Agile project management tools for Agile projects: what are people using?

ScrumNinja?

TinyPM?

Mingle?

PivotalTracker?

Aldon?

Jira?

Index Cards?

I’m taking the ocassion of an upcoming web app project with a new team to integrate Agile code development with our UX design. One way I’d like to reinforce the Agile mindset is with matching tools. To start, I’ll pick project management software. I know, I know, cards on a wall, a small office and daily meetings. These won’t be practical for this team, so we’ll have to emulate in software.

What sorts of experiences are folks having with tools like those I’ve listed above? Recently at BarCamp Boston when Chris Pointon put this question to those of in in his Saturday session, “Agile Development War Stories: What’s it Like being Agile”, there was real consensus about what NOT to use: ClearCase!

So, people, what do you recommend? It will be a small team of five or so. The initial project will run about two months. We will see each other a few times each month, but mostly work remotely. Myself and a graphic designer and the account manager will be the non-coders. Some have zero exposure to Agile, others have some informal experience.

What job fits? An exercise to go forward.

Recently an accomplished designer wrote to me for advice about how to move his career forward with a better-suited position. He had lots of questions about about how to position himself, what to do next, etcetera. He assessed his strengths and weaknesses. Mostly, though, he focused on problems – perceived problems – he saw with his background: out-of-date skills, missteps and mismatches.

I didn’t directly address these. To do so, I felt was to help him remain hung up on anxiety about his experience – his history. These are things I could not change. Most importantly, past problems are not a starting point for successful future solutions.

This was my advice:

Stand up now.

Write back your answer on this:

Exercise: We’ve just met – at a party. tell me what your job is. You have about ten seconds. (Its a party, after that the other guy will take the wheel and you’ll have to make another opening – okay, but not for this exercise). Go!

==

The Set-up: You just got a job you were psych’d about. Its in a corporation with 1000s of people. Their business offers products and servicies. You’re in some department or team or group (whatever – a fixed subgroup)

The Scene:  we’d just met at a party of design and business people. I know nothing about you already. whatever you tell me will form my entire first impression.

The point: When you’re done telling me, I’ll think, “this guy is a ___. He does ___.”

Your move: tell me what your job is and what you part of the business’ work you do  about what you are going towards. You have a few sentences, say three, before you’ll say: “and what’s your line of work?”, and maybe make chit-chat. You have no professional agenda at this party, just chatting and having a cocktail.

Rules:

  1. The other guy will “get” what you say. Understand the terms, get your meaning, et.
  2. No matter what you say, the other guy will think its great, fine, just accept that that’s a job people have and you do it.
  3. You may not spend your words on past experience.
  4. You have to say the business purpose of your work, not the desk activities, or your step in your group’s flow.
  5. You have to start with a title or description.
  6. You can read all this explanatory crap ONCE. Then you just have to run through the exercise again and again (about 30 times) until its no biggie.

Hints:

  • You have to do this exercise while standing up.
  • The exercise is standing there talking to the imaginary guy. The writing back to me part is just your report to me.

Remember: This is a job you know you’ll like. You’ve just been there a week. There are no problems there. There is no ambiguity at work. You come in, work with your colleagues, go home, etc.

CherryCard would help you save the world

In February, Noah Fradin turned 18 — finally. It’s a relief, he says, that he no longer needs his mom to co-sign the nondisclosure agreements and other documents related to his plan to change the world.

More » “Prototype: Serving a Cause, 25 Cents at a Time” By Amy WallaceNY Times.com, April 16th, 2011

Fradin’s got a good initial mechanism to turn shopping into donation: paper good-for cards participating merchants hand to shoppers to redeem through the CherryCard site. Like many other new fundraising startups CherryCard is working the world-saving angle to engage merchants and shoppers. This is understandable – like most of us, I’d like the world saved, too.

I remain skeptical that enough shopping can be motivated by this distantly removed result to generate the transactions necessary to support his middle man operations.

I’ve worked with non-profits to raise money, promote programs, collect, track and disburse money, and connect to members. I’ve also donated myself and benefited from programs and grant-making. I helped build non-profit startups. Everything I know about both the giving and the asking sides of charitable giving convince me that effective soliciting and giving need a cause with more tangible self-interest, more personal investment and more directly observable results. I don’t believe that “cause marketing” is sufficient.

CherryCard’s simple to use, simple to understand system is likely to give it some marketing momentum. It needs a message or a method to connect giving more directly with results in order to acheive philanthropy’s elusive goal:  sustained, reliable, efficient giving.

Strategic Design

Caspian Design is a strategic design and innovation consultancy.

We are located north of Boston with technical and creative freelancers everywhere.

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We drive change.

Our design work and advising spans software, business process, industrial design, marketing and branding.

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We work at the intersection of user experience, information architecture, usability, business analysis and strategy planning and ideation.

Lately most of our work is in web, mobile, and enterprise software application design.

If you have a product development or other customer-driven business solution in mind, we’d love to hear from you.

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