Friday, December 10, 2010

Even with a 3 ton elephant in the room we can still be Agile ...

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Jason Hoffman, a Scrum master, to see if I would be interested in meeting up with others in the Madison area that run Agile projects, work on Agile projects or folks who are just interested in hearing more about Agile.  Previously Jason use to attend meetings like this when he lived in the Twin Cities and he wanted to start something up like it in Madison, WI.

This past week we had our first meet-up with 5 people in attendance.  We spent the first 90 minutes with each person talking about their backgrounds, how they are using Agile in their organizations and what some of their frustrations were.

Some of the discussions we had were:

1.      How do you pull out traditional project management metrics to feed the PMO?
2.       How do you get buy-in to start your first Agile project.
3.       How you can blend the SDLC process along with using Agile techniques.

Okay, so let’s take #3 for a spin …  One of the attendees Brice Ruth is a contractor at American Family Insurance.  Brice indicated that AmFam has an internal website dedicated to Agile SDLC software development projects.  It is great to see an organization that is willing to blend the two together.  

Brice stated, “if you are worried about all the documentation that is needed for SDLC process, you can still have all the documents you want.  You just need to add a backlog item to your last sprint which is to create all the necessary SDLC documentation.”

In the last 30 minutes of our meeting we brainstormed some topic ideas for future meetings.  The next topic will be “Tools you use when managing Agile projects”.  Meeting date is 11Jan2011.

If you are interested in attending these meetings and receiving updates on them please join our Linkedin group:  Agile Madison

Friday, December 03, 2010

Help! My team members are in multiple locations!

1Dec2011: Please click above if you want the most recent Blog posts^.

Recently I had a short discussion with Kara Rose the current President of the PMI of south central/ Madison Wisconsin chapter about issues the board members were having with document reviews,  and having a place to have online discussions.  

She indicated to me that they were currently using yahoo groups and it was clunky and not user friendly.  She also mentioned that they were looking into setting up a SharePoint site, but was not sure who would host it.

After this I mentioned to her a few online applications that exist, and that I would think a bit about their issues to see if there is a good cheap product out there on the interweb to fit their needs.

What will work...

     I checked my notes on online PM applications and I think that an application from Teamworks may fit their needs.


Getting users in the system...

This was very easy to do and you can use an outside email address (any email address will work). 

Then you can determine if you want the system to send them a generated password or create one for them (the user, when they log in, can then change their password).

Next you can set up their permissions (sorta like SharePoint):


You would then create a project (I’ll review that at in another post), and below is what you would see from the top level of a project.  The key tabs for this discussion are: Files and Messages (also, I noticed that there is a news type feed that shows all the recent updates and a section to set up a RSS Feed).


Within the Message section it is a normal message forum with one twist.  It will allow you to indicate who you would like an email sent off to let them know that you posted a comment (much like you can in SharePoint).

File review...

Easy to upload, determine who can see it, add notes to the file.  Version history.  If someone downloads the file, edits it and uploads it in the same spot it creates a new version of it.  Comments section for each file (again with a notification feature), which is nice to see.

The Cons to the file review section is that 2 people could take the file out at the same time so your versioning won’t be correct.  No file review workflow with a must be completed by date followed by automated emails to the users that have not completed the task (all things that SharePoint has).


This is the most competitive pricing structure I’ve seen, because they base their prices on the number of projects and gigs of data with unlimited users.  Now for the PMI board their best option may be the one in the small print.  2 projects and 5mb of storage.  One project for PDD and one for general items.  Hey, you cannot beat free, but if you need a bit more space and a few more projects $12/month is not that bad either.  So for basic needs of a small committee of people may fit your needs (I’ll find out more in the next month if it truly has many of the common items we need to help us communicate out the on-goings of our projects).