referring to short meetings at which people interact, standing up in small groups to plan what to do next. Handling bugs, testing, cross-team synchronization and version control are topics that are all covered in the subsequent chapters.
Chapter 4 on to the Project board and this is where you first meet Kanban in this book and may require you to come up to speed with this idea before you read on.
The book starts out assuming you are already familiar with Agile and Lean methodology in general and Scrum, XP and Kanban in particular. If you are not then you should either pick up another of Henrik Kniberg's book, Kanban and Scrum - Making the Most of Both or turn to Chapter 17 of this book, "Agile and Lean in a Nutshell".
Chapter 17 marks the start of Part II of the book. "A Closer Look at the Techniques" which is an introduction to Agile and Lean which expands on the practices in Part I. Another way to read this volume, and one that will suit anyone who isn't already familiar with Scrum, XP and Kanban is to read Part II and then turn back to Part I for practical examples.
Whichever way round you read it there's a lot of pragmatic advice presented in a readable and well-illustrated manner.
Recommended if you enjoy reading about other people's experiences and how they tackled the same challenges you might be facing on a day-to-day basis.