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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Using VersionOne to Track Testing

OK, so now that we get the agile approach to capturing engineering challenges (Read part 1 and part 2 for a refresher), it’s important to see how this is done in VersionOne.  This is a pretty easy thing; let’s take a look.

First, remember the scenario we are talking about … as someone who is validating a story, you encounter something that just doesn’t look right.

Step 1 – Update the status of the Acceptance Test that I’m working on. This is an easy thing in VersionOne, on the Testboard, simply drag-n-drop the Test card to the right Status column.

Testboard Status Change

Step 2 – I may choose to capture a screenshot and some notes surrounding the scenario I was testing. To do this, I’m going to leverage one of the screen capture utilities available such as Awesome Screenshot plug-in for Chrome or Snagit. These utilities allow me to capture what is in my clipboard and upload it into a story in VersionOne.

I’m also going to add a Conversation to the original story.

Step 3 – Instead of logging a bug, I’m going to talk to the developer(s) responsible for assembling the story. If the developer was not available to talk, then I’m going to flag that story on the Story and/or Task board to show that as of right now, that story will not be able to be finished by the end of the sprint. The easiest way to do this is to Block the story with an Issue of type Engineering Challenge. To do this, from one of the boards select the drop-down action menu on the Story and select Block > With New Issue. Add the issue details and be sure to select the right Type.

Adding a Blocking Issue

Step 4 – Once I talk to the developer(s), we’ll make the determination if we just need to add another task or if it is something the developer can resolve as part of the current tasks. Here I’m showing how to add a new task to the existing story.

New Defect Task

We may bring the Product Owner into the picture and discuss if this is a missed requirement; thus, maybe it’s a new story, or it is a defect that really does need to go in the backlog. In either case, I would be creating a new item in the backlog.

Step 5 – After we’ve established what we are going to do about the engineering challenge, the team can decide together whether to remove the blocking issue now that we have a plan or wait to remove it once the failed Acceptance Test has been passed. To remove the Blocking Issue, simply click on the exclamation point icon on the board, and then click on the Remove button next to the correct Issue.

There are a couple alternatives to the above items:

On Steps 1 and 2, you could move the Status of the Acceptance Test to “Re-run” and create a new Acceptance Test that describes the failed scenario. This is a good practice to remind the team that a specific scenario failed and needs to be re-tested. It also is a good way to document the failed scenario.

With Step 3, you can choose to use the same Issue for all Engineering Challenges. I like to use the same Blocking Issue for each Team. This allows the team as well as the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner to easily keep track of the solution and/or code challenges the team is having.

Posted in Developer, Product Owner, QA Tester, Sprint Planning & Tracking, Test Management | Leave a comment

Quick! How Do I… Add Values to a List Field, Add a Custom Field or Custom List Field?

VersionOne provides a comprehensive set of default fields and values to define items in the system.  Story Types, Defect Sources, Task Components or Test Methods are a few examples.

But – what if I need to add my own list value to a list field?  Or what if I need to define a custom field visible only to my project?  Here is a quick reference guide.

1. How do I customize Status values for an item, such as Story, Defect, Tasks & Tests?

  • Log in as a System Admin
  • In Administration > List Types, select the desired asset section (e.g., Backlog, Task, Tests, etc.)
  • Add/edit the list values for the desired drop-down menu in the respective section

2. How do I add custom fields to an item, such as Story, Defect, Tasks & Tests?

  • Log in as System Admin
  • In Administration > Configuration > Custom Fields, for the desired asset – e.g., Backlog – click on Add Field
  • Add the desired custom field(s) and click on Publish Changes (lower left hand corner)

3. How do I add custom list fields to an item, such as Story, Defect, Tasks & Tests?

  • Log in as System Admin
  • In Administration > Configuration > Custom List Types, click on Add List Type, enter the name for this List Type and save
  • Click on Publish Changes
  • In Administration > List Types > Custom, add the desired values for the drop-down menu
  • In Administration > Configuration > Custom Fields, add the new drop-down menu to the desired asset(s) by clicking on the Add Field arrow and selecting Add Drop-down
  • Name the new drop-down and select the new Custom List Type from the List Type drop-down menu; save
  • Click on Publish Changes (lower left hand corner)

Now that the new list values, custom fields and/or custom list fields are in, how do I enable these for project-specific visibility?

  • Log in as System Admin
  • In Administration > Configuration > System verify if Project Workspaces is enabled; if it is, move on to the next step
    • If Project Workspaces is not enabled, the new list type value will be available for use immediately
  • In Administration > Display Fields > Project Workspace Assets select the project-level for which you wish to display the new list value, custom field or custom list field/value and click on Create Project Workspace; the system will take a few seconds to refresh and enable said Project as a Project Workspace
  • With project level selected, expand the desired asset section (i.e., Backlog Item, Defect, Task, Test, etc.); notice that there are two main columns – one for Require and one for Project Settings Display
  • Scroll to the list item that you added; if list value, click on the plus (+) sign to Show Values for the drop-down menu and select the checkbox for the new value; the system will apply the changes and show the message “Field Configuration saved successfully” after a few seconds
  • The new list value, custom field or custom list field/value value should now be available for the item at the desired project level

Keep this reference handy! :-)

Posted in Admin, Getting Started, Product Tips & Tricks, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment

Organizing and Associating Work to an Epic

We have many teams within VersionOne using the Epic functionality heavily to organize their work.  I often get asked questions like:

“What if I decide later on that my work is tied to an existing Epic?”
“What if I decide that my Story really is part of a bigger initiative?”
“Is there an easy way for me to quickly generate and Epic from that Story?”

Luckily VersionOne takes into account these scenarios and more.  See for yourself below on the different ways we allow you to organize and associate your work to an Epic.

Posted in Backlog Management, General, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Manager, Project Manager | Leave a comment

A Transition Exposition

We are often asked about updating a story status when a task or test begins its progress.  While VersionOne chooses to empower the agile team to make these adjustments as opposed to doing it automatically, we do have a feature which many users may not be aware of that can assist with this.  To those who do not know, I introduce the concept of Transitions.

Transitions can be found in the Administration -> Configuration -> Transitions tab.

Transitions Page

Transitions Page

Transitions allow for certain movement of Backlog Items, Tasks or Tests when the Quick Close or Sign Me up actions are performed.    The Transitions page allows you to set the appropriate statuses of those items.  As you can see in the sample image, upon Quick Closing a story, the status will be set to Accepted, the tasks belonging to that story will be set to Completed and the tests will be set to Passed.

Once you set them, in order to take advantage of these actions, you can choose them from the action box to the right of each row in our grids, or you can choose them from any of the board views.

Grid view showing Action Box

Grid View

Board view showing Actions

Board View

So, now that you are a master of Transitions, allow me to drop some more knowledge on you.  You may notice when opening the action box, a value for Close and the aforementioned Quick Close.  “Whoa… stop the clock… two options?!”

When a user chooses the option to Close an item they have more control over the flow of that item.  They will be presented with the choice of which status the item should go to and furthermore, if you are doing Build Run reporting, you will have the option to assign that story to a particular build.  On the other hand, when you elect to Quick Close a story, you are taking advantage of the Transitions that you have already set up.

It’s important to know that in both cases, Close and Quick Close, the action will zero out the hours in the To Do field for any tasks or tests.

Search for more information on Transitions and other spring planning/backlog management tips at our VersionOne User Community site.

Happy Agile, Everyone!

Posted in Admin, Backlog Management, Product Tips & Tricks, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment

New Winter 14.0.6 Point Release Available

As you’re all probably aware, St. Patrick’s Day is only a few short days away.  On this day that celebrates the most commonly recognized patron saint of Ireland, it is estimated that American revelers alone will rack up a staggering $255 million bar tab.  With that much alcohol being consumed, it’s pretty safe to assume that more than a few inhibitions will be misplaced that day.  Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s day, VersionOne has got your back.  While we won’t be able to help with the aforementioned misplaced inhibitions, we will be able to help with misplaced child epics and stories.

For this weekend’s 14.0 point release, new alert has been added when an epic’s children appear to be misaligned. When an epic is dragged into a release and the epic contains children (epics and/or backlog) that are in some other release/project, the system alerts the user and provides an option to unite all of the epics’ child items in the same release into which the epic has been moved.  In addition to this, we’ve got 10 new defect and performance fixes for you as well.  We’ve also got a 13.3 point release as well.  As always, check out the release notes on the community site to get all the details.

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“What’s in a Name? That Which We Call a ‘Project’ by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet”

With apologies to William Shakespeare – couldn’t resist, Bill ol’ chap…

So – what is a Project in VersionOne?  Is it a Product, a Project or a Release?  Is it a Portfolio, a Program or a Group?  The answer is – YES!

A Project in VersionOne, in simplest terms, is a repository - a backlog for work-related items.  As part of a tree hierarchy, this asset can be used to capture work items that pertain to an organization’s software portfolio (e.g., initiatives, features), a software program (features, themes), a software product (components, epics) or software releases (epics, user stories).  Items within a Project are organized, prioritized, ranked and scheduled for execution and delivery.  Let’s briefly analyze the graphic below, a sample Project Tree.

The image shows a Project Tree for a fictitious organization (no NDA required :-)):

  • Customer Intelligence Systems
    • Development
      • Aspire Product Suite
        • Desire
          • Desire v1.0
          • Desire v2.0
        • Dream
        • Endeavor
      • CI DynamixCRM
        • DynamixCRM v1.0
        • DynamixCRM v2.0
      • Corporate Web site
      • Maintenance

Each of the nodes in this Project Tree is a repository representing different parts or layers of the organization:

* Customer Intelligence Systems – the company; the portfolio for the organization may reside at this level

* Development – a group or a program; high-level features and themes to be delivered by product or project teams

* Aspire Product Suite – a suite of three distinct products: Desire, Dream and Endeavor

* Desire v1.0, et al – a release for the corresponding product; each product in the suite likely has equivalent nodes for each release

* CI DynamixCRM – a standalone product, with two defined release backlogs, DynamixCRM v1.0 and DynamixCRM v2.0

* Corporate Web site – work required to keep company’s Web site up to date

* Maintenance – supporting platform, IT or Operations

Use Projects to create an organizational structure that represents how work is captured, planned and managed.  And, don’t worry about what they’re called – your teams know what they represent ;-).

Posted in Backlog Management, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Program Management, Program Manager, Project Manager | Leave a comment

Your Backlog Management: Filtered or Unfiltered?

The VersionOne Backlog is a powerful piece of the application that allows Product Owners to prioritize their work.  With many projects being worked on, multiple teams contributing and requirements that change, a backlog may start to contain hundreds of items.

We want to make sure that members who modify the backlog have the ability to quickly find the items they are looking for.  Many of our loyal readers may know about the Filter option on the Backlog grid to assist them in locating certain items.  Filters can be applied to look for items in a particular Epic, belonging to a particular team, or even finding items in a certain status.  However, many users may not be taking advantage of the “More Filters” list or the “My Filters” capability.

More Filters

“More Filters” exposes a list of additional filters that can be applied to the grid view you are on.  The window that comes up when selecting that option allows you to choose from other list types related to that asset.

More Filters selection window

So, if you were looking for all defects of a particular type, you can open the More Filters option, select the type you are looking for, and apply it to the backlog.  Very handy!

My Filters

With “My Filters” you can create a filter that persists so that you can apply it again and again.  “My Filters” can be created for the different drop-down values within VersionOne, even custom lists types!  The filters you create with “My Filters” can also be combined.  So, say you are identifying your stories by a particular “Type” attribute and now you want to filter the backlog to look for a certain one but only those that are high in priority.  What’s a Product Owner to do?

You can create a filter by accessing My Home-> Filters.  When you elect to add a filter, you will be presented with a window to pick and choose the values for the filter.  In the example below, I created a name for my filter and selected the appropriate values for “Type” and “Priority.”

My Filters Selection Window

After saving this, I can then apply this combined filter to my backlog by selecting it from the My Filters menu option under the Filter button:

More Filters Option Expanded

My results show me the combined data that applies to that filter and, best of all, it’s there when I need to run it in the future.

In this post, I showed the example off of the Backlog grid; however, filters as described can be created and applied to any screen in the system where the data appears in a grid format.

Happy agile, everyone!

Posted in Backlog Management, Product & Release Planning, Product Owner, Product Tips & Tricks, Sprint Planning & Tracking | Leave a comment

Project Scorecard Report

Once upon a time, I was a Senior Project Manager in a Development Department of a major retailer based in the Atlanta area. One of my jobs was to compile and distribute a weekly report on all the various projects we were working on in the department. I used to spend a half-day putting this together (usually Friday afternoon) and it was rarely easy. Sifting through Microsoft Project plans, status emails, etc. made it an onerous task.

In VersionOne, there is a report in Analytics that makes this happen with a single click. The Project Scorecard report gives you visibility into the key project metrics for a selection of projects:

VersionOne Project Scorecard Report

Some of the fields in the report (such as Budget) are Custom Fields on Projects, but the many of the others are calculated fields. Percent Complete is based on Open and Closed Story Points, and the Expected Complete is based on the dates of the particular projects. Expenditure fields are based on hours of Effort logged in specific projects, multiplied by a constant representing hourly costs.

In addition, because this was built using the Custom Reporting Module, it can be customized to reflect the metrics that are important to your organization. Once you run the report, you can use the buttons on the bottom to export it to Excel, PDF or directly to a printer. Put it in an email, and it’s out the door.

Would have been nice to have back in the day. Maybe I could have done something more productive with those Friday afternoons…

Posted in Product Tips & Tricks, Program Manager, Project Manager, Reporting & Analytics | Leave a comment