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Summer and Winter Camps

August 10th, 2010

We just finished our summer camp with great success on our current project.

What is a summer camp with respect to a software project you might ask?

Well, a summer or winter camp are seasons of the year where many or most of your staff and developers are on vacation, but not all of them are. So those who are left behind in the cold or summer heat will still have something useful to do. In many places people try to make a real sprint, just with fewer people and reduced amount of user stories. Those artificial sprints are often without big success.

The summer camp also has user stories, but these are either of innovative character or getting rid of PITA issues.

Many project managers might now intervene and say, that this is a clean-up sprint and this is not needed on their project or that they do not have time for such a thing because people need to be as productive as possible. To those managers I can just say: you are so wrong.

There are a lot to gain from this way of working during periods with a reduced number of team members. I experienced the most gain among these areas:

  • You increase the morale on the team, as people can tackle issues, which have bothered them for a long time
  • People are especially dedicated, because part of the user stories are their own idea
  • Absent team members do not have to catch up with a lot of new things
  • The product is actually advancing to a better state

Even I, as the chief architect on the project, benefit from these summer camps. There is time to dig a little deeper into various areas of the project.

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