Remember to celebrate

I have recently read about how important it is to reward yourself when you achieve a goal. During our childhood years we have parents, if we are lucky, that teach us about good and bad behaviour through rewards or punishment. A lot of the time in projects, and even in life, we set out goals for ourselves to achieve and when we reach them we start focusing immediately on the next goal.

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Building Healthy Agile Teams

It is not easy to build a relationship. And it is even more difficult to maintain a good and healthy one.

Some people say the key is in simply spending time together. Others say it is about spending quality time together. But how do you ensure that the relationships you are building within an agile environment are healthy, resulting in healthy agile teams?

Agile teams

As a Product Owner, you need the team and the Scrum Master to trust your vision and the decisions you are making. A Scrum Master needs to lead and motivate agile teams to stick to the agile processes as well as guide the Product Owner. Team members need to trust each other to finish quality work. For all this to happen in harmony, there must be a strong bond between all the team members.

Building agile teams

Simply spending time together every day in a work environment isn’t enough to build the collaboration that you need in agile teams.  I have noticed that agile teams that have team building activities and that spend more time outside of the work environment together just work better together. If you think about it, it makes sense. If someone becomes not just the person that sits next to you each day, but a comrade that is driving the same goal, your thinking changes.

You now have something in common but you also know more about your colleague than just their name. We need to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to work better together. And what’s a better way to do that than by having some fun together?


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The Role of the Product Owner

The Role of the Product Owner

As Agile Scrum Masters, we are typically faced with many questions. Here we are focusing on the questions asked around the Product Owner’s role. Following this, we will be addressing a few of the most frequently asked questions in a series of posts related to other topics when implementing agile.


What is the role of the Product Owner in the sprint boundary meetings?


During a Stand-up: Product Owner is allowed to attend. He/she typically attend the stand-up to be available to the team to clarify anything on requirements if raised as an impediment during the stand-up. After 15 min or when the stand-up is completed he/she can then attend to these questions.

During Grooming: In the Grooming session the Product Owner priorities the Sprint back log with the team. He/she ensures that there is enough detail / requirements on a story for it to be estimated by the scrum team.

During Planning session 1: Part one of the sprint planning meeting is a review of the product backlog. During this part of the meeting, the team will ask the Product Owner to clarify questions and the Product owner and Team will negotiate “What” will be taken into a sprint. By the end of sprint planning session one, the team will select a sprint goal: a one-sentence description of the overall outcome of the sprint.

During Planning session 2: During session two of the sprint planning meeting, the team decides “THE HOW”. In this meeting the team will begin breaking up the product backlog items into work tasks. He/she should be available during this meeting but does not have to be in the room. If the product owner does remain in the room, the Scrum Master needs to take charge of this part of the meeting, keeping the team focused and free to explore possibilities without being limited by the product owner’s own ideas or opinions. The outcome of session two planning will be in the Sprint backlog.

Review session: The review is meant to look at what has been produced and still remains to be done. Here the Developers can show stakeholders, Product Owners and the team what they have done. In this meeting the Product owner has the right to either reject or accept a particular piece of work.

Sprint Retro meeting: The Product Owner is only allowed to attend the Retro if the team has asked for him/her to join in on the session.


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Jira Plugin Development – Making sense of the Jira Technical Ecosystem

This is the first in a series of articles dealing with Jira plugin development.


Jira is a project tracker web application built by Atlassian in Java, and is used for agile software development by thousands of project teams. Jira can either be used as a hosted application (Jira OnDemand), or can be installed on a local server. Jira OnDemand is ideal for smaller companies that do not want to take on the burden of managing their own server. 



The server requirements for a production system are:
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  • a Linux, Solaris or Microsoft Server based server
  • a suitable Java platform (JDK or JRE)
  • the Apache Tomcat application server
  • Oracle, My SQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft SQL Server Database


Most modern browsers are supported on the client side, a minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768 and Javascript support is required. More details on the specific version requirements can be found on the Jira website.


Architectural Overview

Jira is deployed as a standard Java WAR file, and is built on the following:

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  • WebWork, a Java web application framework (webwork1 is used)
  • Seraph, used for web authentication
  • Embedded Crowd, used for identity and user management
  • PropertySet, used to store key/value pairs
  • Active Objects, a new Object Relational Mapping layer used by plugins
  • 100s of Java classes, used to implement business logic (core and manager classes)
  • Apache Lucene, used for searching
  • JSP and Velocity, used for view templates
  • Quartz, used for job scheduling
  • OSWorkflow, a workflow API providing a very flexible workflow implementation
  • OFBiz (Apache’s Open for Business Project), open source enterprise automation software


In addition to the above, Atlassian has also introduced a Gadget Javascript Framework that can be used for the development of gadgets.


Plugin Development

The Atlassian Marketplace is the preferred distribution channel for custom plugins, both for free open-source or commercial add-ons. Various plugin modules are supported for functional areas such as reporting, workflows, custom fields, searching, remote access, as well as links and tabs. There are different versions of the Atlassian Jira Plugin Development Platform, each with a specific set of component versions. 

The major components in the platform for Jira Plugin Development are:

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  • Shared Access Layer (SAL), the API for accessing common services
  • Atlassian User Interface (AUI), set of reusable Javascript and CSS UI components
  • Atlassian Template Renderer (ATR), API for rendering textual content
  • Atlassian Event, library that allows plugins to send and consume internal messages
  • Activity Streams, API for sending and consuming activity streams
  • Gadgets, framework for developing OpenSocial gadgets
  • Universal Plugin Manager (UPM), tool for installing and managing plugins
  • Atlassian REST Plugin Module, create plugins points easily by exposing service and data entities
  • Trusted Apps, protocol for authenticating Atlassian applications
  • Application Links (AppLinks), a module that allows connection to external Atlassian applications
  • OAuth, the Atlassian implementation for accepting and sending authenticated requests
  • Plugin Framework, the framework that executes the plugins and manages available plugin modules
  • Active Objects, an ORM layer used for plugin data storage
  • SpeakEasy, an experimental extension mechanism for plugin prototyping
  • Jira Issue Collector, library for collecting user feedback from any page


Some Trivia

Jira is pronounced ‘JEEra’, based on the pronunciation of Kujira, which is Japanese for ‘whale’. Jira is used by companies such as NASA, Cisco, BMW and Facebook to manage their product development teams.


Jira Developer Resources

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Discovering Agile

I have heard a lot about agile over the past few years but never really understood it as that stage; it was not a part of my life. A few months ago I came face to face with agile and started to dig deeper into this new methodology that is changing the world by discover agile.

After a lot of learning and discovering, I came to a few conclusions – Agile is common sense. When we think back to our days at school, playing team sports, it was always a team effort to win that game. Somewhere in the corporate world we forgot all about team work and moved to the selfish view of how fast one can climb the corporate ladder.

Discover Agile in business

I have discovered that with agile, a happier environment is created by promoting working together as a team. We all need our support structures and as social creatures it is natural to want to feel part of a community, to want to build something together.  With agile, the responsibility for success is given back to the teams on the ground and is no longer just a management paradigm.  There is also no longer a divide between management and staff. They work together as a team to make their company successful. 

An agile path

There is still a lot to learn and discover about agile. Agile is adapting and changing to accommodate the reality of running a modern-day company. If we remember the basics of agile and live by it, we easily fall in love with our work again.  And that is the kind of people that you want at your company.  The ones that want to make a difference and want to succeed.


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Using lists in Trello for Agile software development


Trello is a so-called horizontal product, meaning that it can be used by a wide variety of people, solving a wide range of problems. It is also well-suited for smaller agile software development projects. 


One of the key features of Trello is the ability to create custom lists (swimlanes). Cards (which can typically contain user stories) can then be attached to custom lists.

Examples of lists

The flexibility of Trello lists can be illustrated by some examples.

Video Production


Writing a Thesis


Planning Art Projects


Adding a new list

Step 1  – close the sidebar:


Step 2 – click on Add List:


Step 3 – add List Name and save:


Step 4 – drag list to the appropriate position on the board.


For more information on how Trello can be used to fit your agile project needs, do a Google search for ‘Trello agile swimlanes’.

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