Eylean Blog - Scrum and Kanban based software development

Eylean Project Is Now Live

 

We are happy to announce, that Eylean Project is now finished and ready for you! 

 

We at Eylean always felt that project management tools are lacking in only focusing on the current scope. While in reality there is a great need to monitor not only the present but the whole duration of the project. That is why we set out to create and now present Eylean Project.

Eylean Project is a completely separate tool from Eylean Board and focuses on 4 key aspects.

1. Project task management

This tool brings you the easy task management approach. Extended details, assignments, comments and more at your service.

2. Project scope management

Managing the project scope is important for many reasons. Now you will have more control and say in what actually gets to happen.

3. Task due date management

Just like scope, task due dates have to not only be set, but also monitored and accounted for. With Project that is all accessible from one place – the dashboard.

4. Processes configuration according to project changes

Lastly, almost no projects run as planned from start to finish. Now your project board won’t have to either – adapt it to the changes and enjoy the results.

 

Want to try it? Go ahead and download straight from here!

 

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Can You Hear Me Now? Voice Technology and Project Management

Written by: Beth Kotz

 

Language is the bridge to understanding; spanning the distance from one person’s thought to another’s action. The right words, spoken at the right time, are often imperative to getting the job done.

But what if technology could facilitate this communication for us? Could software capable of recognizing, analyzing – even repeating – the human voice make project management more efficient? As improvements in voice recognition accuracy continue, we’re beginning to find out.

Rickety, Now Robust

Although speech recognition debuted at the 1962 World’s Fair (recognizing 16 spoken words), it was not until the 1990’s that Dragon released the first consumer voice recognition software. And it was not until Google created a system that could match the user’s words to the massive database of word sounds it had created that speech recognition became a practical way to interface with computerized systems.

Today, innovation continues to accelerate. With more data, stronger computation, and more sophisticated modeling approaches (or deep learning) the speech accuracy gap is finally closing in. This ability is at the heart of the Amazon Echo, a system so robust that even a 6 year-old can operate it. The technology has also become almost ubiquitous in customer service telephone systems and has made significant inroads in the field of health care. Voice recognition technology is now poised to make its most significant impact, and project managers stand to reap the benefits it brings to the table.

Dictation, Much More

Everyday, project managers need to make sense of information and use it to drive intelligent action. They also generate information that needs to be communicated to stakeholders. Dictating emails and memos instead of sitting at a keyboard is incredibly efficient. In a recent survey, 59 percent of project managers believe that automation, including voice recognition software, will relieve them of the burden of routine daily tasks.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Successful project managers have learned from experience and have war stories that equip them to deal with unexpected situations. This human knowledge has been difficult to transfer to other project managers until now. Dictated records of personal experience of other project managers coupled with the ability to explain a situation to a search engine and get back those accounts can revolutionize project management.

Much, Not All

Coupling voice recognition and a robust database still does not tap the full potential of this concept. A refined Artificial Intelligence (AI) program can assist in decision making. It can also offer the project manager refined business acumen. Because of the complexity of the situations a project manager faces on a daily basis, voice recognition software is necessary to refine both database and AI searches.

Still, project management is so much more than just running numbers or making judgment calls. Effective project management requires a robust set of inter-personal and interactive skills. Empathy and understanding play as great a role as financial analysis in bringing a project to a successful conclusion. These skills will never be added to a database, and exist in AI only in science fiction.

Dreams, or Reality?

A database of project manager experiences that can be searched through a voice interface is not a current reality either. However, the ability to dictate notes on a project and share those notes in text format with others does exist. The only element missing from the equation is the willingness of project managers to participate.

That participation will come with time as voice recognition technology inevitably invades the work environment. As inefficient typing is dislodged by efficient voice dictation, project managers will become more comfortable using it on a day-to-day basis. If other technology fulfills its promise and relieves managers of mundane duties, project managers may find they have been given the opportunity to create the raw material for this database.

The present level of functionality is just the beginning of what’s to come in the future. Whether you’re just beginning to consider the voice tech trend or have already embraced it, keep your ear to the ground for updates in this fast-changing space.

 

Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work.

 

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Eylean Board – The Intuitive Taskboard

Any good project management software is nothing without a nice way to overlook and manage the tasks that are being performed by the team. And at Eylean we are especially proud of our intuitive task board that helps you plan, oversee, manage and perform tasks in a easier and quicker way.

For those that have not used Eylean just yet let me tell you – the task board is the heart of operation here helping you to be better every day. However, contrary to what you may think, it is not at all hard to use. We designed it to be visual and understandable for everyone – from IT to sales we are sure you will be pros in 5 minutes.

Being Visual

Many of our clients outline the importance of visualizing their project information so with Eylean Board we put special focus on that. The board itself is divided into specified process steps and the task assignments are immediately visible on the task cards reflecting the initial structure of the process.

Furthermore, each task card displays due dates, alerts, tracked time and symbols for comments, attachments, additional description and more. Thus it is easy to identify any important notices, late work and other important information in seconds, simply by glancing at the board and saving time for you and your team.

Draging & Droping

None likes a complicated UI, therefore we made it easy. Want to assign a task, move it, start tracking time? Drag & drop it. Creating a new task? Double-click the board and it will appear in that exact spot. Need more information on a specific task? Double-click the task and you will open the extended details containing all the relevant info.

Eylean is all about making you happy while performing better.

Several Boards 

Running a few projects at the same time? No worries, you can manage them all from one place. Whether you choose to put everything in one board and separate it with row sections, or to have separate boards for each project we got you covered.

You can share resources and tasks between projects and get separate or joined reports to keep everything on track.

Customize till you drop

We know how different and special each of you are, so we made sure your boards can be as well. Customize them to fit your process and give you the best possible overview and if you are unsure on where to start choose one of our pre-designed templates, get your feet warm and go from there.

Tunnel vision

Lastly, we know with big projects it can quickly get overwhelming – big teams, a lot of tasks and getting distracted by irrelevant information. That is why with Eylean you always have the option to turn the noise off and only see your own tasks. This will help you orient better and keep your head clear of the unnecessary noise.

Have you tried the Eylean task board yet? Well after this we are sure you will!

 

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Solving The Recruitment Process With Project Management

Mistakes-to-avoid-when-hiring-freelancers

Recruitment is a responsible and intense process that requires not only good understanding of human nature, but also great data management skills. Getting to that new hire usually takes several weeks. Keeping in mind that you are most likely looking to fill a few positions at a time, managing the process and all the associated documents becomes a challenge.

To deal with this issue recruiters choose various methods . Some rely on their organizational skills, while others start looking for specialized tools however this time I will discuss neither. Instead I want to talk about how the recruitment process could be managed with a project management tool. Something that you most likely already have in your office. I have used our project management solution Eylean Board for the example.

Recruitment process is no different with clear, mostly predefined steps.

Like many other project management tools out there Eylean is based on the Agile principles. This means that the whole project is performed in steps from beginning to end. Recruitment process is no different with clear, mostly predefined steps. Candidate search, selection process, first interview, second interview, job offer or rejection all can be easily separated and defined on the project board.

Recruitment processes vary according to the field and the position. Thus the board columns are modified accordingly. They are added, moved or deleted any time to reflect and visualize the exact steps recruiters take. To mark the available positions, I use the board rows. Where the row name represents the position title, company, the duration of the search and other important information.

But what about the candidates, right?

This way the project management environment is used to quickly visualize the recruitment process and mark the available positions. But we also need a good way to manage candidates, right? Well, they are surely not forgotten. In fact, candidates are the most important part of the board — the task cards.

Each card represents a separate candidate and hold all of the information related to them. The task can be named after the candidate, documents, such as resume, cover letter and completed tasks attached, the important information noted in the detail section and the next steps, like calling for a follow up, written down. This way the recruiters hold all of the important data in one place with no confusion and can access it any time.

Once the selection process starts it is easy to move the selected candidates through the process. As well as to quickly note the important next steps in each selection. Also all of the information in is held in one board. Which means you can not only manage, but also share it with the whole team. Allowing for better understanding of the selection process, help between team members and even the possibility to overtake the process if the need arises.

Even though it might seem project management software like Eylean Board is not fit to use in the recruitment process, it can actually be a great choice. Visual process presentation, candidate information management and the reminder system guarantees that the recruitment process will not only be managed, but also plain, effective and clear for the whole team, not to mention, you probably already have a similar tool at hand.

 

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8 Agile Habits To Get Rid Of Today

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We are all creatures of habit. Taking the same road to work, drinking our morning coffee and mostly having a time proven routine for anything and everything we do. However as there are good habits, there are also bad ones that can put us at a disadvantage in the long run. 

Agile or work environment is no different and you can fall into practices that seem fine, but actually are hurting you instead. What are they? Have you become a victim? Here are our top 8 bad Agile habits.

#1 No backlog refinement

Most teams groom and prioritize their backlogs in the beginning, however as the project goes along some tend to do that less and less. While it may be true that nothing changes, those cases are rare and not taking care of your backlog becomes a problem. Keep your list tight and priorities straight – only this way you will be able to get the best results.

#2 Not standing during the Daily Scrum

Daily Scrum or daily standup is a vital part of keeping the team on the same page and updated on the progress. However some teams tend to forego the standup part and stay in their cushy seats instead. While you may be tempted to rest in those early morning hours, sitting makes the meeting not only longer, but also less effective. So suck it up, get things done quicker and then get back to that comfy chair.

#3 Not updating the board daily

Another task that may seem tedious to you is updating the task board every time something changes. However, updating the board at least daily is crucial – the team can understand the progress and the project manager leaves you alone without asking for a progress reports every hour. Taking those 5 minutes to update is really not that excessive. 

#4 Ignoring WIP limits

While teams set WIP limits, some team members find ways to ignore them and do what they want to instead. Doing that may seem fun at the time, but in the end helps no one. With piles of unfinished tasks and no clear identification of bottlenecks you are setting yourselves up for failure. Next time go ask for help instead of looking for an easier way.

#5 Not offering true autonomy

Agile promotes cross-functional and self-reliant teams, however some Scrum  Masters and Product Owners still tend to run the show. It is important to realize that their role is more of facilitators unless they want to end up with a herd of sheep that will fall apart the first time they have to face any responsibility.

#6 No cross-functional teams

Another common bad habit comes from the teams not being truly cross-functional. You may be tempted to stay with your friends or colleagues that do the same job and thus make it easier to work together. But when the crisis hits having 5 designers on the team will not seem like such a bright idea. So when forming a team make sure the team can complete the project from start to finish.

# 7 Not focusing on the customer

No matter if it is an Agile or any other project customer should always be your main focus. For some, however, that is easy to forget. Instead they focus on tasks or completing a sprint, completely ignoring the review and not taking advantage of it. It is time to forget the KPIs and focus on who you are delivering to.

#8 Not embracing failure

Failure will happen.  No matter how good, experienced or just lucky you are.  Figure out the reason and then focus your energy on eliminating it, not passing fault. Hold constructive meetings with your team and agree how to change your behavior in the future. Learn from your mistakes.

Any other Agile habits you would like to shake? Share with us in the comments!

 

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5 Agile Boards Used By Non-Developers

BoardIf you follow this blog, Agile application in industries other than software development is nothing new. However, while I often discuss on how to apply the methods in various situations, i have not before actually shown you how it look s in real life.

Agile is beautiful in the sense that it can literally take any form as long as it remains true to the key values. But when you are just starting out with the method it may be difficult to go beyond the traditional 3 columns of To Do, Doing and Done.

In order to inspire and get your own creativity going, here are 5 Agile boards used in traditional departments outside software development.

The web of HR

No good company functions without its employees and it all starts with HR. Taking a web form, this Agile board example comes from Jennifer at TranspireLife. Here, every pizza slice represents a different job position and each of the lines stand for a step in the hiring process. Once there is a vacancy, candidate cards are added to the specific part of the web and moved towards the center as they pass through interviews and other steps.

The procurement board

Procurement processes are important but can get confusing easily. Especially when there are multiple projects and people involved. That is why this procurement team worked out a system of their own. Using the basic idea of Agile, they have listed all the ongoing projects on the left of the board. Arranging them according to the responsible team member and limiting each team members WIP to 7. The columns on this board represent weeks and help track the duration of each project.

This is done using Lego – the color representing procurement stage and the size representing estimated duration. Each week the Lego is moved forward and once that stage is done, the final duration is written on the brick and moved back to week one stacking the next stage Lego on top of it. This way keeping track of expected vs. real time spent and visually tracking all the projects.

The design board

This next Lego board from Vitamins brings us to the design department. Here the board takes on a more visual approach resembling a calendar. Rows represent months and columns are dedicated to days. Each project is given a different color and the sub-rows in each moth are assigned to a specific team member. Due to the specificity of the design department the tasks do not need to be as detailed in the board. Instead it is more important to know what the team is working on and which projects are the focus at any given moment.

The collaboration of Finances, Operations and HR

While it is difficult to adapt Scrum in various departments, with mixed functionalities the task becomes even more challenging. That is exactly the case with this board from MetaGeek where Finances, Operations and HR are all one team. Due to the complex processes, the team decided to stick with the basics. A physical board and 3 clear columns that allow tracking progress and who is working on what. As a result, the teams claim they have started collaborating more and now see how their responsibilities relate clearly.

Executive Add-On

Lastly,  no company is complete without an executive office and analyzing each teams board to understand the overall progress is not something they want to spend time on. This team has found a solution for that – an epic arc, an additional lane that represents on how far the team has advanced.

Once the team starts working on the epic, they clarify tasks and add them to the backlog. Tasks are color coordinated with the epic and move through the board as usual. Instead of staying in the backlog, the epic is moved along the arc. Thats is comprised of the traditional project stages like planing, in progress and done. This way giving both the team and the management the information they need.

 

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12 Project Management Tips To Keep In Mind

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Good project manager is all about experience and commitment to the team, however there are always things we forget or assign less value to than necessary. That’s why Ieva from the Eylean team has come up with 12 main tips for any (experienced or not yet) project manager to remember. 

Some may seem less Agile than others, but when you think about it, they are all important when trying to keep your project going, your team on track and your customers happy.

Go on, check them out!

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Has Your Team Become Agile Zombies?

zombies

By now, Agile is synonymous with change and improvement. Teams are practicing it to be better, create according to customer needs and to deliver faster. However, is taking on the methodology of improvement enough? Or are you still facing a risk of failing?

Christiaan Verwijs has a definite answer to this question and that is Zombie Scrum. Extensively discussed in this article it talks about teams that adopt the technology and seem to successfully practice it, but in reality are all but Scrum zombies failing to unleash the full power of Scrum and hurting themselves in the process.

Does your team fall into this category? Here are the symptoms to check!

#1 No Beating Heart

On the surface all Scrum teams work to the same beat of Sprints – each one is planned, executed and finished delivering value at the end. As such it is the beating heart of the operation that drives the team forward and makes improvements happen. But what if this is only the facade?

If you have a Zombie Scrum team on your hands, the Sprint effectiveness only seems real. Once you look a little deeper, the differences are obvious – there is no value delivered after each iteration, product is often nonfunctional and Sprint review is not an actual demo, but rather screenshots and PowerPoint presentations on what should/has been done. Instead of a beating heart, these teams just go through the motions without any effect.

#2 No Contact With The Outside World

Ideally the Scrum team works to deliver value and to get feedback from their environment. It helps the team grow and improve the product in order to get the desired effect. Zombies are quite different.

Still stuck in the linear way of project management, they focus on their part of the job and while imagining themselves as only a small part of a big process, avoid responsibility at all costs. This means that a team with zombie fever is much more likely to avoid interactions with other teams in the company, shift blame and organize sprint reviews without any stakeholders present.

#3 No Emotional Response To Sprint Outcome

Stemming from the isolation comes another important part of Agile – reacting to the results. A healthy team will celebrate wins and analyze losses in order to see what can and should be done differently in the future. Contrary to that Zombies actually do not care about the Sprint outcome.

Whether it is a success or a failure they face, they simply move onto the next Sprint without any reaction. Whichever outcome it is they face, makes little to no difference to the team. This is often due to a never there Product Owner and isolation from other people in the project. Zombies simply do their job and don’t even bother with results.

#4 No Drive To Improve

Lastly, all of Agile is based on improving and adding value. It is the end goal and the main reason why people practice the method.

However, a team that is just going through the motions and is stuck with a hardly present product owner and Scrum master, often fall into the cycle of not caring. There is no joy, no motive and it seems no need to improve or change anything, rather than just completing tasks and not not giving it an extra thought. Is is a path that not only doesn’t yield results, but also creates a false image of Agile not being effective at what it is created to do.

Recognize your team in any of these traits? There is still time to change the way you practice Scrum and improve for the better!

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Scrumban User Cheat Sheet

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The last of my cheat sheets (so far) comes in the form of Scrumban. A mixed Agile approach that aims to merge the two most popular practices Scrum and Kanban. While some say that this is the most unstable and changing approaches of the three, there are still some things that stay the same no matter the application.

So dig in, enjoy and let me know if you think anything else should be added!

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Kanban User Cheat Sheet

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Ever felt lost about the Kanban terms or wanted to have a quick check whether you are doing it right?

Below is another handy Agile framework cheat sheet combined just for that! Check it for a quick reminder on how to move forward. WIP limits, planning triggers or just about anything else you might need.

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