Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Pomodoro sauce for development teams

We recently started using the Pomodoro technique in our development team. Pomodoro technique is a time management method that specifies working in 25 minute blocks with short breaks in between. A 25 minute block is called a pomodoro. 

We have adapted it a little for our purposes. We work as a team in synchronised pomodoros and then have a mini standup after each. Each week we assign a pomodoro master that is responsible for managing the process - start pomodoros, keep time, count the completed pomodoros, etc. 

One of our team members, Steve Occhipinti (@steveocchipinti),  developed a handy web app to keep time and provide visibility to all team members. It can be found at http://pomodoro.stevenocchipinti.com/. The intention is to display the timer on a big screen to be visible to everyone in our area.

Working this way has had a number of benefits. In general the team is much more focussed. Individuals and pairs focus on one task for 25 minutes without allowing themselves to be distracted. We try to defer external distractions until the end of the pomodoro. Its easy to point to the pomodoro timer and ask someone to give you X minutes to finish what you are busy with. Also, IRC and emails do not get attention until the end of the pomodoro.