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Assembla now allows automatic payments with PayPal

Assembla Blog - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 20:17

Paying for your Assembla subscription with PayPal has never been easier. We recently added the ability to set up recurring payments with PayPal that will automatically pay for your Assembla subscription every billing period, whether that be monthly or annually. Previously, it was a manual process that required logging in and paying every time an invoice was created.

To set up automatic payments with PayPal, visit your billing page > select the PayPal option > and follow the steps.

assembla paypal option1

If you have any questions or issues, please contact Assembla support at support@assembla.com.

Categories: Companies

Workplace Design: Creating a Home from Home

Agile Coaching - Rachel Davies - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 16:43

LolaLast week one of our stakeholders brought his pug dog, Lola, along to our product review meeting. “Watch out, she likes feet!” he joked but she remained quiet and well behaved throughout the meeting. Unruly is not the only place I’ve come across where dogs have been accommodated at work, another had a dog basket in their main board room. I appreciate not everyone likes dogs around but I like working for a company that’s not too stuffy to allow people flexibility to make our workplace more homely.

We’re lucky at Unruly to have a dedicated People & Places team who work closely with our Design team create a work environment that has personal touches. There are many informal meeting places around the building to make collaboration easy and it’s decorated with original artwork GoldFramePortalreflecting our culture. Little things amaze visitors as we show them around, for instance we created a two-way webcam portal between our London and New York office with a gold antique-style frame, which makes it seem more special and echoes Harry Potter where characters move around. What’s the business case? Creating an environment that allows human expression encourages creativity to flourish in our work.

The design of our workspace is not owned by a central team outside development. We recently reorganised our desks and unlike many companies, where a "Desk Move" is a dreaded logistical nightmare involving packing things up for another team to execute overnight, our developers simply got stuck into disassembling desks and lifting floor tiles themselves to get everything in the right place. Our spirit of collective ownership and taking responsibility for how our code structured seems to extend out to our surroundings. Taking care of our workspace, isn’t somebody else’s job. DeskMove

Our teams use our walls and whiteboards for practical purposes but with a sense of humour too. Even electronic tools get a bit of customisation, we use Trello for our backlogs and teams can add distinctive backgrounds to make them easier to pick out.

Teams in bigger companies often find that their boards are the easiest areas to start personalising, when you introduce Kanban boards you can involve everyone on the team in designing the layout. Rather than diving straight in to moving things around, you can create a mini-version of the new layout with sticky notes. I think it’s important to give everyone on the team the opportunity to mull the proposed design over and allow time for tweaks. We’ve taken this approach with how we lay out our boards and our desks (as in the examples below).

Desklayout
BoardLayoutI appreciate that many people work in organisations that don’t actively support personalisation of the workspace but you can start small with a potted plant, a team mascot, a little whiteboard artwork. You'll likely find personal touches are noticed and soon start to spread around surrounding teams. Another small step that you can take is to adopt iteration names or pictures that pick up on what’s going on in the outside world or reflect metaphorically on current mood within the team. In software development, we spend a lot of time in an office environment, taking care of your surroundings helps to take care of the people working within them.

Categories: Blogs

Broadening Developer Horizons

Agile Coaching - Rachel Davies - Thu, 07/17/2014 - 16:28

XP is an approach that helps us to deliver valuable software iteratively, to apply it we need to setup our teams to make releasing change to customers as easy as possible. We avoid waiting around for individual team members to make changes, by applying classic XP practices -- Collective Code Ownership and Pair Programming. Each pair of developers is free to change any code that they need to without anyone vetting their changes, they ensure that all tests pass and keep code relatively clean by refactoring as they go. We share knowledge across the team by rotating pairs daily. If a pair runs into difficult decisions regarding design choices, they can call for a huddle with their team mates, sitting together in an open workspace means that's quick to do. This XP way of developing code is liberating as we can easily make changes in the right place rather than working around organisational barriers. It can be also be humbling, as our code is often improved by other developers as they pass through.

To work this way, we find it helps to build teams of extremely capable developers who can work on any area of the codebase rather than hiring a mix of frontend/backend/DBA specialists. Developers who only know enough to work in a single layer of the codebase limit who's available to pair on the piece of work which is most valuable to pick up next. At Unruly, we only hire “full-stack” developers, this gives us confidence that any pair of developers can work on any area of the codebase (within the products that their team is responsible for) without experiencing hand-offs and delays waiting for developers with a different skill set. It also helps avoid some of the friction that can spark due to single-layer thinking.


To make collective code ownership easier, some product teams select a homogeneous stack such as Clojure with ClojureScript or JavaScript all the way down using Node. At Unruly, our developers need to be fluent in JavaScript and Java with a smattering of Scala. Full-stack developers are bright people who can keep pace with developments in multiple languages and frameworks rather than immersing themselves in a single core development language. Being a full-stack developer is more than being able to write code in different languages, you have to understand idioms and patterns for UI, middleware, database realms too.

Being a full-stack developer is also much more than becoming a polyglot programmer. Laurence Gellert’s explains in his blog that there’s a greater breadth of skills that a “full-stack” developer needs. You’ll need to appreciate the environment that your live system runs within and have the technical chops to be at home with making environment changes. You'll also need to broaden your horizons beyond thinking about code and get to grips with developing a fuller understanding of the business you work in! Michael Feathers recently gave a talk in London where he used the term “Full Spectrum Developer” which neatly captures the idea that there's much more than being able to work across different software layers in a given architecture.


As the software craftsmanship movement has brought to the fore, serious developers need to take personal responsibility for improving their skills. Of course, becoming a full-stack developer is mUsing-laptop-on-snowy-mountainore than reading the odd business book in your spare time and writing toy programs in obscure languages when you get home from a long day at work. You can also get together with likeminded developers on a regular basis to hone your skills through Code & Coffee sessions outside work and work on pet projects like building games and mobile apps at home. But in my opinion, this only scatches the surface - you will only get to grips with being a full-spectrum developer by working in an environment that allows you to get your hands dirty across the full stack and interact directly with users and stakeholders. Typically these are startups or small companies that practice agile software development. If you take a look at our current open roles, you’ll see they’re much broader that you’d typically find in a large corporation.

As an agile coach working with product development teams at Unruly, my focus is on how we can support developers to expand their horizons, to gain a better understanding of our business and how they can help figure out the most valuable software to deliver iteratively. Our developers take responsibility for researching different strands of product development and identify the most valuable ideas to take through to implementation (I'll write-up more about how we do this in another post soon).

We also recognise that build learning time into our work week is essential for developers to stay abreast of new tools and frameworks. All of our developers get one day per week to dabble and learn new technologies — see my previous post about Gold Cards. We recognise that industry conferences can be places where you hear about new trends so developers get three days and an annual allowance to spend on attending any conference they feel is relevant to the personal development at work. Our developers also take turns running weekly coding dojos (during work time not through their lunch) to get hands-on practice time with new languages such as Go, Scala, Rust and mobile phone application development. Developers get the opportunity to share what they learned to other teams through lightning talks and this gives them practice in presenting too. All of these things are ways that organizations can support developers in broadening their horizons while at work rather than eating into their early mornings and evenings.

There are a few things for developers to weigh up when considering whether to specialise deeply or broaden their horizons. What do you sacrifice when following one path versus rewards to be gained? The main reward for full-spectrum developers is building greater confidence to dive into different technologies; you may spend less time writing code but become more able to deliver end-to-end solutions that hit the spot. As generalists, you likely have a wider choice of companies to work at and are more resiliant to industry trends. As specialists, you gain the pleasure of total immersion in a particular sphere of software while you build tolerance to the frustrations of waiting around for others to do their bit. It's up to you!

Categories: Blogs

Post Assembla events to your favorite chat apps: Slack, HipChat, Flowdock & more

Assembla Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 02:26

If your team uses Slack, HipChat, Flowdock, or Bigplans for communication, we have added preconfigured webhooks to make setting up these integrations painless. Once configured, you can selectively manage the Assembla events that are posted out to these apps, such as ticket activity, commits, deploys, etc., to monitor project activity in real-time, inline with other team communication.

To get started, click on the desired integration below: slack logo HipChat Logo flowdock logo Bigplans logo
Categories: Companies

Scrum Webinar – PMI Rome

I had the pleasure to conduct a webinar for the PMI Rome chapter, regarding agile and the Scrum framework. This is the link to vimeo: Scrum Framework explained video (italian)  
Categories: Blogs

Interested in cryptocurrencies? Get started with 1000 free Ripple XRP

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 20:55

ripple logo

Ripple is a protocol for value exchange that makes it easy to transfer and trade fiat currencies, Bitcoin, or XRP - the native asset of the Ripple network.

Assembla is giving away 1000 free XRP (the Ripple native cyptocurrency) to any person with software development skills who is interested in learning about Ripple development. Get it here: https://www.assembla.com/ripple

I called Ripple Labs a few months ago to find out more about ways that their "gateway" can help us pay developers in many different countries. Essentially, we do banking for the developers on our global team. We pay internal accounts, hold the money until they ask for it, and then transfer money to them by bank wire, ATM/Payoneer, or other mechanisms. We have found that the bank wire system is embarrassingly slow and unreliable. This is the problem that Ripple is trying to fix. Their gateway is like a bank in an open-source box. It keeps accounts in any currency, including USD, other currencies, XRP, and Bitcoin. It can transfer those accounts instantly and reliably on the shared "ledger." It is also gaining exciting new features such as "multi-signature" which enables outsourcing and crowdsourcing customers to post a budget amount, and then transfer it to their hard-working suppliers through an arbitrator.

Now I am working more closely with Ripple to help them scale up their development process. I decided to make this free XRP offer for two reasons:

  • Users need 20 XRP to activate a Ripple wallet. We want to remove the hassle from acquiring the XRP so new developers can get started.
  • We want to build an email list of developers that might be interested in working on internal development, bounties, or bank integration projects.
ripple blog CTA
Categories: Companies

Assembla Bigplans Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 18:26

If you use Assembla and Bigplans, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your Bigplans chat room. Check out below for configuration instructions.

Bigplans is a simple, integrated way to manage a distributed team.  It includes a "lean" task board, real-time chat, and a unique "advisor" (a real person) that helps you get on-demand resources if you need them.  For programming teams, it includes a tight integration with Assembla login and Assembla tickets. 

You can use the Webhooks tool to feed Assembla events into any of your team chats.  To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select Bigplans from the list of pre-configured post options:

Bigplans Assembla Webhook

You will need to obtain and update the auth token in the “Content” section.

To obtain your Bigplans auth token:

Visit Bigplans and navigate to the plan you want to post Assembla events to. Click on the ‘Connect’ option in the top bar. Under the “Message API” section, there is a section called “API Token” that will display your token. If no token is set, click on the ‘Reset’ button. Copy the token ID and replace the “BIGPLANS_AUTH_TOKEN” in the Webhook tool.

Bigplans Assembla Webhook Token

Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your Bigplans chat room and click ‘Add and Authenticate.” Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured Bigplans chat room:

Bigplans Assembla Webhook Chat

If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact support@assembla.com. If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

Assembla & Slack Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 14:23

If you use Assembla and Slack, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your Slack chat room/channel. Check out below for configuration instructions.

To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select Slack from the list of pre-configured post options:

Slack Assembla Webhook

You will need to setup an incoming webhook service integration within Slack to obtain your token. To do this, visit https://YourSubdomain.slack.com/services/new/incoming-webhook, select the desired channel to post to, and click ‘Add Incoming Webhook.’

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Once created, copy the provided Webhook URL and update the External URL in Assembla’s Webhook tool.

Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your Slack room/channel and click ‘Add and Authenticate.' Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Tip: Within the Slack “Incoming Webhook” page that you set up for this integration, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and expand the “Integration Settings” where you can add a label, change the post-to channel, and change the icon and name for your webhook bot.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured Slack room/channel:

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If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact support@assembla.com. If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

Assembla & HipChat Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 13:40

If you use Assembla and HipChat, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your HipChat chat room. Check out below for configuration instructions. 

To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select HipChat from the list of pre-configured post options:

HipChat Assembla Webhook

You will need to obtain and update the auth token and room ID in the “Content” section.

To obtain your HipChat auth token:

You will need to visit https://YourSubdomain.hipchat.com/admin/api and enter your password to access the “API Auth Tokens” page. Under “Create new token” select ‘Notification’ type, provide a label, and click ‘Create.’ Copy the token ID and replace the “HIPCHAT_AUTH_TOKEN” in the Webhook tool.

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To obtain your HipChat room ID:

Visit https://YourSubdomain.hipchat.com/admin/rooms and click on the desired room you would like to post Assembla events to. Copy the App ID and replace the “HIPCHAT_ROOM_ID” in the Webhook tool.

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Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your HipChat room and click ‘Add and Authenticate.” Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured HipChat room:

HipChat Assembla Example Chat

If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact support@assembla.com. If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

[Webinar] "Fast IT": Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio

Assembla Blog - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 17:41

Join us on July 23, 2014 from 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM EDT for a webinar “Fast IT”: Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio.

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When we at Assembla heard about the 2-2-2 project structure used by Attivio, we knew we had a fun story and a big idea to share.  The fun story is the way that Attivio can spin-up major Business Intelligence apps with 2-day, 2-person prototyping sessions. The big idea is “Fast IT”: a way of managing fast and Agile projects, while working smoothly with your slower, more reliable core systems: "Core IT".

In this Webinar, Sid Probstein, CTO of Attivio, and Andy Singleton, founder of Assembla, will share their discoveries about ways that “Core” and “Fast” can work smoothly together.  We will show tools that help you wrap and index your Core IT so that you can easily use it in Fast IT projects.  And, we’ll show how to professionally launch and manage an expanding portfolio of Fast IT projects for analytics, Web, mobile and marketing applications and SaaS integration. 

This Webinar is designed to help IT professionals or project managers who are handling analytics, Web, mobile, cloud and marketing applications.

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Presented By:

assembla logo rectangle    Attivio logo

Categories: Companies

Good Enough Software Design? Try Testing DX of your Code

Agile Coaching - Rachel Davies - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 17:59

Every day writing code we make many design decisions about naming and encapsulation of functionality. Our primary concern is to express our code in a way that can easily be understood at a later date so changes can be made cleanly. To this end, we've learned to organise our code into smaller elements that can be composed neatly to support system behaviours, as where code gets complicated misunderstandings can happen.

When trying to figure out code quality, developers normally lean on software to analyse code complexity and test coverage. Perhaps we might learn more about how good our design is by starting to apply techniques from UX to measure DX (Developer eXperience)?

Developers are primary users of our software design, often working across a vast and complex codebase that's difficult to navigate around. Sometimes our code terrain is too crowded with repurposed junk and other times it's hard to see the wood for the trees with no easy landmarks to navigate by. We could start to measure how easy the code is for developers to navigate. How long does it take a developer to pinpoint the location of code to change? How many places do they look before finding the relevant areas to change? etc.
Goldfishbowltitle

My interest in DX was rekindled by a recent discussion at SoCraTes on “What is good software design?”.  I sighed inwardly when the topic was chosen by the crowd and if I hadn't been on facilitator duty, I'd probably have skipped the discussion entirely. How wrong I was! I’ll try to sum up the highlights and link to some earlier thoughts I had on topic of DX following a talk at London's Design Museum on the usability of Underground maps.


Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 We ran this evening discussion as a Fish Bowl — you can only comment on the discussion topic, if you are in the 'bowl' — 4 chairs at the front. One chair is always kept empty, to allow anyone in the room to jump in with a question or share some relevant information. The "fish" in this photo are: Chris Jeffery, Mashooq Badar, Steve Hayes but many people jumped in and out of our conversation. Here are some of the points that I found most interesting:

Design is how we layout the code to make it easy to maintain. It may appear that there’s no external impact of software design and it's pretty intangibe how we evaluate one design over another. However, there are measurable external affects on staff retention, ease of change and developer mood. Corey Haines has been working on Mercury App, a tool which can be used by a developer to track their mood over time.

Steve Tooke mentioned Sandi Metz's TRUE criteria for design judgement

  • Transparent
  • Reasonable
  • Usable
  • ExemplaryMeasure

We talked about designing for use and as developers are primary users of our code perhaps we should think more about the developers who come after us. Brian Marick has summarised good code as that which brings joy to those who come after (users and programmers). Maybe we can aspire to bring joy to developers who read our code months or years after we write it! We could apply techniques from UX practitioners to start measuring accessibility and navigability of our codebases. We could use our findings to identify worst pain points, bringing focus to our cleanup attempts and measure whether working conditions have improved through user testing. Dmitry urged us to "Track everything that developers do!"

And Anna Jayne added via #SoCraTesUK twitter stream that we already sort of do in WTFs per min!

All this reminded me that I had some similar thoughts about measuring DX last year. My fascination for maps took me to London’s Design Museum to hear a talk by cognitive psychologist, Maxwell Roberts, who has been measuring the effectiveness of different layouts of underground maps. I thought the same approach might be used to assess the accessibility of different software designs/architectures, sort of UX from a programmer perspective.

I also heard at SoCraTes that DX of API’s is already being tested see this post from Pamela Fox and Jeremiah Lee has also run some workshops on DX at SXSW and Fluent conf

At the Design Museum, Maxwell talked about "information pollution" and how we want to reduce cognitive load for users in processing what they see in front of them. It also helps if a map doesn't significantly conflict with their mental model of the actual topography of the city. Clearly cognitive load must be a big factor in understanding the software design, as we try to figure out where to insert behaviours into a software system. Although we try to use meaningful names to help make code self-explanatory perhaps when a developer is confronted train wreck of long names in a literal programming style iit actually makes it harder to see the structure than using shorter names. We could test this kind of thing using DX.

Also the comparison of a underground map and city topography (people find London underground map easier when the Thames river is shown) might be similar to the software architecture/metaphor matching to real-world domain.

Maxwell's point was that people often use same design rules without thinking about whether they are the best possible for the problem. He's a proponent of a UX technique - Evidence Based Information Design and has been doing testing of different underground map designs for the same city (octolinear/hexalinear vs curves, etc). He takes objective measures: how long does it take a user to do X? Where X might be station finding or journey planning. He also takes subjective measures: how to users rate the map? which map would they choose?

His findings are interesting. Subjective measures on aesthetics don't correlate with which map is quicker to use. People like designs which seem familiar even though tests show that other designs are quicker to navigate. I thought of how conventional/familiar coding styles put developers at ease even though actual design may be a bad fit for a problem.

His design principles for maps were:

  • Simplicity
  • Coherence (shape/structure)
  • Balance
  • Harmony
  • Topography alignment
  • Reduce supplementaty info

When we create maps we want to map topography and reveal structure but we may need to discard current conventions to do so. We should beware following tradition without theory about why it's being applied to this particular problem. For underground maps, people are too hooked on octolinear style (following early success of London underground map in 1930's) but other styles are better for different city geographies. Perhaps in software development we are too used to OOD conventions to see that this can obscure design.

One of the last points made in our discussion at SoCraTes is one from Christopher Alexander, whose work on architectural patterns inspired many software developers to mine design patterns for software. Apparently Alexander’s advice to the software community at an OOPSLA conference was “Don’t extract the humanity” and perhaps by starting to test DX this could be a start of putting developers to the forefront of evaluating good design practice. Let’s try to write better code for the developer who comes after us by testing developer reactions now.


Categories: Blogs

Success Story: GLG Boosts “Customer Equity” with Assembla

Assembla Blog - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 17:25
GLG Logo Challenge

Garrigan Lyman Group was worried about losing the loyalty of its own customers. The agency was expanding rapidly and tackling more complex e-commerce, mobile, social media and video projects. Clients had no visibility into when new requests would be delivered. Development managers were having trouble tracking releases and matching resources to requirements. Teams needed a solution to prevent missing deadlines and ensure the quality of delivery.

Objective

Chris “Whitey” Geiser, GLG’s CTO, knew that the agency could not afford to lose “customer equity,” the hard-won confidence that GLG could deliver innovative digital marketing solutions. So he and his team began looking for technologies that could help them centralize processes, manage development requests, and improve communications with clients.

Results

Assembla has helped Garrigan Lyman Group win new business from existing clients. The solution has helped GLG evolve from helping clients with flashy but self-contained marketing projects, to solutions that work with the core of their businesses. It allows the company to collaborate better with clients and improve control of their development processes.

To see how GLG learned to work more closely with its customers,
fill out the form below to download the full case study.

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Categories: Companies

The Folly of Scaling Agile

Agile Coaching - Rachel Davies - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 17:37

I’m jotting down a few notes on Scaling Agile software development as Bucharest Agile group invited me to talk about doing this. I have already warned them that I am very skeptical about attempts to apply agile practices on large endeavours. While preparing for our conversation, I thought it might be helpful for me to blog about the reasons why I’m not a fan of Scaling Agile as this may make our conversation easier to follow and help the group to come up with some questions.

When we apply Agile principles, we strip away process so that software developers can work more collaboratively with business people to identify what is the most valuable thing for them to deliver next. We focus on building working software and releasing as early as we can to help us figure out what to build based on feedback from users. Working this way is much harder when a lot of people are involved!

A bunch of things break down as you scale up. The biggest one is not being able to maintain interpersonal relationships through which rich information flows, these are replaced with weaker lossy forms of communication and misunderstandings about what is the right thing to build next follow.

Typical things that become difficult at scale are access to business people and infrastructure controlled by others outside immediate team. Meetings get long and tedious, we start sending a representative from each team, which introduces more secondhand information, emails and documentation.

When a project is big and is being changed by many hands it becomes much harder to understand the whole, we start to introduce hierarchy with a select few looking at the bigger picture and paying attention to separating concerns to allow different teams to work in parallel. As a result, choice is removed from the team and it can feel in teams that edicts come down from on high through a series of chutes and screens that mask the reasoning behind them.

Often the initial attraction of Agile approaches to a business is to reduce delivery timescales and enable developers to work faster with a lightweight approach. Working in small teams allows individuals to feel more engaged because they have some influence on how things are built. When a lot of people are working in parallel coordination becomes harder. Ideally we need skilled people who have enough experience to work independently without the guide-rails of process.

Yes, I have seen plenty of organisations with large systems being maintained, expanded and extended by multiple teams. When each team has to interface to many others decisions take longer to make. Where a large number of people are working on a complex thing, it takes a lot of effort to keep up with what’s happening other areas and most reduce their focus to the work at hand. Once they reduce their focus and interfaces between teams become walls to hide behind. When myopia is easier then teams tend to make local suboptimal changes rather than considering the whole.

A large body people working on a large body of code often feels crazily chaotic or oppressively bureaucratic to work within. In these conditions developer motivation is often dimmed, people leave taking away valuable knowledge of how the system evolved and why things are. New people who need to learn how things work join and struggle to make sense of it all, the situation gets worse.

There are a few agile practices that can help in scaled up situations - such as having reliable automated builds, decent test coverage and teamwork but these are also painful to maintain with a lot of people involved. I’ve seen many large organisations attempt to apply Agile at scale. It’s hard and although it can bring more humanity to work in-the-small, I’m not sure there is much evidence that it is actually better than traditional ways of organising the work.

I appreciate that there are large systems out in the world that need to be supported and evolved to better meet user and business needs. I remain unconvinced that throwing a lot of people at the problem makes things any faster. I believe deadlines driving this behaviour are defined without realising the impact on the maintainability and quality of existing software. Code is an asset and so is the knowledge that software developers carry - businesses can run into costly mistakes if they ignore their value.

Attempting to scale to go faster is driven business greed and ambition - not a bad thing in the commercial world but it’s like seeing a someone blindfold attempting to run along a cliff edge while juggling priceless antique glass vases. Mistakes at scale are costly!

When it seems that scaling up is the only way to go, challenge yourself to think of a smaller simpler thing to build sooner that gives faster feedback. Try to limit your total Work-In-Progess by reducing the amount of development being done in parallel across the organisation. When a smaller group of people is involved in development, choices about which way to go next can be made more quickly and there's less waiting around. Ultimately, this goes back to Agile Manifesto values - focus on better interactions betweem individuals to produce valuable software sooner -- not on a process to enable lumbering projects at scale.

Categories: Blogs

10 things the Product Owner can do to drive the team crazy

Scrumphony - Marc Löffler - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 11:58
Insanity

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14347196@N00/394867154

It’ about time to give the Product Owner a chance to fight back. With the help of Heiko Weltin I created a list as a base for the revenge. I hope you’ll like it:

  1. Create your product backlog without any prioritization. In the end you need all of the features before you can bring the product to the market.
  2. Only create the headline of your user stories and don’t add any additional content, even if the team asks. You can’t prepare everything for the team.
  3. Only use two types of priorities: “Urgent” and “Can be done later”. Anything else would be a waste of time.
  4. Always promise release dates and scope to your customer without talking to your development team upfront. You are a skilled estimator.
  5. Always add one task to a user story that keeps the team from finishing it. The Definition Of Ready (DOR) is for wimps.
  6. Insist in long running sprints of at least four weeks. If the team has more time, more features can be done.
  7. Only prepare as many stories as needed to finalize half of the sprint. The rest of the time it is the task of the developers alone to clarify the rest of the stories.
  8. Only meet once a week with the team and keep this meeting as short as possible. You don’t want to hang out with those sissies.
  9. Always answer your phone during any team meeting. Don’t leave the room as the team shouldn’t be able to continue the discussion without you.
  10. Never attend the daily scrum. Instead, talk to single developers afterwards. This makes it easier to build pressure on them.

What do you think? Do you have some additions to this list? Feel free to add them in the comments.

Categories: Blogs

10 things to drive your Product Owner crazy

Scrumphony - Marc Löffler - Thu, 01/16/2014 - 16:44
Crazy

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ishane/1083667978

It’s about time to nag the product owner, isn’t it. Fortunately, there are plenty ways to do this. To help you in your quest to do so I created a list of 10 proofed ways to drive your Product Owner crazy:

  1. Five minutes before the Sprint Review is the right time to tell your Product Owner that your team wasn’t able to finish anything. It is even more fun, if this was a planned release. Transparency is for milquetoasts.
  2. Don’t invite the Product Owner to any Scrum meeting. He is a chicken and you are the pigs, right.
  3. Ignore the Sprint backlog and work on the features you like the most. Who cares about the Product Owner’s vision?
  4. Assign all tasks that were created during your retrospective to your Product Owner. He is the root of all evil and responsible for all the problems in the project.
  5. Don’t attend the Sprint Review. You already know how your product looks like.
  6. Never show the real product in the Sprint Review. Instead, prepare a nice and shiny power point presentation.
  7. Never talk to the Product Owner if you have questions about a feature. Instead, implement it based on your favorite assumptions.
  8. If it is difficult to establish a stable communication to your Product Owner, define someone in your team to become the so called Product Owner proxy.
  9. Always break your release date promises. Everyone loves surprises.
  10. Question everything that is in the product backlog and try to start lengthy discussions about as many features as possible. At least, that’s what your mother told you.

Try this out and post your experiences in the comments. If you have additional ideas, feel free to add them, too.

Categories: Blogs

10 things to wreck your retrospectives

Scrumphony - Marc Löffler - Wed, 01/08/2014 - 16:48
http://www.flickr.com/photos/21976354@N07/2348969927

http://www.flickr.com/photos/21976354@N07/2348969927

The new year has just started and it’s time for the next steps to rile your team mates. So let’s have a look at one of the activities in Scrum that can be easily sabotaged: the retrospective. Here are 10 proofed ways to wreck any retrospective:

  1. Keep the retrospective as short as possible. No need to invest too much time in this meaningless gathering.
  2. Only focus on negative events and ignore any positive things. This is the only valid path to improvement.
  3. Handle a retrospective as any other meeting. Sit around a table and just talk.
  4. Ignore the complexity of the system around you. There is always a cause and effect.
  5. Always use crappy material such as cheap post-its that easily fall from the walls or old pens that hardly write.
  6. Forgo a facilitator for your retrospectives. It is only a burden and will slow the whole “meeting” down.
  7. Don’t use any agenda and deliberately ignore the retrospective’s phase model.
  8. Directly start with defining what has to be changed in the next sprint. Everybody already knows what has to be done.
  9. Never check if the defined tasks of the last retrospectives were done or even had the desired effect.
  10. Never bring food to your retrospectives. Hungry participants will do anything to finish a retrospective as fast as possible.

What else could you do? I’m looking forward to your suggestions in the comments.

Categories: Blogs

10 more things a Scrum Master can do to drive the team crazy

Scrumphony - Marc Löffler - Thu, 12/19/2013 - 16:04

Aaahhh!Now that the team is armed with new weapons, it is time to help the Scrum Master to fight back. If you didn’t read my first post on this topic have a look at the 10 things a Scrum Master can do to drive the team crazy blog post I wrote two years ago. Here we go:

  1. Get you own office, if possible in a different city or even country. Working at the same location as your team could be harmful.
  2. Count the number of finished tasks per team member and confront those lazy buggers with the obvious low performance.
  3. Try to restrict the communication with the team to Email only. You don’t want to hear their whiny voices.
  4. Don’t tell the team what you are working on. Transparency only applies to the rest of the team.
  5. Always cite the Scrum guide if members don’t stand to the Scrum rules. Continuous repetition will help raising the team’s understanding for this process.
  6. If a team member has a question, point them to Google. Google has all the answers, right?
  7. Ignore the Product Owner. It is his responsibility to create and maintain the backlog, not yours.
  8. Don’t attend the Sprint Review. It is a meeting exclusively between the PO and the team.
  9. Nurture your lack of interest about the product the team is building. This is something the PO has to take care of.
  10. Bring drums to the team’s office and play them like on a slave ship. Every good team needs a beat.

I’m looking forward to your additions in the comments :)

Categories: Blogs

10 more things to drive your Scrum Master crazy

Scrumphony - Marc Löffler - Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:44

CrazyIt’s been a long time since I wrote “10 things to drive your Scrum Master crazy” and it’s about time to give you some new weapons. So, here they are:

  1. Hide the SM’s beloved moderation markers.
  2. Play on your smartphone during the (planning) meetings, as long as they are not talking about YOUR tasks.
  3. Always lament about the same things but don’t change anything.
  4. Keep blaming and finger pointing everyone else except yourself for all the problems, you are only a victim.
  5. Ignore all agile values as they don’t apply to you.
  6. Simply ignore your Scrum Master, especially when he tries to coach you. Coaching is evil!
  7. Ignore the findings from your latest retrospective because you have more important stuff to do.
  8. Write as many things as possible on ONE post-it. Clustering is much more fun this way.
  9. Don’t put your tasks on the sprint backlog. Your Scrum Master is an evil micro manager. I swear. Transparency sucks.
  10. Ask your boss to put the Scrum values into the performance goals of every employee.
Categories: Blogs

Chief Craftsman at Scrum.org tapped to improve Microsoft’s Visual Studio product line

Scrum.org News - Tue, 07/31/2012 - 13:58

Scrum.org announced today that its Chief Craftsman, David Starr, will soon be joining Microsoft as Senior Program Manager in Visual Studio ALM. 

Since joining Scrum.org in 2011, David has driven significant improvements in all of Scrum.org’s programs, and has dedicated himself to helping teams around the world improve their software development. David is leaving his post as Chief Craftsman for Scrum.org to help Microsoft continue improving Visual Studio to support agile software development practices.

In discussing his new role David said, “There is a saying that the tool sets the rules. As unfortunate as that statement is, it is true for many organizations who don’t yet value people over process and process over tools. I look forward to delivering products that encourage good agile practices with a focus on better people interactions and higher quality software. Creating features for a product that is used by millions of software developers is humbling.”

"It is with mixed emotions that we bid David farewell," said Alex Armstrong, Scrum.org's co-founder and VP of Business Development. "David has made incredible contributions through his work at Scrum.org, and we will miss him at each and every Daily Scrum. As part of the Scrum.org team, David has been directly helping to improve the profession of software development. We are excited that he will be able to continue to do so with a company as central in the software development universe as Microsoft," Armstrong continued.

“I have been privileged to work with the thought leaders at Scrum.org. The Professional Scrum Trainers and others in the Scrum community are some of the most committed and talented people contributing to our craft,” said Starr.

“I will miss my interactions, heated discussions, and finally resolutions with David.,” said Scrum.org founder Ken Schwaber. David drives integrity, and that is essential to Scrum.org’s mission and to the well-being of our profession.

Asked about the significance of Microsoft’s choice, Armstrong summarized, ”By bringing a Scrum practitioner with David's unique mix of talents into a leadership role on its flagship ALM product, Microsoft is clearly telegraphing its commitment to supporting Agile and Scrum teams. Agile’s influence in software development has been increasing steadily over the past decade, and this seems to be a clear demonstration of the trend continuing.”

You can read more about David’s future plans on his blog.

Categories: Communities

Scrum.org is Hiring - Looking For an Experienced Marketing Manager

Scrum.org News - Fri, 07/06/2012 - 16:42
Scrum.org is seeking a talented, driven, and seasoned Marketing Manager to join its Marketing team to help lead its growth.
Categories: Communities

Scrum Knowledge Sharing

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