VersionOne Mobile Collaboration & Estimation on Display in Orlando

Agile 2014 began in Orlando today. Agilistas from the world over are now gathered for the big annual event.

Here at VersionOne, we put some additional touches on new Summer Release mobile functionality and a fix or two that can be seen at the conference. Come visit us in our booth to see the latest in action. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re not at the conference, check out the new goods here and feel free to review notes for the latest point releases:
• Spring 2014 – Point Release 14.1.7
• Summer 2014 – Point Release 14.2.1

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4 Things Your Sprint Planning Needs To Set Yourself Up For Success

It’s incredibly valuable to be able to raise flags or fire flare guns as soon as something is at risk. VersionOne helps teams assess if their sprint is at risk before they’ve even committed.  Below are 4 steps to follow during the ‘HOW’ part of sprint planning to ensure the team comes up with a realistic plan:

(1) Create detailed tasks for each backlog item, assign hourly estimates and possibly an owner.

  • Sprint Planning > Detail Planning > Plan Backlog Item
DetailedTasks

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(2) Populate capacity for each individual on the team for the upcoming sprint.

  • Sprint Planning > Capacity Planning > Expand Team
CapacityPlanning

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(3) Compare Detail Estimate to Capacity to see if the plan is realistic

  • Sprint Planning > Detail Planning
  • Ex: Team A’s velocity is 23 so Sprint 6 points being 22 is acceptable. The team’s capacity is 200 hours and all of the tasks and tests total 194, which is also acceptable.
SprintSummary

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(4) Check to see if a particular member on the team is over or under capacity

  • Sprint Planning > Member Planning tab
  • Ex: Boris Tester is over-allocated. Therefore, on sprint planning day, the team is able to come up with a plan on how they can still finish their tasks. They notice that Danny Developer is under-allocated so he committed to help execute test cases to help Boris out.
MemberPlanning

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The commitment ceremony should be a recurring meeting following sprint planning where the team reviews their findings from Steps 3 and 4 and negotiates any changes to the plan to make sure they are setting themselves up for success. Once everyone is in agreement, the team commits to the Product Owner that they will finish the sprint as planned and the Product Owner commits to the team that the sprint backlog will not change. There’s nothing that seals the deal more than doing a team toast with a beverage of choice. Cheers to success!

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New Spring 2014 Point Release – 14.1.6

Earlier this week, the German football machine exposed gaps in the Brazilian defense. World Cup viewers around the globe were stunned at the precision of the attack and the inability of the Seleção to do anything to slow it down. In the end, the ”Six minutes of nightmares” was more than enough time for the Germans to remove any doubt as to the result of the game, leaving the hour remaining on the clock for Brazilian fans to try unsuccessfully to wake themselves up from their frightful dream.

Unintended gaps in Activity Stream processing are quite the opposite in the sense that they *do* slow down the updates to the Activity Stream. While these gaps didn’t generate quite as many tears worldwide, they did cause noticeable delays in very large systems. We are quite happy to report relief in the form of this point release – 14.1.6.

Olé, Olé, Olé…

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Point Release Updates to Spring ’14, Winter ’14 and Fall ’13

disco-ymca-hustle

In addition to marking a new set of VersionOne point releases, June 6, 2014 is also known for the 170th anniversary of the YMCA’s founding, bringing young men in the western world new avenues for healthy minds, bodies and spirits.

Just as the YMCA founders had planned, this organization evolved into a pan-continental network of oases that liberated youthful exploration, including such notable acts as dancing on the streets of Greenwich Village. While the Village People may not have been mentioned by name in the original articles of incorporation, it’s easy to assume that the founding fathers viewed such eventual promotion as inevitable.

We recommend any dancing triggered by the fixes in this latest point release to be confined to your TeamRoom™, but feel free to dance where you must after reviewing the release notes.

There are updates for the VersionOne Spring ’14 Release, which hustles to crush a nasty Activity Stream bug, as well as the Winter ’14 and Fall ’13 Releases, which bump out a couple of fixes for ranking and API queries.

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New Point Release 14.1.3

defenestrationThis day in 1618 marked the Defenestration of Prague, whereby William Slavata and Jaroslav Martinic were literally thrown out the window after being convicted of violating the Letter of Majesty, thus beginning a Bohemian revolt and the Thirty Years’ war. While valuable, the fixes and additions for Activity Stream and Release Planning that come with today’s point release are in no way intended to incite war.

Defenestration, on the other hand, is highly encouraged for our departing colleague, Mr. Steve Paro, who has graced us with witty and timely release announcements for many a fortnight. We wish Mr. Paro continued success in life with a trajectory of the most artfully cra Continue reading

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Spring 2014 Release: Planning the Right Amount

A new bank account holder who was surprised to find out his account was overdrawn. “I can’t be out of money,” he exclaims. “I still have checks left!

Water Glass

Drops – ©Johannes Gilger

Sometimes a development organization can forget that they, too, have their limits. Without good guidance, a group can mistakenly believe that planning should end only after all their top features get included. Much like the overdrawn banking customer, these groups realize much too late that they’ve ended up writing checks that their development organization can’t possibly cash.

It’s natural to want to get more done. We are an industry full of optimists at heart who want to deliver more and more value. That doesn’t make us bad people – it just makes us human. So how do we prevent ourselves from going too far? It takes a little forethought in identifying and establishing capacities.

In the Spring 2014 Release, VersionOne introduces capacity setting at two levels to help set limits that will guide our release planning and tell us when it’s time to stop. Teams can establish team- and release-level capacities to highlight just how much room is available when planning starts; keep track of how much room is left as they start to fill it up; and let everyone know when they get full. How about that… knowing where to stop even before you get started!

Other great additions such as the new Activity Stream, Agile Earned Value reporting and more are also included in this release. For more details, check out the release notes.

Posted in Backlog Management, Developer, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Program Manager, Project Manager, Release Announcements, ScrumMaster, Stakeholder | Leave a comment

The Clarity of Description

The User Story, by intent, is meant to be a short definition – an introduction to a discussion.

As a…
I can…
So that …

Simple, short and powerful. We’re all familiar with some variation of this structure and I certainly appreciate the brevity and the focus of the approach. It’s an introduction to a conversation, so let’s keep the intro light.

Here at VersionOne, we’ve been working on improving the consistency and value of the words we use when defining stories, capturing defects and defining test criteria. From “As a…, I can…, So that…” for user stories to “Given… When… Then…” for acceptance tests, the improvement effort has paid off. We’ve found our definitions to be shorter, crisper and easier to understand than in years past.

Crisp words are great, but they still are not perfect. There are times when even the best words are murky and a more substantial description significantly informs and enhances your conversations. Some cases where this arises include:

  • Focusing on a component of a larger feature, where that larger context is important
  • Conveying errors that are discovered during testing
  • Defining test cases that involve specific data setup

In these cases, robust descriptions that convey imagery and/or tabular data structures strengthen the conversations and help provide a stronger institutional memory. Recent advances in VersionOne’s rich text descriptions have provided an even better way of expressing some of the more complex test scenarios we encounter. While I was looking forward to the delivery of these capabilities because they’ve been highly requested by customers, I must admit that I am surprised at just how much I love the result.

Below is an example of an acceptance test with both tabular data and an mocked up image.

Example Test with Table and Imagery

Given, When, Then Acceptance Test

It would have taken a great many words to describe all of the scenarios covered in this one test. Instead, a table of inputs and a rough image of expected outputs removes the communication issues and allows everyone to focus on the substance of what is being conveyed.

Feedback from developers has been great on both the clarity and the expressiveness of such tests. The team has also taken to using the very same scenarios as test data, making it very easy to pinpoint what matches and what doesn’t. Such detail is not required on all tests, of course and we certainly do not put more effort into the definition than is helpful. But where there is complexity or visual importance, a table and a picture are incredibly valuable tools to clarify the murkiness.

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New Winter ’14 (14.0.7) Point Release Available

For this weekend’s point release announcement, we’ve got a very special guest submission by the artist product manager formerly known as βθβ.

Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today
To get through this thing called owners list
Electric word list. it means forever-long and that’s a mighty long list
But I’m here to tell you there’s something else
The lookup, owners of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your list is left?
Ask him how much of your mind, baby
‘Cause in this list things are much harder than in the owner lookup
This lookup you’re on your owner

 prince

In short, we’ve got much Owners Lookup and Rich Text goodness, along with a bunch of defect fixes.  Check out the full release notes on the community site.

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Git Some API

Many may not be aware, unless you are participating on our developers forum discussion group, that our platform team is hard at work collaborating with the community on a few different value-add capabilities. In particular VersionOne is beginning to offer a growing number of open source projects via GitHub. There are a few other samples like Python, PowerShell, and command line scripts available also.

Some of the conversations and implementations using the VersionOne API / SDK revolve around adhoc reporting. I’ll pick up on this topic again in a moment. Other conversation topics are much more technical like point-to-point integrations to other products, standalone utilities like estimation of stories, a task manager, an attachment manager, or extending presentation to non-VersionOne team members or stakeholders (although I personally categorize most of these as an extension of adhoc reporting topics). This is where the community contributes to some of what you will find on our GitHub repository.

Let’s circle back around to the adhoc reporting topics. I’ve worked with a lot of VersionOne evaluation teams and customers to solve some very specific reporting needs. In some situations we were able to leverage the API SDK to satisfy these needs. For instance, one customer had a desire to gain insight into how much value was being delivered per epic by sprints in order to optimize their release planning meetings.

VersionOne offers an epic dashboard to visualize an epic trend and you can customize the epic tree to view the data. This group wanted to pull the data into MS Excel to generate specific graphs. I assisted them with creating an API query that ultimately allowed them to do just that. Below is a screenshot of my POC against some demo data. This was created during an online workshop in about 30 minutes, with Q&A. I will follow up on a separate post with the details, but for now I hope this helps. We have since created some configuration options and additional reporting based on this POC.

Share with us how you have used the VersionOne API SDK to solve your business or technical needs. We really do value input from the community and seek to offer value based on the what your needs are. I invite you to Git some and give some…

Posted in Developer, Inside VersionOne, Platform, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Manager, Project Manager, QA Tester, Reporting & Analytics, Roles, ScrumMaster | Leave a comment

When Are We Going to See VersionTwo?

Yeah.  I’ve heard that one before.

Why did we choose VersionOne as the name for our agile project management software? Think back to the times when you’ve been most satisfied with your software delivery.  For many, getting the first version of a software out the door is the most memorable.  Months of hard work have gone into a vision that has yet to be tested out in the real world.  Any number of impediments could have stopped you, but they didn’t.  You came together as a team and delivered version one.

I suppose a joke that never gets old makes it memorable, too.

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