Tag Archives: web development

scrum

The Scrum Way: A Definitive Approach to Building Things

Scrum as an agile framework is the collaborative effort of a number of self-organizing and cross-functional teams who work along their end users and customers.

The method makes use of adaptive planning, development, delivery and continuous improvement along with flexible and rapid response to change.

When using the agile framework for developing software, a team of 3 to 9 developers gather as main users and divide their work into smaller schedules. These schedules are time-boxed iterations, known as ‘sprints’, which can be tracked and re-planned depending on evolving user requirements.

One way of continuous tracking is with the help of a 15 minute meeting known as Daily Scrums. In order to coordinate the work of multiple scrum teams in a larger organization it requires them to use Large-scale Scrum (LeSS), scrum of scrums and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

 

 The Key Idea Behind Scrum

 Scrum provides a context in which companies are given an opportunity to address complex adaptive problems, while delivering products of highest value whilst making use of their resources productively and creatively.

It is a highly effective team collaboration tool for managing complex products.

Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the creators of Scrum in their resource ‘The Scrum Guide’  explain the working model and usefulness of Scrum clearly. Some of its characteristic features include:

 

  • Light weight
  • Simple to understand
  • Difficult to master

It might sound complicated, but Scrum is rather simple. It is not a methodology. Rather, it implements the scientific method of empiricism. With the help of a programmed algorithmic approach, it makes easy for people and self-organizations to deal with unpredictability and complex problems.

 

The Scrum Values

 Scrum values were added to the Scrum Guide in July 2016. Some of the Scrum values include: focus, courage, commitment, openness and respect.

 

Roles of the Scrum Team

 

 

A distinct Scrum Team is composed of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master and the Development Team.

The self-organizing teams decide how to do their work as a self-sufficient group rather than taking instructions from people. On the other hand, cross functional teams have a wide variety of elements in it so that it can complete the work on its own.

 

 5 Formal Scrum Events For Inspection and Adaptation

 Scrum is modeled to work by optimizing flexibility, productivity and creativity.

 For companies who regularly use Scrum in order to reduce the need of conducting meetings. All of the events are time-boxed for saving productivity time. Once a Sprint begins, it is impossible to slow it down or stop it. There is no way that a Sprint can be stopped or its time length can be altered.

These five events are:

  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective
  • The Sprint

 

1. Sprint Planning:

During Sprint Planning, the work allocated during Sprint is done and everyone in the team contributes to it. The time allotted to sprint planning is a maximum of 8 hours for deciding the goal of one Sprint lasting 1 month.

If the Sprint is shorter, lesser time is allocated to Sprint Planning. It is the duty of Scrum Master to ensure that every one of the Scrum Team is present in the planning process and understands the necessity of this drill. In addition it is ensured that the Scrum Team sticks to the allocated time frame.

Some of the answers that are sought during a planning session are:

  • What can be delivered by the upcoming Sprint?
  • How will the work be done in order to achieve the goal?

2. Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum is a daily 15-minute time boxed event in which all the members of the team meet and make plans for the next 24 hours in order to meet the ultimate Goal.

 

3. Sprint Review

After the end of every Sprint, a Sprint Review is set up for investigating whether the Goal was met in the stipulated time period, any bugs detected and to decide how to clear the Product backlog, if there is any.

Based on a Review, the team decides what steps need to be taken in order to optimize the value and decrease the incidents of Products backlog.

 

4. Sprint Retrospective

This event gives an opportunity to the Sprint team to inspect itself and create a plan that can be implemented next time for the next Sprint. This event occurs after Sprint Review and the time allotted to it is a maximum of 3 hours. If the Sprints are shorter, this event gets further shortened. Following points are considered during the event:

  • What went well during the Sprint
  • What factors can be improved

 

5. The Sprint:

Sprint has a defined time-box during which the job needs to be done. The time period fixed for a sprint is usually one month or less. As soon as one Sprint is over, another begins automatically. They have consistent duration throughout the project. Some of the features of Sprint are as follows:

  • No changes can be made that have the ability to endanger the Sprint Goal
  • Quality goals cannot be reduced
  • Scope can be clarified and re-negotiated between the Development Team and the Product Owner as the project progresses

 

The duration of Sprint is fixed to one month because if longer time is allocated to it, complexities might arise and therefore risks might increase. They help in increasing predictability and reducing risk.

Finally, Scrum is driven by feedback mechanism and stands on the three strong pillars of inspection, transparency and adaptation. It is all about humanizing the entire process of software development that can be optimized to create better products.

 

Defect Management in an Agile Environment

 

The purpose of defect management is to identify bugs or defects of the software and provide information to improve the development process.

In Agile, the process of detecting defects works in parallel to the software development process, and once mastered, can prevent a lot of potential problems.

Scrum per se as a framework does not explicitly show you how to handle defects. With scrum you can bring more accountability to the entire project, however  one lacks clarity on how the teams should operate in the process of delivering the software. Some questions that arise are..

…When a bug is found does it become part of the sprint backlog

…What if adding it to the sprint skews the burn-down and makes it harder to meet the sprint goals?

…What by adding defects to the product backlog delays an important fix?

 

 Defect in Traditional Environment

Conventional Waterfall development consists of a system that can be included in the definition of ‘Done’ when it is analyzed, designed, and coded. Development needs to pass the quality testing phase. Bugs and issues detected during this stage are called defects. They are researched and re-tested by the developers before sending for finalization.

However, this method lacks the ability to preven

t the bugs. Developers are required to break down software code and check results. Once completed, they move on to another project and defects in the previous one causes unnecessary delays in the workflows. This adds stress and instability resulting in an impeded development process.

 

Problem Management in Agile Environment

Whenever an error occurs in the user story of a current or past sprint, it should be immediately identified and resolved to maintain  quality. The methodology may vary from one scenario to another. And so here we elucidate few scenarios:

 

Scenario 1: When a Defect is Detected During Acceptance Testing of a User Story:

In most of cases, it is better to detect and fix a problem as soon as it is discovered in the QA testing. When this isn’t possible, the user story should go back to the developer for resolving the defect. It is re-tested several times until the complete resolution of a defect. In this scenario, recording of a defect can also help. The teams stay abreast of the waste that takes place between the phase of development and testing. And metrics can be used for a better problem management.

 

Scenario 2: When the Team Conducts Regression Testing on the Functionality of Software:

Sometimes, developers may conduct a regression testing on the user stories that are already accepted by the product owner. In this story, there can be a defect that needs to be properly tracked and unraveled.

It is always a possibility to create a defect for such issues. However, you should resolve it immediately instead of creating a defect to be tracked.

 

Scenario 3: A Story is Noted as Done Despite Some Known Defects that are Deferred:

In a deferred defect, there lies a sub-feature of a user story that needs full implementation. Here, it is important to create a new story to fix the defect. These may include defects having requirement specifications. In Agile environments, such defects are sized and prioritized according to other factors.

 

Scenario 4: A Defect Found in the Demonstration of a User Story:

In every 2-3 weeks, developers demonstrate user stories to the stakeholders. If something is found to be broken during this demonstration, a defect is created, prioritized, tracked, and resolved for it. However, the issues in the unaccepted stories can’t be marked as Defects. In this scenario, the story isn’t complete and defect can’t be created.

As a matter of fact, follow a well-defined problem management practice to resolve the defects in the software.

In the end, the best way to manage problems is to prevent them from happening.

 

A CMS Comparison Guide – WordPress vs. Joomla

WordPress vs. Joomla, are you too confused about which one you should be using for your website?

Here it is, a definitive comparison guide to WordPress vs. Joomla.

 

A Brief Introduction:

When you consider website development or a content marketing system, a CMS or Content Management System is considered thy holy grail. Many organizations hit the plateau merely because they fail to recognize the power-packed benefits of CMS-driven web solutions.

On an average, 55% visitors have been found to spend less than 15 seconds on most websites. To catch their attention within these few seconds, an engaging site created by using platforms like WordPress and Joomla can work wonders.

 

The Origin:

WordPress initially began as a blog-host, and then graduated to encompass more than 75 million websites that it has today.

Joomla was created to be a highly potent website development and CMS tool. It stands with 2.8 million websites that run on Joomla until 2017.

You can install both WordPress and Joomla with just one click, but WordPress is a beginner’s haven while Joomla requires a higher level of technical expertise. The former platform powers nearly 28% of the web, which explains the benefits this platform can offer to users.

 

Type of Usage:

With a vast market share of 58.4%, WordPress is the way to go if you are looking to build a blog, small to medium-sized business website, or an enterprise-level portal. On the other hand, Joomla is used for social networking websites and E-commerce portals.

This difference in usage is due to the user base. While most beginners prefer WordPress, people with advanced technical skills prefer Joomla.

 

Both tools are free and have an active community which continuously fixes bug and releases updates, free of cost.

 

A CMS Comparison Chart:

SpecificationsWordPressJoomla
ThemesMore than 4000 themes to suit a variety of purposesOffers a rather meagre number of over 1,000 themes
PluginsOffers approximately 45,000 pluginsOffers over 7,000 plugins
SEO IntegrationThird-party SEO plugins optimize the published content and focus on the best keywords.Has great plugins from viewpoint of functionality and you can develop your own.
UsabilityEven a complete novice can manage the content on their website efficiently with ease.For those who have an intermediate level knowledge of websites and programming, Joomla is a viable option.
Installation TimeLess than 5 minutesMore than 10 minutes
Number of Downloads140 million15 million

 

What Should You Choose?

The question remains: What is right for you? Which platform should you use for your content and website?

If you are a tech novice and need an easy to use interactive interface for your our own or company’s website, go to WordPress. If you own a small to medium business, blog, or an e-store choose WordPress.

This platform is preferred for its user-friendly and intuitive interface to ensure smooth transitions for its users. Joomla is the second most preferred CMS, and it serves as a middle ground between extremely simple WordPress and an overtly complex Drupal.

Second, do you have an enterprise-level website to take care of? Enterprise-sized websites characterized by their large structure, enormous visitor traffic, and multilingual availability target global markets. On all these counts, WordPress and Joomla, both can prove good choices, provided you have in-house technical expertise.

WordPress & Joomla allows the designers to access more than 70 languages for creating multiple sites for multi-national outreach.

The robust publishing tools with valuable features are straightforward to use in WordPress, while Joomla needs a technical bent of mind.

Most importantly, both can be set up to power multiple websites with capabilities for integrating domains, sub-domains, and subdirectories into the network.

In the end, both WordPress and Joomla are highly capable and potent tools. However, WordPress is a well-rounded CMS for everyone to understand easily. The final selection depends on your specific requirements.

Self-Care Apps Are Becoming a New Millennial Obsession


Mindfulness. Self-Care. Minimalism. Productivity. Self-development.

The healthy obsession of self-reflection and discovery has pushed our generation more than any other.

There isn’t much debate about it that only deliberate practice can lead to self-improvement. The path to wellness will always remain a journey and the focus on valuing oneself prevents you from feeling overwhelmed.  That’s how makers of self-care and digital wellness mobile apps are beginning to reap enormous benefits. They coach on specific aspects of each skill/goal in a practice session, help focus your attention on your goal, build upon each skill as it is mastered and evaluate your progress and gaps to improve overall performance.

A report conducted by Pew Research Center in 2015 suggest more millennials are spending on self-care essentials such as work-out regimes, diet plans, life coaching, therapy, guided meditation to improve their well-being.

But, why this growing interest?

A whole new generation of workforce agrees that workplace stress, anxiety about money, and unlimited news streaming is increasingly taking a toll on their health. Millennials marry later in life (after <35) and are slower on buying a home. This trend has led them having more time to remain self-focused and to not have the same distracting responsibilities as their parents.

By the mindful practice of self-care, they can honestly take the time to check themselves, and adjust to health, nutrition, sleep, medication and recovery as necessary.

Brooke McAlary, in her book Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals for a Slower Life shows readers how to feel control, minimize stress, find pockets of peace on even the busiest of days with a few changes to the flow of daily life that can create long-term, lasting change. With the personal training app from Kayla Itsines, her followers can find fitness and exercise motivation through personalized programs.

Do a quick Google search, and you will find thousands of self-help, apps, authors, and blogs who accompany with lists of advice on how to avoid procrastination and help you find productivity, inspiration and great workout tools.

Google trends also show an increased search for such queries.

 

 

So, it comes as no surprise the self-care industry has reached a whopping $15 billion-dollar in combined iOS mobile application and Android revenues, and $27 million in worldwide revenue as per the Sensor Tower report.

In general, physical and mental wellness is a priority for everyone, and if your problems don’t go away, these apps are here to help you with a multitude of self-care tools.

Agile Development: Unfolding 18 Reasons to Active User Involvement

 

Agile methods are lightweight software development processes that employ short iterative cycles, involve users to establish, prioritize and verify requirements, and rely on knowledge within a team rather than documentation (Boeham and Turner 2004).

Within the spectrum of agile web development, user involvement has evolved from being informative and consultative, to a participative approach. A significant need that weaves together this story is: customer focus. What matters to project teams is:

  • All actions provide tangible business value.
  • The customer is not defined as the project stakeholders of the company, but the end users as well.
  • The degree of alignment between different user roles (an entity that will be using the software directly or indirectly) and their expectations in the development of the software project.

Read more to understand the 7 Core Principles of Agile Development

However, it is not always possible to advocate interactions that involves external customers directly in the development projects, and that’s when active involvement from project stakeholders become a necessity throughout the journey.

Here are 18 reasons why!

#1 Requirements are clearly communicated with upper management and important stakeholders showing how goals are aligned with the vision at the outset.

#2 Market mechanics help shape ideas.

#3 Perceptions and expectations are obtained from internal and external practitioners in a realistic setting.

#4 Face-to-face interviews, user visits, meetings, brainstorming sessions, and open communication channels such as phones, faxes, emails and focus group discussions drive involvement.

#5 Requirements elicitation are discussed (security, portability, scalability, and scope).

#6 Decisions around time-frame ensure optimum benefit of the involvement.

#7 Collaboration with developers in resolving issues pertain features to be implemented.

#8 Evolving project plans without the need of lengthy documentation.

#9 Responding and providing inputs to product prototypes created by development teams.

#10 When end user groups are involved: liaison between users and IT teams by consulting or interacting to extract their ideas, needs or problems.

#11 Influence practices such as User Centered Design, Usability Testing, User Stories, Putting Usability First (PUF), Usability Engineering (UE) and Participatory Design (PD).

#12 Resolving issues as they come up with different stakeholders.

#13 User stories created at the start of every iteration, and then prioritized to ensure they are completed within the time allocated for that iteration.

#14 Development can be monitored on an ongoing basis.

#15 There is complete transparency.

#16 Both sides of the teams are accountable as they share progress openly every day.

#17 There is complete commitment to the project.

#18 There is a sense of joint effort as responsibility is shared.

At Terra, we embrace agile. Our methodologies are based on iterative development, requirements gathering, and creating solutions that evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross functional team.