Scrum for the Rest of Us

I had the pleasure to work with The Braintrust Group and review their book to provide feedback on it awhile back. It has now been published up on Amazon. I defiantly would recommend this book for anyone new or experienced with Scrum. It has a lot of interesting tips and real world problems/solutions as well as pitfalls to look out for. I have to promote since my names in the book :)

Scrum for the Rest of Us! by Brian M Rabon

jpeg

Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing (January 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1457525801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1457525803

Are you... Trying to implement Scrum outside of software development? Looking for specific answers to your deepest Scrum questions? Wanting modern advice that will benefit your organization?
Scrum For The Rest Of US offers practical advice, questions and answers, and tips that will help you avoid costly mistakes with Scrum. Don't waste hours searching the web, reading references that are outdated, when you can have everything that you need in a single guide.
It's THE first book written specifically for anyone interested in Scrum outside of the software development industry. Regardless of what field you are in, this book specifically points out areas that may challenge you and your organization with adopting Scrum.
Perhaps you are new to Agile/Scrum, have heard a few buzzwords, but the core concepts are not familiar yet. Perhaps you are an Agile/Scrum veteran who wants to avoid roadblocks or improve implementation. Regardless of where you are on your path to mastery, this book is intended to help you maximize the benefits of Scrum.
What you'll find in this book:

  • When and why to use Scrum
  • In-depth coverage of the roles, meetings, and artifacts in Scrum
  • Clear answers to frequently asked questions
  • Common pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • Practical case studies and examples
  • Tips and tricks for maximizing success
  • Full glossary of terms and definitions
What you won't find in this book:
  • Technobabble and industry jargon
  • Software references
  • Boring charts and meaningless statistics

Quick Update and Hello

Wow almost a year since my last post I need to get back on the ball.  I’ve been quite busy since then.  I’ve moved on from leading that development team at Wolters Kluwer and now new projects and clients with my business partner Sean Lucey at LM Global Partners.

It’s been great as I focus on managing several new projects for our clients as well as still evangelizing the Scrum Framework for ALM.  It seems that many teams I speak with say they are “agile” but yet they don’t really follow a framework other then maybe a daily standup meeting.  I hope to get out more and speak on Scrum and using it in software development. I did complete my Scum Professional exam (CSP) awhile back and working towards another.

A lot of focus of my time has been more on the IBM WebSphere side then the Microsoft .NET development as before. Mobile is still there at the top of the list along with other projects such as iBeacon and custom development work.

Well there’s a short hello and update for now.  At Orlando’s Code Camp today. Great place to learn new things.

What have I been up to?

Not that anyone cares much but just trying to keep this blog from going stale after I’ve stopped programming. I need to shift focus to managing development teams using the Scrum process.

I am a Sr Manager of IT Applications for Wolters Kluwer. Specifically the Mediregs position of their Law & Business Division. I spend all my time managing 17 other members of an advanced development team. Managing the release and developing of two projects with high visibility. The newer one is going global and multi-lingual. We have our sister division in Belgium jumping onto the project as well.  We go live in three weeks after two years in the making.

One of my challenges over the last year is managing an efficient development team after receiving my scrum training as a Certified Scrum Master and Certified Scrum Product Owner. The good side is that everyone is on board for change and willing to do whatever it takes. It’s a great process. The down side is that upper eyes still want dates and budgets amount. I know we can forecast by estimating the backlog but it’s a long process to get through that backlog.

Also, gathering metrics on the team and each developer is another area I’m looking into more. Any information I find in these areas I’ll be posting them up here soon.

I have Returned

It has been while since my last post.  A long while.  A lot has changed over the past two years. Not just in my career but also in my personal life.  I apologize for the delay in the time span since my previous submission.  I’ve never talked about my personal life much before so I probably won’t start now either.

I used to post code snippets or solutions to problems I’ve had; sample apps of something I was experimenting with.  However, I haven’t developed full-time for over a year now. My career shifted when I was given the sole task to open a new development shop by my superiors. As well as build a new team and implement my dream child project that I had presented to the power above in the past.  Tasked with finding real estate, opening an office, hiring a team of 14 and managing a new product re-write, I’ve had little room for all else.  With deadlines to meet, finding ways to encourage team members, striving for perfection, new innovations and all the while learning as I go, I had no time to handle the small things I used to do like post on my personal site.

Now that we’ve settled into a routine of two week sprints and things are slowly starting to work together like a well oiled machine, I believe I will have time to post again.  Though my direction may shift slightly to things more related to project management, scum or agile comments and just about software development as a whole.  When the time permits I will dive back into development but only at a part-time rate.  There’s a lot of new technology out there, lots of ways to manage a team and I hope to continue forward with my thoughts and ideas for any who care to listen.

I have returned.

To my friends who don’t understand why I don’t like talking on the phone.. I’m not the only one.

Read this great article over at TechDirt by Mike Masnick.  “Phone Calls Are So Last Century”.

Was right up my ally.  I don’t like to talk on the phone.  It interrupts me and my train of thought when I’m working.

A snippet from the article that applies.

… And it was at that point that I realized how rare it is that I'll accept or make unexpected or unplanned phone calls, with the exception of my wife and my parents (and potentially some work-related "emergency.") There are a few very close, long-term friends that I'll call every so often, but I really haven't done that in a while, and I feel a bit awkward about doing it these days. I still talk on the phone for meetings, but always at set times.

Apparently, I'm not the only person who feels this way.

Also NY Times has an article on it as well.

So when I don’t answer your call, it’s not personal. Txt me if you want to get anywhere.

Hiring for an Information Architect (IA) Position. Know anyone?

 

For anyone pulling this up on Google down the road; I’d say not the post date of February 15th, 2011.  Now if it’s a few months or so later, this might still be open.

So anyway, I’m looking to hire a good Information Architect to work on my team. Someone that lives and breaths this stuff.  Goes to the bookstore just to read more on design and UX.

Here’s some job info: (Note: Disregard the difference in the description and content on the company site. HR still tweaking it to match what I have below.)

Apply Here Note: Disregard the difference in the description and content on the company site. HR still tweaking it to match what I have below.)

Job Title: Information Architect

Location: Tampa, FL OR Needham, MA.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Wolters Kluwer is a market-leading global information services company. Professionals in the areas of legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare rely on Wolters Kluwer’s leading, information-enabled tools and solutions to manage their business efficiently, deliver results to their clients, and succeed in an ever more dynamic world.
Wolters Kluwer has 2009 annual revenues of €3.4 billion ($4.8 billion/£3.0 billion), employs approximately 19,300 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.


MediRegs, a Wolters Kluwer business, provides integrated health care compliance content and software solutions for professionals in healthcare, higher education and life sciences, including professionals in accounting, law and consulting. The company’s ComplyTrack Suite offers streamlined Web-based solutions for auditing, investigating, managing, assessing and mitigating compliance and enterprise risk. In addition, the company’s online portals for regulation and reimbursement, higher education, pharmaceuticals, food, and medical devices provide the most comprehensive and consolidated solution available for managing compliance content and research.

JOB DESCRIPTION:

The Information Architect is responsible for developing IA documentation (site maps, transaction flows, sketches, scenarios, wireframes, navigation models) for a web site application. You will also work closely with the clients and internal team to present and review IA deliverables. A firm understanding of user-centered design processes and interaction design principles is crucial.

  • Understanding target audiences' needs, tasks, and goals and translating them into creative concepts and functional components.
  • Working closely with clients to translate business requirements into meaningful interactive experiences into a BDD (Behavior Driven Development) style stories.
  • Leading and/or participating in immersive user research, concept testing, and usability testing
  • Collaboratively developing prototypes for demonstration of concepts to clients and the internal team.
  • Developing and documenting detailed user experience specifications for highly interactive interfaces
  • Work directly with customers in a Business Analyst role and understand how the information is used and how best to accommodate customer needs and decision making when using the application.
  • Design and create wireframes, including layout, navigation, and graphics based upon user input and incorporating user's needs, strategies, and goals as well as accepted web usability standards.
  • Work with developers and QA so that final product reflects what was designed.
  • Assess an existing site/property for usefulness, usability, visual design, content, and branding.
  • Lead participatory requirements gathering sessions and manage debrief process.
  • Facilitate user scenario planning sessions with both internal team and clients.
  • Develop personas/segmentations based on research findings
  • Create visually compelling representations of the solution's high- level interaction, navigation, and organization design (i.e., concept models).
  • Execute comprehensive process flows / screen flows.
  • Create comprehensive and detailed wireframe systems.
  • Respond to UI demands as project requirements change

 

REQUIRED SKILLS & QUALITIFICATIONS:

  • We are looking for someone with experience creating wireframes, process flows, and user interface specifications.
  • Candidate must be able to work well in multi-disciplinary groups including technical, business, and customer experience perspectives.
  • Experience producing polished, UX deliverables including site maps, wireframes, process flows, concept models, etc.
  • Excellent analytical and process-oriented skills
  • Excellent verbal and written skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Keen sense of customer experience and customer needs
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills

 

ADDITIONAL DESIRED SKILLS & QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Basic familiarity with CSS, HTML, JavaScript and jQuery
  • Experience with standard design and documentation tools (Axure, Visio, etc.)
  • Prefer experience working on transactional Web sites or software applications
  • BDD (Behavior Driven Development) Specification Writing a plus
  • Knowledge of Axure a plus.

 

JOB QUALIFICATIONS/EDUCATIONAL REQUIRMENTS:

  • Bachelor's degree in Information systems, computer science, business/management or related field such as Library Science, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Human Computer Interaction.
  • Equivalent experience will be considered. Related experience may substitute for a degree, such as Information Architect or User Experience practitioner, interaction designer, or experience designer (or similar role)
  • Two years of experience in modeling, prototyping or wire framing.

 

We are an equal opportunity employer and committed to a diverse workforce.

Visit our website (www.wolterskluwer.com), YouTube or follow @Wolters_Kluwer on Twitter for more information about our customers, market positions, brands and organization.

Wolters Kluwer offers a competitive compensation and benefit package including 4-weeks of paid time off (1st year), 12 paid holidays, and a generous profit sharing program.

 

 

Some pre-screening questions you will have to answer via email before going into a phone Interview:

  1. What is information architecture to you? In general, why is it important?
  2. How long have you been doing information architecture work?
  3. Can you describe what role you will have to play as an information architect?
  4. Describe yourself in few words.
  5. How can a well-developed information architecture make a web site more usable?
  6. What tools have you used, and are familiar with, to create wireframes, mock ups or designs?
  7. Are you confident that you will be selected for this post?

 

Thanks. Hope you’re out there.

When Faced with the Facts, You’ll hold on to your misbelieves even more.

 

This interesting study, I wanted to post. As when I talk to someone about politics or religion, it’s interesting how when faced with factual information, someone’s views will not change.

"In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that misinformed people, particularly political partisans, rarely changed their minds when exposed to corrected facts in news stories. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger."

 

“…we base our opinions on beliefs and when presented with contradictory facts, we adhere to our original belief even more strongly. “

Some website's I've worked on or developed using ASP, ASP.NET, VB.NET, AJAX, T-SQL

So I was looking on craiglist.com looking at possible side jobs for .Net and such. Then got to wondering, how does someone know that I can actually do what they are asking versus someone who's just starting out and just trying to get the work for the money and doesn't really know what they are doing?

Then I got to thinking of all the sites I've worked on and all the internal web applications I've done, back since 1998? But even before then when the "Internet" was all new and everyone made neon color sites in 1994 give or take a year, I was making html static sites...

So note to whoever reads this. I AM NOT A FRONT-END DESIGNER. I am a back-end .net developer. I can make the page work and do what it does, and well.  I can not make the page look pretty and pleasing to the eye.  I can get close to what I think it pretty neat with some new cool Ajax controls, but always best to have someone else, who's sole purpose in life is to make things look good touch the pages I create.

So here we go...  SOME OF the sites I've worked on.  Now these sites, most of them were designed by someone else, I just made them work.

Edit: This page is not in any specific order, I add stuff as I remember.

 

Web TimeKeeper Add-On for Track-It!® Help Desk Management System (2001-2002): When I was at Masonite, we used were using a piece of software called Track-It. At the time it was owned by, and originally coded by, Blue Ocean.  Which later was bought out by Intuit and then re-purchased by Numara Software company.  Well back when Blue Ocean owned it, I had developed an add-on to the Track-It web application version of their helpdesk software that allowed manager to track their employees through the day.  This add-in worked so well that I was able to package it and sell it to a few clients of Blue Oceans. They sold it through be me because they had some clients that wanted this feature but it wasn't included in the product itself.  This product was developed using Classic ASP to provide up-to-the-minute tracking.  I had sold it under the name Digital Goblin, a site a friend and I made for doing side jobs.  Was a really cool app.  Then Track-It upgrade a version and went .NET they were supposed to release an API that never came and so the project faded away.

 

Internal Verizon Web Application OSI Server Support (2005): Worked on an internal application for Verizon that helps manage their servers. Large back-end MSSQL database.  Did a lot of screen scrapping from other internal web app's to consolidate server information.  Lot of cool tools here, links that connect to remote desktops and give you server stats.  Owners of servers and information relating to every server they are in charge of.  Pretty large application, it was started before me, and when I was contracted there for 6 months I slowly add new features and functionality.

 

HostedForYou.Com (2006 - 2008):  Created/Architected site in Classic ASP, integrated into a SQL 2005 backend database and Helm Control Panel for Hosting. Site uses pre-made HTML Design Layout. [Screen Shot Available]

HostedForYouDev (2007 - Present) - (In Progress):  Full ASP.NET 2.0 site with VB.NET code behind.  Using .NET features such as Menu Navigation, User Controls, AJAX, Themes.  Class Library developed for site functions.  SQL 2005 backend database and integrating into Helm Control Panel for Hosting. Site uses pre-made HTML Design Layout.

MastroInvestments.Com (2004 - 2007): Created / Architected full site win Classic ASP and Flash with a SQL 2005 database. Site uses pre-made HTML Design Layout.

CCTampa.Org  (2007 - 2008):  Full ASP.NET 2.0 with VB.NET code behind, utilizing all .NET features such as Menu, Master Pages, Themes, AJAX, Google Maps, SiteMap, User/Role Management and Security. SQL 2005 Back-end database. Design Layout created by Web Designer.

CCTampa

AAASouth.Com (2005 - 2008):  Sure a lot going with this site. Site is originally Classic ASP with a IBM DB2 back-end database. Supporting this site was part of the job, while slowly converting parts of the site over to .NET 2.0, utilizing AJAX, Controltool kit, custom developer classes/modules. Using .NET features such as Menu Navigation, Site Map, Localization for support of Spanish down the road. User Controls, Themes, custom Member Provider for Login and every other .NET feature I could use. Slowly over time the site should become more and more .NET.  Created even a session transfer sub-application to handle Session transfers from Classic to .NET and back.

 

Internal .NET 2.0 Web Application for AAA Auto Club South.Com (2007 - 2008):  This is an all .NET application migrated from 1.1 to 2.0. I handle back-end objects/classes and tie them into front-end pages. It's a three n-tier system, tying into a db2 database. No cool features used here, just straight VB.NET and some creative front-end validation and scripting.

 

ASP Classic PayPal Payment Control for RubyLuster.Com (2005): Developed in Classic ASP a server side script to handle communication to and from PayPal and manipulating an Access database to track paid/unpaid/expired member subscriptions.

 

.NET Gallery Control for RubyLuster.Com (2005):  Developed an ASP.NET 2.0 tool to handle creation of Photo Galleries. Utilizing custom GridViews and DetailView controls using a custom DataObjectSource control. Created back-end class libraries. Used AJAX.

 

Camp-Adventure.Com (2004):  Created/Architected/Designed Simple Classic ASP site no back-end or dynamic data.

CampAdventure

KLMPetroleum.Com (2007): Created/Architected Flash Site Only using pre-made Flash Design template. Tying contact pages to ASP Classic Forms sent via email.

 

GulfCoastTriathlon.Com (1998-2001): Created/Architected/Designed site in Classic ASP. Installed ASP based Forum system, dynamic participant searches and online application. Site was taken over and ported over to PHP.  Site design/content still my original work.

Flash Intro Video for GCT (1998): Developed Intro Flash movie back in Flash 2.0 or 3.0 for GulfCoastTriathlon.Com

 

Internal ASP Classic site for Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center division of the U.S. Navy. (1998-2000): Re-wrote the NDSTC's internal application from an Access Database passed from person to person to a web-based application using Classic ASP with SQL 7.0 back-end.

 

Internal ASP Classic for Masonite.Com - Developed internal Classic ASP web application to handle Masonite's customer service department. (Used to be named Premdor) Tied into MSSQL Server 2000. Application became a Customer Service Warranty Issues/Tracking System.

 

Handled Back-End Contact Form Control for Coupaws.Com (2007):  Tied Contact Us page to a Classic ASP back-end email script.

Assisted on Backend or Frontend Script Changes On:

AffinityFinancialPartners.Com
FlavorsOfRome.Com
HonestWarning.Com
Coupaws.com
MeryManEnviornmental.Com

 So there you have SOME of the websites and projects I've done.  I really can't keep track of it all.

Am I a good programmer?

I came across an article just the other day where this guy Daniel writes about how to recognize a good programmer. In this article he lists some bullet points on how to tell....

 Positive indicators:

  • Passionate about technology
  • Programs as a hobby
  • Will talk your ear off on a technical subject if encouraged
  • Significant (and often numerous) personal side-projects over the years
  • Learns new technologies on his/her own
  • Opinionated about which technologies are better for various usages
  • Very uncomfortable about the idea of working with a technology he doesn’t believe to be “right”
  • Clearly smart, can have great conversations on a variety of topics
  • Started programming long before university/work
  • Has some hidden “icebergs”, large personal projects under the CV radar
  • Knowledge of a large variety of unrelated technologies (may not be on CV)

Negative indicators:

  • Programming is a day job
  • Don’t really want to “talk shop”, even when encouraged to
  • Learns new technologies in company-sponsored courses
  • Happy to work with whatever technology you’ve picked, “all technologies are good”
  • Doesn’t seem too smart
  • Started programming at university
  • All programming experience is on the CV
  • Focused mainly on one or two technology stacks (e.g. everything to do with developing a java application), with no experience outside of it

... so naturally I started to see which ones apply to me.  What in this list would define where I stand? As I started to look at the list it made sense and actually I could see it applied to someone one else I know who always wants to be a better programmer but lacks some of the bullets from the first part.

As I read the bullets, everyone one of the positive bullets matched with me, only one of the negatives I felt matched as well.  The last one about technology stacks.  At first I thought that contradicted learning new technologies from the first one but it doesn't.  Example, I learned AJAX, I'm learning Silverlight, those are new technologies. I am stacking the technology because I'm using everything with VB.NET.  That's what I feel I stack.  I can read C# but slower to code in it then VB and ususaly when I want to get something done I default to VB.NET because I already know it's full sytax.

Anyway, it was an interesting read.