Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How much technology do you need?

In an interesting twist, today's stage of the Tour de France was run without race radios (article). Normally the radios are used for the team directory to communicate to the riders; things like when the next climb is, potential hazards, or where a rival is in the race. It can become important if a small group of riders break away ahead of the pack; knowing if any of those riders can take over the lead of the race and therefore need to be chased down. So it provides additional information to the riders to help decide on tactics.

The question is how do the radios impact the race? Riders seem to prefer the radios, knowing exactly what's going on. The organizers that put the radio ban in place for today thought it might add some drama. Looking at today's results, I don't think it had a big impact either way.

This got me thinking about tools to help run projects. In the workshop I ran this past weekend, I took a very manual approach; using note cards etc. I mentioned some of the tools that are available, but also said I prefer the manual approach whenever possible. If you have a team co-located, you can get away with posting your user stories as note cards on the wall and writing your burn-down chart on a white board. Things get more complicated when teams are spread across multiple locations. That's when you need to start looking into tools.

So if you're spending a lot of time keeping your tools up to date, you have to think about what value it brings. If the answer is not much, then maybe you should try going without, like the riders did today in France.

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