The Agile Kerala 2013, First ever Agile Conference in Kerala opened to a huge crowd of agile evangelists and practitioners from all over Kerala. The event is hosted at Park Center, Technopark, Trivandrum on November 29 and 30, 2013. The event was the first of the kind organized in Kerala and I must say that its one of the well-organized events that I have attended. Thanks to Vinod Purushothaman for organizing such a well-organized event. Special Thanks to Naresh Jain (Agile India) and Dr. Venkat Subramaniam for some interesting and interactive sessions. In the course of two days, the event covered almost everything about “Being Agile”. Don’t just follow Agile, Be Agile and Live Agile should be the motto of those companies and people who likes to follow Agile Methodologies. Many of us had a long journey to be there at the event and Agile Kerala did its best to make the every moment worthwhile. The event brought together a mix of people who handled various functional roles at different IT companies all over Kerala.

agilekerala2013

(Image Courtesy at Agile India)

The event kicked off with a welcome address by ever energetic Naresh Jain and he gave us an idea of what’s there in the basket for the next two days. Followed by the keynote of Dr.Venkat who mastered the art of simplicity. He talked about keeping everything simple and I liked specifically the example of Google, Bing and Yahoo. As a Business Analyst, I was able to relate it to the user experience of users who would love to use simple and easy to use products that bring value to them.  As Dr.Venkat said we love to make things complex unnecessarily so that it gives us a satisfaction that we did something great and we feel others too thought the same. But it requires a genius and some courage to make something simple that could provide the enormous value to the end users and our customers alike.

As the day progressed, Naresh took us to agile boot camp where we learned about how it’s being in a software development team handling various roles. Naresh had fun watching all of us using our writing skills to communicate and develop a client requirements! The team learned on how to work in different teams, iterative planning, communication and retrospectives on what went wrong with our requirements. The workshop helped us to know better about the advantages of Iterative development over traditional development methods.

The post lunch session, the sleeping buddies were made let go off their sleeps with some interesting sessions by Sunil Mundra, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks and Manik Choudhary. Sunil’s session covered the various challenges in observing and enabling Agile Mindset. He stressed on the classic problem of Doing Agile as opposed to aiming to be Agile. At the end we learned about some enablers to move towards achieving the Agile Mindset. Manik talked about user story mapping, backlog creation and facilitating planning, collaboration and communication among team members.

Karthik was bang on with his session on when agile becomes fr-agile. He talked about many things that go wrong in companies that attempt to be or become Agile. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on to improve the process. The session was interesting with Karthik emphasizing on a win win situation where we can learn from the failures. Parallelly Vinay Krishna talked to other group on 9 practices to minimize the technical debt. As we follow agile practices we need to improve our code coverage, focused on re factoring methods and some good practices for agile development.

The day ended with a live pair programming demo and the importance of test driven development by Naresh and Venkat. This was an inspiring end to an exciting day!!

The day two, the finale started with an inspiring talk by Naresh on adapting change cycle. He talked about why we see new methodologies and processes in every 10 years or so. He focused on adapting the change cycle where we need to reorganize, exploit, conserve and accept innovation.

adapting change cycle

(Image Courtesy – Presentation by Naresh Jain on Adaptive Change Cycle applied to Agile Methods)

Venkat focused on the need towards an evolutionary design which is critical for the success of agile development. After all, you can’t be agile if your design sucks. Vineesh talked about his agile adoption journey at Wipro and how he applied to transition a 40 member team working on various projects. Agile adoption is not about bringing in a new process; instead it is more about defining or rather redefining the organizational culture. This is one of the biggest challenges that any organization will encounter while it is embracing their agile journey.

Jayaprakash Prabhakar, JP as he is called, QA Leader at McAfee India, talked about testing in agile world and the importance of cross functional team for the agile success. In his presentation, he gave us some facts and insights about the improved performance of agile development through the cross functional training of testers and putting them on for code review etc. Ashish spoke on Agile Balanced Scorecard and the metrics you can capture to prepare the scorecard which can be presented all your stakeholders to evaluate and monitor your project performance. Vinod, even though he is tired after organizing such an event showed no signs of tiredness, talked about the Hurdles to pass through to implement build and deployment automation. He also shared his experiences on the challenges he faced on this.

Finally we saw a lot of exhausted faces, struggling to keep up with the bombardment of information that has been thrown at us left, right and centre. The closing scenes saw people rushing to absorb the maximum, before speeding away to catch the flights, buses etc.! We wrapped up the evening with an open space and the conference retrospectives where Naresh and participants talked about what went well, what did not go well, and the improvement areas.

The good thing about Agile Kerala 2013 Conference is that it’s just not about learning agile methods but you get to interact with lots of industry leaders, community peers and evangelists. The two days of conference gave us the opportunity to meet some good people and learned from people who work for different companies and their experience for working on agile projects.

Post your comments below and tell me how you felt about the conference and the need for attending such conferences?