I replied to an email today explaining my usual formula for organizing a developer sprint. While typing I thought I might as well blog about it so others can clone it too. Please, comment if you think I forgot something.
Set a Date
First figure out which weekend will fit most possible attendees. Propose no more than three different ones in the beginning or you will never come to an agreement. The last one should be about eight weeks away for a normal amount of organization, like finding accomodation and booking trips.
To make your life easier while coming to an agreement on the date, use a tool like Doodle or set up a simple table on a wiki. And set a deadline.
Fix the Location
As soon as you have the date, book the location. Be it a room in a school or an office, the longer you wait the bigger is the chance that someone else has sneaked in. And then you will have to start anew or spend hours on finding an alternative.
Make a Budget
Set up a list on a wiki and ask everybody to enter the following details:
- Is accomodation needed?
- Is sponsorship by the KDE e.V. needed?
- How much is the estimated travel cost?
When you have all the information you need, find a hotel, an apartment or whatever fits your group and ask for room rates and availability. Depending on the size of the group, the latter will be the biggest work. I have managed to find something every single time so far, though. It makes things a lot easier if you are local or at least speak the right language. If you don’t ask for help.
Now it’s time to contact the e.V. board and ask for sponsorship. Calculate the costs you are expecting and explain how you are going to spend the money (e.g. flights, accomodation). In most cases, a proper guesstimate on the travel costs will be enough. You should receive a positive answer in a timely fashion.
Book the Rooms and the Travel
Now that you have approval from the board, it’s time to start the actual booking. Push everybody to book their respective travel. Push hard! Set another deadline and hunt everybody who hasn’t booked. Extend the existing wiki and ask everybody to update it with their travel information such as arrival and departure dates.
Then finalize the rooms. Be prepared that a hotel will ask you for a credit card as security. If that is beyond your possibilities, ask for help in your group or contact the board again and ask what options they have for fixing this.
Keep Everybody in the Loop
After you finished all the booking and know all the little details, send out an email to everybody involved telling them all they need to know: name and address of the hotel, name and address of the location you are going to meet and if possible also travel details. I strongly suggest circulating your mobile number, there will be attendees who get lost or have forgotten where they should change the bus.
Lean Back and Wait
Now the biggest things should be sorted out. But. There will be smaller things coming up. Be prepared to play baby sitter for some more days until the whole event is over and that you will have to answer a lot of questions during the preparation phase and after the event. Document as much as you can on the wiki (or elsewhere) for later referral and in case you drop off the map.
Going through those steps, you will notice that the amount of hunting people and getting on their nerves to find the information you need will increase dramatically as date of the sprint comes closer. And don’t expect anybody to say thanks. But be happy if somebody does…