3 min read

Why does it seem like only developers have to estimate their time and effort?

By Michael Knight on Jan 21, 2021 10:20:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Why does it seem like only developers have to estimate their time and effort-

Nearly a decade ago, as an intern at a now-defunct startup in Austin, Texas, I got a question from a developer that haunted me for years after because I didn’t have a clue how to answer it:

“Michael, why is it that only the developers have to jump through the hoops of estimating our work, spending hours in sprint planning and retrospective meetings and making sure every hour of our day is accounted for and attached to a work item?”

After incredulously wondering how anyone could possibly question the divine and holy agile methodology that I had been zealously learning and implementing that summer, I realized that the developer had posed a wonderful question. Why was it that we only had these requirements for developers? Why didn’t we impose this same process on sales or HR or accountants or any other part of the business? Why wasn’t anyone asking upper management for a timesheet that said exactly what they had worked on every hour that day? I’ve thought about this question for a long time and have built up an answer, or rather a few answers and some capitulations, over the past several years of agile work.

First, development work is hard to understand. Even for developers it’s hard to understand, but for those without computer engineering degrees or years of experience, it’s nearly impossible. How do you explain to someone that developing a section of code that does something seemingly trivial is actually exceedingly difficult and can take several hours?

Second, the work is invisible. You can see code, sure (even if you can’t understand it), but you can’t really see data fetching, processing, rendering, or anything else going on behind the scenes. Coupled with the difficulty of understanding development work in the first place, this poses a serious issue for people trying to understand what’s going on in that bullpen. In contrast, people can see a sales call, an HR training meeting, or an accountant’s spreadsheet and understand quickly and intuitively the value that it brings to the business.

Which brings us to our third and perhaps most important point: it’s important for the business to know what development projects cost. Part of what product managers should be doing is understanding the economics of a given feature, bug fix, or other development effort: how many hours did the team spend writing, testing, rewriting, and deploying this code, and how does that translate to cost?

In my mind, these three reasons sufficiently answered why the business typically loves these processes and imposes them on development teams. But, they didn’t do a good job answering why other teams didn’t tend to have the same processes, often seen as restrictions, imposed on them. After all, isn’t some sales and accounting work invisible and hard to understand? Isn’t it important for the business to understand the cost of HR work? 

Because of this, I’ve come to firmly believe that there are several processes, standards, actions, and overall contributions, usually all attributed to the amorphous “agile”, that every team and business could benefit from. Stand-up meetings, among teams of 15 or less, can be a great way for the team to understand what everyone is working on, reduce duplicate work, and quickly squash problems. Kanban boards (or any similar variants) are wonderful for seeing all of the work in progress, matching different team members to their respective strengths, and prioritizing and organizing ongoing projects. Sprints, or at the very least increments of time which demand continuous planning and feedback, will certainly expose problems and bring about process improvements for a given team. 

It turns out the developer who asked me that question years ago was on to something. The business tends to pick on development teams because their work, in most offices, is the hardest to understand, the least visible, costly, and they’d like to get a better understanding of what’s going on. However, many agile practices would clearly benefit teams across the firm, including and especially those outside of development. Here’s to hoping we see businesses move in that direction in the coming years.

Topics: developers agile
3 min read

HipChat Connect: Your New Mission Control

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 30, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Imagine you work in an office with a room for every job you do- each project, each team. However, there is no communication between rooms- so you have to walk from one to another if you want to share project information or ask questions. This seems ridiculous in real life, but yet business teams still fail to leverage integration of tools due to disparate legacy systems (“IT uses Product X while Business Teams are on Product Y”), lack of customization options (“I’m in HR. Why should I use the same tools as our dev teams?”), and disappointing functionality (“I have to use Product A for reporting, but it’s not in real-time and it leads to lots of email chains to track the conversation.”).  

That’s where Atlassian comes in.

Making software for teams of all types and sizes, Atlassian enhances collaboration by providing easy to use, dynamic tools that move at the speed of your business. With this ethos in mind, Atlassian has released HipChat Connect to the world in order to encourage teams to “live in” HipChat, integrating with all their other tools and endless add-ons. HipChat is now your control pit for everything your team needs, all in just clicks.

The week of November 9th marked Austin Developer Week, hosted by Atlassian and Capital Factory. During the week, developers (and even some business teams) were challenged to learn the HipChat Connect API and create their own add-on. On Friday, add-ons were demoed, and while most were only in their beta versions, excitement was stirred with the expectation to see many of these fan favorites on the marketplace soon.

Uber for HipChat

Why did we not have this at Summit? When you and your team want to grab a bite, simply order the Uber inside HipChat, Determining location, estimated time of arrival, and cost, your team has the info they need to hitch a ride- and they can! Easily “join the ride” to save your seat and, within minutes, you’re on your way to your destination. Props to Atlassian's Julien Hoarau for this awesome add-on, which he demonstrated live by ordering his Uber to the airport (which arrived speedily as planned).

Graphic Annotation

Presented by a developer for a design team, this add-on has functionality for your marketing department to your IT crowd. With built in annotation options for graphics- including text, circles, arrows (all the must-haves!)- it’s never been easier to point out an issue in a performance report, identify an area of improvement on a presentation slide, or circle your own face so you can be spotted in the latest company photo. 

Props via HipChat

Part of Atlassian’s appealing culture is their open sharing of kudos across the company. Everyone likes to be appreciated and, by integrating a reward notification system like youearnedit.com (based in Austin, TX), you can give public shout outs over HipChat. Give points to team members for work well done and track past kudos given in the side panel. Increase your instant karma and share the love across your organization!

…and Many More!

Austin Developer Week was only the tip of the iceberg for add-ons to come for HipChat Connect and, with the API made public on atlassian.com, it’s only a matter of time before the marketplace explodes with amazing possibilities for HipChat functionality. With ideas already spinning up around customer service, business team use, and culture-building, we can already see HipChat becoming our home base. 

Want a Custom Add-On?

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Topics: atlassian blog best-practices hipchat collaboration culture developers marketplace-apps bespoke
4 min read

Atlassian Releases Jira 5

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 22, 2012 11:00:00 AM

So you’ve probably heard already – Atlassian released Jira 5 today, loaded with tons of new stuff. Here’s Atlassian’s press release, which gives a cumulative primer:

“SAN FRANCISCO & SYDNEY, February 22, 2012—Atlassian, the leading provider of collaboration software for product teams, today launched Jira 5, the latest release of its flagship product. Available through both an OnDemand and on-site offering, Jira 5 offers a social product development platform that connects people, applications and activity to accelerate the software development process. New social features such as mentions, sharing and live activity streams immediately bring users into real-time discussions.

Jira 5′s platform – including an expanded plugin API and improved REST APIs –allows third-party software vendors to easily integrate with Jira and create products that are seamlessly compatible with future Jira releases, saving companies time and money. More than 30 integration partners, including Box, Gliffy, New Relic, Zephyr, Zendesk, Salesforce.com, Tempo and GetSatisfaction are launching Jira 5 compatible third-party products. More than 100 commercial and free plugins are also available with today’s launch.

“Jira 5 continues to push the software development process forward, this time through new social capabilities that improve real-time communication and better connect developers, technical teams, business users and customers – basically everyone building software products together,” said Jay Simons, president of Atlassian. “Jira 5′s enhanced integration platform also helps connect information from other enterprise products – a sales ticket from Salesforce.com, or a customer service request from Zendesk – directly to the Jira issue tracking and workflow engine, putting more information directly into the hands of product teams.”

Jira is used by more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Jira sits at the center of the software development process, connecting teams with development tasks such as bug tracking, feature development, agile planning, and activity monitoring.

Sharing Features Connect Developers, Teams and Data in Real Time

“Before Jira, our developers lost so much time reproducing the wheel through a tedious process of figuring out what had been done and who’d already been involved,” said Alex Kirmse, head of mobile development for Zappos.

Jira 5’s new sharing and mention features makes it easy to pull team members or co-workers into the conversation. Live activity streams update team members on all related activities and information, much like Facebook and Twitter activity streams.

“The effectiveness of our team’s communications has increased with direct commenting to individuals and live activity streams,” said Max Pool, Founder of Sycorr, a mobile banking company. “The integration platform for Jira 5 is the best yet. REST APIs improve our ability to integrate across platforms, while improvements to Jira’s powerful search engine (JQL) – such as historic change support – allow us to get even more creative in how we use the system and get the data we want from it.”

Building Businesses on the Jira 5 Platform

Jira 5’s new stable plugin API and improved REST APIs make it easy for integration partners and other plugin developers to build integrated software products. More than a quarter of Jira’s 400 plugins and more than 15 remote SaaS integrations are launching with Jira 5 compatibility. Plugins built using the Jira 5 stable plugin API will be compatible with future upgrades to Jira.

“We feel confident in betting our business on Jira’s success,” explains Samir Shah, CEO of Zephyr. “Jira 5′s new API connects development to QA, and gives our test case management tools more adoption because users know they can upgrade to future releases without having to wait on add-on upgrades.”

“Jira 5 is another quantum leap by Atlassian in their mission to creatively enable large scale collaboration at the nexus of engineering and support,” said Adrian McDermott, vice president of engineering and product management at Zendesk. “This integration redefines how support and engineering teams can work together to enrich customer satisfaction.”

Availability

Starting today, Atlassian is offering a free 30-day trial of Jira 5. Jira can be purchased for on-site download for just $10 for 10 users, or OnDemand starting at $10/month for 10 users.

New Jira Enterprise Offering

To ensure the success of large deployments, Atlassian is introducing a new Jira Enterprise offering with additional support, training and engagement. Customers with 500 or more Jira users can now receive 24X7 phone support, end-user training, and administrator certification, among other enhanced services. For more information, go to http://www.atlassian.com/enterprise.

Additional Resources

About Atlassian

Atlassian products help innovators everywhere plan, build and launch great software. More than 18,000 large and small organizations – including Citigroup, eBay, Netflix and Nike – use Atlassian’s issue tracking, collaboration and software-development products to work smarter and deliver quality results on time. Learn more at http://atlassian.com.”

Topics: jira atlassian news blog connect enterprise facebook salesforce software stream twitter zendesk zephyr saas tempo collaboration developers download gliffy integration jql marketplace-apps
2 min read

From Atlassian: Finally, Bitbucket Supports Git!

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 3, 2011 11:00:00 AM

Bitbucket now supports Git!

You’ve been asking for it, the Bitbuket team has even joked about it – now it’s here (for real): for the one year anniversary of Bitbucket joining Atlassian, they’re announcing Git support.

All your source, all in one-place
Whether you are using Hg or Git, you can now keep all of your code in one place with your preferred DVCS format. If you have existing code you would like to migrate, you can easily import your Git, Mercurial or Subversion source code. Atlassian’s added a new importer for GitHub to our existing site importers which include SourceForge, Google Code and Codeplex.

Unlimited private and public repositories
A big advantage for Bitbucket users is the ability to have unlimited private repositories for free. This means you can store every line of code you’ve ever written in one place without paying a cent.

Notable Changes

UI improvements have been happening gradually over the past six months:

  • Commit and file history browser
  • Source viewer
  • Issue tracker browser
  • Project downloads

Today’s release includes a new UI for the repository and user administration pages. A never-ending goal is to make Bitbucket easier to navigate and use the operations you need fast.

Get your Git on

Pull requests, code commenting and key integrations with developer tools (Jira, Flowdock, HipChat, Twitter, Bamboo, Jenkins and more) have made this a feature filled year. And now Atlassian adds Git…

If you haven’t checked us out lately, Bitbucket has had a year of record growth – more than tripling the number of accounts since the acquisition, adding over 350 improvements, bug fixes and new features. Sign up now (no credit card required) and get unlimited private repos for free!

Were do I find the latest updates about Bitbucket?
Visit the Bitbucket blog at http://blog.bitbucket.org.

Topics: jira atlassian blog administrator bitbucket bamboo distributed-version-control-system google hipchat repositories twitter support developers git coding

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