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Tonight I attended the Agile Beer Users Group, or AgileBUG for short.  It was a loose get-together hosted by John (who’s last name was quickly forgotten after the first beer…  apologies, John).  Very informal, yet filled with a lively assortment of varied developers who have a passion for agile (or at least, beer).  True to it’s name, the beer flowed, pitchers bought one at a time by the groups sponsors (which, at this particular meeting, were anyone who happened to volunteer).

Sometimes traditional user groups can be a bit dry, or can hit topics of little interest to folks.  Not so the AgileBUG.  It seemed to obey the “two feet” rule of the Bar Camps…  “If you aren’t interested in what’s being said, you have two feet!”  Groups formed over topics, voices were raised, discussions were had, and beer was drank.  Despite the loose organization, I was surprised at how well the discussions made their way back to agile, and to agile practices.  Occassionally, someone would shout out a poll, and everyone (even those from different conversations) would chime in with their answer.  Very informative.

I’m so often surrounded by people working within Team System.  It’s refreshing to see and hear people with wildly different tools and expectations.  At one point, attendees were praising the virtues of metrics for convincing management of the need for agile.  I quite agree.  Yet only moments before the same folks had expressed a preference for Subversion and index cards.  Again, I’m OK with any tools — it’s the process, not the tooling, that is most important.  Yet, Team System has the capability to make metric gathering so painless.  Very, very valuable metrics — those very metrics needed to convince management to adopt agile — are available from Team System without needing to unnecessarily impact the developerment process.  Ah, I’m getting beside myself, and on a tangent.  Another post, maybe.

Well, maybe a quick side note:  At Northwest Cadence, we work with clients on process improvement initiatives, and we always collect metrics and baseline our improvement initiatives to show results.  These results are then backed by real data.  I would think the agile community would be desperate for a tool like Team System.  Well, maybe they are…  In my own informal poll, a little more than 1/3 of the folks there were either using Team System right now, or were in the process of migrating to it.  So maybe it is the tool of choice, but it lacks the “coolness factor” due to it’s size (or it’s creator).

Anyway…  The Agile Beer Users Group…  Check it out!  If you’d like to present, you’re likely to get an opportunity to shine in the spotlight.  And if you’d just like to attend, you could do far worse with 2 hours of your life!

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