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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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.

Question:

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

Answer:

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.


BY: A SCRUM MASTER AT INFOWARE STUDIOS


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Using lists in Trello for Agile software development

Introduction

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. 

Lists

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

trello_lists_02

Writing a Thesis

trello_lists_03

Planning Art Projects

trello_lists_01

Adding a new list

Step 1  – close the sidebar:

trello_add_list_01

Step 2 – click on Add List:

trello_add_list_02

Step 3 – add List Name and save:

trello_add_list_03

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

Conclusion

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

Resources
[list_icon color=”blue” type=”icon_arrow”]

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BY: SOFTWARE DEVELOPER AT INFOWARE STUDIOS


 

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Can Agile overcome cultural barriers

In the end we are all different and unique human beings with our own beliefs and cultural backgrounds. So can agile overcome some of these barriers?

Agile in practise

I have had the privilege these past couple of months to experience the difference agile can make in different cultures. In the Indian culture it is custom to have a representative or a spokesperson. It was a challenge to get the whole team to participate in the stand-ups and to show up for all the agile boundary meetings.  However after some training and a few months of getting used to the whole idea the team is now participating in all activities and enjoying it.

I don’t think that the agile values and principles are easy to follow for all cultures and that there will be a lot more challenges in the future. But we are adaptable and we can learn new ways.


BY: A SCRUM MASTER AT INFOWARE STUDIOS


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Best computer programming language to learn how to code

With today’s rapid pace of technological advances it is becoming more and more important to understand computers beyond typing letters in Word and playing Solitaire instead of working. But where does a complete stranger to programming start?

Introduction

I can only imagine how confusing it must be for a person with no background in computing to figure out how to start programming. The web is scattered with blogs and articles written by software developers for software developers. For a completely new person the terminology is foreign, it must feel like reading hieroglyphics. Terms like Java, JavaScript, C, C++, C#, Ruby, Python, Erlang, Database, Caching, Functional Programming, Object Orientated Paradigm, etc. are used all over the place.

Programming in the Past

When I started to program I visited the library and started in a language called BASIC. I wrote simple programs that took text as input and spitted out more text as output. It was easy to get started and the more I learned the more I could do. I moved on to Pascal (programming language) and then got more serious with C++, Java and eventually started loving Ruby. In between I learnt languages that interest me and every language influences the way I think as a developer and makes it easier to learn another language. 

Programming in the present

10 years ago BASIC was a good place to start to learn how to code but time has moved on and we have a plethora of new exciting languages and tools to teach us how to program. Just take a look at your nearest Google result page (http://lmgtfy.com/?q=learn+to+code). Sites like http://www.codecademy.com, http://Code.org and https:// www.khanacademy.org/ are all big efforts to make learning to code easy.

Today I wouldn’t recommend learning BASIC for a starter language, as it is not as accessible as it used to be and we don’t live in a world of DOS anymore. We live in a world of Windows, Mac and if you’re hardcore enough, Linux. We live in a world where we’re always close to an Internet connection. So what is the best language to learn to code in 2013?

Today’s BASIC is called JavaScript!

Just like BASIC, JavaScript is already on your computer, you can start writing JavaScript code without ever having to install any complicated tools or to learn how to use them. You can start off with a tutorial from the web, a book (I recommend http://shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596517748.do) or one of the online courses and instantly start developing programs. You can start coding right now, in your web browser. They will be simple and might seem stupid but nothing beats the feeling that you are in control of your own computer and if you keep learning more you could push your work to billions of people’s computers, mobile phones, tablets and anything connected to the internet. You can change the world.

Start to code now – learn programming

If you stumbled on this article and want to learn to code go to http://www.codecademy.com and learn JavaScript from their interactive learning course. Once you have learnt JavaScript you can create anything you can imagine, you will by then know enough about programming that you will be able to evaluate other languages and make your own decision on whether you want to learn a new language or take over the world with your first love. You will be a developer and part of being a developer is a never-ending quest for knowledge.

Extra Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nKIu9yen5nc

http://memeburn.com/2013/05/10-exciting-ways-to-learn-how-to-code-and-why-its-important/


BY: SOFTWARE DEVELOPER AT INFOWARE STUDIOS


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Agile Marketing – JIRA project management tool

The agile way

At Infoware Studios, everything we do is managed by using an agile approach, including our marketing department. Not only are we fiercely passionate about agile, but we practise what we preach as well and follow agile principles in all our projects.

As someone who is new to agile, software development and the like, I speak from a non-technical perspective. As the marketer for Infoware Studios, I found that agile was a really productive way of managing and executing tasks and that it could apply to any field or industry, not just software development.

Using JIRA

So we implemented an agile approach in our marketing activities primarily using JIRA, the project and issue tracking software by Atlassian. JIRA is an excellent project management tool that allows you to create high level topics (called Epics), and then create tasks to be actioned under those topics (called Issues). Tasks can be assigned to people in your team. You can then create a weekly (or bi-weekly if you want) to-do list known as a Sprint, where you add all the tasks that need to be actioned in this time frame.  You then move the tasks, based on your activity, through the To-Do, In Progress and Done columns. Columns can be added, removed and renamed, so they don’t need to necessarily be the same as those mentioned. JIRA also allows you to draw reports and include more than one project on your overall view.

JIRA has much more functionality than the above basics and is often used in software development. However, for someone in a non-IT related field, it works perfectly for project management and can help you increase your productivity and manage your time, as well as creating visibility on the work that you do.

Find out more

Infoware Studios offers JIRA training for those who are interested in utilising this agile tool within your own businesses. Feel free to contact us if you are keen.


BY: MISPAH CARELSEN, MARKETER AT INFOWARE STUDIOS


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Protocon Convention 2013

Garden route mall George, 14-15 March

“The Garden Route is hosting the most unconventional convention for creators ever seen in our area on 14 and 15 March at the Garden Route Mall in George.

ProtoCon 2013 is all about getting creative thinkers together to learn about creativity techniques and idea development, rapid prototyping, technology to kick-start your concept development and even the legal pitfalls of coming up with the next big thing. We will have both local and national speakers sharing their experiences in an informal “jeans and tekkies” event that is sure to leave the delegates enlightened and inspired to take their ideas to the next level.”

Awesome Speakers – including us!

Marita Durr, creativity expert from the Kobus Neethling group will get the creative juices flowing with whole-brain creativity techniques that really work. Our very own Carli Bunding-Venter, Local Economic Development expert from the George Municipality will show you some of the greatest creative spaces in the world and why we believe the Garden Route is a fantastic place to start up an innovative business. Imel Rautenbach, chairman of the George Business Chamber and CEO of the Garden Route Technology Incubator will share his trials and tribulations on getting a new business off the ground and the support systems for entrepreneurs that can help. If you’re thinking of starting a new business in technology you don’t want to miss this.

If you’re the impatient kind when it comes to seeing results, Nathan Jeffery is your man. He will show you the tricks of the trade that puts the “rapid” in rapid prototyping. Expect to be amazed with what the world has to offer in terms of internet-based tools. Microsoft is uploading Tania van Wyk de Vries from Infoware Studios to us via the cloud to show you some tools and products that can kick-start your application development effort. Keep an eye out how the BizSpark program can launch your idea onto a global stage. Rudie Shepherd will bring you back to earth with a hard look at what corporates look for when they invest in your idea. If you like to get paid for work, listen to this. Advocate Liesl Briel will lay down the Cyber Law. No need to worry though… the only arresting thing will be the talk.

Being an unconventional convention, Dr. Ernst van Biljon will deliver the keynote address at the end and share his views on the process of taking a great idea global. If you don’t walk out inspired to go put a dent in the international economy you were either not listening or your idea really stinks!”

Awesome line-up

“Have you ever experienced a Hackathon before? It is when a bunch of talented people get together and intensely work on solving a common problem – and walk away with a working prototype. Well, at ProtoCon, YOU are those talented people and every delegate has the opportunity to join a ProtoThon team and work on some challenges laid down by the municipalities in the region.

Can you come up with a great way to save lives on our cycle and hiking trails? Do you have an idea how to make your neighbourhood safer using technology? Is it possible to live in Knysna, have an office in George and have your clients in Dubai – all using technology? Put your thinking cap on and come prototype with us and share in prize money of R50,000. All will be revealed in March.”

Exhibit

“ProtoCon is also a showcase for local talent and we want your business to exhibit your innovative and unconventional products and services to the public. We’re taking over the entire mall to give you a great opportunity to reach the thousands of shoppers with your idea at a very low cost. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Register today at www.protocon.co.za !”


BY: RUDIE SHEPERD, PROTOCON 2013 ORGANISER


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