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Women In Agile Workshop, August 6, Orlando, USA

Scrum Expert - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 08:00
The the Sunday before the start of the Agile2017 Conference, the Agile Alliance is organizing the Women In Agile Workshop on the theme “Empowering the Changing Face of Agile. The Women In Agile...

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Categories: Communities

Targetprocess v.3.11.0: multiple final states, team mentions, Project selector in Reports, and plenty of fixed bugs.

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 20:09
Redesigned Settings

We've done some housekeeping over the last few months. As a result, the Targetprocess Settings page has a new look and feel. We hope we've made it more pleasant to work with.

As before, you can reach Settings by clicking the gear icon at the top right corner. 

settings-gear

We've regrouped all settings into logical sections to make it easier to quickly find the options you need. You may need some time to get used to new grouping, but it makes much more sense arranged this way.

We have completely reworked the Tags section. You can read more about this here. We've also removed the Team section from Settings, as it's more easier to assign multiple users to Projects and Teams right from the Project or Team view. You can read more about this here.

Regular users have access to Import and the Diagnostic and Logs section. Admin users will see the following groups:

admin-global-settings

 

Multiple final project states

There used to be no easy way to find out if a closed bug was rejected or fixed.

You can now use multiple final project states for this. For example, let's say I want to set a new kind of resolution for a Bug or Request. I would go to Process Setup > Bug Workflow, set up Rejected and Duplicate bug states, mark them as final, and set the Completed state as the default final state. All 3 states have the semantic of a “final” state — cards in this state will be grayed out, end dates will be set automatically when the entity moves to these states, and filters with 'IsFinal' will be applied. 

Multiple final states are not supported if you use Team Workflows.

Mention Teams in comments

When you start typing several symbols after an '@' symbol, you will now not only see a list of users, but also a list of teams above the users. If you mention a team, then all its members receive an email notification. In the comment, the mentioned Team (or User) becomes a link to the Team's (or User's) view.

Shortcut 'alt+click' opens next view with the current Project/Team selection applied

This is a solution that will be helpful for anyone who uses the same set of boards for different Teams or Projects. You can now set your Projects and Teams selection just once and navigate through several views with that selection.

To make such scenarios work, you can do the following: Select the Projects and Teams you wish to see using the selector at the top of the view. To open another view using the selection you just applied, you can hold the ‘Alt’ key and click on the new view in the left menu. For more details, visit this post.

Project/Team selector added to Process Control, Cycle Time Distribution, Relations Network charts

You will no longer have to set the proper Project or Team before you go into Reports, or have to close a Report to reach the context menu. Now you have a Team/Project selector right in Report Settings.

reports-project-team-selector

Cumulative Flow and Burn Down charts:

You can now easily change the selected Project using a dropdown list.

project-selector

Project board now shows active and inactive projects in different shades

Inactive project cards are now slightly greyed out, as disabled elements usually look like. Hover your mouse over the card to see its details pop-up; all of these units will be greyed out as well.

inactive-projects-board

CSV import Features

We've improved CSV import a bit. Now when you import a batch of Features, you can map them to a parent Epic so that they get to the right place in your work hierarchy.

Cards and Axes sorting order unified

We groomed sorting inconsistency a bit. Earlier, Release lanes were sorted by Creation Date while Release cards were sorted by Project. That was a bit weird, so now cards or lanes of the same entity type have a unified sorting order - Releases are sorted by Start Date.

Service Desk Widget in Targetprocess

We migrated from UserVoice to our very own Service Desk and updated the 'Contact Us' widget. Now you can post your issues and ideas right from the widget and navigate easily to our Service Desk portal.

screen-shot-2017-03-07-at-5-06-18-pm Fixed Bugs
  • You can now send images and attachments in comments with email notifications
  • Fixed DSL filters to find items with attachments. The following filters will now work: '?attachments.count>0'  and '?Attachments.Where(Name is 'log.txt')'
  • Timesheet: time improperly associated a NULL role if added by a user whose role was not responsible for that entity
  • Fixed possible effort inconsistency when applying metric results
  • Fixed comment losses which occurred if the 'Source' button was clicked twice.
  • Timesheet: Fixed transfers to states which require a comment
  • Fixed Team state transfer for non-admin users, which failed if Team states were mapped to the last Project state.
  • Fixed cache for List views to support complex filters by custom fields
  • Fixed effort recalculation for a User Stories if their Tasks are removed or moved to/from another User Story
  • Fixed Dashboard TODO widget: filter by entity type apply on first load only
  • Fixed Epic > Feature > User Story List views which showed only 25 items and no 'show more' link
  • Fixed Requests and Test Plan Run effort units in a List view to be consistent with the entity views
  • Fixed improper Initial estimate field population with an Effort value when User Story copies to a new Project
  • Fixed export to CSV so that it takes the axes filter into account
  • Added the ability to filter entities by a 'None' option in a Multiple selection field ('?MultipleSelectionCustomField is None)
  • Fixed Quick Add failures if there are no teams in the system yet
  • Fixed mixed Test Plans/Test Cases lists sorting by Business Value column
  • Non-required dropdown custom fields which do not have a default value could be saved with an empty value now
  • 'Last Run date' unit gets back
  • Fixed 'Add & Open' button in quick add in the new inner lists and Relations
  • Improved performance of hierarchical test plan run creation
  • Fixed a calculated custom field creation error in case its formula uses another custom field but with the same name
  • Corrected the error message for an unsuccessful attempt to attach a file that's too large
  • Fixed reply comments that could not be deleted if their parent comment was deleted first
  • SMTP password length limit expanded
  • Fixed Time add from a list in the 'Work Hierarchy' tab
  • Fixed Tabular Report 'Assigned Effort' to show names properly (when there are multiple users assigned under the same role)
  • Fixed CSV export: checkbox custom field 'false' value used to export as 'null'
  • Fixed occasional failure to save Description changes which would sometimes occur even when only one user edited it
  • Fixed issue with renaming tags
Categories: Companies

Axosoft Tips III

About SCRUM - Hamid Shojaee Axosoft - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 20:06

Are you looking for ways to use Axosoft more efficiently? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are our 10 latest Axosoft tips.

Axosoft Tips
  1. You can quickly add a work log by right-clicking on any item OR by using the keyboard shortcut W .

  2. In Axosoft v17, quickly access sub-menus with our NEW Command Palette. Use the keyboard shortcut shift + p and start searching!

  3. Quickly refresh your workspace by clicking on the refresh button in the upper left corner of the main menu bar.

  4. Use the Show Charts button to quickly review the burndown chart and projected ship date for the selected release.

  5. In the Release Planner, click the remove all users with no work assigned to them icon to remove them from view.

  6. Collapse your workflow swimlanes in the kanban Card View by clicking the arrow icon in the corner.
  7.  Click the stamp icon in the Details panel to auto-stamp your description.
  8. Click the List View dropdown and select Sort by rank to see your items organized by stack rank.
  9. Want to change the order of items in your view? Click a column header to sort numerically or alphabetically.
  10. Once you’ve enabled Global Dashboard Settings for your dashboard widgets, you can update widgets all at once in Dashboard Settings.

Categories: Companies

Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 3: How to Create Allies

Johanna Rothman - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 16:13

To summarize: your agile transformation is stuck. You’ve thought about your why, as in Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 1: Define Your Why. You’ve started to measure possibilities. You have an idea of who you might talk with as in Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 2: Who to Approach. Now, how do you create allies so you can unwedge your agile transformation?

First, here’s a big question: do you have a relationship with this person? If so, terrific. You have options as below. if you don’t have a relationship yet, it’s time to build a relationship.

Let’s assume you have some sort of relationship with this person. In that case, you might ask for coaching.

You might say, “Hey, wait a minute, Johanna. I’m the coach (or leader in some way). Why would I ask for coaching?”

When you ask for help, as in coaching, you offer your other person (often called a client) a gift. You offer explicit permission to explore options with the other person’s support. This is especially helpful if the other person is your peer or is senior to you in the hierarchy.

I know, this is turning the normal definition of coaching around. Many people think that if they are one of the agile transformation leaders , they have to have all the answers. No, you don’t. You might not know what the smallest possible change is. You might not be aware of the forces that prevent change (I’m assuming good intentions on everyone’s part). You might not know what this person might gain or lose with an agile transformation.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Asking for help shows transparency and a willingness to consider other options.

You might “lead” the coaching conversation by saying something like this: “Here’s what I’m seeing. We’ve done this and that and gotten these results. Do you see the same things?” If the person has different data, wow, that’s great to learn. If you have the same data, you might continue, “I’m concerned we’re stuck. I see these options to solve these problems. Do you see something else?”

When you ask for other options, you open the conversation (and your brain) to possibilities you might not have seen before.

This coaching conversation is very different from, “I’m the agile expert and I’m here to help.” You might be the agile expert. You are definitely there to help. And, you need to enter the other person’s context to understand what’s going on for that person.

You might be thinking, “Oh, this is going to take time.” Well, it will. These are one-on-one conversations. You might have to wait a week to get on someone’s calendar. And, what have you got to lose? What’s the worst thing that can happen?

If you want to experience this kind and other kinds of coaching conversations in the context of helping your agile transformation continue, join us at the next Influential Agile Leader, May 9-10, 2017 in Toronto.

My next post is about exploring how you use influence aside from coaching to achieve win-win scenarios.

Categories: Blogs

Time Sensitive: Free Access to The Better User Stories Mini-Course

This blog post refers to a four-part series of videos on overcoming challenges with user stories. Topics covered are conducting story-writing workshops with story maps, splitting stories, and achieving the right level of detail in user stories.

To be notified when you the videos are again available, sign up below:

Notify Me!

Today I want to let you know about a new mini-course I created to help overcome some of the common and challenging problems with user stories.

It’s free to register and you can access the first video instantly, or watch it a little later at your convenience. Once you do sign-up I’ll also send you an email to let you know as soon as the next video is released.

Please note: This training is free but will only be available for the next 2 weeks

Guarantee your spot by signing up for the course today

About The Better User Stories ‘Mini-Course’

Last year I did a survey to discover what challenges were stopping people write successful user stories. Nearly 2,000 people got in touch to highlight the following issues:

  • Not writing stories that truly focus on the user’s needs
  • Wondering how to keep a team engaged from writing to development
  • Splitting stories quickly without compromising value
  • Not knowing when to add detail, or how much to include

Plus many, many more. I wanted to create a mini-course that would tackle some of these issues, and I wanted to offer it to you for free.

Even though there’s no fee to access the videos, the training isn’t light-touch, an introduction, or theory-filled. It’s based on practical materials I’ve used for teaching user stories to more than 20,000 people over the last fifteen years. What’s more, you’ll also have the chance to comment, ask questions and discuss the training featured in each video.

Join in the discussion by watching the first video now

Watch out for even more resources to help you with user stories

To go alongside the launch of the mini-course, over the next couple of weeks, both the blog and weekly tips email will feature lessons and advice on how to write better user stories.

And if you really want you and your team to master this topic, there will be an option to unlock more in-depth, advanced training (details about that coming soon).

Today, get instant access to video 1: Three Tips for Successful Story Mapping in a Story-Writing Workshop

The first video is available now. This 20 minute training looks at some of the common mistakes people make at the early stage of writing user stories, particularly when conducting a story-writing workshop.

In this video you’ll learn:

  • Why people struggle to find the balance between too much, and too little team engagement when writing user stories.
  • How to save a significant amount of time in future iteration planning by inviting the right people to your story-writing workshop
  • A simple, but powerful method of visualizing the relationship between stories
  • Practical ways to make sure your team focuses on the user’s needs at all times
  • Methods to help you prioritize and plan stories, fast

Click here to access the first video

Questions about the training? Already watched the first video? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Categories: Blogs

5 Electron Apps You Need to Try

About SCRUM - Hamid Shojaee Axosoft - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 15:46

As you may already be aware, GitKraken owes the consistency of its cross-platform experience to the fact that it is built on Electron.

Electron is a powerful framework that allows developers to create OS-native applications through web-based technologies; essentially packaging web apps into native desktop apps that look and behave consistently across operating systems. The framework has gained significant traction in a relatively short period of time, with the official list of apps built on Electron continuing to grow.

There are some Electron apps that I would select as obvious favorites, including:

  • GitKraken (of course!)
  • Atom
  • Slack’s desktop app

I discussed the apps above in an earlier post, 10 Apps You Can’t Work Without, so I won’t repeat them here. Instead, I want to offer up a handful of lesser-known apps built on Electron that you might not have heard of and might want to try out. All these apps are listed on Electron’s extensive page of Electron apps.

5 Electron apps you should try 1. GIF Maker

GIF Maker is a utility to create GIFs from a variety of video services. For example, you can insert a YouTube URL in the URL field, hit the ‘create’ button and GIF Maker will generate a working GIF file for you. From there, you can make some edits to trim the file, apply balance adjustments, and resize the video.

The website touts that you can source from over 200 websites (although I’ve not had luck when testing it with Netflix), and you can also select a local video file for conversion.

GIF Maker comes in free and pro versions. Pro has more options; such as, video filters and more advanced editing capabilities. But the most obvious difference is that the pro version doesn’t watermark your outputted GIF.

2. ndm

ndm offers a GUI for managing your node packages. It has a logical tree view for differentiating globally installed and per-project modules. At a glance, you can see:

  • The modules you have installed for the current project/globally.
  • The current version of an installed module.
  • Whether or not there is an update available for each module.

You can also install new packages, and even update npm itself through the app.

Though not as fully featured as an app like CodeKit (which, in addition to offering a GUI for package management, can run compiling tasks through the client instead of via the command line), the experience in terms of package management is similar. It’s potentially a real time-saver for housekeeping node modules, seeing clear lists of which versions of packages you have, and seeing where package updates exist.

3. Kap (MacOS only)

I’ve been using screen capture software for years. In my freelance days, I would make short screencasts as educational resources; mini-tutorials to show how to make certain changes. However, there was never that sweet spot for functionality that covered all my use cases. Initiating a capture would often involve having to set numerous options, such as: compression settings, framerates, etc.–frankly the kinds of options I’d rather see after recording in a compression app. GIF creation for shorter captures wasn’t even an option, and although we now have functional apps like LICEcap, Kap  covers all the bases, offering a simple MP4/WebM format, or a GIF capture option from the same app. Define your capture area, click record and you’re on your way.

The real power in this app is its simplicity, which I would argue helps get work done better than more feature-rich or option-heavy screen recording apps. It’s solid, stable, and, like the best restaurants, doesn’t give you too much on the menu as an obstruction to getting started.

4. Hyper

Hyper  is a terminal app that is based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is inspectable, meaning that from within the app you can look at and manipulate the UI. Like this, for example:

You can modify the app’s config file to apply changes to the UI according to your needs and tastes. In this regard, Hyper has a similar to Atom in its ease of hackability, and like Atom, it has a plugin system (Hyper’s plugin management uses npm).

Hyper is also open source.

5. Google Play Music Desktop Player

If, like me, you’re using Google Play as your music service of choice, you’ll know that your only real official desktop solution is opening the web app in your browser. Google Play Music Desktop Player  (how did they think of that name?) is a third-party app offering a material-like interface for your Google Play music playback, as a discrete application.

It doesn’t offer offline playback, but it does allow you to keep your listening separate from your browsing. It also allows for deeper levels of customization than would otherwise be easy to achieve from the browser, such as notifications, hotkeys, and minimized playback. It also allows you to customize the look of the app.

Additionally, Google Play Music Desktop Player is open source!

Categories: Companies

Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 2: Who to Approach

Johanna Rothman - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 15:36

To summarize: your agile transformation is stuck. You’ve thought about your why, as in Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 1: Define Your Why.  You have some idea for measurements. Maybe you’ve even started to measure to capture the data.

Now, it’s time to talk to people across the organization. The question is this: Who do you talk with, to unwedge your agile transformation?

You know that the org chart is one way of seeing the system. And, there are many other ways to see your system. One way is an organizational map.

The organizational map helps you see who might have interests, pain, or power in different areas of the organization. You can then decide who and how to approach each of those people. Given their interests, you have some idea about how they might respond.

Every single time I’ve worked with people to create their organizational maps, they have learned something. Most often, they realize that someone else in a corner of the organization has key information for agile success. Sometimes, the transformation advocate realizes that another person has less or more power than we expect. Sometimes, the agile advocate realizes that if they supply some key measurements, they might be able to unlock the agile transformation.

Sometimes, people are surprised that developers or testers are the people with power and help. Sometimes, it’s people across the organization, such as someone in Finance or HR. Your transformation allies can be anywhere in your organization.

The organizational map helps you see who is helping your agile transformation, who is neutral, and who is not helping. This map, with names blacked out, is from participants at last year’s Influential Agile Leader.

In my experience, the people who are neutral or not yet helping are not “resisting change.” They are not skeptics, although they may act skeptical.  Here’s what I have found most often: they haven’t discovered the usefulness of agile to achieving their goals.

If I understand the why for agile and understand their interests, power, and pain, I have an entry into asking them what their goals are, especially if the map didn’t make that obvious.

Nurturing and maintaining an agile transformation is hard work. I like knowing who I should talk to, to make sure I’m gaining the most benefit from all of my work. I can gain allies in my measurement-gathering and in the actions I want to take for the agile transformation. I might even consider a change for how to transform the organization.

If you want to learn how to create an organizational map, join us at the next Influential Agile Leader, May 9-10, 2017 in Toronto.

My next post is about how to approach these people, especially peers and people senior to you.

Categories: Blogs

Agile Manchester, Manchester, UK, May 10-12 2017

Scrum Expert - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:00
Agile Manchester is a two-day conference focused on Agile software development and Scrum project management. Participants can get knowledge and experience in a practical and peer-based learning...

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Categories: Communities

Agile Coach Camp, New York, USA, April 28-30 2017

Scrum Expert - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 08:00
The Agile Coach Camp is a three-day conference about Agile Coaching run by agile coaches for agile coaches based on peer-to-peer learning and exploration in an OpenSpace setting. In a Agile Coach...

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Categories: Communities

Becoming an Agile Leader, Part 1: Define Your Why

Johanna Rothman - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 17:18

Your agile transformation isn’t proceeding the way you thought. People use the right agile words, but they’re not changing how they work. Teams aren’t collaborating, managers still talk about “resources,” and the projects aren’t delivering finished value. Your agile transformation is stuck.

Maybe it’s time to return to your why. Why is your organization moving to agile? Do you know?

Ask the people who wanted agile these questions:

  • What is valuable to us?
  • How will we measure what is valuable?
  • What is the first deliverable we can achieve to provide value?

When you ask these questions,  people start to remember why they wanted agile in the first place. I’ve heard answers like these:

  • We want to release something more often than once a year (or longer).
  • We want to increase the quality of our products.
  • We don’t want to hear customer complaints as often, for releasing or bug reports.
  • We want to have fun.
  • I want to master this code base.
  • I want to learn how to automate which tests.
  • I want to feel as if I’ve done a great job.

Managers often want to see revenue increases, customer happiness, and a decrease in the cost of providing customer support and project cost. Teams often want more satisfaction with their work and a feeling they have done right by the customers.

If you are an agile leader, you can develop measurements to help both sides see what they’re aiming for and how to get there. These measurements help people see why they are changing and if they are accomplishing the change—the why. But, first you have to know the why. (And, don’t be surprised if everyone has a different why!)

In my next post, I’ll address how you define who to talk to. It might not be obvious.

I’m writing this series of posts so you might consider joining us at the next Influential Agile Leader, May 9-10, 2017 in Toronto.

 

Categories: Blogs

Kanban Workbook

Scrum Expert - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 16:16
If Scrum is the king of the Agile software development frameworks, Kanban can be defined as a distant cousin. We know that there are some connections through this Lean parents, but we don’t...

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Categories: Communities

GitKraken v2.2

About SCRUM - Hamid Shojaee Axosoft - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 17:35

Did you enjoy the Oscars the other week? Well, we’ve got a few announcements of our own to share, all of which we’re certain are correct, all focusing on version 2.2 of the “Best Git GUI in a Leading Role,” GitKraken.

So, take a seat out front between Jack Nicholson and George Clooney, and let’s open some envelopes!

GitLab Integration

GitKraken has had GitHub integration and Bitbucket integration for some time. And now, we’re excited to add GitLab to our list of nominees for “Best Remote Service in a Supporting Role,” as we add it to our family of integrated services!

But couldn’t I already connect to GitLab repos, John?You

You could indeed; GitKraken has always allowed you to connect to most remotes on most services, but we’re talking integration. Consider the GitLab tanuki. Before, it was a tanuki, and that was cool. Now, it’s like a tanuki with a rolodex, a filofax, a cellular phone and a sharp suit with shoulder pads. It’s an on-task tanuki, pumped and ready to go, and it remembers who you are.

Rough impression of what a turbocharged tanuki might look like

So, now you’ll see that darling raccoon in the tabs for integration services, just like you see GitHub and Bitbucket. Here’s what you can do to make using GitKraken with GitLab that much more simple:

  • Add and remove SSH keys: From Preferences Authentication, you can now quickly generate and manage your keys. It’s easier than announcing the correct winner of an Academy Award for Best Picture!
  • Initialize a repo
  • Clone a repo from a GitLab account by browsing for it and selecting it
  • View GitLab remote avatars in the graph and (**spoiler alert**) left panel

We’ve been really excited about getting this integration into the app. We will continue to work closely with GitLab to leverage the capabilities of their API.

New Repository Management View

Take a peruse of your repos in GitKraken for a second, and you’ll notice some big changes that may just wow you on the red carpet. Plenty of users have requested that the repo management interface be tidier and more intuitive, so the new Repository Management View has been created as an entirely different way to organize and open repos. In this view, users can now:

  • Browse the file system for a repo to open
  • Open a repo from a list of recently opened repos
  • Create custom project folders that contain groups of repos.

That last one is a big deal for the convenience of GitKraken users. Folders that contain groups of repos can now be added to GitKraken as Project Folders, and these folders can be discretely named in the app. Your folder outside of GitKraken will keep its name, of course.

Needless to say, you can still clone and init repos as usual, just in a spiffier UI that makes working with connected services more clear.

Avatars in the Left Panel

In a controversial leak earlier in this article, we shockingly exposed the inclusion of left panel avatars in v2.2. Version 2.1 introduced avatars in the graph, and the addition of the left panel means that the owners of remotes are now clearly visible and more instantly identifiable at a glance.

HTTP and Proxy Credential Storage

Such is the drama, intrigue, excitement and sheer sexiness of this topic that it can be hard to relate the details over all the commotion. I’ll give it a go.

When entering a username/password for a host, GitKraken will now ask if you’d like to remember those credentials. Changed your mind? We all get cold feet once in awhile so stored credentials can be purged in Preferences Authentication.

That just about covers the major new features in this release. OMG OMG there are just too many people to thank! Please be sure to check out the release notes for a full run-down of what’s new, including features, improvements and bug fi–<cut out by orchestra>

Categories: Companies

Targetprocess Mobile for Android, Releases 2.4 and 2.5

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 17:07
View and edit Custom Fields from entity details view

Custom fields are widely used by our customers, so we've finally added them into the entity details view on our Android app. You can view and edit Custom Fields of all types (except for the Multiple Targetprocess type, because it’s hardly ever used).

You can find the Custom Fields section in the same place as our main desktop app: scroll down the entity view and you will see Custom Fields panel under the Info panel.

custom-fields

Planned Dates

Since release 2.4, you may notice that Planned Start and Planned End dates have appeared at the bottom of  the ‘Info’ panel. You can now plan work items directly inside the app:

planned-dates

Some other useful improvements include:
  • Added the Initial Estimate field to Epic views and the Run Estimate field into Test Plan views
  • Estimation fields will now display Effort units

If you have anything you want to share with us, just use the Feedback form in the ‘Me’ tab, or send us a message at mobile@targetprocess.com.

Click here to download the Android app.

Categories: Companies

Why not just define the solution in advance?

Leading Agile - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 22:24

If you’re familiar with our model of organizational transformation, then you know we’re fond of the metaphor of taking a journey in a specific direction, possibly (but not necessarily) ending up at the farthest imaginable point of that journey. We think of the journey as a series of expeditions, each of which aims to fulfill a portion of a vision and plan.

The metaphor is both spatial and temporal. When you picture a group of adventurers embarking on an expedition, the visualization is mainly spatial: They are marching across territory toward a goal that lies on the horizon. The horizon moves ahead of them as they march. Their concept of “the possible” depends on what they are able to see or imagine from their current position and, as they progress, they are able to see and imagine more and more possibilities.

A way forward based on Lean principles involves conducting a series of experiments. Learnings from each experiment inform the design of the next experiment. Always, there’s a goal in mind. Over time, outcomes meet needs more and more effectively. Improvement over time suggests a temporal angle on the “journey” metaphor.

Step-by-step Improvement Over Time

It’s easy to find examples of similar journeys that suggest change over time. One that I find relevant, particularly in larger, well-established IT organizations, is the tale of the Eddystone Lighthouse. You can read about it on Wikipedia. There are also many videos on YouTube about the lighthouse, and it has been featured on the Science Channel program, “Impossible Engineering.”

I see this as an example of a temporal journey of improvement because of the progression of engineering advancements reflected in the series of lighthouses built on the site from 1699 to the present. Similarly, improvement in organizational performance often involves building a series of solutions that incrementally move closer to strategic goals.

…it turns out to be faster, cheaper, and better to find the way forward through a series of experiments than to design the ultimate solution in advance.

Lighthouses and expeditions

It’s easy to get tangled up in a sea of metaphors. Even referring to the situation as a “sea” could be one metaphor too many, were it not for the fact we’re also talking about lighthouses.

This lighthouse at Eddystone was the the first to be built in the middle of the sea and was erected on a rock that which was submerged 20 hours a day. Over the course of history, it was rebuilt four different times, each quite different from its predecessors. Engineers had learned things and materials science had progressed, enabling each successive lighthouse to be better than those that had stood before.

The same pattern occurs in organizational transformation. A Scrum team on a journey from Basecamp 2 to Basecamp 3 will use the Scrum events and artifacts quite differently than a team progressing from zero to Basecamp 1. The more mature team will use Scrum in a lighter-weight fashion than the novice team. For example, they have learned how to level out their work by crafting User Stories of roughly the same size. They’re on their way to dispensing with story-level sizing. Meanwhile, the novice team may still be struggling with separating the notion of size from the notion of time, and they may have difficulty visualizing the possibility that story-level estimation is a crutch that can be made unnecessary by mastering other practices.

Also, the organization surrounding the two teams will be at different levels of proficiency with lightweight methods. You’ll often hear us speak of clarity around the backlog, or words to that effect. An expedition approaching Basecamp 3 will have learned skills in identifying worthwhile initiatives, prioritizing those initiatives, and refining backlogs that are sensible and actionable by program and delivery teams.

It’s more feasible for the delivery teams in the Basecamp 3 expedition to function in a lightweight way than for the novice teams, which are supported by organizations still early on the learning curve, still struggling to reach Basecamp 1. They may not receive actionable backlog items on a consistent basis. Everyone is trying to get a handle on quite a few unfamiliar concepts and methods. Even an advanced team would have challenges in maintaining flow and delivering value without appropriate support from the program and portfolio teams.

The two organizations just can’t build the same kinds of lighthouses. They have to advance one step at a time.

Why not just determine the final solution through research?

Sometimes, people are uncomfortable with this approach. They would prefer it if we could design the “final” solution in advance and then simply implement it. That way, they would have only one sizeable capital investment to make, and they could check the “improvement” box. All done!

An aside: This mentality may be at the root of the numerous attempts to “implement” a framework, such as SAFe or LeSS, and lock it in as the “final state.” Although the proponents of such frameworks are consistent in saying they are meant to be a starting point for ongoing improvement, people tend to try and “implement” a framework as if it were a “solution.” Are they hoping for a magic bullet?

The “implementation” approach may be feasible for relatively small enterprises that have fairly narrowly-bounded goals. When a larger enterprise, that has longstanding habits and entrenched processes, sets a goal to “be more effective” or “be more competitive” or “improve the customer experience” or “be able to pivot quickly,” it’s harder to visualize a Golden End State in a vacuum. Such goals are real and meaningful, but difficult to quantify, and the path to achieving them in the face of an ever-changing competitive landscape is not easy to discern.

Perhaps counterintuitively, it turns out to be faster, cheaper, and better to find the way forward through a series of experiments than to design the ultimate solution in advance. It takes less time and less money to build something, learn from it, discard it, and build another (repeating the sequence several times) than it does to learn all the possibilities and pitfalls of numerous options in advance through “research.” This has been a practical reality for a long time, far longer than the buzzword agile has been in use.

That pesky moving horizon

Now you may be asking, “If you’ve seen this pattern before and you know what to expect, why don’t you just tell us what we need to do to be at Basecamp 5? Let’s start Monday!”

That would be great. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to work that way. Combining the experiences of the LeadingAgile consultants, we’ve seen that approach many times in many kinds of organizations. We’ve tried starting with culture change; with procedural change; with technical practices. We’ve tried driving change top-down; bottom-up; by consensus or invitation; by management dictate. What’s common in those cases is that when people are told what to do, the desired change in mentality doesn’t happen. When people are invited to change their thinking, they simply don’t know how. People remain in the mindset of following orders. The only difference is they’re following different orders than before. The changes don’t penetrate deeply, and they aren’t sticky. People become frustrated with the results, and abandon the effort to change.

It seems to be important that people deeply understand the why of the change. To become aware of some of the possibilities is a good first step, but it isn’t sufficient to create meaningful and lasting improvement. People need to be able to get their heads around the potential benefits and risks of any given change. For that to be possible, they need guidance beyond the limits of their comfort zone…but not too far beyond those limits. Very radical change, introduced suddenly, will only lead to fear and frustration. The only way to reach Basecamp 5 is to walk there, step by step.

Remember the bit about the horizon moving ahead of you? It does. At the outset of the journey, you don’t have enough information to visualize possible end states. There may even be so much organizational “fog” that you can’t really tell which way to turn. The best you can do is set a direction that seems to be consistent with your goals. Then you have to take a deep breath and start walking, pausing to check your compass frequently and adjusting course accordingly.

Maybe the first few lighthouses you build will burn down or be swept away by the sea (or be destroyed by Napoleon’s army, as the case may be), but eventually you’ll build one that nothing and no one can tear down. The key is to be willing to try things that don’t turn out exactly the way you hoped, and learn from those experiences. Just keep going. As long as you have a good compass, you won’t get lost.

The post Why not just define the solution in advance? appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

U, I and Everything In-between…

About SCRUM - Hamid Shojaee Axosoft - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 19:25

Until recently, some of our customers have been, shall we say, forthcoming in their feedback on our UI and their frustrations with it. Some were eloquent in their summaries. Here’s a good example:

Every time a developer opens up axosoft, a UI designer dies.

— Douglas Isaksson (@DouglasIsaksson) November 18, 2015

OUCH. But fair.

We appreciate all criticism, and we take it seriously (especially because we don’t want to be responsible for thousands of designer deaths per day). We knew that the time was right for UI improvements, but the opportunity really presented itself recently, when Axosoft’s marketing team finished a rebrand with a new look and visual aesthetic. This was the perfect starting point for our designer to create a visual exploration of how a reimagined Axosoft UI might look.

And so the journey begins

With a laptop and a dream, the Axosoft team embarked on what would end up being a 4-month journey through a forest of UI and UX micro-improvements. There were arguments. There were certainly tears. There were moments when discussions about hex values produced faces in pure #ff0000. But we came through it, and the process helped us set the stage for the next version of Axosoft. Here is a rundown of what went into just a few of the many changes we made, and why we made them.

Colors… more colors!

The most noticeable change in Axosoft is the color palette that was applied across the system. The design and marketing team had developed the brand and provided general direction, using our internal style guide to help us apply things to Axosoft. One of the ways we applied color to enhance the experience was through making more visual distinctions between larger segments of the application to allow people to see groups of content more clearly and to make sense of a system with less thinking.

Principles like this are nothing new, and in fact, they correlate to a well-known theory in cognitive physiology: Gestalt. The mind wants to group things together that make sense, and in this case, the Organize panel’s behavior and functionally made it a candidate to visually separate it from the list of items in the main view of Axosoft.

Comparison of the color and tone of the UI before and after V17.
On the left (before), all 3 regions are of similar color and tone, suggesting equal relation. On the right (V17), the Header and Organize Panel are recolored to provide a visual connection between those panels. This reinforces the fact that these two panels contain UI elements that control the display of the Main Panel.

Additionally, many people often found themselves confused about why certain work items were not in view. It turned out that for most of these cases, certain selections and filters were applied without the user being able to clearly see that this was the case.

Utilizing color to help identify some of these states has made it easier to see that there is a change in the system and that your view has been altered. One area where this revision can be seen is in searching your work item list. Along with in-context search messaging, we added in some of the key alert-focused colors from the design system to make it easier to identify when a search is active in the UI.

Signal to noise, I can’t hear you. Is this thing on?

What are we looking at? This may seem like an obvious question, but it can be hard to answer if you work with any large-scale application. In an ideal world, the tasks and behaviors that are used most routinely are the ones most visible. We felt it was time to move some of the less used UI elements of Axosoft out of the main area so they would compete less with the more important elements. These lower-order elements are still easily accessible but aren’t clogging up the main area. The visible toolbars are the biggest areas where we applied these types of changes–reducing the number of visual options helps make it easier to choose the existing ones. We also increased the size of the components within the main toolbar, while reducing the size of surrounding elements to reflect the priority they should have when you’re using Axosoft.

By reducing the number of options in the main toolbar and removing the toolbars from individual panels in the UI, it is far easier to focus on relevant content instead of deciphering where things are and what they do.

I suggested the tagline “Axosoft, now with 72% fewer toolbars!” to the marketing team, and the enthusiasm in the room was palpable:

It’s the little things…

Some UI changes are more subtle than others, yet can have a huge impact on the day-to-day usage of an application. We made quite a few of these changes in version 17.

Counts for your item details

While we removed things that were less relevant, we also added some that were more so. Simply by adding a number next to each item in the right panel, it is now easier to see not only whether information exists or not, but also how much information is there. Knowing the difference between 2 work logs vs 14 can be important in understanding how much attention a particular work item is receiving compared to another.

Sorting, sizing and ordering your stuff

One of the most powerful aspects of Axosoft is its customized views, which can be set up and defined by each user. There were particular areas in the application that made it difficult to perform some expected adjustments (or did not allow it at all), such as moving content around within the Organize panel, or resizing the lower details when viewing an item in a new window. As these issues were identified, we tried to make it easier for users to manipulate the Axosoft UI for their needs.

The Organize panel sections now have menu options that can easily be repositioned within the group, and you can immediately sort your comments or history from within each detail section, instead of having to manage this elsewhere.

These changes may seem like subtle solutions to trivial issues, but such issues can add up to be considerable annoyances. Our aim is to continue making these improvements to annoy you less!

Categories: Companies

Join Our Product Update Webinar on March 15, 2017!

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 18:08
Q1 Product Update Webinar graphic

We invite you to join us for our Product Update Webinar on Wednesday, March 15 at 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT.

It's already been a busy year here, and we want to make sure that everyone is up to speed with all the recent changes.  We'll also be going over some of our immediate plans for the future, and there will be a team of Product Specialists available to answer your questions.

At the webinar, you can expect to see a demonstration of all the latest features and improvements, including:

  • lane suggestions and the new "My Recent" tab in the left menu
  • new connectors for integrating Targetprocess with ALM tools such as Jira, TFS, CA Agile Central, and DevOps tools such as Git, GitHub, Jenkins, and many others
  • how to setup the Service Desk and use Custom Request Types to expand its possible use cases
  • improved Project and Team assignments for Person, Team, and Release views
  • the latest releases for our mobile iOS and Android apps, and more

You can register for the webinar here. We hope to see you there!

Categories: Companies

Get Clarity

Leading Agile - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 15:04

Get Clarity

I believe the number one reason for failure or waste is a lack of clarity or understanding. If you get clarity on something, it gives you the freedom to decide if you want to do it or not.  If something is ambiguous, you may agree in principle but you don’t know what you’re really getting yourself into.

OKRs

Firstly, what are your Objectives and Key Results (OKR)? How do you set and communicate goals and results in your organization? Because you want people to move together in the right direction, you need to get clarity.

KPIs

What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)? How do you want to measure value that demonstrates how effectively your company is achieving key business objectives?  Because you want your organization to evaluate its success at reaching targets, you need to get clarity.

Structure

What does the team design or structure of the organization look like on portfolio, program, product, and service layers? We need a shared understanding of which individuals or teams are responsible for what.

Governance

What does the governance of the organization look like? How do we manage our budget, dependencies, risks, or quality? What are the inputs, outputs, and artifacts?

Metrics and Tools

Because we want to manage our system of delivery, what are necessary metrics and tools of the organization?

Get Clarity

Remember, if you expect others to commit to something, regardless if it’s a process or a deliverable, we need a shared understanding.

The post Get Clarity appeared first on LeadingAgile.

Categories: Blogs

Agile Architecture Roadmapping

Scrum Expert - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 17:14
In the Agile world, software architecture is about making design decisions with just enough anticipation. Too much anticipation leads to overly heavy architectural constructs that may never be used...

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Categories: Communities

Blog Series: TDD and Process Part I

NetObjectives - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 15:58
Part 1: The False Dichotomy Traditions in software testing suggest that the balance among the various types of test types (Acceptance, API, Integration, Unit) should be weighted toward the lower-level, more granular tests and less toward the larger-scale, or end-to-end tests.  The visualization is typically something along these lines, in terms of the effort that should be devoted to each: It...

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Categories: Companies

Scrum Knowledge Sharing

SpiraPlan is a agile project management system designed specifically for methodologies such as scrum, XP and Kanban.