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Four Easy Steps to Get Your Life in Order, Cut Stress, and Double Productivity

Kanbanery - Wed, 12/21/2016 - 20:53

Artykuł Four Easy Steps to Get Your Life in Order, Cut Stress, and Double Productivity pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

A new year is just around the corner. For some of us, that just means a few weeks of writing the date wrong. For others, it means an opportunity to become the person we dream of being who’s living the life such a person would deserve. Many find the new year a perfect time to make a more compelling commitment than the ones their teachers, parents or bosses ask them to make every day. If that’s you, here’s an idea for a new year’s resolution that would make a difference in your life in both the short and long term. Get your life in order in 2017. Or if that seems too big, get your life in order on January 2nd, 2017, and then keep it that way.

Here’s how.

I’ve been a huge fan of organizational systems for decades, from Franklin planners and Eisenhower matrixes to Getting Things Done (GTD) and the personal kanban. They all address the same basic problems of how to know what to do when. We can deconstruct them and find some common elements that most every productivity guru agrees your system has to have to work.

Get it out of your head Productivity that reduces stressSource: Giphy

There’s nothing like the stress of feeling there’s something important that you should be doing if only you could remember what it is, except perhaps the stress of that moment when your boss, spouse, child, or friend reminds you when they show up and tell you how you’ve just dropped the ball and let everyone down. Isn’t it crazy how at that moment, the memory of you making the commitment jumps so clearly into your mind that you can feel yourself right there making that promise with every intention of following through, and then all the time between then and now is suddenly compressed into a blur of poor judgements. The best solution I’ve found to ensure that ideas and commitments don’t get lost is to have a small set of places where everything goes. I’ve tried to simplify this down to one place and failed. It’s just not convenient enough. But too many turns into clutter. So I have five “dump and forget” places for tasks:

Google Calendar

I put every event here. Meetings, birthdays, deadlines, vacations, travel, and conferences. If there’s something I need to do to be prepared, I add it as an email reminder. For example, my brother’s birthday is in November, and when I created the recurring event in Google Calendar, I added a reminder that emails me two weeks in advance to tell me to buy and send a card. If I have a status meeting in my calendar, I might have a reminder to update the status report the day before. That way, I can commit to a task weeks, months or years in advance and then forget about it, confident that I’ll know what I need to know when I need to know it and not before.

My whiteboard

I have a little magnetic whiteboard designed to look like a sheet of notebook paper stuck to the inside of the front door of my home. My family has learned that if they ask me to do something and I reply “sure, no problem” that they shouldn’t expect much. If I’m up to my elbows in cookie dough, they can scribble a reminder on the little whiteboard, and know it will get done. I also use this for ideas that pop up anytime I’m in the house and just want to capture them. Once it’s on the board, I don’t have to waste one iota of brainpower on remembering it.

A physical inbox

I have a regular plastic inbox on my desk at work and another at home. It starts every week empty and as things come up, like mail or bills, that don’t have to be dealt with immediately, they go into the inbox for later processing. I also scribble notes on Post-Its or scraps of paper throughout the day and dump anything I don’t have to take action on immediately into the inbox so I can, you guessed it, not waste one iota of brainpower remembering it.


Everything I have to do, which comes to me by email, mail, inspiration, or conversation gets captured in my physical inbox or whiteboard and moved once a week into Kanbanery. I can also create new tasks on my personal kanban board either from the board itself, if I’m logged in, using hotkeys to enter several things quickly. If I’m not logged in, I can add task cards to Kanbanery by email or use the Kanbanery Chrome extension. Most things, though, get added on Monday morning when I empty my various inboxes into Kanbanery so that I have one list of things I could be doing all in one place, and all my other inboxes start the week empty.


Make the abstract concrete

Unless it’s a bill to pay or a toy that to fix, most things we do don’t have much of a physical reality. They build up without taking up space. No one can see how busy we are, including ourselves, unless your job is sorting mail. So now that you have all those things written down someplace, find a way to see what you’re working on, what you’ve done, and what’s yet to do. Most people find “to do” lists with check marks uninspiring and even depressing. Sure, striking things off feels good, but the list itself just keeps growing and feels like an insatiable beast. That’s why I prefer a Kanbanery board.

I have a column for ideas, one for things I want to get done this week, and another for things I want to do today. Then, as I work through my day, I pull from the “To Do Today” column into “Doing” and finally “Done.” If I empty the today column and still feel motivated to work, I pull more stuff in from the “This Week” column. But once I’ve decided what to do this week and today, I collapse any columns I’m not using so I don’t have to look at what I’ve decided not to think about today. They’ll be there when I need to think about them tomorrow.


There are several tools for prioritization. The Eisenhower matrix divides things into a Important/Unimportant and Urgent/Not Urgent. I find that a useful idea, especially the awareness that there are things that are urgent and unimportant and that there are other things which are important but not urgent. That’s a reminder to plan your life, because if you don’t, your time will be filled with urgent trivialities. Most of what most people do most of the time could be left undone and nothing bad would ever happen as a result.


I like the DSDM prioritization practice called MoSCoW. This method divides things into Must Do, Should Do, Could Do, and Won’t Do. But it’s still more complex than I find I need.

I use a simplified version of the Kanban Method’s “cost of delay” metric to plan my days. I first pull into my “To Do Today” column anything that if not done, bad things would happen. How bad, I leave to my discretion. An easy task that would be very costly if left undone will always make the cut, but if I see something hard to do which won’t hurt much if I put it off, then it might not make it in today, or ever. For me, the “very bad things will happen if these things aren’t done today” list is extremely short. It rarely has more than one or two items in it and is often empty. That’s my Must Do list. Once my Must Do list is complete, the rest of my day is discretionary, so I look for three sets of things to do next:

Stuff I want to do because I feel like it. If it’s valuable, but not urgent, and I’m in the mood to do it, then why not? I might not be in the mood when it does become urgent, and I’ll do a better job of it and have a happier day if I do it when I’m feeling motivated.

Stuff that’s likely to become tomorrow’s “Must Do or Very Bad Things Will Happen.” That’s how you keep the list short, which gives you more options every day.

Stuff that is super important, but will never be urgent. For example, writing a letter to my old mentor at my last job will never be urgent. If I never do it, no one will even know. Our relationship will grow more distant. We’ll eventually forget about each other. Nothing bad will ever happen. I’ll just grow old with one less friend in the world. And I’ll never know if I miss a great opportunity because he wasn’t thinking of me when he was looking for an investor or business partner.


Most productivity systems have little to say about the most important aspect of being productive, which is producing stuff. They seem to assume that once you know what needs to be done, you’ll just do it. My kit includes three tools from the productivity literature that all work to help with this critical component.

The two-minute rule

It’s amazing how many important tasks take a trivial amount of time. Invite a person to a meeting. Make a decision. Make a dental appointment. Sort the mail. Floss. Truely life-altering stuff. Keep your “to do” list uncluttered by not putting this stuff on it. If you are making your plan for the day, or just have a sudden inspiration to do something, and it’s something you can do right now in two minutes or less, just do it. That’s half your life’s problems, solved now and in real time. You’re welcome.

The Pomodoro Technique

For everything else, there’s the Pomodoro Technique. Why it works is worth a book, not a blog post, and I encourage you to read it. How it works is simple. Decide what to do next, set a timer for twenty-five minutes, then work on only that thing until it’s done or until the timer stops. Take a break; grab a cup of tea, jog around the block or watch a Louis C.K. video on YouTube. Have a laugh, or a sweat, or a sweet. Whatever takes your mind off work for five minutes. Then set the timer again and get back to work. Do one thing at a time. Finish it before moving on to the next thing. Kindness gratifies; Love prevails, and focus gets things done. The most powerful ideas are often the most simple.

Just get started

I hate washing dishes, so when I walk into the kitchen to wash dishes, I never plan to wash all of them. I only commit to washing ten of them. I count them as I go. But for some reason, once the first ten dishes are washed and my hands are wet and the sponge has soap on it and the sink’s already full of warm water I think, what the hell, it’s almost done. Might as well finish.

I rarely sit down to write a blog post. That takes a lot of time. I could always find a reason to do something else rather than spend a couple of hours writing. Usually, I sit down to write for five minutes. Maybe I’ll knock out an introduction and chisel away at the task so it’s not so big tomorrow. But usually, when I sit down to write for five minutes, half an hour or more passes before I look up and realize that I’ve just accidentally finished a draft of a blog post. A sentence turns into a paragraph. The paragraph turns into an idea. One idea leads to another. I might not have felt like writing a whole blog post when I opened my laptop half an hour ago, but I’m up to 2163 words already and still enjoying myself.

The scariest tasks always look far less scary when you’re five minutes into them. They can even start to look kind of fun, or at least satisfying. So if I’m putting something off because it’s too big, I just give it five or ten minutes. No big deal. No commitment. No repercussions if I don’t finish it in one sitting. And I’m usually pleasantly surprised by how much I get done that way.


So there you are. Get your life in order. It seems like a lot, but there are only a few components that all play together to get your life in order. Capture everything, remember nothing. Visualize the work on a Kanbanery board. Make small commitments to a week, a day, and the next twenty-five minutes. Then focus and dig in using the two-minute rule and the Pomodoro Technique. Life, organized. Unicorns and rainbows. Happy New Year!



giphy-4Source: Giphy

Artykuł Four Easy Steps to Get Your Life in Order, Cut Stress, and Double Productivity pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

Categories: Companies

Kanban vs. Scrum, take two

Kanbanery - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 15:55

Artykuł Kanban vs. Scrum, take two pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

Software development is not manufacturing. You can’t take a system designed for building cars and use it to manage software projects. Building a car is a series of identical tasks which don’t change as long as things are going well. There’s one best way to perform each task. Software development is knowledge work. Every step is different, every time. It’s about discovering the best way to do things, and then discovering better ways. It’s creative work, not subject to the rules of manufacturing process management.

Yes. Of course. I agree. But I’m getting really tired of hearing it.

This post is going to be in the form of a rant. Not just because I need it; that would be just selfish. I’m choosing the format of a rant because this needs to be said once and for all in a way that will make an impression.

Because the Kanban Method is not the Toyota Production System. No more than Scrum is rugby.

You never hear anyone saying that software development is not a game. You can’t take a tactic designed for deciding which team gets control of a leather ball and use it to manage software projects. Forcing your way through a concentrated group of blockers is a physical challenge while software development is knowledge work.

I can imagine that the names of two tools frequently applied (often at the same time) to improving value delivery by software companies had similar origins.

Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the inventors of Scrum might have been rugby fans, or at least familiar with the sport. Seeing eight people gather every day into a tight circle to work together (the daily standup) might have reminded them of something, like a scrum in rugby. Beyond that, the analogy makes no sense. In rugby, a scrum is used to restart the play after it’s been stopped by an official for some minor infraction of the rules. No one ever says, “we can’t use Scrum in our software team because we aren’t restarting work after someone got in trouble for breaking company policy.” Everyone knows that’s not the kind of scrum we’re talking about.

David Anderson, inventor of the Kanban Method, might have seen that cards in a stack or slots on a board make visible things that are normally invisible, like demand or capacity. Not unlike the way they had to find to make things like capacity in a software development system visible and therefore, manageable. What are those those things called? In Japanese, the word kanban means a visual signal. In Chinese, it means a signpost or a board. So what to call a new tool which incorporates a board full of visual signals?


Source: Scrum  & Kanban

Or Scrum is related to rugby in the same way that the Kanban Method is related to the Toyota Production System. Both borrowed one word based on a loose association. That’s all.

So indeed, Toyota does use boards on the wall full of visual signals of invisible things that they want to manage. Rugby teams do sometimes put their heads together and work as a group to get something done. But there the similarities end. Can we just leave it at that, please?

Artykuł Kanban vs. Scrum, take two pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

Categories: Companies

Scaling simplicity – Cascading control and permission management in Kanbanery

Kanbanery - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 17:44

Artykuł Scaling simplicity – Cascading control and permission management in Kanbanery pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

Merging complexity and ease of use is always challenging. At Kanbanery, our aim has always been to create a product that is easy to use, and yet can scale with our clients’ businesses. In the early days, many of our clients were startups, and we know that startups aspire to greatness and some will achieve it. They need an agile project management tool that doesn’t get in the way of a small team building a great minimal viable product. When they become successful, they shouldn’t have to change their toolkit for some ungainly enterprise tool that requires a full-time administrator just to manage accounts, permissions, and workflows. One of the primary tools that we used to achieve flexibility was Principle-driven Design, which I described in an earlier blog post. A startup that chooses Kanbanery because they share our principles of transparency and collaborative learning will grow to become an enterprise that continues to share those principles.

An illustration is our permission management system.

At one time in a past life, I was a Jira system administrator for a large IT company. We had dozens of teams supporting or building dozens of products, each with different workflows. We had layers of management and stakeholders in various departments who had roles to play in multiple projects. The result was many groups with hundreds of overlapping permissions and every day I was adding and removing people from groups, defining new groups (never removing them), adding (but never removing) group permissions, and adding (never removing) workflows. Some companies think they need that level of control, but I didn’t want to do that to any of Kanbanery’s clients.

I knew that plenty of large companies use physical kanban boards. You can’t hide a physical board from someone who has a key to the room. You can’t show anyone some columns but not others. You can’t control who can move tasks or in which direction. And yet it works. That’s because people are basically good and most are pretty smart (they call it knowledge work for a reason), and when you trust them, their natural inclination is not to let you down.

So When we designed the Kanbanery permission system, we kept it simple. There are three roles: viewer, team member, and manager. A viewer can see anything, including comments, attachments, and reports. They see all the same things that a member of the team would see when they look at a board, but they can’t move task cards, create task cards, or change anything on the board. The physical analog is looking at a task board through a window. They see the same things the team sees. No secrets. That’s how we build trust.

A team member can add and move cards around and add comments and attachments to a card. They can also edit anything on a card.

Adding a team member in Kanbanery

A board manager (there can be several) can do everything a team member can and they can also change the board layout and settings and manage board users.

Personally, I use only the board manager role, giving all the control to everyone on my teams. No one has ever made a mistake or abused their power. People don’t have to ask me to add them to a board or to change a board’s settings or layout since anyone on the team can do all that by themselves. I had enough of that back when I was a Jira admin.

At the higher level, we have account and workspace management. The one thing that I do feel pretty strongly about controlling is my clients’ costs. The person who creates a company account and pays for it is the only person who can change the plan level, upgrade to the Pro plan, or add team members over the plan limit. The person who pays the bill, or who entered the company credit card should never be surprised by an invoice. So when someone creates an account, paid or not, they own it. In the account is one workspace. If they have a pro plan, then can create more workspaces.

Workspaces can be handy when you need to control access by product, team, department, or client. A workspace can have many managers, assigned by the account owner. These managers can do anything within a workspace that the account owner can, except things that would cost more money. They can create and delete boards and manage those boards and all their members.

It sounds complex, but after hundreds of thousands of clients using Kanbanery over almost ten years, I can only remember four times that we got a support request to clarify how something works.

Because from the standpoint of a person adopting Kanbanery for their company, the workflow is natural. They create an account, then perhaps they rename the workspace or create a few workspaces. They automatically are the workspace owners for all workspaces in their account. Perhaps later they want someone to help, and then they just add that person as an additional workspace manager. The account owner or their workspace managers then create new Kanbanery boards, and they are automatically managers of those boards. Again, if they want someone else to manage a project board, they just make them a board manager.

Only twice in Kanbanery’s history has this caused a problem. Both times it was because an engineer or project manager created an account for their team and paid with a company credit card borrowed for the purpose. In both cases, other teams in the company saw Kanbanery and liked it, and Kanbanery use grew from the original team to other departments. Later, the people who created the accounts left the companies and we’d start getting requests from accounting for invoices, or we were asked to update the credit card on file. So we’d migrate the account ownership to someone higher in the organization or in accounting and the problem was solved.

A student who created a free Kanbanery account for managing their coursework can assume it’s as easy to use as Trello because they never have to see the power that’s under the hood until they need it. A large corporation using Kanbanery in multiple departments for sales, marketing, legal, recruitment, and of course product development just sees a simple tool that scales intuitively. So by giving account owners total power over everything in the account and the ability to easily share that power, we have a simple system of automatically cascading responsibility that just works, because it’s based on maximizing simplicity and assuming trust and transparency.

Artykuł Scaling simplicity – Cascading control and permission management in Kanbanery pochodzi z serwisu Kanbanery.

Categories: Companies

We’re Moving: Rally Blog Has a New Home on CA Highlight

Rally Agile Blog - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 17:24

You’ve probably heard by now that Rally Software has become part of the CA Technologies family. As a result we’re moving the agile blogs you know and love from here, to there:

Beginning in mid-October, the Rally blogs will no longer be available in their current locations.

We’ve already moved our most popular blog posts over to the CA Highlight blog. You'll find the same great agile management topics and content written by your favorite bloggers, with added links to interesting, related content. The technical (engineering, development, DevOps) blogs will live at CA Highlight as well.

So set a new bookmark to the CA Highlight blog or subscribe using the link at the bottom of the page. Then, browse the Agile Management and Technical Innovation categories to see posts you may have missed, and check out authors new to you from the CA family. See you there!

Categories: Companies

Reply to Comments with @ Mentions

Pivotal Tracker Blog - Wed, 08/10/2016 - 18:39

Last month, we made it so that clicking on a story comment notification (either in the app or in email) took you directly to the comment in which you’d been mentioned.

“That’s great and all,” we hear you saying, “but replying to that comment can be a bit painful when you’re trying to keep everyone already @ mentioned in the conversation.”
Fair point!

Hold onto your horses, because now you can quickly reply to everyone who’s part of a comment thread with one click.

Just mouse over a comment and click the new Reply button.

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 9.37.26 AM

You’ll notice that the people previously mentioned are selected by default, making it easy to remove them if you meant to reply only to the comment author. To keep them, just hit the right arrow key and start typing to your heart’s content.

As always, please share your feedback via the in-app widget (in the Help dropdown when in a project), or email us.

The post Reply to Comments with @ Mentions appeared first on Pivotal Tracker.

Categories: Companies

How to Rescue Yourself From a Risky Setback

Pivotal Tracker Blog - Wed, 07/27/2016 - 16:52

Did you ever take a risk and then realize, “OMG, I am in too deep?”

But by the time you realized it, it was too late.

There was no time for a do-over.

You were stuck and really the only logical thing to do next was to throw in the towel and call it quits.

Or was it?

Well, in today’s episode of FemgineerTV, we’re going to tackle the topic of how you can rescue yourself from a risky setback.

And to help us out, I’ve invited Jessica Mah, the CEO and Co-Founder of InDinero. She has grown InDinero from zero to multimillion dollar revenues with nearly 200 full-time staff, and has been on the cover of Inc. Magazine, and featured in the Forbes and Inc. 30 Under 30 lists. Jessica studied computer science at UC Berkeley.

Jessica went from engineering to entrepreneurship right out of college, but it hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for her.

She’s had to overcome a number of setbacks along the way, including being on the brink of bankruptcy!

She’s been kind enough to share her story openly with us, and as you watch the episode you’ll learn:

    • Why it’s important to set goals (but not too many!)
    • How to respond to those
    • Why being direct with teammates and customers can help you work through a risky setback
    • How partners can be helpful, and how to nurture those relationships to withstand setbacks
    • How you can feel fearless and confident, but how it’s like a gas tank and needs to be replenished

If you’ve agonized over a significant setback, then I highly recommend watching this episode!

Listen to the episode on iTunes!

You can listen to this episode of FemgineerTV on iTunes. Please take a moment to leave us a review. Your positive review will help us get featured in News & Noteworthy and bring more exposure to the work we’re doing, as well as the talented guests we feature!

FemgineerTV is produced as a partnership between Femgineer and Pivotal Tracker. San Francisco video production by StartMotionMEDIA.

The post How to Rescue Yourself From a Risky Setback appeared first on Pivotal Tracker.

Categories: Companies

Comment Links

Pivotal Tracker Blog - Wed, 07/06/2016 - 23:59

Tracker’s notifications let you stay on top of story conversations as they evolve, whether you’re in the app or in your email inbox.

Now when you click a comment or mention notification, Tracker highlights and takes you directly to that comment.

We’ve also added the ability to grab links right from the comments. You can paste them into your favorite app like Slack so others can go directly to that comment.

Comment Link

We’ve also made it easier to open a story in a new tab. Just CMD-click a story or the arrow button in an expanded story (or the story preview hover).

Got feedback? Please get in touch via the Provide Feedback widget under Help in any project, contact us on Twitter, or email

The post Comment Links appeared first on Pivotal Tracker.

Categories: Companies

Tracker and Cross-Functional Teams: Where Do You Fit In?

Pivotal Tracker Blog - Tue, 07/05/2016 - 19:00

It takes a village to deliver a great software project. Tracker’s workflow accommodates a developer’s perspective well, but there can be many actors involved in delivering a feature. You’ll use Tracker differently and get different benefits depending on your role and competencies. For example, if you’re a UX designer or a business analyst, where do your activities fit in Tracker? You might have multiple roles and competencies; for example, maybe you’re a developer who also does design and/or testing. Let’s look at how you can use Tracker to keep your work visible and coordinate a variety of activities on a cross-functional team that’s collaborating to build a quality product.

Product owners and managers
If you serve as product owner, product manager, or you’re a line manager for your team, here are some features you can take advantage of to help you plan and prioritize.

Managing multiple projects and dependencies
Need to keep up with more than one project? Create your own workspaces so that you can check progress on several projects at a glance, make dependencies and blockages visible, and easily move stories between projects as needed.

My Work search to see individuals’ active stories
You can see what stories a particular project member has in progress by using the mywork search in combination with the member’s username or initials. This works across projects in workspaces, as well as in individual projects. For example, for the project member with username “chewbacca” and initials CB, type mywork:chewbacca or mywork:cb in the Search field. Some teams pin a My Work panel for each user and display it on a big monitor so they can see if anyone might need help with a time-consuming story.

My Work search across projects in a workspace

Epics are a great place to capture design assets, business rules, and examples that span multiple stories. When planning a new feature, start with the epic, and use the Epic Stories panel to add and prioritize related stories. The Epics panel provides a quick visual of progress and status of all the project’s active epics. You can mouse over the bar graph showing relative epic size to see how many stories are in each state, along with a projected epic completion date. You can use the Epic Stories panel to clearly see story priorities, and change them by dragging them within the panel.

For some creative ways to prioritize your epics, complete them more quickly, and make milestones more visible, see these epic tips for epics.

Managing priorities
You can choose from a variety of ways to make priorities visible in Tracker. If you need to move many stories around in your Backlog or Icebox, cloning the panel to more easily drag them to a new position helps. Selecting multiple stories for dragging to a new location—or for updating via the Bulk Actions menu—can also save you time. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can prioritize stories within an epic by dragging them directly within the Epic Stories panel.

Use release markers to group related stories and clearly reflect their priority.

Promote conversations and fast feedback with @mentions, and stay up to date by following stories.

Measuring progress and continually improving
Use Tracker’s Analytics to track metrics that may help your team identify pain points, shorten cycle time, and improve flow. This information gives managers as well as teams insight into project progress and trends. You can create your own custom reports with Tracker’s API, using endpoints such as Project History, Reports, and Story Transitions.

Working with design
Tracker is oriented towards software development work, where teams deliver agreed-upon desired outcomes for each story and feature. Managing design work presents a different set of challenges. You can try some alternative approaches to promote collaboration among designers and the rest of the team, and ensure design tasks are planned and tracked for each feature.

Design projects
Design teams often have their own backlogs, in a dedicated Tracker project for design work. They conduct planning meetings to discuss and estimate stories. A dedicated design project in Tracker makes design work more visible. Everyone on the delivery team can see what the design team is working on. They see the design ideas for upcoming features and follow the discussions and decision-making about each design. When a design story is delivered in Tracker, the product owner can accept the design or ask for more changes.

Development epics
Epics in the development project are a convenient place to attach design assets for each feature. Design updates can be recorded in the epic, so that every project member knows where to find the latest information.

Story tasks
One way to track design work for an individual feature story is to add design tasks to the story that can be checked off when completed.

Using labels to address design needs
Individual feature stories often require design work. Use labels to indicate that a story “needs design” or to inform developers to “pair with designer.” You can also assign a designer as a story owner. A “design accept” label alerts the designer to check the delivered story or pair with the product owner, tester, or other team member to review delivered work. When designs are implemented and approved, a label like “design accepted” denotes that all design tasks are completed for that story. Or, depending on your workflow, a designer can mark the story accepted.

Tracker and testing
Each software feature involves many testing activities. Just to give a few examples, developing a single story may require writing and automating acceptance tests, as well as functional, security, load, performance, usability, and end-to-end testing. Here are some ways to make your Tracker project’s testing activities more visible.

Description, tasks, and comments
Stories are a placeholder for conversations, and getting the right amigos together to talk about each feature is key. As your team discusses each story to achieve a shared understanding, you may want to capture some details in the story that can be used for writing executable acceptance tests, exploratory testing, and other testing and coding support.

You can put information such as examples, business rules, and outstanding questions in the description. Use Markdown to help organize the details.

Testing activities and notes can also be noted as tasks, so they can be marked completed as development proceeds. For example, if you link to a test script in a task, and check it off when it’s run and passed, the person accepting the story knows that the test has been run and passed.

Comments are also a handy placeholder for testing information. You can attach a test matrix, annotated mock-ups, testing charters, and other assets to make sure all necessary testing activities are done.

Links to executable test specs, information on a team wiki, and other documents can be embedded or attached to the story.

Another alternative is to create separate stories in Tracker for your tests. In that case you could use labels, so that clicking on a label will find the test case story or stories, and any related bug and feature stories.

Visibility and workflow using labels and @mentions
Depending on how testing fits into your team’s workflow, you can use labels to indicate if a testing task needs to be done or has been done. For example, a product owner can add a label “needs test” to indicate that exploratory testing is still needed. A tester who’s testing a delivered story can put a label such as “lisa testing” and a label like “test accepted” to show no more work is needed by a tester.

Combining labels with @mentioning team members in comments helps facilitate the workflow. A “design accept” label and an @mention to a designer ensures the designer knows to take a look or pair with a tester or product owner to do acceptance testing. If team members have a question about feature behavior and the product owner or customer isn’t available to ask right then, a @mention can help get the answer or arrange a quick meeting.

Stories for testing activities
A testing activity that extends beyond a particular story is often best represented by its own Tracker feature or chore. For example, exploratory testing charters can be added to the project, with a label that links them to the related epic or feature stories. These stories can be prioritized to be done at the appropriate time and are visible to everyone on the project so that anyone can do that testing.

Something’s missing or incorrect?
Tracker’s workflow assumes that a story that does not meet all specifications, or that is delivered with incorrect behavior, will be rejected. However, sometimes customers miss requirements when writing and discussing the story, or a bug found might not be directly related to that story. Then it might be appropriate to add new stories for the missed requirements or bugs.

Check out more ways to make testing visible in Tracker’s workflow and learn how we approach testing on our own Tracker team.

Supporting customer support
Your team’s customers will ask for new features and report problems. Tracker provides integrations with customer support tools and defect-tracking systems to help you prioritize and collaborate around stories to address them. These stories are created by dragging them in from an integration panel listing external bugs or tickets. They have a clickable link to take you back to the original item that they were created from.

Tracker generally updates linked tickets or items in external systems when the Tracker story changes state, and comments added to the Tracker story will be added to the linked item. However, subsequent updates to the ticket or item in the external system will not be propagated back to Tracker.

The person who has the ticket or bug in their queue in the external system, might update the Tracker story with anything new and relevant that was added there, or alert the product owner or manager running the project containing the story. The product owner or manager might also be watching support or bug system notifications so they can make any needed updates directly.

Typically, new bug reports and stories from external ticketing systems go into the top of the Icebox, which acts as an inbox. You can add a release marker to make this inbox more visible.

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 3.09.03 PM

Use labels to indicate that a story is a “feature request,” a “production” bug, “reported often,” or other information to help the product owner and team prioritize the stories appropriately.

If you get a lot of feature requests from users, consider using a dedicated project for these, labelling each request so that you can track how many users have asked for a particular feature.

We encourage you to experiment with different approaches to using Tracker and its workflow. Be sure to check out the integrations that members of our user community have shared to see what might help. Whatever hats you wear on your delivery team, Tracker offers ways to keep your activities visible and stay up to date on the big picture.

The post Tracker and Cross-Functional Teams: Where Do You Fit In? appeared first on Pivotal Tracker.

Categories: Companies

How to Prepare to Strike Out on Your Own and Pursue Your Creative Calling

Pivotal Tracker Blog - Wed, 06/29/2016 - 18:30

Have you contemplated leaving the comforts of a company to strike out on your own to pursue a creative calling?

Perhaps you have an idea for a product or service. While there’s a strong pull to pursue it, hesitation maybe holding you back.

You’re worried about being good enough, attracting customers and clients, and how to make it all come together to find fulfillment, while at the same time tending to the practical side of things like paying the bills!

You’ve probably heard plenty of stories around striking out to build a startup, raise capital, and pursue a big idea. While that sounds exciting, you’re looking for an alternative approach…

Well, in today’s episode of FemgineerTV, we’re going to be tackling all these topics. To help us out, I’ve invited Jessica Hische, who is a letter, illustrator, and type designer.

Jessica began her career working for a design studio called HeadCase. She then went on to work for a prominent designer, Louise Fili, and eventually struck out on her own. Jessica has had notable clients like Wes Anderson, David Eggers, Tiffany Co, and Nike, just to name a few.

As you watch this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Steps you can take early in your career, such as how to reach out to people or companies you want to work for and learn from;
  • Why a day job can be immensely valuable and how to find one that is nurturing;
  • Why you don’t have to run a 10+ person design studio or a 100+ startup, and can be a solopreneur;
  • How to reconcile your client’s vision with your own creative desires;
  • How to get compensated fairly by conveying the price and value of your work;
  • Why learning tangential skills as a creative can be helpful when it comes to hiring; and
  • How to balance side projects and attract work with the day-to-day work that pays the bills.

Whether you’ve been in your career for 6 months or 6+ years, and have toyed with the idea of doing your own thing but weren’t sure how to set your own terms, this episode is for you!

For those of you who are interested in design and typography, check out Jessica’s latest book In Progress. We also talked about her popular post, “The Dark Art of Pricing,” which you can read here.

Listen to the episode on iTunes!

You can listen to the episode and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. Please take a moment to leave us a review. Your positive review will help us get featured in the News & Noteworthy and bring more exposure to the work we’re doing as well as the talented guests we feature!

FemgineerTV is produced as a partnership between Femgineer and Pivotal Tracker. San Francisco video production by StartMotionMEDIA.

The post How to Prepare to Strike Out on Your Own and Pursue Your Creative Calling appeared first on Pivotal Tracker.

Categories: Companies

Obscure Gradle Error: RSA premaster secret error

A little madness - Wed, 03/30/2016 - 05:30

Just a quick post in case anyone else runs into the same obscure scenario. Setting up a new Gradle project on my OSX dev machine, the build could not download any files from Maven Central. When trying to establish an SSH connection I was getting:

RSA premaster secret error

A web search didn’t turn up much, making it clear this was not a common issue. The only hits I found where outdated or unusual configurations, whereas I believed I had a pretty vanilla setup.

Long story short, the problem was I had globally set the java.ext.dirs system property to the empty string to prevent another, unrelated (and equally obscure) error in the past. That was too blunt an approach — the JVM at the very least needs $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/ext to be included in java.ext.dirs to load some core jars, including sunjce_provider.jar which includes implementations of the encryption algorithms required to establish SSL connections. User error on my part, which I paid for with wasted time — I hope this post saves someone from the same mistake!

Categories: Companies

All the small things

Agile Zen - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 20:19

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve released a few small changes:

1) Links no longer open in the same window.

2) The backlog can now be pinned open. If you click the thumbtack in the backlog, it will stay open until you unpin it for that project.


3) You can now have cards default to the top of a phase instead of the bottom. Your setting will be persisted by project.



Categories: Companies

[Recap] Fast IT: Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio

Assembla Blog - Thu, 07/31/2014 - 22:51

Last week, Sid Probstein, CTO of Attivio, and Andy Singleton, founder of Assembla presented a webinar about “Fast IT,” a new way of managing rapidly changing and Agile projects in areas like mobile, Web, analytics and marketing applications, while working smoothly with reliable core systems ("Core IT"). Andy discussed the dynamics of Fast IT, and Sid presented a case study of how Attivio spun up a major Business Intelligence app in two weeks with two people.

If you missed the webinar, view and download the slides

Want an overview of Fast IT in 60 seconds? Watch the video below:

Get notified about new and exciting content around Fast IT by completing the form below:


Categories: Companies

Assembla now allows automatic payments with PayPal

Assembla Blog - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 20:17

Paying for your Assembla subscription with PayPal has never been easier. We recently added the ability to set up recurring payments with PayPal that will automatically pay for your Assembla subscription every billing period, whether that be monthly or annually. Previously, it was a manual process that required logging in and paying every time an invoice was created.

To set up automatic payments with PayPal, visit your billing page > select the PayPal option > and follow the steps.

assembla paypal option1

If you have any questions or issues, please contact Assembla support at

Categories: Companies

Post Assembla events to your favorite chat apps: Slack, HipChat, Flowdock & more

Assembla Blog - Wed, 07/16/2014 - 02:26

If your team uses Slack, HipChat, Flowdock, or Bigplans for communication, we have added preconfigured webhooks to make setting up these integrations painless. Once configured, you can selectively manage the Assembla events that are posted out to these apps, such as ticket activity, commits, deploys, etc., to monitor project activity in real-time, inline with other team communication.

To get started, click on the desired integration below: slack logo HipChat Logo flowdock logo Bigplans logo
Categories: Companies

Interested in cryptocurrencies? Get started with 1000 free Ripple XRP

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 20:55

ripple logo

Ripple is a protocol for value exchange that makes it easy to transfer and trade fiat currencies, Bitcoin, or XRP - the native asset of the Ripple network.

Assembla is giving away 1000 free XRP (the Ripple native cyptocurrency) to any person with software development skills who is interested in learning about Ripple development. Get it here:

I called Ripple Labs a few months ago to find out more about ways that their "gateway" can help us pay developers in many different countries. Essentially, we do banking for the developers on our global team. We pay internal accounts, hold the money until they ask for it, and then transfer money to them by bank wire, ATM/Payoneer, or other mechanisms. We have found that the bank wire system is embarrassingly slow and unreliable. This is the problem that Ripple is trying to fix. Their gateway is like a bank in an open-source box. It keeps accounts in any currency, including USD, other currencies, XRP, and Bitcoin. It can transfer those accounts instantly and reliably on the shared "ledger." It is also gaining exciting new features such as "multi-signature" which enables outsourcing and crowdsourcing customers to post a budget amount, and then transfer it to their hard-working suppliers through an arbitrator.

Now I am working more closely with Ripple to help them scale up their development process. I decided to make this free XRP offer for two reasons:

  • Users need 20 XRP to activate a Ripple wallet. We want to remove the hassle from acquiring the XRP so new developers can get started.
  • We want to build an email list of developers that might be interested in working on internal development, bounties, or bank integration projects.
ripple blog CTA
Categories: Companies

Assembla Bigplans Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 18:26

If you use Assembla and Bigplans, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your Bigplans chat room. Check out below for configuration instructions.

Bigplans is a simple, integrated way to manage a distributed team.  It includes a "lean" task board, real-time chat, and a unique "advisor" (a real person) that helps you get on-demand resources if you need them.  For programming teams, it includes a tight integration with Assembla login and Assembla tickets. 

You can use the Webhooks tool to feed Assembla events into any of your team chats.  To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select Bigplans from the list of pre-configured post options:

Bigplans Assembla Webhook

You will need to obtain and update the auth token in the “Content” section.

To obtain your Bigplans auth token:

Visit Bigplans and navigate to the plan you want to post Assembla events to. Click on the ‘Connect’ option in the top bar. Under the “Message API” section, there is a section called “API Token” that will display your token. If no token is set, click on the ‘Reset’ button. Copy the token ID and replace the “BIGPLANS_AUTH_TOKEN” in the Webhook tool.

Bigplans Assembla Webhook Token

Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your Bigplans chat room and click ‘Add and Authenticate.” Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured Bigplans chat room:

Bigplans Assembla Webhook Chat

If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

Assembla & Slack Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 14:23

If you use Assembla and Slack, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your Slack chat room/channel. Check out below for configuration instructions.

To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select Slack from the list of pre-configured post options:

Slack Assembla Webhook

You will need to setup an incoming webhook service integration within Slack to obtain your token. To do this, visit, select the desired channel to post to, and click ‘Add Incoming Webhook.’

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Once created, copy the provided Webhook URL and update the External URL in Assembla’s Webhook tool.

Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your Slack room/channel and click ‘Add and Authenticate.' Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Tip: Within the Slack “Incoming Webhook” page that you set up for this integration, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and expand the “Integration Settings” where you can add a label, change the post-to channel, and change the icon and name for your webhook bot.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured Slack room/channel:

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If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

Assembla & HipChat Integration How-To

Assembla Blog - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 13:40

If you use Assembla and HipChat, we have added a pre-configured webhook making it easy to post Assembla events out to your HipChat chat room. Check out below for configuration instructions. 

To get started, you will need the Webhook tool installed in the Assembla project you want to configure. If you do not have the Webhook tool installed, visit the Admin tab > Tools section > and click ‘Add’ next to the Webhook tool.

Once installed, click on the Webhook tool in your main navigation and select HipChat from the list of pre-configured post options:

HipChat Assembla Webhook

You will need to obtain and update the auth token and room ID in the “Content” section.

To obtain your HipChat auth token:

You will need to visit and enter your password to access the “API Auth Tokens” page. Under “Create new token” select ‘Notification’ type, provide a label, and click ‘Create.’ Copy the token ID and replace the “HIPCHAT_AUTH_TOKEN” in the Webhook tool.

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To obtain your HipChat room ID:

Visit and click on the desired room you would like to post Assembla events to. Copy the App ID and replace the “HIPCHAT_ROOM_ID” in the Webhook tool.

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Now configure what Assembla events you would like to post to your HipChat room and click ‘Add and Authenticate.” Don’t forget to enable the configuration under the “Title” field.

Your Assembla events will now be posted to the configured HipChat room:

HipChat Assembla Example Chat

If you have any questions or problems during setup, please contact If you do not have an Assembla project and would like to test out this integration, try Assembla out for free.

Categories: Companies

[Webinar] "Fast IT": Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio

Assembla Blog - Fri, 07/11/2014 - 17:41

Join us on July 23, 2014 from 11:00 AM - 11:45 AM EDT for a webinar “Fast IT”: Concepts and Examples from Assembla and Attivio.

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When we at Assembla heard about the 2-2-2 project structure used by Attivio, we knew we had a fun story and a big idea to share.  The fun story is the way that Attivio can spin-up major Business Intelligence apps with 2-day, 2-person prototyping sessions. The big idea is “Fast IT”: a way of managing fast and Agile projects, while working smoothly with your slower, more reliable core systems: "Core IT".

In this Webinar, Sid Probstein, CTO of Attivio, and Andy Singleton, founder of Assembla, will share their discoveries about ways that “Core” and “Fast” can work smoothly together.  We will show tools that help you wrap and index your Core IT so that you can easily use it in Fast IT projects.  And, we’ll show how to professionally launch and manage an expanding portfolio of Fast IT projects for analytics, Web, mobile and marketing applications and SaaS integration. 

This Webinar is designed to help IT professionals or project managers who are handling analytics, Web, mobile, cloud and marketing applications.

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Presented By:

assembla logo rectangle    Attivio logo

Categories: Companies

Success Story: GLG Boosts “Customer Equity” with Assembla

Assembla Blog - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 17:25
GLG Logo Challenge

Garrigan Lyman Group was worried about losing the loyalty of its own customers. The agency was expanding rapidly and tackling more complex e-commerce, mobile, social media and video projects. Clients had no visibility into when new requests would be delivered. Development managers were having trouble tracking releases and matching resources to requirements. Teams needed a solution to prevent missing deadlines and ensure the quality of delivery.


Chris “Whitey” Geiser, GLG’s CTO, knew that the agency could not afford to lose “customer equity,” the hard-won confidence that GLG could deliver innovative digital marketing solutions. So he and his team began looking for technologies that could help them centralize processes, manage development requests, and improve communications with clients.


Assembla has helped Garrigan Lyman Group win new business from existing clients. The solution has helped GLG evolve from helping clients with flashy but self-contained marketing projects, to solutions that work with the core of their businesses. It allows the company to collaborate better with clients and improve control of their development processes.

To see how GLG learned to work more closely with its customers,
fill out the form below to download the full case study.


Categories: Companies