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We usually release new features on Herogami in 6 week cycles. It all starts with some thick marker drawings modelling new features picked from our backlog. The drawings get translated into a first version of some nasty, dirty and smelly code. Sometimes we throw everything away, sometimes we see that it works, that it is useful, that it helps. And that code is sifted through, cleaned, skimmed, integrated, simplified. Very often, it is reduced by half: no one likes code, especially if there is too much of it. Less code, better code. And, eventually, we drop it onto a battery of servers scattered across the cloud.

But let's skip all premises and get straight to the point.

Herogami just got a significant update: it's called Herogami Turboedit and it makes creating and editing data more lively. Here’s what’s all about.

1) A new side panel for viewing or editing records in context

When viewing or editing a card, task, project or component, the new side panel opens from the right to keep you on the current view. No more page jumps. Herogami philosophy is to build a "sense of place" and keep people in the current context. Turboedit was released on this basis. And, to keep you going, Herogami is now speedier than before: we have optimzed overall performace and responsiveness of all editing operations squeezing out some tangible improvements. Turboedit is twice as fast.

2) Drag cards to the position you meant

The action of dragging cards in kanban boards got a massive improvement: manual positioning. Basically you drag a card, drop it at a given porition and, yep, it will sit there. Seems easy, it’s not. Given the flexibility of the underlying kanban data model we can guarantee that this is a major achievement and got us into crazy algorithms. For positioning cards in kanbans, before manual positioning, Herogami relied on the SORT menu. And since many users truly liked the option of just sorting all out with a click of a menu, this sorting option is still there. Turboedit, therefore, introduces the optimal solution: drag the cards to the position you prefer or simply click the SORT menu for instant sorting according to your preferred criterion. The manual positioning of the cards allows you to define sequences or simply to establish the visual order of the cards best for the project and to communicate their status. The sort menu does a quick and easy job.  Having both options is, we like to think, the cherry on top.

3) Organize your projects portfolio with drag’and’drop

Turboedit brings improved project portfolio management: in PROJECTS you can place the project cards in the order you prefer by simply dragging them around. Drag a project card with the mouse to the position you prefer and release it to find it in the same position the next time you look at your projects. The decided position is yours alone, Herogami will remember it as your personal preference.

4) New project card with activity diagram

We have introduced a new project card, it is called ACTIVITY and reports the activity, like a graph, that the project has seen in the current sprint. It is a useful tool to immediately understand which are the most active projects and, if anything, to intervene in those that are a little slower.

5) New hamburger menus in project cards and tasks

The project cards also feature a new hamburger menu (yep, it has three layers, like a hamburger: bread, burger, bread) to quickly access the project dashboard, its tasks, the calendar, the sprints. Or simply to modify it. Of course with the new side panel.

6) Improved management of the Lightbox view in TASKS

Lightbox simulates a light table where you freely arrange your cards like in the old days of slide film. It’s great when you need a visual overview of all your cards without the distraction of visual elements like kanban columns or table fields. For instance when cherry-picking tasks in a backlog grooming session. We've improved Lightbox overall to make it faster and more responsive, especially when used with the GROUP menu. You’ll find some drag’n’drop galore also in Lightbox, go check it out.

We invite you to take a few minutes to explore Herogami Turboedit. Please let us know if you like it or if there is anything you would consider like space for improvement. We plan to refine some initial rough-edges in the coming weeks and your input will be most appreciated.

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
26 Jun 2021 Read more

Revising a full-blown application platform in cycles of three to six months in the aim of improving responsiveness and usability it ain’t exactly easy: most of the time a complete overhaul of the user journey means a tsunami will hit code base turning it upside down and questions arise at every step. Questions bring doubts. Doubts, in turn, carry uncertainty. Yet, we are doing it. We're literally in the middle of another odissey in the waves of methods changing, schema expasions, processes reshaping.

The Herogami crew is currenly cruising a development milestone we called Turboedit which is bringing even more speed and ease of use to the simple act of, well, editing stuff like cards, projects and other entities. Turboedit will also extend drag'n'drop capabilities outside the kanban: our users will be able to drag everything along, even reordering projects to they likings.

Touching a code base and introducing changes has a name, it’s called refactoring. And it’s brutal!

This morning I read a poem, its title is Invictus, which resounded with the feelings of going through such a hard task. But first, a little digression. I am born italian and speak english kinda like native ‘coz I’ve lived across US and US for a while. Possibly, the most lonely phase of my life, yet the most interesting and compelling. I had a cottage in a small english town, Colchester, I was actually renting the thing from a landlady that was spending her workweek in Nottingham and coming back for the weekends. Monday to friday life was good, saturday and sundays I had her around. Nothing bad about it apart from the smell of pot she was having with her friends. Every damn saturday night! I am not a weed person. I don’t like substances. Hence, I did not like my host. But that’s a different story, anyway. The thing is: I am born italian but I speak english and I am fascinated by the english cultural world and state of mind. Therefore, I happen to read english poets, from time to time.

Enough for my ramblings, back to the poem, Invictus. The most quotes passage of the poem is “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. In case you wonder, that’s the exact feeling software developers experience when refactoring a very large code base like the one of Herogami.

Millions.

Of.

Lines.

Of.

Code!

You touch something knowing you’re not going to break it, you’re going it to change it. Herogami has a solid foundation, the code is pretty tough. But of course it has some assumptions. And it works on those assumptions.

When you modify an identifier in a div or another HTML element, when you add a field to the database, when you enter a new method in the code that expands a feature, you know things are going to get stormy. Think regressions. Think that they’re everywhere.

Therefore, every time I touch a piece of code, I think of the Invictus poem.

I am the captain of my soul.

Code is poetry, someone said. It’s true: well written code is poetry. And I am the captain of my soul.

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
12 Jun 2021 Read more

How many times have you heard the term "informal project management" or "informal project manager"?

If you are like me, a project manager by trade among other roles and hats, then chances are that you have heard it quite often. Informal projects are projects carried out by non-formal project managers or in combination with active stakeholders that may not be PM-literate.

Why is it that we view and call some projects formal and others informal? Is this because a project is only formal if it is an IT project or a project of the PMO? Does this mean that all other projects carried out by folks throughout the company or organization are something less of a project? Regrettably, to many people within the "formal" project management community the answer is yes and they have a blind eye to and are oblivious of such "informal" projects.

Truth is, projects are always born informal.

You meet the new customer, either internal or from some parallel universe. You start a conversation, the agenda states that you'll get dropped a problem the guy has, and that it will fall right on your lap. More often the not, the conversation is unstructured, the agenda is articulated, the problem complex.

Yet, how can you dare to approach this situation in a formal fashion when the chap in front of you is talking his/her own giddy-giddy lingo you can barely understand?

Welcome to the world of informal requirements capturing. A mess that gets thrown onto the meeting table, the video conference, whatever. No documents. You expect some, but Mr Customer has none. Zero! No freakin' documents. It's all in their heads and its incredibly unstructured.

 

In this case you want to start capturing tasks from day one:

1. Log into Herogami

2. Create new project named What a mess!

3, Start dropping cards into backlog at every meeting, they don't need to make sense.

4, Tag them with a configured scope "mess" or whatever.

Herogami quick insert forms in the TASKS page makes it a pleasingly fast process. And the WIKI helps too: record every meeting into the Herogami Wiki to keep information handy.

Then, when the storm is gone, get yourself together and groom your backlog. Groom that shit.

Herogami that shit!

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
02 Jun 2021 Read more

Sorting cards: it’s what Herogami does better than most Agile project management software out there ‘coz we designed its sorting architecture from the very beginning. We sort cards from Herogami deep data-driven architecture and we sort fast, hundreds of cards at the blink of an eye.

But sometimes you don’t want to sort things according to the value of a field or some weird functional criteria or attribute: you want to sort things by hand.

Sorting by hand means you manually position a card in a given location, which aquires value in respect of its siblings. You don’t sort a card, you place a card. Somewhere. Somewhere close to other cards, in a visual configuration that makes no sense of attributes or fields, it makes sense of you. Of your priorities, of your intents.

The Herogami development crew is currently actively working on manual placements of cards across all boards supported. This includes the Lighbox (all cards, no columns), the kanban (a columnized container of cards), the table, the list, the task planner.

Sorting cards by hand is an algorithmic endeavour that needs to accomodate the unpositional nature of records in a database with a visual abstraction that takes care of “idle” states and “searching” states. That needs to accomodate different filtering applied by users. And the many, many view that are the bread and butter of our beloved users.

Getting there. Slowly but steadily getting there and soon to be released: manual sort.

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
14 May 2021 Read more

Herogami started kinda 8 years ago and it has not been a blasting success, a blitzscaling case, a freaking unicorn. Not at all. Not for the faintest clue.

It's been a giganormous amount of work carried on usually at late hours, even on vacation, not to mention the unusual places like train seats while reaching a client or, well, a bathroom!

The thing is that building SaaS is basically a low-reward operation until you scale it. And scaling, oh boy, it's not easy at all. Low prices require critical mass which in turns requires going heavy on marketing, which in turns requires a lot of cash to burn.

searching for life

Herogami did not take that path. We did and do not have access to huge capital, this is the work of a small team which has done its best to create a piece of software that helps people out in the real world. It helps keeping projects straight, to our best attempt and most of the time this stuff works. And we're still on the job, improving things slightly and getting obsessed with an interface that needs no manuals and backend code that holds up through the years.

So what's the point? Why are we keeping up with the pace since all these years if fruits are not poppin' up on the horizon yet?

Because we bloody use this thing to manage our consulting operations and it's so damn cool to say that you're doing project management for quotes companies on stuff you wrote.

Fuck, yeah, let's do it!

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
08 May 2021 Read more

Product tours get in the way! Everyone is just too freakin’ tired of hunting popups that open all over the place on their screens.

Webinars are a pain! We’re all too busy to waste time looking at some weird, unknown geek treating its audience like kids.

And then there’s on-line manuals. What? U think I am going to sit down in front of my computer screen to read your lengthy user manual? No way!

So, the real question is: how do you communicate a software product when there is not a chance you can stand close to your so-called end-user which, just like in our case, is possibly a few thousands miles from our desk?

Answering such a question is not an easy task for any player in the software business, and this is especially true for SAAS providers, like the folks having fun here by the way.  The happy bunch behing Herogami did not come up with an answer. No we did not. Actually, in a certain way, we literally skipped the question! Herogami has chosen a totally different and unexpected alternative which, inadvertently, ended up as best answer possible to the original question: provide no instructions, ‘coz no one, no one is gonna read them, and just throw your end-user into action.

Let them play, let them explore. Make sure to remove any single friction your end users may hit of feel. In a word make it fun. And transparent. And simple. Make it playful. And facilitate discovery. Expose the basics at first. Make people feel at home. Invest time on consistency and readability. Then provide a few, discreet hints to your tricky features. Sink complexity into to the easy bits. Facilitate tentatives. Let people get it wrong first because they will get it right at their second try.

That’s what Herogami does when you sign up for a new, free account: Herogami lets you play!

The Herogami signup experience (ok, call it onboarding if you wish, that's the word for it actually) aims at providing our new users an environment to play with from the very first second they login onto their newly created accounts. Every time you signup for a new account, Herogami creates a fresh playground project called Explore Herogami and kicks you right in! Explore Herogami lets you play around without forcing you to enter any data, saving you the hassle and negative experience of, well, leaning by mistakes. Our onboarding journey boosts your sniffy brain cells and shows you in a snap what you can achieve: Herogami shows you how simple and intelligible your projects can become. When software is done right, you very much realize pretty soon that you don’t need to waste time on product tours or user manuals to effectively use it.

Give your team a break from the stress of missing dates, find yourself at home in no time with Herogami and stop worrying who's doing what.

And, just In case, don’t be afraid to drop us an e-mail and book a quick webinar. It’s gonna be 20 minutes of fun, guaranteed.

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
02 Jul 2019 Read more

We're boosting the engines of our happy development team to fix a major pain in software projects. You sweat your butt off to release the damn thing and, guess what, it's not over: end-users are actually starting to use your software! How amazing! :-)

And with heavy usage bugs start to pop out, support requests start to pop out, e-mails from customers start to pop-up, crazy dunno-how-to start to pop up, Facebook comments and Twitter complaints start to pop-up.

 

And it's a mess, because even if you have a support team these guys are totally disconnected from your development team and, let's be brutally honest, even if you have a support team for your projects there was simply no time to train them on the software and get them acquainted with all the tricks your development team came out with: it take ages to get those guys on board. Without even counting that software gets modified and extended at a speed your support team can only hope to stand.

Meet Herogami Check-In, bringing together your end-users, your support folks and your development gurus all in one room so they can communicate in a breeze and solve issues in a snap.

Herogami Check-In acts as customer support portal that extends the scope of Herogami to full-scale project support by providing a dedicated space for your end-users to communicate issues and requests, for your support staff or developers to review them and respond accordingly. Think e-mail support that becomes truly actionable. And Facebook. And Twitter. All with the ease of use and relaxed feeling you've come to appreciate while managing your agile projects on good old Herogami.

Gather tasks from Herogami Check-In and route them to specific projects, route them to developers across all your Herogami projects, communicate with your users via e-mail and social networks, create tasks, issues and stories from end-users requests. Consume feeds from Facebook and Twitter and respond to your customers on their walls, feeds and timelines.

Get all your team mates involved, informed and engaged on what end-users want and how they feel about your project or product: Herogami Portal makes end-user contributions available to all your teams through the projects they work on everyday.

Herogami Check-In, the end-user portal ready with just a mouse click, coming soon on Herogami.com and Herogami PrivateCloud.

Grumpy Herogami, Architect
08 Aug 2018 Read more

ABD On Tour is the new nationwide Italian initiative delivering workshops led by proven Agile professionals to companies and organizations looking to adopt an Agile twist.

Industry-leading coaches and speakers share their knowledge of the Agile domain at all levels, from project management practices to lean collaboration and coherent teamwork habits, all designed to make teams and organizations achieve results by improving transparency, lower stress and deliver verifiable output.

ABD On Tour sessions target professionals wanting to improve their knowledge and expertise of Agile and are hosted at the premises of major Italian companies and brands such as Lotto, Pagani (yes, the Zonda car maker!) and more.

Herogami was main sponsor of the January workshop focusing on Kanban, hosted at the H-FARM headquarters in Treviso, one of the leading Italian startup accelerators.

The event took place on a cozy Saturday morning in the beautiful contemporary buildings of H-CAMPUS, a H-FARM company bridging opportunities that modern digital technologies provide to students of all ages.

H-CAMPUS and H-International School programs are designed to promote an educational path where knowledge is gained through a hands-on approach, through direct contact wth the most advanced technology and through an innovative teaching methodology that aims to cultivate knowledgeable, sensitive, attentive, curious and well prepared students of all ages.

The workshop led by Gaetano Mazzanti from Agile42, the international company specializing in Agile mentoring. Gaetano, a proven Agile coach interfacing all levels in complex international organizations, delivered a great 360-degrees overview of the best Kanban practices. In a relaxed atmosphere and supported by an attentive audience, Gaetano shared the effectiveness of the pull Vs push teamwork approach, cards layouts tactics, story planning strategies, priority management threats as well as non-conventional KPI and charts to measure project progress and team efficiency.

All participants received a 12 months coupon to try out Herogami digital Kanban boards and granting access to all major features, such as:

- Projects portfolio management
- Project Kanban boards with multiple views
- Customizable workflows for stories and issues
- WIP limits at each step of the process
- Full team activity tracking in the Project Timeline
- Shared Wiki for recording meetings, retrospectives and more
- Project Calendar linked to dates in Kanban cards
- Automatic emails and smart comments notifications

A week or so from the event, we are already seeing the adoption of Herogami among participants: newly registered teams got up to speed in a snap and are now appreciating the ease of use of Herogami and its balanced ergonomics allowing teams to tailor Agile practices on their own methods. Herogami supports the process without forcing a specific process or mindset, providing the just-about-right foundation for teams to deliver successful projects.

Of course we’d love to see these new teams leverage the full potential of Herogami. Here’s a glimpse of our PRO and PREMIUM plans.

- Backlog creation via e-mails from stakeholders and guests, product owners should not spend their day typing on their laptops keyboards, there’s a world of interviews and meetings to attend!

- Linking stories and issues to your source code repositories and review committed files and comments from within Herogami.

- RESTful APIs to integrate external systems such as third-party ticketing systems, timesheet databases, reporting tools and more.

- Full download of the team activity log from a given sprint for retrospectives and other review sessions, have you ever wondered the average time your cards spend sitting in the leftmost column on your Kanban board before being put to work?

And, last but not least, extended cloud storage, first class support, customization of PrivateCloud instances, on-premises installations, training programs and more.

Acting as main sponsor, a tiny bunch from the Herogami Crew attended the event and, to say it out loud, it was just great! We definitely spend far too much time in our cloud made of servers and compilers: what a refreshing break getting our feet on the ground (actually on the shiny green soft lawn of H-CAMPUS!) for a day. Also, sharing interest and curiosity for all-Agile topics with Gaetano and all participants has been an extremely rewarding opportunity.

We wish the ABD On Tour initiative, Gaetano Mazzanti and Agile42 as well as H-CAMPUS the success they deserve, they are fast-lane players in the creation of a new global project management culture. A more human-centered project management culture Herogami and our thirteen-thousand registered customers from more than twenty countries are part of, already.

Simone Eckehard, Business developer
01 Feb 2018 Read more

Limiting WIP is an integral part of a well-designed Agile process. Increasing the workload of your team will not make your project delivery process any faster, unexpectedly filling your pipeline with a number of tasks proportional to your team velocity will.

A good measure of your peers ability to process and complete a task is to measure the time a given task goes through the columns of your kanban. Is it taking one day? Three days? More? Since Herogami tracks all events occurring on your cards on the project timeline, you can export the timeline and filter for relevant tasks and events, including timestamps.

By carefully analyzing the exported timeline in a spreadsheet you can easily gather the average number of tasks being processed at every step of your process. This gives you and your team a good measure of the maximum number of tasks that can sit at each step, aka your WIP limit.

To make sure your team complies with its velocity and avoid overallocation that would clog the process, make WIP limits explicits in Herogami.

Enter the Stories Statuses menu and edit a stage of the process, say the DOING stage that hosts tasks currently in development, and enter a number in the Limit WIP field. Say that you’ve established that your team can only process 5 tasks at any given time. Enter 5.

From then on, Herogami will mark the DOING column red whenever the WIP limit is passed, flagging the whole team that the maximum number of tasks to be carried over has passed your team’s ability to work them through.

Since Herogami provides dedicated workflow for stories and issues, limiting WIP in a story state will not affect issues. Act accordingly on issues statuses if you need so.

Alfred Dierk, Agile Coach
23 Jan 2018 Read more

What’s the best way to manage a project? Like with most things, the answer is: it depends as each project has requirements. This is where knowledge of project management methodologies comes in hand as it can help project managers figure out the best approach. To this end, we put together an article about the most popular project management methodologies. But first…

What’s a project management methodology?

Briefly, a project management methodology is a systematic approach to designing, executing and delivering a project. Project management methodology is a clearly defined combination of related practices, methods, and processes which determine how to best manage workload. It is a model for planning and achieving task goals.

Project management methodologies guide the team through all the phases of a project, with guidance on processes and tasks. These start with help in planning, initiation and implementation, all the way to closure. By providing clear guidance with in-depth descriptions for every step, project management methodologies help teams reduce risks and avoid failure.

Top 5 project management methodologies

While there are over 17+ project management methodologies, the ones listed below are the most popular.

Waterfall project management

The waterfall project management methodology is a sequential process. According to it, progress is seen as result flowing from previous steps. This project management methodology was first outlined in the 1950s. Still, the first use of the official “waterfall” name wasn’t until 1976 in a paper written by Bell and Thayer.

The initial waterfall model has 6 main stages:

1. Outlining and documenting requirements

2. Analysis

3. Design & conception

4. Development

5. Testing/Quality assurance

6. Maintenance

As soon as each step is completed, reviewed and verified, project managers can move forward to the next step. Since waterfall implies a sequence of steps, you cannot go back to a previous step without starting all over from the beginning. This leaves little room for change, so outcomes and a very detailed plan need to be established early on then followed closely.

One of the strong points in waterfall project management methodology is that is stresses rigorous documentation – for example requirements or design document, along with source code. This way, project knowledge can be easily passed on to new team members – in case anyone leaves the project before completion.

Also, because it moves forward in a linear way, projects planned using waterfall are easy to understand and its phases are pretty much self-explanatory. It’s also easy to identify project milestones as moving forward always implies completing a step.

On the downside, in waterfall, you cannot go back to an earlier step to make changes. Also, if the initial requirements are faulty, the result is pretty much doomed, too. Additionally, waterfall leaves little room for changing or evolving needs. If client needs and demands change, projects will take longer and more money to complete. Also, testing or quality assurance take place only further down the line, which makes it harder to detect bugs and predict their overall impact.

Waterfall project management is recommended for projects with fixed scope and requirements or for fixed and stable projects with little change. Also, once the requirements are established, projects that run on waterfall don’t need extensive client presence.

Agile project management

Agile project management came about as a response to rapidly changing demands in software development. Since waterfall doesn’t do a good job accommodating changes, agile stepped in to address these constantly changing needs.

Compared to waterfall, which is linear, agile project management takes an iterative approach to managing tasks and processes. It stems from Toyota’s lean manufacturing approach in the 1940s. Agile focuses on ongoing improvement through continuous releases. Also, it incorporates feedback from previous versions in every new iteration. Speed, team input and delivering high-quality work are all key characteristics of agile project management.

Agile project management grew on software developers quickly as it helps reduce waste and it increases transparency. Also, with continuous releases, agile pushes teams to collaborate and to innovate faster.

Agile project management is based on four core values:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

2. Working software over comprehensive documentation

3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

4. Responding to change over following a plan

Besides the 4 core values, Agile also uses a list of 12 principles on matters of collaboration and self-organization. All these are covered in the Agile manifesto.

Agile has won praise because it allows for faster development while reducing waste of resources. Also, it has increased flexibility and is more adaptive to change, making it easier to focus efforts on a specific goal. Agile also allows for quick detection of issues and potential bugs, thus optimizing the development process. It also allows for increased collaboration and feedback and it puts customer needs at the forefront.

Scrum project management

There is a lot of confusion between Scrum and Agile. While Agile refers to a set of methods and principles, Scrum is a framework used to implement Agile methodology

In Scrum, teams work in iterative cycles called sprints. The product owner, the person in charge of creating the product outlines the product vision statement, product roadmap and the project backlog. Along with the development team, the product owner plans what will be delivered at the end of each sprint.

Once a new sprint begins, teams hold short, daily meetings. Here, each tells about what they’re working on and if they have encountered challenges. At the end of each sprint, there is a sprint review that demos the completed work. Next are sprint retrospectives where the team evaluates their way of working and discusses potential problems.

In Scrum, progress needs to be transparent and easily measurable. To this end, teams use six documents to outline requirements and track progress. These are:

1. Project vision statement: a document that outlines the main goals of the project

2. Project roadmap: a high-level overview or project requirements, along with a timeframe and milestones for delivery.

3. Project backlog: this is a list of all the tasks that need to be completed, ordered by priority.

4. Release plan: A high-level timeline for releases

5. Sprint backlog: A list of goals and task associated with the current sprints.

Implementing Scrum can be easily done with spreadsheets or post-its. That can work well for small teams that share a location. For remote or distributed teams, project managers need proper tools to make ensure transparency. Herogami allow project managers to run projects in Scrum effectively.

PRINCE2 project management

PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is a process-based method for managing projects. Initially used by the UK government, the first framework for PRINCE was developed in the 1980s. After its approach was reviewed and updated in 1996, PRINCE2 became popular across a variety of industries, both in the UK and internationally.

As a project management methodology, PRINCE2 has 5 key features:

1. Focus on business justification

2. Defined organisation structure for the project management team

3. Product-based planning approach

4. Emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages

5. Flexibility that can be applied at a level appropriate to the project.

Since it is a process-based approach, PRINCE2 is governed by principles that control the entire process from start to finish. These make sure that each stage is clearly structured and that there are no loose ends when completing a project. The 6 rules of PRINCE2 are:

1. All processes must have a clear business justification. They need to serve a clear need, a realistic customer and defined benefits.

2. Project teams should learn at every stage. Every step provides lessons that are recorded and that can be used to improve in the future.

3. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Every team member should know what they and their mates are responsible for.

4. Planning is done in stages. Tasks are splitted into individual phases, with specific milestones and checkups to confirm that everything is on track and according to requirements.

5. Project boards manage by exception. Generally, once the requirements are set, project managers have the authority to manage a project without additional input from senior management. However, if issues come up, they can be considered an exception and involve senior management.

6. Teams need to constantly keep an eye on quality, checking against requirements

In PRINCE2 there are also 7 stages: starting up, directing, initiating a project, controlling a stage, managing project delivery, managing stage boundaries and closing the project. Additionally, there are 5 roles: the customer, the user (can sometimes be the same as the customer), the supplier, the project manager, the team manager and the administrator.

Compared to previous project management methodologies, PRINCE2 requires experience in order to be implemented. What’s more, there are also available courses that allow project managers to get certification with this methodology.

Kanban project management

Kanban project management was conceived by a Toyota engineer back in 1953. Compared to other project management methodologies, it focuses more on visualizing the workflow in order to balance demand and spot potential bottlenecks.

In Kanban, work is divided into specific stages and steps. Each team member does his/her work then passes the task forward for the next stage to be completed. Kanban is somehow similar to a factory floor where a piece of metal goes through a series of steps to be turned into a finished part.

Kanban requires project managers to define each stage of the workflow. Also, project managers need a system to get a task from one stage to the other. While this sounds easier for physical goods, for knowledge work is can be something like cards – virtual or real. As work on the task progresses, the card is moved to different lists.

Kanban focuses on managing output and efficiency. By doing one thing at a time, it allows project managers to estimate better the workload a specific team member can deliver. Additionally, Kanban is pretty flexible, with only four guiding principles:

1. Cards (Kanban translates to “visual card”): Each task has a card with all the relevant information needed to complete the tas

2. Cap on work in progress: To avoid burnout, project managers need to limit how many cards are in play at once

3. Continuous Flow: Prioritize according to importance and make sure there always is a workload

4. Constant improvement: Analyze the flow to determine efficiency and what can be improved

Compared to other project management methodologies, Kanban is a bit more laid back. With no sprints, assigned roles or specific milestones, team members can focus freely on the task at hand. Also, meetings are defined according to team needs, instead of regular process meetings.

Like Scrum, Kanban is great for teams that don’t need a lot of management and are self-motivated. It can also help project managers focus on efficiency, thus saving resources. If project managers are careful not to overload, projects can be completed in time and within budget. However, Kanban works best where skills are evenly distributed, sometimes overlapping in a team. If one team member has a specific in-demand skill, that can hold up the project.

Michele Florian, Senior Developer
12 Oct 2017 Read more

Herogami is silver sponsor of the Agile Business Day conference to be held in Venice, Italy, on 16th September 2017.

The event is a boost and a must for any Agile practitioner in the country. More than 400 participants and 50 nationwide-level speakers will get together in one of the most beautiful event venues in the world, the University of Ca' Foscari in the heart of Venice, to explore benefits of Agile methodologies in business-related contexts.

For the second year in a row, we are crazily excited to announce that Herogami is sponsoring the initiative. The Agile ecosystem in Italy is facing a momentum of significant growth, organizations and businesses at all levels are progressively realizing the benefits of contemporary lean methodologies and continuous improvement processes.

Herogami offers unique opportunities to teams and companies that start experiencing the most commonly Agile tactics for visually communicating content and progress in Agile projects. Herogami does not require complex setup, it is easy to use and provide a complete set of tracking, collaboration and sharing features.

Agile Business Day 2017 explores the business benefits and challenges posed in adopting Agile methodologies in businesses and companies, in non-profit organizations and in the public-sector. The focus of the conference revolves around the theme of innovative organizations and how to engage the best people in the organization to increase the rate of innovation and ensure both quality and economic sustainability.

Agile Business Day is a unique opportunity to share ideas and best practices and is not reserved to limited to industry experts or Agile professionals: Agile newcomers are definitely most welcome too!

Checkout the event website at http://www.agilebusinessday.com

Simone Eckehard, Business developer
15 Sep 2017 Read more

A quick recap from part 1 (you can read the entire post here). This post aims at clarifying the role and responsibilities of a project owner with regards to projects requirements, which are not to be confused with user stories. The latter is in fact a representation of those requirements that intermediate the communication between business stakeholders and the development team.

With these premises, let’s go back to our initial goal: given a set of requirements capture in one or more meetings and interviews (well detailed in part 1), let’s make sure that your development team deliver exactly what your stakeholders ask for.

We have designed an ideal workflow to manage the complete lifecycle of your requirements.

1. Capture the real pain (aka do not believe your users’ first version)

The goal is to understand the real pain experienced by users which your project is aiming to solve and this can be achieved by, well, not believing what they say they want in first place. Business users will not be nearly pragmatic enough to define a requirement with all details, in most cases they will report a set of daily manual activities which lead to some general rule that has a plethora of exceptions. The most appreciated soft-skill of a good project owner and/or analyst is to understand where the real pain of your business stakeholders sit and to derive from that the real general requirement.

An example? The business user asks for a new form to manage all the expense of the company. The truth is that they are managing them already (most likely with a lot of manual labor) and they want to automate the approval process. Actually, they’d love a system that, once approved, let them forget of all that paperwork forever! The process and therefore the requirement are different from what the user initially asks for, so the result that is being asked of the team will also be different.

2. Explode users' requirements in stories

Your users' requirements are then broken into many functional blocks, often interdependent, through an amplification activity. The team breaks each requirement into many discrete and manageable user stories. At this stage, effort can probably not be evaluated in detailed metrics such as man-hours, yet a pretty well-spread alternative is to assign stories an index of complexity such as story points, pomodoros or some other arbitrary effort indicators. Herogami supports story points as well as pomodoros, but also color-coding and other user-definable attributes.

3. Translate stories into tasks for techies

This is the easy part. It's about getting your development team in the cafeteria or some meeting room and discussing the details of the implementation. Try not to dive too much into details, leave something for other rounds as well: Agile tactics include shared responsibility and each developer is responsible for its area, therefore you as a project manager can avoid the risk of falling into micro-management traps.

The goal of this phase is to derive, for each story, the tasks that developers need to complete. Having a clear set of tasks for your stories helps your developers understanding problems before they occur. It also helps to properly estimate the duration of activities, so as to avoid any form of guessing. Every story in Herogami has an internal kanban for tasks and they are super quick to enter.

4. Define effort estimates and contingencies from information or technical debt

With the tasks defined it is easy to indicate the effort required by the various stories. The sum of the effect, net of parallel activities, will provide a release date for the first test or the sprint review. Sounds simple, right?

The point is, most likely, that your requirement is not entirely complete, so you have to handle an information debt that will surely result in additional unplanned effort. Here are no rules, the sensitivity of each professional varies but the rule is to add a good 20-30% contingent effort to cover the risk. In Herogami you can enter effort in man-hours or pomodoros, and due dates for stories and issues are clearly displayed on the shared project calendar.

5. Run stories in one or more sprints keeping an eye on WIP limits

Stories can be put into work by relocating them from the backlog to the current sprint. Developers will move the cards while performing tasks, and Herogami will provide a proper project and sprint status through dashboards and burndown charts. This is a fantastic tool to understand the trend of the sprint and it is very complicated to handle it manually. Fortunately, Herogami updates the current sprint burndown chart whenever an activity is performed on a story or issue, in a completely automatic and transparent way. Make sure you configure Herogami’s WIP limit at every step of your workflow to avoid overloading your developers. 

We’ll see two more points in the upcoming part three of this post and drive some conclusions on effective strategies to manage your business requirements and user stories with Herogami. Stay tuned!

 

Alfred Dierk, Agile Coach
30 Jul 2017 Read more