Sprints On An Intranet Portal

Just held the review today for the end of Sprint #6 on an intranet portal project. We’re pretty much down to Sprint #7 and then we can finally release it on the employees. Along the way we’ve learned the following things:

  • Websphere Portal and especially it’s content management features (WCM) are fairly primitive and not that well integrated for maintaining a content site with 40+ contributers.
  • Having 4 different product owners over the life of the project makes it difficult to stay headed in a single direction. Luckily the last remaining product owner has been working directly on the team for the last three or four sprints.
  • Estimating and tracking many of the work items are difficult. How do you estimate how many training classes you need, and how do you know when you’re done? How many items are just pure timeboxed research into possible intranet features? And at the review meeting how do you demonstrate new functionality when say 60% of the Sprint was setting up and running training classes.
  • Intranet projects are inherently political beasts. Everyone has a vested interest or even lack of interest in how their division’s content is organized. You will end up in some huge conflicts despite all possible precautions.
  • Many normal Agile related practices are non-existent. TDD, continuous builds, refactoring just don’t apply.