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Agile Teams Should Sprint, But in the Same Direction as Enterprise PPM Strategy

The Agile Management Blog - VersionOne - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 18:35

CA logo

 

Guest post by James Chan, director, technical presales at CA Technologies

James-Chan

Catch James Chan’s talk on AgileLIVE Wednesday, December 10, 2014: “Portfolio Strategy + Agile Execution: Coordinating, Not Competing.” Details at http://pm.versionone.com/AgileLIVE-2014-CA-PPM.

I think we can all agree that agile techniques have made their way into large enterprises. As agile adoption crosses the threshold into large enterprises, agile teams sometimes begin to struggle with determining the items of highest business value when delivering syndicated enterprise solutions.

Depending on which client the team interacts with, the definition of priority and business value can easily fluctuate. In large enterprises, product owners and agile teams need some way to connect to the bigger picture of enterprise strategy and ensure that enterprise goals are met, while being fiscally responsible to deliver on items that are being funded.

To add an additional level of complexity, enterprises may have pockets of agile work, as well as pockets of traditional work. Enterprises are rarely homogeneous. In many cases, enterprises run under a hybrid model, where the development and QA teams leverage agile techniques, but other teams such as the PMO, product management, sysops, enterprise architecture, user experience, and devops may use other techniques.

Because enterprises live in this space, there needs to be a way for those in charge of strategy to perform their market-sensing activities to develop, define, select, and fund an enterprise’s strategy. This strategy then needs to be communicated to those responsible for product delivery to align them with strategy and identity problems they can solve, as well as opportunities they want to exploit. Once these items of highest business value are defined and prioritized, that vision can then be communicated to the execution teams to realize the vision in a manner that is most effective for them and the enterprise.

To ensure that everyone in the enterprise is rowing in the same direction, and to fully realize the benefits of agility, enterprises need to take a look at the bigger picture. Many are looking at agile execution techniques as part of a larger enterprise ecosystem through project and portfolio management solutions. Enterprise PPM (portfolio management) helps with alignment, enabling enterprises to couple speed with thoughtful planning. Project and portfolio management solutions help portfolio managers define the enterprise’s trajectory needs and balance initiatives that support the strategy with financial capital and human skills. They can also collaborate closely with product management to define the problems they should solve as well as the opportunities they want to exploit in support of the enterprise’s vision.

Finally, that collaborative roadmap needs to be the guiding force for agile execution teams to ensure that as they are sprinting, they are sprinting in the same direction. If teams just focus on the smallest unit of work, which is a user story, they can quickly lose sight of value and get lost in the trees. So in order to ensure that teams drive toward overall delivered business value, enterprise strategy and trajectory need to be taken into account.

So how do you do this? A good place to start is by checking out the CA PPM (Project and Portfolio Management) integrated solution with VersionOne. This unified enterprise PPM solution gives you a clear picture of all projects from the top down, from high-level feature planning to work item assignment. By combining strategic, financial portfolio management capabilities with ALM software, you can get your agile teams sprinting in the same direction as your enterprise strategy – so business value gets delivered faster and the transition to enterprise agile is simpler.

James will present on this topic during VersionOne’s AgileLIVE™ webinar on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 from Noon to 1 p.m. EDT. Details and registration:

AgileLIVE: CA PPM and VersionOne webinar:

“Portfolio Strategy + Agile Execution:  Coordinating, Not Competing”
December 10, 12-1 p.m. EDT

Categories: Companies

Agile and Scrum Trello Extensions

Scrum Expert - Tue, 12/09/2014 - 18:27
Trello is a free on-line project management tool that provides a flexible and visual way to organize anything. This approach is naturally close to the visual boards used in the Scrum or Kanban approaches. As the tool as an open architecture, some extensions have been developed for a better implementation of Agile project management in Trello. The visual representation and the card system used by Trello already make it possible to use it for Scrum project that need a virtual board to display their user stories backlog and their sprint tasks. ...
Categories: Communities

Who Picks the Sprint Length on a Scrum Team?

An important consideration for every Scrum team is how long its sprints should be. Choose a length that’s too long, and it will be hard to keep change out of the sprint. Choose a length that’s too short, and a team may struggle with completing significant work within the sprint or weaken their definition of done to do so.

But who is it that gets to select a team’s sprint length?

Of course, the answer is the whole team – that collective of ScrumMaster plus product owner plus team members such as programmers, testers, designers, DBAs, analysts and so on.

But what if that broad set of individuals cannot agree? Do they argue endlessly, perhaps sticking with their waterfall or ad hoc process until consensus finally emerges?

No. The ScrumMaster is ultimately the one who gets to choose a team’s sprint length.

A good ScrumMaster will do everything possible to arrive at a consensus. But, when the ScrumMaster exhausts his or her collaborative, facilitative skills without arriving at a consensus, the good ScrumMaster makes the decision.

This should not happen often. I hope most ScrumMasters never need to say, “I’ve listened to everyone, but here’s what we’re doing.” But since the ScrumMaster can be considered a team’s process owner, the ultimate decision does belong to the ScrumMaster.

Let’s consider one example from my past.

In this case, I was consulting to a team doing four-week sprints. They were struggling to pull the right amount of work into their sprints. For the six months before I’d met them, team members were consistently dropping about a third of the work each sprint.

They were a good team doing high-quality work. They simply didn’t know how much of it they could do in four weeks. Their optimism was getting the better of them, and they were consistently overcommitting.

I asked the team to think about how they’d like to solve the problem and tell me their suggestions the next day. I was thrilled the next day when they announced that they should clearly change the length of their sprints. “Yes,” I told them, “Definitely.”

They were relieved that I agreed with them and said so: “Wow! We didn’t think you’d let us go to six-week sprints!”

I had to inform them that while I agreed with changing sprint length, the better solution would be to go to shorter rather than longer sprints.

We ended with me—as a consulting ScrumMaster—setting a two-week length.

Why did I do this?

The team was already pulling too much work into a four-week sprint. They were, in fact, probably pulling six weeks of work into each four-week sprint. But, if they had gone to a six-week sprint, they probably would have pulled eight or nine weeks of work into those!

This team needed more chances to learn how much work fit into a sprint (of any length). As their ScrumMaster—especially coming to the team as a consultant—I could see that more easily than they could.

I want to end by repeating my caution that this is not something that should happen very often. I can count on one hand the number of times when I’ve flat-out chosen a length for the team after failing to gain consensus.

I’ll stand by the value of having done so in each case. But I only did so after significant effort to gain consensus. Overriding team members on something as important as sprint length should be done with great caution. But, it’s a process issue and, therefore, in the domain of the ScrumMaster.

What about you? Were there times when your team couldn’t agree on a sprint length? How did you resolve it?

Categories: Blogs

Agile outside of Software


Agile in your schools, an announcement from Agile Learning Centers.




Our Agile Learning Centers are growing and we're preparing to support the launch of several more ALCs this summer! Rumor has it that we may be going international.

Read on to find enrollment information for our two full-time schools in NYC and Charlotte, film screenings, and some really juicy featured blog posts from our growing community of Agile Learning Facilitators.



ALC NYC

Learn about our enrollment process here

Attend a Parent Interest Night to begin exploring enrollment options for the current year and/or the 2015-16 school year.
January, 15th 2015
March, 5th 2015

RSVP to a Parent Interest Night here!


ALC Mosaic

Learn about our enrollment process here

Attend a Parent Interest Night to begin exploring enrollment options for the current year and/or the 2015-16 school year.
February, 18th 2015
March 24th, 2015

RSVP to a Parent Interest Night here!


Film Screenings

The Agile Learning Center in NYC will be hosting a screening of Race to Nowhere on February 12th at 7pm!

Tickets are quite limited and only $10 -- reserve yours here now before we start advertising on our website and social media.

A bunch of the Agile Learning Facilitators were able to catch screenings of Class Dismissed in NYC and Charlotte this past week and loved it! Highly recommended!



Check out some featured blog posts from facilitators across the ALC Network!




The Weekly Sprint (in review):

Ryan highlights some of the popular learning activities at the ALC - WikiTrails, GeoGuessr, Philosophy, Chronology, #NoCheats, and more.





Daily Rituals: The Heartbeat of Intentional Culture Creation: Tomis talks about the afternoon candle ritual at the ALC in NYC and importance of intentional culture creation.




The Opportunity in Conflict: Nancy shares examples of how our tool, the Community Master Board, is used for community-wide problem solving.




GeoCaching Treasure Hunt: Dan shares a summary of the GeoCaching adventure he set up and facilitated at ALC Mosaic.





Catch Me In Transition: How to Lorax so Kids will Listen: Bear reflects on the importance of tuning in and right-timing for effective ALFing.





Week in Review: Drew shares a detailed writeup of a recent week at ALC Everett, including the beginnings of the ALC egg drop challenge.




Why I'm Cool With Day-Long Dr Who Marathons: Abby shares her reflections on the value of storytelling and intentional engagement with "screens".





Painting, Pasta, Parent Interest Night, and Past=Present: Nina shares some amazing ALC offerings and thoughtful reflections on her journey to open ALC Oahu.




Mosaic Monday: Charlotte gives an update on some happenings at ALC Mosaic, as well as a beautiful write up of her ongoing offering, Ecology Club.




Clinkity, Clink, Clink: Extended Inquiry into Marble Mazes: Lacy dives deep into the marble maze projects from the kids at Roots of Mosaic.





Answers Are Truly No Better Than Questions: Art talks about the importance of asking valuable questions.





ALC Everett - Last Day: Abe shares the highlights of his month-long stay at ALC Everett.

We hope you enjoyed this update from Agile land!

With love and agility,

Agile Learning Centers

Copyright © 2014 Agile Learning Center, All rights reserved. You expressed an interest in the Agile Learning Center.


Categories: Blogs

Agile Bangladesh Conference, Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 27 2014

Scrum Expert - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 18:30
Agile Bangladesh Conference is a one-day conference that focuses on the use of Agile methodologies in software development projects. It aims to provide a forum for fruitful interactions and discussions among practitioners and researchers. In the agenda of Agile Bangladesh Conference you can find topics like Agile implementation, Agile requirements (user stories), Agile design, Agile testing, Agile and security, tools and applications. The keynotes will discuss “Agile Story Points”, ” How to Integrate Security in Agile Software Development Methods?”. Web site: http://agileatbusiness.com/agilebd2014/ Location for the 2014 conference: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Categories: Communities

Start Slackin

Bobtuse Bobservations - Bob MacNeal - Mon, 12/08/2014 - 01:52
The infrastructure supporting the flow of communication has become an iteration zero concern. For software developers, a team chat application is becoming as fundamental as a GitHub...

Bobtuse can be wildly informative
Categories: Blogs

Pair Programming in Perspective

Bobtuse Bobservations - Bob MacNeal - Sun, 12/07/2014 - 20:12
Annual Mermaid Parade Coney Island, 2012 I offered my 2¢ on this question from another developer: Would you consider joining a company where pair programming is an essential part of software...

Bobtuse can be wildly informative
Categories: Blogs

Create

TargetProcess - Edge of Chaos Blog - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 14:19

I’m 35 and only recently I truly nailed what drives my life — it’s “creation”. When I create something meaningful I feel really great. My creations are not tangible in most cases, like poems, songs, design solutions, new product features, articles, books and blog posts. In general I think creation of anything that lasts is a good way to spend your life.

Minecraft Kings LandingSource: 25 ‘Minecraft’ Creations That Will Blow Your Flippin’ Mind

Deep immersion into a working process turns off everything around. You suddenly ignore all external sounds, you don’t feel how minutes and even hours passing by, you don’t notice poor lighting and reject timid body requests. Then you wake up and check the result. Maybe it’s not perfect, maybe it’s just a start of something significant, maybe you will throw it away in several days after critical examination, but nevertheless you have a sense of achievement. You’ve just completed a thing that may be a part of your legacy.

Can you write? Can you invent a software that changes people lives? Can you build a house? You never know till you try. Your life passion is not “programmed”, it should be “discovered” via experiments and achievements. Moreover, public recognition in many cases is not a good indicator of your achievements. Your personal feelings do matter. When you achieve something and enjoy the process, it is a good signal that your experiment was successful and you should keep going. When you spent quite a lot of time on, let’s say, quantum physics with no clear results and theoretical constructions bored you to death, maybe you should try something else (or maybe you just have a depression, but it’s curable).

Any startup and any ambitious mature company should hire as many creators as it can. These people are enthusiastic, active and relentless. They are the engine of a company. They keep learning, experiment a lot and failures are just a part of their working process. Every team desperately needs at least one creator, otherwise it will be mediocre at best.

How to discover a creator? It is relatively easy to do. Usually they can have something from the list below:

  • Side products (frameworks, apps, whatever)
  • Blog, articles, books, whatever
  • Hobbies related to creation (painting, robots construction, fancywork)
  • They usually like LEGO and Minecraft (this option alone is not 100% proof that a person is a creator)

Consumers are all around. We all consume books, movies, TV shows, cars, food, etc. How many of us transform all these consumed information, experiences and skills into something meaningful? Surprisingly, creators are quite rare. It’s incredibly hard to find one and align his goals with company goals. Sometimes they are not polite and hate everything that blocks or slow downs acts of creation. They will not tolerate political games and bureaucracy. Most attempts to cheat them and exploit them will fail in the long run.

We need to build companies that promote honesty, creation and learning. I’m here to create. You?

Categories: Companies

Centralized Control : Trapped in Wagile (Part 4 of 4)

Agile Thinking - Dhaval Panchal - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 21:00

This is the last part in the series “Trapped in Wagile”. In the kick-off article I outlined three fundamental characteristics of waterfall organizations. In subsequent articles I explained Phase-Gates (part 2) and Large-batch handoffs (part 3). In this article I am diving deeper in to centralized control characteristics. Tendencies to centralize [...]

Categories: Blogs

Large Batch hand offs : Trapped in Wagile (part 3 of 4)

Agile Thinking - Dhaval Panchal - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 21:00

This is part three of the continuing series of articles. In the first article of this series, I outlined three fundamental characteristics of waterfall system. In the previous article (part 2), I explained Phase-Gates and the unintended consequences when phase-gates encounter agile transformation efforts. In this article I will dive into Large [...]

Categories: Blogs

Phase-Gates : Trapped in Wagile (part 2 of 4)

Agile Thinking - Dhaval Panchal - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 21:00

In previous article, I outlined three fundamental characteristics of waterfall system. Phase-gates are the most distinguishable characteristic of a waterfall organization.

Recap

 Phases are are strictly linear sequence of activities to build a product or deliver a project. These activities are divided along process lines. Funding and progression to the next sequential [...]

Categories: Blogs

Trapped in Wagile

Agile Thinking - Dhaval Panchal - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 21:00

Organizations that are attempting to transition to Agile demonstrate waterfall characteristics – residually or resurgently. Understanding these characteristics and learning to observe manifestation of these tendencies in organization systems will help you uncover impediments to your organizations Agile metamorphosis.

After reading this series of articles, you may realize that your organization is still being waterfall [...]

Categories: Blogs

[Recap] Fast IT: Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio

Assembla Blog - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 22:51

Last week, Sid Probstein, CTO of Attivio, and Andy Singleton, founder of Assembla presented a webinar about “Fast IT,” a new way of managing rapidly changing and Agile projects in areas like mobile, Web, analytics and marketing applications, while working smoothly with reliable core systems ("Core IT"). Andy discussed the dynamics of Fast IT, and Sid presented a case study of how Attivio spun up a major Business Intelligence app in two weeks with two people.

If you missed the webinar, view and download the slides

Want an overview of Fast IT in 60 seconds? Watch the video below:

Get notified about new and exciting content around Fast IT by completing the form below:

//

Categories: Companies

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

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

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

Scrum Knowledge Sharing

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