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The Tree of Planning

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Andrew Bowden Andrew Bowden | 09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

As Andy Williams sang, it's the most wonderful time of the year. Yep, it's Christmas! And here at BBC Red Button, we like a bit of the Christmas spirit in our London office, so at the end of last week, the Christmas tree went up!

Last year's tree was decorated with remote controls, so we knew this year's follow up had to be even better. So the tree decorating committee started planning for something a little special for the theme. A theme of planning in fact!

As santa I want at least 3 billion mince pies and sherrys

In our team we use an agile development process called SCRUM. As part of that process we hold short planning sessions, usually every two weeks, and write a batch of user stories so the team know what they're going to be doing.

User stories are tasks, written in the form:

As a [person], I want [a certain feature] so that [of this reason]

So, for example, a user story for the forthcoming version of BBC iPlayer for Freesat devices, may look something like this:

As a viewer, I want to be able to pause the video so that I don't have to miss anything if the phone rings.

We write them like that so that the team know why they're doing a particular task, and who they are doing it for, and we put them on multi-coloured index cards on a whiteboard so that everyone in the department can see what we're doing.

We're not the only ones who need to plan though. With all those presents to deliver, Father Christmas is going to need to do some serious planning sessions, and it's probably too much for one person to do alone, so the team set about writing user stories to help him out!

As Santa I want to invest in modern technology to aid entry to a property without a chimney

Amongst his requirements this year, are a request for "modern technology to aid entry to a property without a chimney, because modern condensing boilers are tricky to navigate", and "at least 3 billion mince pies and sherries." I hope he's got a strong constitution - maybe we should add that as a story, or at least offer him some low alcohol sherry!

With such planning, how can Santa go wrong this Christmas Eve?

Santa's tree of planning

Writing them all out on index cards, we attached them to the tree along with some baubles and, of course, a bit of tinsel. The result is a rather fantastic tree, I'm sure you'll agree!

Happy Christmas to you all!


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