happy-new-year-2014-8-300x130_2Energetic, responsive, trying harder - those were some of the best compliments we received from our customers.  As one of them, who switched from a competing product to us, said, "It looks like you guys are always trying harder and better than the rest of them." Absolutely! The past 12 months have been truly exciting.  2013 was the year in which organizations ranging from boutique consulting companies to global automotive giants, high-security government agencies to Fortune 500 global brands trusted us and our products with their technology.

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Visual Requirements ManagementThere is a lot of attention given to Lean/ Agile product development teams around the work done and the (Lean/ Agile) processes adopted in by the Dev team once a set of features (backlog items) have been identified for a set of sprints (scrums) and/ or Releases. However, how do those features get to the team, nicely bunched up in Releases and Sprints? There is a lot of upstream effort by Product Management that goes in ‘herding the cats’ – defining and maintaining the Product Roadmap with input from myriad and often conflicting sources abstracting features and requirements at the right level, getting stakeholders to agree on their priority...

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handle TicketsThat was the question posed in a recent discussion. The question further provides the following details – “I work within an agile team. We have a released product and we are still working towards a future release. Every sprint we receive anywhere from 0 to 5 tickets to fix bugs in the released product. Our team is composed of software engineers (to handle new development) and maintenance software engineers ( to handle tickets). My question is how do you account for the maintenance hours during sprint planning. Currently we have a story called maintenance buffer where we allocate some hours to solve tickets.

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Due Dates in Kanban SystemsMany teams adopting Kanban come from Agile background. Agile thinking has discouraged the use of Due Dates. Due Dates breed undesirable behavior. Focus on Due Dates results in teams working under significant pressure. Quite often, that translates into short cuts in Design/ Testing activities. The net effect is that work quality is compromised and technical debt piles up. That said, Agile methodologies, specifically Scrum, inherently have a Due Date. Most often, this is the Sprint end date.

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Swift Kanban DeveloperWithin the SwiftKanban development team, we have evolved our Engineering practices, combining principles of Test Automation, Continuous Integration and Kanban thinking. At the same time, as we look to hire people for such a development environment, we have found it difficult to get people who understand such an environment, even though we can hardly be called bleeding edge! Hopefully, this post helps in understanding in our Engineering environment. The day starts with a stand up meeting at around 9am. Since we are distributed team across three different locations (3 cities, 2 countries), many of our team members join the call remotely.

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Agile and InnovationRecently, we participated in Agile India 2013, where our Sr. VP of Engineering, Sudipta Lahiri was invited to be part of a Panel Discussion. The topic was Agile and Innovation and the panel discussed some of the challenges – perceived and real – that agile teams face trying to innovate. Here is a post by Sudipta summarizing the discussion. I was one of the panel speakers at the Agile India 2013 conference that was held in Bengaluru from Feb 27th to March 2nd, discussing whether Agile fosters or kills innovation.

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Benefits of KanbanOver the last more than 18 months of steady-state usage of Kanban in our product management and engineering teams, we have achieved a number of dramatic improvements. Even considering that for us, it was – and is – a case of eating our own dog-food, these improvements are nothing short of incredible for a small product company where every minute, every dollar, every feature that is value to a customer, counts! So, we thought we should share our experience and benefits with the software and IT community in the hope that some of these will help you benefit as much or more than what we have been able to do. This post is the first in this series.

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David Anderson KanbanBetween Dec 16th and 21st, we had the pleasure of hosting David in India to meet a few key customers, Digité/ SwiftKanban employees, as well as host a local meetup in Bangalore (or Bengaluru!). We also took the opportunity to do several things – formally launch SwiftKanban for the India market, start the Limited WIP Society – India chapter and host a dinner with some key industry leaders that allowed them to have a closer interaction with David. It was a great experience for both us and David!

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ALM While Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) has become a topic of great discussion for middle-management, especially in Engineering organizations, it has largely remained a discussion on application/ software development and tool-chains.  Advantages to Developers and Engineering managers have been highlighted, however, the crucial business benefits that ALM has the promise to deliver to the organizations have yet to be clearly understood and espoused. So that these can become the very basis for effective ALM to be established and for the business benefits to accrue.

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Tales of LeanThanksgiving each year is a big occasion for our family and friends – to get together and eat, drink and be merry – and of course, be grateful for what we have! Yet, right before that, during the days leading up to it, there is a sense of angst that builds up as one question occupies the hosts’ – and the rest of the people cooking (we always do it Potluck) – mind – “What shall be the menu for the Big Day??!!” While the thought of getting together and eating, drinking and being merry is everyone’s top priority, it is the what we will be eating and drinking that becomes the biggest factor in whether we will be merry or not!

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