One Example of How to Use an Agile Tool with Balance

best agile toolbox
So many tools… which one to choose? Check out our great list of Agile Tools

Using an Agile or Scrum tool like many that we have in our list and those reviewed can be a challenge. We’ve helped many companies utilize their ALM’s well, and we’ve even helped even more remove the challenges that Agile tools can create… and let’s be honest, sometimes the problems they create.

I, for one, am tool agnostic, any client that’s worked with me will tell you the same. My adage when it comes to any type of tool usage is this:

The effectiveness of any tool is the discipline [enterprise-wide] to use it well.

Working with assertive people is always great, they even sometimes come up great ideas, like a colleague of mine, Jason did on their current implementation of Jira:

Current benefits of Jira

The tool provides a number of benefits if properly maintained

  • Mechanism for anyone, including customers, to quickly log issues or create stories
  • Easy integration with Confluence, the document repository
  • Easy integration with Tempo, the time tracking tool
  • Snapshot of stories and defects in the product backlog
  • Snapshot of stories and defects in the sprint backlog
  • Easy integration of combined backlogs
  • Snapshot of stories planned for a release
  • Email notifications when a ticket is created or updated
  • Quick dissemination across the team of this information, including offsite and extension to customers

Current challenges of Jira

Currently, the tool is over-engineered, resulting in abandonment

  • Too many options available; it is a Frankenstein of new fields and options built over a long period of time over many projects and types of projects
  • Workflows too complex (provide screen capture of the current WFs. They are spider webs)
  • WFs have unnecessary steps; people just ‘click along’ to close stories
  • Too much effort to move tasks and stories through the queue, resulting in waste
  • Workflows are built at the task level, requiring an unsustainable amount of discipline by every team member to keep it updated
  • Email subscriptions result in a torrent of email, so they get ignored or filtered out. Can’t differentiate between an important update versus a trivial comment
  • Too difficult to understand what’s ready/backlog, what’s WIP, and what’s done
  • Unless every team member has updated every task at all times, it’s not accurate
  • Few PMs/SMs use it for release planning; they either don’t have the time to maintain it or they don’t know how
  • Some resources rely on the tool to assign tasks, expecting the task to be done, and the task assignment to the assignee is lost in email
  • Using a tool to “assign” tasks inherently results in a push system, further resulting in pushback and missed commitments
  • Due dates are seldom applied, and when they are, they come and go. If something needs a due date, a team discussion is needed, NOT data entry into a tool that isn’t used
  • Therefore, predictably, teams have abandoned the tool. It takes ALL of these things in perfect synchronization for each piece to be meaningful. This model is unsustainable and not scalable
  • And therefore, Mgt. cannot point to a single project where the status is concise, simple, and clear to them what’s happening; it communicates little meaningful information for our managers unless a PM/SM is physically there to walk them through it. This defeats the purpose of having a web-based tool in the first place

Proposed solution

In short, use the tool to do a few things well, instead of everything for all projects

 

Things to change or stop doing:

  • Pull the existing workflows. The workflow should be one simple workflow:
    • Initial state: Open. It stays open and only open while assigned to the product backlog or the sprint backlog
    • Then you only have two options:
      • Means it’s done.
      • Means it’s rejected, duplicated, de-scoped, working as designed, etc. Keep these selections when cancelling.
    • That’s it. Anything more complicated than that and the tool will be abandoned
  • Tasks and subtasks no longer maintained in Jira. These are for the team to manage and should be done on a physical board
  • Stop relying on Jira to communicate due dates. If something is urgent and a due date needs to be committed, a team discussion should take place to understand the impact to the current work queue and negotiate what is deferred in its place
  • Stop relying on Jira to push tasks through a queue. Tasks should be pulled by the team, not pushed onto individuals

 

Things to keep doing

  • Open new defects and stories
  • Close or cancel defects and stories
  • Maintain product backlog; use the rapid boards to move stories into sprints
  • Track stories to epics
  • Track releases and release dates
  • Assign stories and epics to releases
  • Link stories as-needed to Confluence
  • Maintain relationship with Tempo
  • Assign an onsite resource to update the physical board for offsite resources; send photos of board(s) to offsite team members

Atlanta ScrumMaster Training – Action & Influence Growing the Atlanta Market

In Atlanta, GA news:

Action & influence, Inc. announced today that they are hosting more Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Product Owner (CSPO) courses in Atlanta due to increasing demand. As the only company in Georgia to have a local Certified Scrum Trainer, Peter Saddington, they want to bring even more value to the Agile community and local Atlanta companies who want to leverage Agile or Scrum to bring quicker development value to their software and services. Having a local CST gives Georgia companies a great advantage, as their employees can attend local courses without incurring the costs associated with travel. Peter Saddington is one of the 140 Certified Scrum Trainers in the world and about half of them reside in the United States. Peter Saddington is the first CST to reside in the state of Georgia. Saddington says, “Our local clients who are looking towards Agile and Scrum have greatly enjoyed having a local trainer who can service their needs without flying in another trainer from out of state. Most of our clients in Atlanta have private courses for their entire development teams and organization.”

You can quickly find local Atlanta Certified ScrumMaster classes, http://atlantascrummaster2013.eventbrite.com/and sign up as an individual, team, or company.

According to one of Action & Influence’s students, Mike Rucker, who recently took a Certified ScrumMaster course in Atlanta said, “I was very pleased to find a local group that offered such a wide choice in class days and times. It was very easy to find a class that fit within an already busy schedule.”

Other testimonials of Action & Influence, Inc. classes:

“Peter’s mastery of the subject matter coupled with his excellent presentation and communication skills made for an outstanding learning experience.” – Jim Olwine from Atlanta

“Peter REALLY did change my life. He provided such great instruction on Scrum and the duties of a ScrumMaster. He gave lots of clarity on my career direction. Great job!” – Aletha Hill from Atlanta

“VERY INSPIRING. [Peter Saddington] is one of the best instructors I have ever seen in my life.” – Parveen Yadav from Atlanta

“I can honestly say that the ScrumMaster class has changed my view on software development, and breathed welcome fresh air into some tired sails. I am genuinely looking forward to the second half of my career now, with hopes to embody in my work all that Peter laid out in the class and the skill set of a true servant leader in the technical world.” – Mike Rucker from Atlanta

[HT: PRWeb]

[Agile Tool Review]: Conferencing calling made easy by free online tool – Speek!

Interested to know about an easy to use, No Bridge/PIN requiring conference call tool? Check out Speek[.com]!
Note: Currently they only support callers within USA.

“..there HAS to be an easy way!..”

One of the biggest challanges of being a volunteer lead on distributed virtual teams is – Communication. With various teams I volunteer with, keeping up with the calendar, conference bridges and pins is a tough task. I’ve sometimes joined the meetings late due to fiddling with the “smart phone” or used incorrect numbers..In my quest to find a FREE simple option, Somehow, I found out about http://www.speek.com/

How it works?

Speek team has pretty good video, audio help to get us started. I would recommend starting here:

  1. Features/Ad
  2. How to Register your Speek Link
  3. How to join a Speek call

In addition here are few self explanatory screen shots for your reference:

Speek-LandingPage

Speek-Signup

Speek-JoinACall

Speek-JoinACall2

 

Dashboard & Bridge Info:

Speek-Dashboard

Speek-BridgeInfo

Speek-OnACall

My Experience:

I’ve had calls with our PMI Atlanta volunteer team, with few agile coaches, and we all found it:

  • very easy to navigate,
  • intuitive,
  • Call quality was clear and
  • Call Summary email after the end of call!

What can make it BETTER:

  1. If Speek could add a Screen/Desktop share utility in addition to file share and
  2. I know they already must be working on this, but making it GLOBAL!

What do agilescout readers use to keep in touch with your (distributed) teams? Were you aware of Speek before reading here? Let us know.

Agile Designers – Marketplace for Awesome

agile-designers-homepage

 

Are you an Agile Designer? Or just a designer looking for great resources? This webbie came up on our radar and so far I like what I’ve seen.

Now, sharing sites are a dime a dozen these days, this is nothing new. What I do like is that designers register, drop web pages or things of interest for others and they get ‘accepted’ by the community as valuable. Crowdsourcing at it’s best.

Don’t get it twisted though, this isn’t a FREE DESIGN TEMPLATE webpage. It’s more on the workflow, the process… helping a designer become more agile… or rather, able to be productive.

Worth a look.

AgileDesigners.com

Project Management Institute (PMI) PMBOK Guide – Fifth edition is now available!

PMI-PMBOKv5

Project Management Institute’s – Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) Guide (Fifth edition) is now available! It’s an exciting an MUCH awaited news for (many) PMI volunteers who volunteered and worked hard on completing this!

I have been a part of this significant project since August 2010. I worked with a distributed, dedicated, talented team of project management practitioners from across the globe as a Content committee member. It’s an inexplicable experience to see your name listed in this Guide referred by worldwide practitioners and PMP aspirants. Thank you PMI and my amazing team for the support and this awesome chance!

The challenges that our team faced were tough but every team member was committed and made sure our work timeline was never impacted and delivered high quality output. There were multiple such teams working in parallel, and leads of those teams synchronizing all the work! I can’t imagine the number of stories rest of the volunteers must have to share.

To everyone who helped create this Guide and volunteered your expertise, time and probably sometimes sacrificed personal time – I personally thank you for your valuable contribution. If you stumble upon this post and have contributed, please share your story, views and journey.

If you have friends, colleagues, bosses  – please spread the word around. (PMI members might already be aware about this). But, surprisingly I found MANY in the community who talk to me regarding PMP certification prep unaware about this. Project Management Professional OR PMP (R) is a world wide respected credential which is not restricted to JUST software development, but is common for non-IT fields and jobs – e.g.: Construction, Oil and Gas, Finance, Non-profits and many other domains.

If you are affiliated to a PMI chapter, make your chapter operations team and members cognizant about it. If you are a PMI-REP (Registered Education Provider), a trainer, consultant, blogger or simply a project management practitioner – this change affects you.

Share the news – by word of mouth, through emails, through twitter, Facebook – whatever media you can. Just help make the people making choice regarding project management as profession be aware about this change.

Check the Newly Updated Standards Availability page on PMI site, specifically:  “Getting Ready for the Exam?” section with Study Recommendation and Updated Exam Schedule sections!

The Agile Pocket Guide – Peter Saddington – Now on Amazon for Pre-Order!

Super excited that my next book: The Agile Pocket Guide is now up on Amazon.com for pre-order!

It’s been a long road since I first got rejected by many publishers and finally self-published and then grabbed Wiley’s attention!

#win

Business Optimization and Human Potential

We are often blind.

As Agile Coaches, consultants, and organizational improvers, we strive to help teams and businesses alike improve their performance, output, and even culture.

The problem is… that we often come into a team or business blind, not understanding the full context of each team and each individual who makes up that team.

This is a problem.

To be the most effective we need to understand how people operate. We need to understand how they work collectively, as a group, as a team, and as individuals. The quicker we can assess and understand the contextual culture of our clients and teams, we are left to empirically deduce assumptions that most often are half-truths.

As we jump into consulting or coaching with any client, it would be great to know their cultural context, how people are behaving, and even how to engage with them best.

Easier said than done, until TeamScience™ dropped on the scene.

TeamScience™ – Business Optimization and Human Potential

Continue reading “Business Optimization and Human Potential”

Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper

An Agile Whitepaper: Achievements

By, Renee Troughton

CELEBRATE WITH YOUR TEAM ACHIEVEMENTS

Abstract: Agile Achievements can be used to track and celebrate both individual and team behaviors in adopting Agile values, principles and practices.

Gaddie Pitch: You know how most teams find it difficult to know what they have to do when developing in an Agile environment?

Well what Achievements does is help to give clear goals about the expected behaviors for teams and individuals.

In fact Achievements can be fun and re-direct the focus away from the Scrum Master or Agile Coach to enable the team to encourage better Agile behaviors.

What is an Achievement?

Continue reading “Achievements: An Agile Whitepaper”

Virtual Scrum – Scrum Wing 3D – Open Source Agile Tool

Scrum Wing 3D (SW3D) is an open-source Scrum project management tool, implemented using the Open Cobalt platform, a virtual space browser and toolkit. The idea of using Open Cobalt to develop SW3D comes from the author’s vision of combining the immersive training concept along with the Scrum framework.

The SW3D User Experience

Every day, the Scrum team members start Open Cobalt and join the Scrum Master‘s virtual space to hold the stand-up daily meeting, in order to review the sprint progress, what is done, what is the plan for the day and address open impediments.

Instead of being physically together, every team member sends her-his avatar to the shared virtual space to collectively manage user stories, plan a new sprint or update the sprint backlog. This is not a game: your avatar becomes your deputy into a highly-collaborative, 3D, sound-enabled, server-less workplace.

What SW3D is not?

SW3D is not a web application: SW3D installs software components on your machine and as such, administrator privileges should be granted to users if they are not computer’s owner where you want SW3D to run. There is no need for any server. Artifacts are stored on binary files, so no database is needed. Everything goes into a single folder, so it is very easy to setup and remove.

Which Scrum artifacts are delivered with Scrum Wing 3D alpha edition?

  • The capacity planner: including team member name, role, email and time availability.
  • The product backlog.
  • The sprint backlog: used for tasking estimates and daily sprint meetings.
  • The sprint summary and burn-down chart.
  • No taskboard is yet delivered. All artifacts are loaded with dummy data sets so you can browse a fictional project without spending time with manual input while evaluating this tool for the first time.

Sounds pretty tight to me. I covered some other ideas around using virtual reality for Scrum.

Viable?

[VIA: ScrumWing]

An Agile Virtual Office? Beam Me Up, Brody! – Sococo Virtual Collaboration

HOW TO WORK REMOTELY WITHOUT BEING ISOLATED

If you really work alone, without collaborators, then you can skip the rest of this post. It probably won’t matter much to you.

I value agile collaboration. I work with others, at various times and places. If you do, too, then please continue reading…

When you can’t be in the same room or building with your team and others, how can you work together?  Sococo Team Space!  That’s how. You can be remote…yet visibly present and connected…very much so!

Sococo, where were you when I needed you?

I spent most of my past three years working remotely…

I was a full-time member of an awesome organization (NASA), staffed with amazing people (engineers and, yes, rocket scientists!) who engaged in plenty of collaboration around the work (Independent Verification & Validation). I was hired to work from home, with travel as needed to various locations.

To be sure, we made good use–heavy use–of our phones, conference lines, screen sharing apps, content management systems, file sharing, secure virtual private network, messaging and email. That technology stack was good enough that some people would “dial in” to a meeting from the same building! If you are working from a wheelchair, you already know how valuable that technology can be, especially on a hilly, ice-and-snow-covered campus of several buildings! (West Virginia is known as “The Mountaineer State” for good reason!) Continue reading “An Agile Virtual Office? Beam Me Up, Brody! – Sococo Virtual Collaboration”

[Review] – Mike Cohn’s eLearning Agile Videos

Online Agile Videos

Mike Cohn recently announced that he’s providing a kick butt online eLearning tool to learn all about Agile. I reached out to him to see what it’s all about and we kicked a few emails back and forth. Regardless, I went ahead and got my hands on it. That’s what AgileScout is here for: Do the heavy lifting for you 🙂.

[Mountain Goat Software Online eLearning Agile Course] LINK

With so many Universities doing online learning these days, wouldn’t it be about time for Agile and Scrum Trainers to start offering online training tools? You’betcha. Who better to do it than Mike?

Here are my thoughts and experiences after a full 3.5 hours and taking all 9 of the tests:

Agile Topics Covered

  • Introduction
  • The Problem
  • Iteration Planning
  • Story Points & Ideal Days
  • Estimating the Product Backlog
  • Release Planning
  • Other Topics
  • Conclusion
I was captivated by the introduction video of a goat running around. Fantastic!

Review of Course Presentation Continue reading “[Review] – Mike Cohn’s eLearning Agile Videos”

[Tool] – Riviera – Record with Skype!

A miscellaneous tool for this Friday, but I think a really useful one.*WINDOWS ONLY* Sorry all you Mac users…

If you do a lot of calling, or teleconferencing, or interviewing using Skype, then this can totally help you when you need to record and take notes.

[Enter]: Riviera for Skype

Why You May Need a Skype Recorder:

  • Help your business
  • Protect your reputation
  • Record interviews, tech talks, conferences, audio casts, pod casts for learning later, etc.

Features:

  • Automatic and manual Skype call recording
  • Records Skype calls of any type: Skype-to-Skype calls, SkypeIn / SkypeOut, Conference calls, calls to cells, etc.
  • Records Skype calls of any length
  • Recordings are stored in separate MP3 file
  • No functional limitations in free trial version. Only 14-day trial period
  • Skype Video Recording (soon)
  • Built-in MP3 player for playing recordings
  • Very easy to use – starts working immediately after launching, no configuration required
  • Free support and advice
  • Free lifetime updates and upgrades
  • Ideal for recording interviews, conferences, podcasts
  • System requirements: Windows XP/2000/2003/Vista/Windows 7

Book: DRiVE – Daniel H. Pink Quotes

There are some books that just glue you to the seat. The best books, you keep just an arm’s length away so you can read, re-read, and continually think about and marinate on. DRiVE, by Dan Pink is one of those books.

I’ve read this book a total of 4 times now, and this past time I really wanted to make sure I not only highlighted parts I missed before, but to take notes on them. I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes from the book (and hope it’s not some copy write issues…) Please! I meant no harm, this book just kicks booty!

How this book applies to my work as an Agile Coach is that it helps me better consider how teams, companies, organizations, and systems all work together. It is, after all, people who build software, not technology. The better we understand, empathize, and motivate people correctly, the better products and services will be.

I would highly suggest any organizational change agent, consultant, or coach to read this book. It will considerably change the way you work with people… or… at least, consider them.

My Favorite Quotes from “DRiVE” by Dan Pink

[Caveat to these quotes: Without some context, some of the quotes lack the BOOM they could have. You just have to go out and buy the book 🙂]

“The performance of the task, provides the intrinsic reward… The joy of the task is its own reward.” – On Motivation Theory from Harlow [Page 3]

“Human beings have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend an exercise their capacities, to explore, and to learn.” – On Motivation Theory from Deci [Page 8]

“The underlying assumption about human behavior was simple and true (50,000 years ago). We were trying to survive.” – On Motivation 1.0 [Page 16]

“That first drive (Motivation 1.0) didn’t fully account for who we are. We also had a second drive – to seek rewards and avoid punishment more broadly.” – On Motivation 2.0 [Page 16]

“Economics isn’t the study of money. It is the study of behavior. We are constantly figuring the cost and benefits of our actions and then deciding how to act.” – [Page 24]

“People are irrational – and predictably so.” – Dan Ariely [Page 25] Continue reading “Book: DRiVE – Daniel H. Pink Quotes”

[Tool Review] – Impediment Monkey – Get Those Blockers Off Your Back

Just released: A brand spanking new tool called Impediment Monkey.

Essentially, this tool is a simple way to track bugs, impediments, issues, blockers, or monkeys on your back… what ever you call them! If you’re using Scrum, Kanban, Lean or other methods that support continuous improvement, Impediment Monkey helps you make improvements faster.

Impediment Monkey takes in, notifies, helps in resolving and makes bashing impediments exciting and objective. Additionally, Impediment Monkey lets you assign, follow up, chart trends and even provides expert services to support your impediment bashing efforts.

A pretty simple popup comes up when you want to report an impediment.

If you need to add a note, simple. Add a note!

And… that’s pretty much it for now. They’re looking to continue to improve this over time, so feel free to drop them a note as to how to improve it. So far, it’s simple and light. It may just be what you need… for your own team or your personal life! Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Impediment Monkey – Get Those Blockers Off Your Back”

[Tool Review] – SifterApp – Simple Bug Tracking

 

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

It is really hard to find bug tracking tools that are easy to use. It almost seems like an oxymoron to say the words “simple” and “bug tracking” in the same sentence. Any quality assurance person will tell you that QA isn’t easy… unless the environment is set up to make it easy. Maybe all you need is a kick-ass tool…

[Enter]: SifterAppSimple and Friendly Bug Tracking Tool

No Superlatives. Just Software

SifterApp isn’t “bug tracking done right”, “better bug tracking”, or even “bug tracking evolved.” It’s just a simple and friendly hosted bug tracking tool designed for small teams.

Not only that. It’s pretty to look at as well. 

Quickly get an overview of all projects and dive in for a deeper look with the Project Dashboard view:

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – SifterApp – Simple Bug Tracking”

Spaaze – Virtual Sticky Note Board

Fun Friday Miscellaneous Tool ***PART 3***- [We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

More fun. Check out [Spaaze.com] if you’d like another quick and dirty virtual sticky note wallboard.

But buyers beware: This tool has a ton more features… but has a LIMIT on how many items you can post… then you have to PAY. (BOO).

The other two from today are:

Both are FREE and LITE.

Corkboard.me – Virtual Sticky Notes

Fun Friday Miscellaneous Tool **PART 2**- [We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

OMG! Thanks to Tim Coulter… we have another Cork board virtual sticky notes alternative: [Corkboard.me]

I’m actually shocked at how similar Corkboard.me and Listhings.com are. Who knew?

Take them both for a spin. Choose your weapon.

Listhings – Virtual Sticky Notes Board

Fun Friday Miscellaneous Tool – [We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

Listhings.com is a fun site similar to that of an Evernote but with virtual stickynotes. I’m wondering if this would be valuable for a small team to plan work with… virtually. Though I’m still a huge fan of physical wallboards being the best.

Try it out for free. After October 10, 2011 you’ll have to sign up to mess around on it.

[Tool Review] – Concept Board – Next Level Design Sharing

We here at Agile Scout love us some design and Agile. We talk a lot about how design and Agile can work:

Not only that we love how developers are creating design apps that make it easier for teams to collaborate:

  • [Tool Review] – Wirify – Make a webpage a wireframe
  • [Tool Review] – GoMockingBird – A light wireframe tool to put web-centric wireframes together quickly
  • [Tool Review] – CageApp – Design sharing made easy
  • [Tool Review] – Lucid Chart – Online Diagramming made easy
  • Or go with a regular design pad – Yep. Pen and Paper version.
  • How about turning a wall into a full-on whiteboard. Use Idea Paint!

Well here’s something for Agile developers and designers!

[Enter]: Conceptboard A brand new (free) cloud app for visual collaboration *Agile Scout likes!

Conceboard offers a blank work space (like a whiteboard) on which you can put designs, pictures or documents (pdf, ms office). Or you just start to scribble (great for mind maps and brainstorming). With the comment tool you can place annotations directly at your designs or concepts.

Their distinctive feature is real time collaboration.

Teams can work at the same time on a board. Even on the iPad. There is also a great presentations mode for showing your work to a customer, coworker or friend. Conceptboard offers a typical, simple interface for the online feedback tools, in order to collect comments and remarks at one central location. This central location is the board which is easily accessed by all participants via a browser; in other words, the current status of the draft and all the participants’ opinions are available to everyone at all times. The feedback in the Conceptboard can consist of adding text, or scribbles and small sketches, or even adding other files and screenshots to the same board.

OH SNAP!

But before we continue, we had to let you know that all AgileScout readers get 20% off a premium account! Thanks to Roman for this awesome perk.

Just use the coupon code “agilescout”

OH DOUBLE SNAP!

Not only that, for the we will choose 3 random WINNERS  who want to try out the design app get a 6 month license for FREE! 

Just comment and let us know how you’d use this app for your personal or business use!

What I loved about this tool is it’s fluid and easy to use. All about the simplicity! Adding and uploading documents was a breeze, I was even able to add screenshots directly to it. 🙂 Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Concept Board – Next Level Design Sharing”

[Tool Review] – Opzi – Collaboration Platform Featuring a Wicked-Fast Interface

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

We love us some neat tools. Not only that, we love pre-launch beta invites, and that’s exactly what we got. There is something about VC-funded startups that just tickle us, or rather, get our blood moving. It’s an exciting prospect to say the least. We at Agile Scout were lucky enough to get an early look at Opzi’s new product, which bills itself as a “next-gen collaboration platform,” featuring a library of apps that can be installed with one click. So what is this all about?

[Enter]: OpziCollaboration Done Wickedly Fast

After entering into the private beta we were greeted with a simple Install page.

The first two apps available are (1) a project management tool and (2) and issue tracking tool specifically for software teams.
Simply install them and you are go!

The tool features a extremely fast spreadsheet-like user interface that made us forget were were actually using an application in the browser.
Keyboard shortcuts make entering and editing information actually enjoyable.

Tight integration with email means your teammates can add comments to items simply by replying, and live notifications make sure everyone is in sync at all times.

Not necessarily a new thing, but did we mention how blazingly fast this app is? Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Opzi – Collaboration Platform Featuring a Wicked-Fast Interface”

Agile Innovation Games

We here at AgileScout love Innovation Games. We’re all about making work more exciting, engaging, and worthwhile to everyone involved. Work doesn’t have to be a drag. We’ve covered a couple topics on this before:

Thanks to Luke Hohmann we’ve been resourced with some of the top games. We decided to drop them here for all you Agile coaches to utilize. Have fun! Continue reading “Agile Innovation Games”

[Hack] – Use Skype for Agile Teams

Skype rules. I simply love the way you can easily use it to connect with other people. In my house, the Grandparents love it because they can see their grand daughter. So how can you make the most of Skype for your decentralized Agile team?

The guys over at Skype journal let us in on a list we just had to write about.

Using Skype for Agile Teams:

  1. Dial in video conferencing – For team cohesion, offsite team members video Skype to the daily standup meeting. Extend this for other meetings too!
  2. Remote pair programming – In pair programming, two programmers work together at one screen. Turn on Skype desktop screen sharing during a voice call with your programming partner.  You’re both seeing the same things and can talk to each other. I believe that @joem uses this with his programming with Pivotal Labs.
  3. IM team backchannels – Skype has persistent chat: This means your conversations continue, even when other people are offline.
  4. Language translation – Take advantage of the free Chat Translator and Speaker for Skype, which pipes your IMs through Google for live machine translation.
  5. Be connected to other offices – Open up a full screen video call on a large monitor (or television) and just leave it on. It offers for a sense of being connected and the opportunity for chance conversation.
  6. IM notifications and alerting. The Skype Public API makes it easy to write apps that will pipe notifications from code repositories, test frameworks, and work tracking into Skype text chats.
  7. Avoid distractions. Skype offers the ability to turn off bells, beeps, and bloips for each chat room. The /alertsoff and /alertsoff IM commands give you control. Skype says:

“/alertsoff” Disable message alert notifications.

“/alertson [text]” Allows you to specify exactly what needs to appear in a chat for the chat to pop up. For example, /alertson London will only alert you when the word “London” appears in the chat.

Full of #win! Watch @joem below in an example of utilizing Skype for pair programming:

[VIA: Skype Journal]

FAQ Overflow – Simple Answers

A quick note on this random Friday. I’m a big fan of Stack.Exchange and Stack.Overflow and the crew that runs those sites (Some of which I met at RallyON2011). Love that stuff. These guys over here at FAQ Overflow put together a simple distilled list of frequently asked questions and their answers. Worth a quick browse. Have some good quick-and-dirty answers to Agile specific questions.

[VIA: FAQ Overflow]

[Tool Review] – Sazneo – Smarter Group Communication

[We review Agile tools, have you seen our Agile tools list?]

Communication, transparency, and collaboration are huge for successful teams. The better a team communicates, the better they can work through issues, and move towards deployment of products. Simply put, communication should be easy. If your environment isn’t communication-friendly, that may be the first issue you need to look into.

Sometimes we can’t change our environment. Sometimes, our tech-lead is out in China. What communication platform will you be using?

[Enter]: Sazneo Smarter Group Communication that looks pretty while doing it

When people often think about inter-office communication, a couple of big players come to mind: Yammer, Campfire, Yahoo, and even some old school clients like AIM. While these are great tools, sometimes you may just need a little more oomph for your team.

A beautiful dashboard to start. Channels to go to and 1-on-1 chat makes Sazneo cover all your bases immediately.

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Sazneo – Smarter Group Communication”

Need Wallboard – IdeaPaint can Help!

Looking to make your office or home-office wall a surface for ideas? Look no further, IdeaPaint might just be the best home-office decision you’ve made in a long time.
 

  • Larger dry-erase surface for less $
  • Just one coat
  • Warranty-guaranteed
  • No cracking, peeling, staining or yellowing
  • No costly removal – just paint over it
  • Uses fewer raw materials
  • 60 lbs less than other whiteboards its size
  • Least expensive to ship and install
  • Erases effortlessly
  • As smooth as the surface you paint
  • No seams

Office Wallboard

Other uses? Home-office, schools, your office-that-doesn’t-allow-anything-to-be-posted-up-on-the-walls-due-to-terrible-office-policies?
Continue reading “Need Wallboard – IdeaPaint can Help!”

[Misc Tools] – CageApp – Design Sharing Made Easy

Simple apps are the best by far. This app makes sharing designs and comps easy and free.

Simply put, you create a project, upload what you want to share, and then share it! What is nice is you create a vanity url of sorts, we created agilescout.cageapp.com. Very simple.

  • Find the project you’re looking for – We track your project history and make it easier for you to access your most recent work.
  • Collaborate where it makes sense – Eliminate the need for lengthy emails and meetings and collect feedback right on top of your designs.
  • Privacy options your clients will appreciate – Flexibility to add or customize passwords to protect your projects, so that your work stays private.
  • Web-based presentation, nothing to download – The freedom to access your presentation from anywhere you can connect to the web.
  • Share your work with a simple link – No need for user accounts or logins, share a unique URL to your presentation for review and feedback.
  • Quick, inline editing couldn’t be easier – Edit, preview, and rearrange your designs with drag/drop and inline editing.

Before I forget, currently this is a closed beta… but you can join by using the unlock code: “john.”

Jump on it!

[VIA: CageApp]


[Tool Review] – Freedcamp – Free Project Management, FOREVER

[We review Agile tools. Have you seen our Agile tools list?]

“For many years the web has lacked a solution to free project management – specifically for small businesses, start-ups, students, or people who just love to collaborate on ideas. With Freedcamp we offer an unlimited user and unlimited project solution for everyone, completely free, forever.”

While this tool does NOT have all the facets that an Agile tool would have, we just had to cover it because of it’s outrageous claim: To be FREE FOREVER. That caught our eye and we decided to dive in and see what was up. From the enavu.com network comes this newest tool.

[Enter]: FreedcampFree Project Management, Forever!

Continue reading “[Tool Review] – Freedcamp – Free Project Management, FOREVER”