Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Importance of Data Visualization In Agile Teams

I went to an Agile P2P meeting after work today. The speaker was Jason Little, an agile coach. He seems like a very interesting guy. I like how he doesn't seem to get bogged down by what "agile" says you should do, but rather he focuses on getting actual results. It's refreshing to see.

Anyway, he was talking about the importance of data visualization in agile teams. By displaying data in concise and intelligent ways, major problems become much more evident. Problems that are hidden by poor data presentation can become glaringly obvious when you display the information in the "right" way. Uncovering these problems is a huge part of improving what you do as an organization. For example, take stories in your electronic issue tracker. If you have a lot of bugs in your issue tracker, you might not see it right away because of the way they're organized. If instead you put all your issues on coloured sticky notes on a board, and you see a clump of red tickets, it becomes immediately obvious that your software development process might have serious quality gaps. If you further organize those tickets by time, you can visually see when a lot of those bugs were discovered (and can guess when they were introduced).

The importance of data visualizations doesn't only apply to agile though. Data visualization is important in a lot of fields. Humans suck at looking a unorganized data and making sense of it. Computers are much better at this. Data visualization will be very important in the future to help humans make sense of the immense amount of knowledge available in some fields. Like in the agile example above, some problems might become glaringly obvious if you organize and display the information in the "correct" way. The cure to cancer might be hiding in the data, and it's just a matter of showing it the right way before it jumps out to someone.

Okay. I'll stop procrastinating now and finish off that work report.....


or watch Community.

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