Nicholas Malahosky Blog

1 month ago

#TargetprocessTips: Search, WIP Limits, Batch Actions, Workflows, Card Prioritization

We've started posting regular product tips to our social media accounts. Just search for #TargetprocessTips on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to see some bite-sized advice on how to get the most of Targetprocess. Here’s what we’ve posted so far:

Search

Placing a ‘+’ before keywords will yield only exact matches in search results. More on search. 

  • The search bar in the the left menu is used to find a specific view or folder. The search bar to the right of this is the global search; it is used to find entities throughout the system.
  • Global search will not yield results for entities in inactive projects.
  • When using global search, you can replace any letter in your keywords with a ‘?’ to include possible misspellings in the results.

Search

WIP Limits

You can set up WIP Limits for both horizontal and vertical lanes on boards by going to view setup → Limits. Read more here. 

  • When a WIP Limit is exceeded, the state column will be visibly highlighted in red.
  • WIP Limits cannot be applied to the first (initial) state of a workflow.

WIP Limits

Timelines

On Timeline views, the global time period selector is found at the top of the view, while the local time selector is displayed at the bottom. If you're unfamiliar with Timelines, you can learn more about them here

Global Selector

More on Timelines:

  • Timelines are one of the 4 main types of views, along with Boards, Lists, and One-by-One views.
  • You can right-click on a point in the Timeline to add planned start and end dates. 
  • Planned dates are shown with a dotted line, actual dates are shown with solid background, and forecasted time is shown with a semi-transparent background.  

 

Card Prioritization

Prioritize cards on Board and List views by holding the 'Shift’ key and dragging selected cards to the desired position. If the system prevents your from applying prioritization, this guide article should explain why.

Card-Prioritization

Working with cards from multiple views:

You can use the Selected Cards Panel to work with cards from multiple views at once.

  • Since sharing this tip, we've released Batch Actions, which allows you to update multiple entities at once. However, please note that you can only apply Batch Actions to cards on a single view at once.   

Selected Cards Panel

 

Workflow customization:

Admins can rename and customize workflows and states by going to Settings → Process Setup. Read more. 

  • Be careful when editing a process that is currently in use. If you remove states which are populated by entities, the entities will be moved to a different state. 

 

process-usage

4 months ago

Recorded Webinar: Q1 Product Update, 2017

On March 15, we held our quarterly Product Update Webinar. Our Product Specialists went over the latest features in Targetprocess, and covered some of our upcoming plans.  You can watch the webinar recording here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/recording/1773514835961965063

New features and enhancements:

  • My recent items & browsing history
  • Metrics
  • Connectors for integrating Targetprocess with ALM tools such as Atlassian JIRA, Microsoft TFS,CA Agile Central, and DevOps tools such as Git, GitHub, Jenkins and many others
  • Contributor user type
  • Improved Project-Team Selector for users, teams and projects
  • Lane suggestions
  • Service desk improvements
  • iOS & Android app improvements

Upcoming improvements (version 3.11.0 is now available):

  • Multiple final states (3.11.0)
  • Mention of teams (3.11.0)
  • Context improvement (3.11.0)
  • Settings remake (3.11.0)
  • Split of add/edit permissions
  • Undelete entity
  • Search improvements

Our team also answered questions from attendees throughout the webinar. Some of the more common questions have been listed with their answers below:

Q: Hi, thank you for the new github integration. Does the new integration also allow syncing from comments in both directions? Also, is it possible to create github issues via targetprocess?

A: Yes, it allows you to sync comments. Yes, it's also possible to create Github issues via Targetprocess.

 

Q: Can a metric or Calculated field now refer to the parent name? Ie, can a feature have a field that will contain the name of the Epic that contains the feature?

A: Hi, yes, you can do this with both - Calculated Custom Fields as well as with metrics

 

Q: Hi, is there a way to show total effort spent for tasks in a user story?

A: Hi! Yes. It is possible. In the User Story, you have a row which shows you the sum Effort of Tasks. For spent effort, you can use Calculated Custom Fields.

 

Q: My thought about multiple final states is: Hurra!!!

A: We're happy you like this update! 🙂

 

Q: Will there be default Metrics?

A: Right now there is only "Custom Formula" which acts as a replacement for Calculated Custom Fields. We will add more metrics in the future, such as a custom effort/progress calculation. If you have any specific metrics in mind you which you would like to configure in your account, I suggest getting in touch with your Product Specialist or sending an email to ps@targetprocess.com.

 

Q: Is there any trick to sharing views via URL?

A. You first need to make sure your intended recipients have access to the view by going to View Setup -> Access. Then when you send a link to them, they'll be able to access it.

 

We’ll have another Product Update Webinar next quarter. If you have any questions, or would like to request a webinar on a specific topic, you can message us at ps@targetprocess.com.   

Have a good day everyone!

5 months ago

Join Our Product Update Webinar on March 15, 2017!

Q1 Product Update Webinar graphic

We invite you to join us for our Product Update Webinar on Wednesday, March 15 at 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT.

It's already been a busy year here, and we want to make sure that everyone is up to speed with all the recent changes.  We'll also be going over some of our immediate plans for the future, and there will be a team of Product Specialists available to answer your questions.

At the webinar, you can expect to see a demonstration of all the latest features and improvements, including:

  • lane suggestions and the new "My Recent" tab in the left menu
  • new connectors for integrating Targetprocess with ALM tools such as Jira, TFS, CA Agile Central, and DevOps tools such as Git, GitHub, Jenkins, and many others
  • how to setup the Service Desk and use Custom Request Types to expand its possible use cases
  • improved Project and Team assignments for Person, Team, and Release views
  • the latest releases for our mobile iOS and Android apps, and more

You can register for the webinar here. We hope to see you there!

5 months ago

How to introduce Agile to non-IT teams

It’s clear that the Agile Methodology is not restricted to software development teams. Countless organizations have improved their flexibility and delivery speed with an Agile mindset, and many have successfully scaled Agile through every department. Agile is already widely used in marketing, education, and even auto manufacturing.

If you’re a non-IT team that wants to adopt the Agile mindset, you will likely encounter some resistance to change. This is good. Criticism of Agile can help your application of its values to improve.  To encourage non-IT teams to embrace Agile, you should first demonstrate the value that an Agile mindset can deliver. 

Don’t prescribe; encourage

The Agile methodology has (unfortunately) been fairly well-saturated with buzzwords and prescriptive practices. As Dipanjan Munshi puts it, “The process whose manifesto declared ‘People over Processes’ has now became a standardized prescriptive process in itself.”

To avoid putting anyone off unduly, don’t introduce Agile as a set of prescriptive processes. Instead, frame it as a cultural practice and a mindset for approaching work. Note that a successful Agile culture will help to increase employee independence, trust, and personal responsibility. In a traditional environment, management ends up being responsible for both failures and successes. In an Agile environment, responsible individuals shoulder this responsibility.  

It’s important for Agile transformations to happen more-or-less organically. Nobody wants to put up with another vague strategy change that’s been mandated by management. This is the the sort of thing that an Agile mindset is supposed to eliminate.

Don't transform; iterate

There are a lot of practices that have formed around Agile; introduce them iteratively, and you’ll be able to the avoid the culture-shock that has stagnated many transformationsTo get started, research Scrum and Kanban. Try to understand which practices might work for you, and why:

Kanban - Kanban uses a board with cards that represent work items. As a work item progresses from idea to completion, it is moved forward through the board's swimlanes. It's great for helping teams adjust to frequently changing priorities. Setting WIP (work in progress) limits helps teams to reduce context switching and avoid getting bogged down by an ever-expanding scope of work.

Scrum - Scrum is great for organizing teams and for making continuous improvements to your work process using Retrospectives. It's fairly heavy on planning (compared to Kanban), and uses fixed iterations to help teams understand and improve their velocity. Most teams utilize a Scrum Master - an individual whose job it is to facilitate meetings, remove impediments, and generally help the team get their work done.

If you're aiming for a large scale shift to Agile, take extra care when planning change. Peter Merel, a long-time Agile consultant and founder of the XSCALE Alliance, advocates the use of steel-thread squads: A small number of progressive people adopt Agile practices and measure their metrics to prove the productivity benefits. The team then divides like a cell and spreads to other teams. This allows for a natural change that doesn’t disrupt the established organization. The transformation is iterative rather than sudden; Agile is adopted using Agile.  

Bridge the gaps between software development and the domain of your teams

Some Agile coaches have noted that it is difficult to link the idea of “delivering working software” to other fields of work. Opposition tends to come in the form of rebuttals such as “We’re too quality-focused to adopt this practice.”  This line of thinking comes from a lack of understanding about the core principles of Agile.  Keep in mind that Agile does not mean sacrificing quality for speed. Rather, it means you should deliver the highest quality you can, without getting bogged down by process or bureaucracy.

The concept of developing “working software” can easily translate to any field. It simply means the first point where you can deliver real value to your customers. Define the variables of what "working software" and "end user" means to your team. Figure out what what could be considered as one of the basic building blocks of your final deliverable so that you can get feedback at an early stage. 

You also shouldn't feel obligated to use the vernacular of Agile. It was created in an IT world, and might be irrelevant or confusing for your teams. Consider changing the terminology of your tool or process to reflect the vernacular your team already feels comfortable with. For example, a marketing team might rename Features as Campaigns, a sales team might rename User Stories as Leads, etc.  

Synchronize, but don’t get bogged down by ceremony

When you have multiple teams practicing Agile, you run the risk of creating what has come to be called "Agile silos." These are teams which are practicing Agile internally, but lack cross-team or cross-departmental coordination. This is not a good recipe. There needs to be some sort of unifying vision to help turn these different teams into a collaborative ecosystem. There are multiple frameworks to help you plan this out, including SAFe, DaDLeSS, and LeadingAgile

So, it's important to synchronize your teams, but you also have to be careful to not get bogged by ceremony and bureaucracy. A central pillar of Agile is replacing processes with interactions. Adopting the ceremonies of Agile without understanding their purpose is a huge red flag. Don't constrain your teams by trying to over-synchronize them with processes that they don't need. 

“Humans are of very low value as cogs in a machine doing identical things in interchangeable ways. That's for robots. Humans are most valuable when they have high autonomy, and able to play to their unique strengths and histories, particular sensitivities, op-tempos, and patterns of privileged information. The idea of "wisdom of the crowds" in fact rests on humans having diverse, unique private knowledge bases. The madness of crowds kicks in with synchronization and imitation.”  -Premature Synchronization is the Root of All Evil

Final thoughts

One of the biggest pitfalls you can fall into is looking at Agile as a cure-all panacea that will help you do more work in less time. This is not what Agile is about. It's about breaking out of the rigid structures that constrain individuals from completing their work in the best possible way. 

Dilbert on Agile

Learn the various techniques and strategies that Agilists have accumulated over the years, and pick the mixture that works best for you. Above all, don't lose sight of the values in the original Agile Manifesto.

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