New Microsoft Planner Due Date Notifications

A short while ago I wrote about our team’s initial adoption of Microsoft Planner. At the time, we were having issues with the due dates feature because there seemed to be no way to view our schedule. A few months later, we ran into another issue with due dates. The complaint? Users were not being notified when their content was due. Since the team was not looking at the plan every day, and had no way to view a schedule, tasks were getting lost and we were having to work around this issue in other ways. What could we do?

As I spent some time after a team meeting discussing this, I discovered Microsoft had actually started development on this feature. As of January 16th, all users now have access! With this feature, you now get emails in your inbox reminding you of tasks that have expired as well as upcoming tasks.

planner_tasks

This was exactly the functionality we needed to make sure the team was reminded about the items that were coming up on their plate.

Bonus: Schedule view

The new Schedule view also gives us a calendar view of our tasks based on due dates. This will make reviewing upcoming tasks even eaiser so we can visualize the distribution of tasks over time. Sometimes, as we reschedule late tasks, we can wind up with too many tasks all clumped together and this is a good way for us to find those clusters.

A good start! I’m looking forward to seeing Microsoft continue to invest in this tool and bring it up to par with others in the field.

 

Using Epics to drive a fixed-price backlog

You probably read the title and said to yourself: “Epic: you keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what you thinks it means”.

It is true. The fixed-price agile backlog exists.

Now, if you are lucky enough to have never faced such a beast, then I bow to you and wish upon you continued good fortune. However, many of us have lived Agile in the Iron Triangle. Many of us have walked away as shattered and broken shadows of our former selves. We have lived, lost, learned, and ranted to whomever would listen.

This post is brought to you by an experiment in requirements cross-checking.

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Continuous Everything: The Art of Repetition

It is very fashionable to apply a single word to pretty much ANYTHING to try to get in on the latest trend. The current ‘Whatever-Ops’ trend (MarketingOps, ChatOps, OpsOps) is one such example. For a while, though, we’ve been having the word ‘Continuous’ thrown in front of a whole lot of activities in the software development world: Continuous Delivery, Continuous Improvement, Continuous Management. There’s a reason for this… repeatable processes are a key ingredient to predictable delivery. And predictable delivery means money in the bank!

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Eighth day of Christmas… Scaling agile!

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true blog gave to me:

Eight Scrums a-scaling,
Seven most-heard retrospective comments,
Six Keystone config tips
,
Five Golden Rules!
Four CI tools
,
Three powershell scripts,
Two Keystone merge tips,
…and a placeholder rule in the content tree.

You may have found that a lot of the traditional agile frameworks  are missing guidance on how to operate within larger organizations. Over the last few years a series of ‘scaled’ frameworks have appeared, with varying levels of adoption/training/certifications. Let’s take a look at some of what is out there for scaling agile!
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Seventh day of Christmas… most-heard retrospective comments

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true blog gave to me:

Seven most-heard retrospective comments,
Six Keystone config tips
,
Five Golden Rules!
Four CI tools
,
Three powershell scripts,
Two Keystone merge tips,
…and a placeholder rule in the content tree.

Over the years, I’ve sat in a lot of sprint retrospectives. Below are some of the most-heard comments that might help you optimize your flow before you even see the problems!
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Can Trello Gold enhance your Scrum board?

A long time ago, in a blog post far, far away, I explored the use of Trello’s agile task tracking toolset to create a Scrum board for developer implementation. This has worked well for me over the years, especially when a project needs a little more structure than Kanban sometimes allows me. Recently, the post (and board) were featured on Trello’s Inspiration site, and that prodded me to do some investigation. Would I get anything out of Trello Gold that could help with the Scrum board process?

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Making it Work: Specialists on an Agile Team

In some lines of business, such as consulting, the organizational business goals require a certain amount of specialization in order to deliver to clients efficiently and with high quality. These organizations also typically bill by the hour, meaning downtime is a serious cost to the business. This can be difficult in an agile development model as these specialists often create silos of knowledge. Also, these specialists often get pulled in many directions and their availability is not always predictable.

How do you make it work with a typical Scrum-like agile team?

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Why is DevOps so hard?

With agile development teams delivering potentially shippable software every few weeks, organizations struggle with the need to efficiently transition requirements, source code, and deployment steps from the development team to the operations team.

Traditional documentation-oriented mechanisms cannot be efficiently kept up to date due to the ever-shifting nature of continuously evolving software. Enter the DevOps movement! This movement recognized that we need to start breaking down the walls between feature development teams and IT operations teams so that we can all work together to continuously deliver this software. Unfortunately, recognizing this was the easy part. It turns out, DevOps is hard.

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Visual Studio Online agile options are opening up

VSORecently, Aaron Bjork wrote about some of the goodies coming down the pipe for Visual Studio Online (VSO) agile project management options. I still remember my first forays into TFS 2010, trying desperately to use it to manage my agile projects.

Needless to say, I was frustrated at the time, but today is a new day!

There are a lot of things coming like Kanban board improvements, hierarchical backlog management, and task customizations. Fun goodies to play with for all 🙂
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