Ultimately, I had to make a compromise between feasibility and correctness, but I’m pretty satisified with the results. In fact, SiteSucker was able to confirm that, besides images, we did manage a 100% conversion for all the existing urls.
Last week I held my first meeting at NetDoktor, introducing the rest of the company to both what I’m doing and how I organize my work. Of course, I’d dropped the ‘agile’ word around the office from time to time and, suprisingly, most everyone had some idea of what it meant. Sure, it was some kind of new-fangled, black-magic to them, but they understood that it was supposed to help bring ideas faster to market. It was time to to shed some light on the subject of agile, and what better way than to walk them through the tool I use every day – Pivotal Tracker.
We’ve managed our complete development with Pivotal Tracker for over a month now, and never looked back. All in all, our administrative overhead simply vanished and the flow of implementing user stories smoothed out quite a bit. All’s well that ends well, you might want to say. But the last couple of weeks raised some questions.
Emerging Iterations Remove Overhead
As you might already know, Pivotal Tracker is an agile project management tool featuring emerging iterations instead of user defined iterations. This has the big advantage that you, as an agile project lead, do not have to care about setting up and maintaining iterations. E.g. the backlog is automatically cut into iterations based on your team’s velocity. This enables the product owner to easily see the impact of any priority change in the backlog. So far, so good.
After using Pivotal Tracker myself for a couple of weeks, I recently migrated our complete development from Mingle to Tracker.
Migrating existing data between tools using CSV is always a pain. It starts with Mingle using tabs as a separator instead of, well, commas. Of course, you have different field names to match up, and then there’s the difficulties of making MS Excel write a CSV file with commas as separators instead of semi-colons. To avoid all that, I put together a super simple Ruby script to convert a Mingle export into a valid Tracker import:
We’ve been using Mingle for over one year now and it serves us quite well. During the course of the year, we used it to manage over 2000 stories, issues and chores, and we currently only have around 90 open ones left. The only major shortcoming in my eyes is the lack of a real backlog where I could prioritize stories by sorting the list (oh, and its incredible hunger for server-side resources ;-). But it helped us build a successful online business, and all of that for free. Time to say: Thank you, Thoughtworks!
Mingle took a new approach on agile project management
About a year ago, Mingle shook up the scene of agile project management tools like VersionOne, Rally, targetprocess, and XPlanner. Mingle was simpler and much more adaptable to your needs and processes. While it’s definitely enterprise grade software, it’s capable of hiding that fact and giving you a smooth experience with a lot of freedom. You can, for example, define any filter criteria and create a custom grid view for your cards. And you have a fully fledged reporting query language (MQL) for generating graphs and tables with the data you need to see. Mingle does not force you into a fixed structure consisting of releases, iterations, stories, tasks, test cases and issues like some of the aforementioned tools do. While you’re able to manage all those aspects, you don’t have to, and that’s a big advantage in my eyes.
The fundamental issue
Software tools are usually inferior in terms of simplicity and visibility. Most agile project management tools provide you a way of entering nearly unlimited text for any story. This can easily lead to hyper-detailed descriptions which get outdated very easily, and bury developers with information rather than fostering discussion. And software tools are never ubiquitous: You may or may not start them on your system and even if they are opened you usually hide them behind your currently active tools like your IDE.