Yesterday Google alerted me about a review of TargetProcess by Boris Gloger. I started reading this review and I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could Boris Gloger, such a respected Scrum trainer, overlook some important features of an agile tool he’s reviewing?
Writing reviews is a very responsible task. It only seems that web can tolerate all. There’s no censorship, no security checks on whether the info in a review can be trusted or not. Reviews are about knowing all the facts. Only when you make sure that you know all of the subject matter, then you can write a review. I’d never stand up as a guru and claim – my people, I’m your guru, I know all about this tool – and then – ooops.. – I’ve got some essential flaws in my knowledge of this tool.
Now, let’s see what Boris Gloger overlooked. Comments on Boris’ page do not work(!!!), unfortunately.
Target Process is a tool created by Target Process Inc. to manage agile process. They can support Scrum, Extreme Programming, Lean and others. The tool have a good set of features and some nice ideas to speed up the addition of data for your project. They also provide a Eclipse and Visual Studio add-in so each developer can see their to-do list right on the IDE. If you like to try it for yourself there’s a 30 day free trial available.
Ehm. TargetProcess comes for free not only as a 30 days trial. It’s free for small agile teams up to 5 people. It’s our humble donation to the growing agile community. Boris, it’s a fully functional free copy with free updates and subscriptions for agile teams of 5.
The “Features” works like an Epic or Theme for your stories and if don’t care for that it can be totally skipped. If you’d like to use it’s possible to determine an estimation and priority for the features but it really doesn’t make much sense to me.
The Features DO work like Epic or Theme and you can rename Features to Epics or Themes or any other name of your choice. The names are completely customizable and it’s up to you which name to choose.
I’d prefer to see something simpler like tags for the stories.
What??? We’ve got tags for user stories and for all the other entities! We’ve got bundles of tags. Tags board. Tags are powerful tools for categorization and filtering, so if I were a certified Scrum Trainer I would have quadruple checked before making such a blunt statement about no tags in any agile tool.
We talk about estimating feature so, of course we can estimate stories also. That’s the first problem i think the tool have, it’s only possible to estimate using time units, ideal or not. That’s no mentions to story points at all, this miss, pushes Target Process to field of time tracking tools, which is not a good thing.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. You missed the point with story points. They’re there, and you can choose between ideal time units and story points. This bold statement of no user story points in TargetProcess pushes you, Boris, to field of shallow reviewers that do not take enough time to study the agile tool they’re reviewing, and then spread this distorted knowledge to their students on Scrum trainings.
Target Process is supposed to work with different agile models, so they use the term iteration instead of sprint.
Foul and a miss. As I already mentioned, one can customize terms and rename the term “iteration” to “sprint” or whatever. TargetProcess is supposed to work with different agile models, so we’ve made our terms and processes completely customizable.
On the Taskboard there’s an awkward choice, there’s only two columns available Open and Done, where’s the WIP ? It’s on another tab Kanban Board, I really don’t understand why they went that way, but it’s no good at all.
Ugh. I really don’t understand how Boris could have overlooked such essential part of TargetProcess as customizable states and processes flow. Two columns Open and Done on the task board are available for dummies. For advanced reviewers, all the states they want are available. Users can introduce as many states as they need to their development process, and they can give any names to those states. Kanban Board states are customizable as well. It’s no good at all that our honorable reviewer missed this..!
It’s hard to say what I think about Target Process, they had good ideas, like the shortcut flows, but really bad ones like the Kanban Board. Overall the tool is ok but not very intuitive, could be more polished on the user experience, and of course the common problem of too much focus on time tracking hurts a lot.
Boris, I promise you will not be that hurt as you take a closer look at TargetProcess. You seem to have some special inkling with too much focus on time tracking, that’s why you see it where there’s no special focus on it. Time tracking in TargetProcess is just in the right amount, no less, no more. IMHO, it’s rather less of it, than more. As for user experience – draw the curtain… look in here :)
New Year time is the time when people give resolutions and are particularly enthusiastic about keeping up to their resolve.
One of TargetProcess resolves for this year (another resolve is our roadmap for 2010) is coming up with more blog posts. We promise to keep up feeding practical and insightful content!
Since everything around is all about newness at this time, let’s think a little bit of how we approach new tools that we use in our work. Say, you want an agile project management tool, like TargetProcess, and you’re certain that you know very well how to manage agile projects, so all you need is just a tool that would replicate your model of management.
There you go: you sign up for a trial, you start looking at a tool, you take time to see what and how works in there, you discover that this tool is very customizable, but in some cases the tool does not do things the way you do them. That’s the point where you can submit a feature request and give up, or that’s the point where you can thoughtfully look at the way you do things and see if probably the tool guides you and allows you do agile project management in some better, more lean, more lightweight way?
Imagine that you have an axe but you’re totally unaware that hammers exist in this world. You’re used to fixing nails to their place with the rear part of your axe, and you have no idea that there’s another tool that allows you to do the same task with the same goal — that is, to put the nails where they should be — but in an easier and more straightforward way. So, when someone hands you a hammer — you look at it and think — how do I use this thing to fix the nails? This tool doesn’t chop wood at all, it has no blade, no powerful rear part — it’s just a small piece of iron (remember, you’re a man with no idea about hammers, this might be difficult to imagine :) ) Then someone shows you how to hammer nails. You see that hammer is definitely much better for this task. A hammer head is well-balanced against its handle and it allows to put nails in place with more control and precision as opposed to a heavy axe head. Then you understand that this new tool does things in some new way that you haven’t known about before. And you like that new way — you grab the hammer!
Sometimes, however, hammers and axes are mixed into one monster like this one:
You might choose to go and worship the monster praising its versatility. It’s really a fine line between following guidance of a tool that suggests more practical way of accomplishing your tasks and worshiping functionality of a monster, sacrificing your working process and taking time to learn the tool just for the sake of the tool itself. You do learn something new, but is it worth while to nurture a monster, when you can take hammer for hammering, axe — for chopping wood, and see if you probably need to add a saw, pliers and drill to your set of tools?
The message is: whenever you need a tool to do whatever you need to do, watch out for monsters eating up your work and effort just to learn how they work. At the same time be open to looking at things from new, unknown angles and don’t stick to old schemes. Who knows, maybe the tool you’re trying out right now will help you build your ideal working process.
Lean and Kanban software development adoption is growing. More and more companies setup Kanban Boards, limit WIP and eliminate Muda.
This collection of links will help you understand all that buzz around Lean/Kanban and decide whether it is worth trying. I’ve read all the articles and posts below, so this list is a truly selected thing ;).
Articles and Blog Posts
- Lean Software Development. Wikipedia summary about lean software development. It is a good start to digg into the topic (as usual).
- Kanban Development Oversimplified. Most likely the best article to start with Kanban. Very clear, very detailed. Good work!
- Kanban, Flow and Cadence. This blog post with many nice pictures describes three important properties of Lean: Kanban – Controlled Work, Flow – Effective Work, Cadence – Reliable Work.
- Scrum-ban. Interesting attempt to mix Scrum and Kanban, taking the best from both worlds. Kanban with iterations is possible.
- Beyond Scrum: Lean and Kanban for Game Developers. Article describes real Lean/Kanban implementation for game development industry. The section on how to improve The Flow (3 strategies: Time-boxing, Levelling workflow, Reduce waste) is especially good.
- Adventures In Lean. Series of posts about Lean approach with focus on real problems solving (handling bugs and emergency fixes in Kanban, setup pipeline, bottlenecks, etc.).
- Lean and Kanban. Several posts on the topics in this blog.
- Agile Management Blog. Lots of interesting posts from David J. Anderson (well known engine of Lean software development :)
- Richard Durnall Blog. Pull and Push systems, interviews, lean roots and principles. Nice reading with hand-drawn diagrams.
- Lean Software Engineering. Corey Ladas and Bernie Thompson are blogging about Lean, Scrumban and Kanban, Theory of Constraints, software development and other topics you did not even hear about.
- AvailAgility. Karl Scotland’s posts are very interesting (and helpful) to read. Isn’t Kanban just a Task-board? Check the blog to get an answer.
- The Agile Executive. Many insights into Kanban and summaries from the first lean conference.
- Software Just in Time. Lean concepts and real lean applications posts by Alisson Vale.
Lean/Kanban People in Twitter
- David J. Anderson. Lean/Kanban software development pioneer.
- Corey Ladas. Product development methodologist. Author of Scrum-ban book.
- Henrik Kniberg. Optimize, debug & refactor IT companies. Author of Scrum vs. Kanban presentation (which is very good!)
- Karl Scotland. Agile Coach. He runs AvailAgility blog with great insights into Lean and Kanban.
- Rob Lally. Renaissance Technologist.
- Alisson Vale. Alisson implemented outstanding Kanban process in his company.
There are just several Kanban tools on the market. To be honest, I don’t like TRICHORD UI. LeanKit: Kanban looks much better, but it can work for small teams only on my opinion. Anyway, it seems Kanban tools vendors’ race just began.
If you know other tools that support Kanban, drop a comment and I’ll happily include them into the list.
- TargetProcess. Customizable Kanban Board and other vanilla.
- Zen. Good tool for small teams.
- LeanKit: Kanban. In beta so far, but looks quite neat. Maybe useful for small teams.
- TRICHORD. Desktop project management application with Kanban boards.
- Radtrack. Registration does not work, but I found the screenshot via Google. Looks like LeanKit so far.
Did I miss something interesting? Drop a comment!