Show all posts
5 years ago

Agile Tool Reviews: Trusted Content?

quality-content-backlinksYesterday 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 :)

  • http://www.borisgloger.com/ Boris Gloger

    “Reviews are about knowing all the facts” you stated. Hm, reviews are subjective. Have you ever been done a play in theater and read the newspaper critics the day after. You do not get an objective critic.

    “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.”

    I am not a guru. If you regard me as such one. Thanks. Why do you not see the review that I and a second person did as a feedback. Obviously your application is not as clear as it could be. I mean … if I overlooked certain features … Why?

    Some details:

    “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.”

    On the TargetProcess there's a big link “Sign Up for a free trial” That was the option used to make the review, I didn't discuss any option of pricing, free or not.

    “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.”

    “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”

    What I said was that I didn't see a point on estimate or prioritize Epics and Themes or Whatever name you called it, for me it just make sense to estimate and prioritize stories and that it will be simpler to use tag to set Themes, I never said that the tool didn't have tags.

    “They’re there, and you can choose between ideal time units and story points.”

    All fields used to estimate something on the tool comes with a 'h' besides, it enforces the idea of time and not points, it's not clear on the tool that you can use story points.

    “As I already mentioned, one can customize terms and rename the term “iteration” to “sprint” or whatever.”

    I just made an observation, it was not a critic at all.

    “Two columns Open and Done on the task board are available for dummies.”

    It's still not good to me, Open, WIP and Done should be the basic, the majority of user will take the tool from the shelf and use it, so it should with the 3 basic columns.

    Then I had an additional look into you tool: And shall I really give you my opinion bluntly, not the nice one I did in the review?

    My disclaimer on this is: It is my opinion while using this tool for 20 min. I am not an expert in this tool, I never managed a project with this tool and I will not manage a project with this tool. I give you my feedback based on seeing a lot of tools and knowing what organizations in my humble opinion really need.

    1. I do not understand you tool. It has a big learning curve. I was not able to understand how to get my taskboard up and running after 20 min.

    2. I need to add people to my project. But I am already the user. Why?

    3. An admin for a project is created also I did not create this admin. So the tool does things I do not understand immediately.

    4. There is a free trial, but you force me to enter a lot of information about me before I can sign up. And the first thing I get is a licence key. Why? I am glad I did not give you any information about me. Crazy, that is not how it should work in a trial version.

    5. The graphic design of the whole application is outdated. Have a look into http://www.seenowdo.com and you see how an application should look like today.

    6.The first thing I see is a timesheet tab. Why? I know, it is customizable.

    7. I understand that you tool tries to enable enterprises to use agile project management and I am 100 percent sure that you will get a lot of customers. But is this tool agile, lightweight and simple? Certainly not. At least not in my eyes.

    8. In my opinion this tool enforces to much. A field for this, a field for that. A workflow for this. You need to assign the stories for an iteration. And you can add developers to stories, why.

    My conclusion, again, highly subjective … you created a project management tool that usees the old thinking behind project management. This tool shows the basic understanding about how your organisation sees agile project management and judging based on your tool … it does not look very agile to me.

  • https://www.targetprocess.com/blog Michael Dubakov

    I partially agree with you, Boris. TargetProcess is not perfect and was not designed for really small teams. Small teams should use whiteboards and simplest tools.

    But if you have distributed or quite large team, you need something better than whiteboard (not always, but in many cases).

    In fact TargetProcess does not enforce much. It is customizable. I think you are right about default settings, we should improve here. But in 20 minutes you may look several videos on our web site and fully understand how to change terms, flows, etc.

    Most of the features in the tool were not just appeared from the air. They were requested by people.

    I do agree that with years TargetProcess becomes more complex and our goal for this year is to make it simpler and easier to use.

    But what I don't like in the review is that some arguments are just not true at all and if some people will read it and think “huh? this tool does not support points? wtf?” that is not good.

  • http://blog.brodzinski.com/ Pawel Brodzinski

    Olga,

    I think you're too harsh. I write software reviews from time to time and it is pretty obvious for me every review will omit some details and misinterpret some features. We don't work with reviewed software everyday for a longer time. We just play with the application for a few days at best and most of reviewers even don't do this as long. After all it is just a review.

    What authors can learn from reviews is how application is perceived by users. My approach is if I can't get how I can do something in the application the feature could be absent as well.

    If a reviewer points some problems in software it means there are some issues even if they miss the point. Remember it is application which is usually the only communication channel between you builders and your users. They don't know your intentions. Only thing they know is results of your work. And maybe, just maybe, the application doesn't describe your intentions in the most intuitive way.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/QHTRDS6KOB7USFXPE4N3WXMOYM Olga

    Boris, this is about more than your subjective review of this tool. This is about a “fast conclusion” culture. In a way, I could predict that my criticism would get such a response from you, in terms of user experience. I can tell you my story. When I started looking at TargetProcess and understanding how it works, as a dummy user I did see as well that some flows and sequence of actions in TP are not intuitive. But I had to understand the tool. I was not in a position to give it up :) And, paradoxically, the more I looked into it, the more I liked it. If you put the flaws on one scale pan, and features and logic on the other scale of pan, you're in a position to decide for yourself if you like or don't like using this tool. If you'd recommend it to someone or not. Maybe it's too idealistic, but I do believe that reviewers should take their time to study the tools they're reviewing. You can not get something good fast and cheap. Including solid judgement. This is actually the whole point of my post and criticism. There's no fast solid judgement. I can tell you why we have the sign-up for 5 users free pack hidden deep in our web-site. It's like a reward for keen agile hunters. Not a fast food candy on a plate. I might even go as far as question the whole concept of oversimplifying user experience. This lowers the common denominator for users and deprives them of the ability to use their logical thinking in seeing how tools work. I guess this is a topic for another discussion… Anyway, I don't believe that unfolding the whole potential of a tool in 20 minutes (notwithstanding the fact that at the moment we work to improve UX) is a feasible task at all for any reviewer.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/QHTRDS6KOB7USFXPE4N3WXMOYM Olga

    Pawel,

    I absolutely agree with your observation on the value of reviews as feedbacks on how the application is perceived by users – I mean, by users who want to make a_fast_judgement_ about a tool for the sake of writing “just a review”. But sky is the limit in putting together intentions of tool creators and actual experience of users that work with the tool. It's like you can work to make it better but still you'd never align those two nodes in a perfect cohesion due to a simple fact that people are unique, they have their unique perception, and what is intuitive for one person, is totally illogical for another. This work is an endless journey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/igor.france Igor Francé

    Olga, I for one completely understand how you got upset and needed to respond to the superficial review of Target Process made by Boris. When I read Boris' review myself, I could not believe that he wrote the things I was reading because my experience with Target Process was very different.

    When I first tried Target Process about a year ago, I was looking for a good web-based tool for sharing the task board in a distributed scrum team that I was working in. Having tried several other similar tools (such as VersionOne, XPlanner, Conchango's Task Board for Team System and another home brewed application) this tool was a real refreshment and I had only positive things to say about it. What I liked about it was that the interface was simple but powerful, allowing me to customize many of the things I wanted to customize. The task board and planning process looked by far the best of all products I tried, and the fact that I could create and customize the work process itself blew my mind and bought me 100%. The whole experience was very intuitive; my only issue with it was the main navigation being relatively confusing. However, everything else we needed from the tool was right there, and again, the ability to customize work processes and workflows really made this tool stand out from the rest.

    When I read Boris' review several months ago I could not believe the superficial treatment it got, almost seeming biased or prejudiced – as if the judgment was made before trying the tool. I read your response, then the subsequent response by Boris and though 'whatever'.

    I have just installed the latest version of Target Process with the intention to start using it on my own projects (the company I worked for at the time didn't adopt it) and I am again really enjoying using it! Apart from the positive things already mentioned, the main navigation itself in the meantime not only stopped being confusing but is now fully customizable as well! There is a comprehensive help system delivered with the tool. And to top it all, I and another 4 people can use this software completely free of charge!

    I am currently (re)starting my freelance development business and am mostly working alone, but if the business picks up again like it used to be several years ago and I need more licenses I will not hesitate at all to buy the required licenses as the price itself is also very reasonable. So there. I really needed to get this out of my system since I really like this product!

    Thank you, and keep up the good work, you are certainly going in the good direction.

    Igor Francé, Netherlands.

  • indigo777

    Thanks for speaking up, Igor. The review was really so not true that I couldn't help but write a response to it, both seeking to raise awareness among reviewers of agile tools in general and to retort this biased review in particular.

Schedule your personal demo

Our product specialists will show you the beauty
and power of Targetprocess 3 and help you to customize
it for your process and business requirements

Request

Get your free account now

Over 6000 teams
in 50+ countries start their day with us.
Welcome on board.