Early this year we decided to attend the Agileee 2010 in Kiev, Ukraine after reading the positive reviews of Agileee 2009. Now – after several days in Kiev – we can tell you that this was probably one of the best conference we have attended for years. Not only good sessions but a lot of very interesting discussions with the participants during the icebreaker party and during the conference days.
Here our short summary of this fantastic conference:
Thursday – Sightseeing and Icebreaker Party
On Thursday we visited the headquarters of Ciklum – one of the largest nearshoring providers in Ukraine. We were introduced to several Scrum teams working for different clients and we were allowed to take part in a Daily Scrum via video conference (client in Denmark). Our summary to this visit is a very positive one. What we saw exceeded our expectation on agile adoption and English skills by far.
After our visit at Ciklum we decided to spend the afternoon sightseeing in Kiev.
Monastery of the Caves
We have been told a lot about the Kiev Monastery of the Caves and so we decided to visit this world famous attraction. It’s a really impressive monastery that includes caverns – a very complex system of (very) narrow underground corridors.
You can find more information about this monastery in Wikipedia:
Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Ukrainian: Києво-Печерська лавра, Kyievo-Pechers’ka lavra), also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. Since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1015 the Lavra has been a preeminent center of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe.
In the evening we have been invited to the icebreaker party held in a local pub called “The Barrel”. First we were reluctant to go there as we were quite exhausted by the tourist program we had but we finally got our self moved to the party place. WHAT A FANTASTIC DECISSION! Yes, this was probably the best conference start I have been for years. This was purely relaxing. Several speakers gave spontaneous Jam sessions and it was a fantastic friendly atmosphere.
Guess what the German conferences are lacking? Such an icebreaker event!
Friday & Saturday: Agileee 2010 Conference
After finishing the registration and getting rid of the clothes we were welcomed with classical music played live!
The conference had the usual infrastructure including WiFi– and this was a problem. As everybody was using WiFi enabled devices it was sometimes not possible to connect to the internet. The day before the conference started we bought a very cheap 3G SIM card from a local provider (available everywhere in small shops) with some free hundred megabytes of internet access – so no big problem for us.
Keynotes from Henrik Kniberg and Mary Poppendieck
The conference program started with two key notes given by Henrik and Mary. While both were interesting I liked the keynote from Henrik more as it introduces some new ways how to explain the essence of agile to people new to Scrum / XP.
Selling Agile by Paul Klipp
Selling projects done in an agile way is usually hard work as most buyers still believe a fixed price contract is best for them as all the risk is on the side of the provider. If you have been involved in calculating and setting up a project based on a fixed price contract you know that this is not true. Usually both sides have to pay for the risk and changes during the project will result in a lot of discussion and additional costs. So fixed price usually is a lose-lose setup. In his presentation Paul outlines why projects run with agile principles and based on an agile contract are better for both sides. Really liked his arguments and tips.
Management of Offshore Agile Projects
This presentation given by Sergei Andrzeevski caused a discussion whether what he does is still “agile” or just some best practices that can be used to make distributed projects more successful. As we know that the trade off between real agile practices and compatibility to traditional established company processes always must be considered, we were happy to get some new ideas how to handle problems.
We met Andrea Heck and Tibor Vida at the ice breaker party and had some interesting discussions with them. In their presentation they were talking about how agile methods were introduced at Siemens healthcare.
Siemens healthcare is working in a very regulated environment with audits that are necessary for markets like EU, USA, China or Brazil. Something you would expect is difficult to combine with agile processes. They explained how they started (very strict contracts with incentives, V-Modell (phase oriented process model) widely used, documents as interfaces, a lot of overhead by managers, task forces, experts, …) and how they made a successful transition to agile processes by bringing in external experts and visualizing the business processes by value stream mapping. Guess they made a really good job there!
Meeting a lot of interesting people.
Beside the official presentations I had a lot of very interesting discussions in the breaks and enjoyed several interesting open space discussion: One with Paul Klipp about “Personal Productivity”, one about "How to transform the company from outsourcing to product business?" with Nikolay Pavlov and one about “Smells in your Scrum implementation” by Radu Davidescu. Thanks guys for sharing your ideas and experience!
Another important reason for traveling to Kiev was meeting one of our oldest partners: Ainstainer Group. We finally made it to personally meet the Semenov brothers (Artem and Stanislav) and had a lot of discussions how we can help our customers to succeed using agile processes and teams located in the Ukraine.
While Ainstainer Group currently still is a quite small company you can expect to hear more from them in the future as the management is very dedicated to success, having a clear customer focus and is working in a highly professional manner.
BTW: We (Ainstainer Group & Agile-Nearshoring.com) started a “Scrum Tool Review project” for which the first review (VersionOne) is already available in the Ainstainers Blog.
Not more to add: Was a great conference, we will be there next year again!
Disclaimer: This article was initially published on the Agile-Nearshoring.com blog. As there are still only a few readers registered I decided to publish it on Armerkater.de to reach a wider audience.