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October 30th, 2013 Edition of the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group: More Visual Studio ALM 2013 Goodness

by Angela 16. October 2013 14:34

http://www.tfswhisperer.com/image.axd?picture=image_60.png

If you attended the September meeting, this is not *quite* a redux.  I’ll be talking about a variety of ALM features, some that I covered at the Downers Grove meeting last month.  BUT this time around I will also be joined by 2 of my smarty-pants colleagues from Polaris.  Landan Rotter will be talking about the new integrated deployment tool, InRelease, and will be doing a hands-on demo for your enjoyment.  Chris Taylor will also do a deep dive on data driven CodedUI testing as well as an awesome walk-through of setting up Lab Management to support automated test execution! 

Visual Studio ALM 2013 tools are going to release THIS FRIDAY, October 18th, ahem, THIS THURSDAY October 17th, and the big launch is November 13th. If you’re interested in participating in the virtual launch event on November 13th, be sure to check out the VS 2013 Launch Site and sign up soon!  And in the mean time, get ready for what coming by learning more about what's new and cool. And if you can’t wait until RTM, you can still get downloads of TFS and VS 2013 RC today.

Parking downtown is a bit costly, but Aon parking is pretty reasonable if you get there after 4:30pm and leave by 10pm. Check out www.SpotHero.com, they might just save you some serious cash.

 

Meeting Date:  Wednesday October 30th

Agenda:    6:30 - Dinner, 7:00 Presentation

Location: Microsoft-Chicago 200 E Randolph, 2nd Floor, Chicago

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/

 

PLEASE NOTE: Security is strict at the Aon center.  You MUST register as building security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered.  Their rules, not mine.

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Say Hello to Chicago’s Newest ALM MVP

by Angela 3. October 2013 20:35

I’m totally stoked to be the latest Chicagoan to be named an ALM MVP. There are currently only 114 ALM MVPs worldwide (that I see on the site anyway), and I am proud to be counted amongst these awesome folks. Sadly, the site is not quite updated so you won’t see yours truly listed just yet.

Wait, “what the heck is an ALM MVP you say?” I know, that is a lot of acronyms there.  In case you’re not hip to Microsoft lingo, that’s an Application Lifecycle Management Most Valued Professional.  This essentially means that in the areas of ALM (TFS, Visual Studio, Microsoft Test Manager, SDLC, etc.), I’ve made significant enough contributions to the community at large to get some serious props. And it’s been a fun ride, and I certainly don’t plan to slow down :)

This is not to say I know EVERYTHING there is to know on the topic of ALM, oh how I wish there were enough hours in the day.  But on any given day you’re likely to find me Installing/upgrading/customizing TFS, scouring MSDN forums, leading a class through the ropes of agile development, or perhaps giving a talk at a local user group on adopting a new ALM strategy in the real world.  I’m definitely passionate about what I do.

Anyway, that’s it for now! Just a little update on the latest excitement in my professional life.  Hope to catch you at a conference or user group near you soon! And don’t forget to stop by the Chicago ALM User Group sometime.  We will be posting details on out October meeting soon!

 

And because I’m always striving to do thing my mom can brag about, here is a picture of me being all giddy about my award :)

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Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | VS 2013 | VS 2012 | VS 2010 | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio 2012 | Visual Studio | TFS Upgrade | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS Administration | TFS 2010 | TFS 2008 | TFS | SDLC | Process Methodology | MSDN

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Free Half Day Events in Oct/Nov: Efficient Testing with Microsoft Test Manager

by Angela 18. September 2013 18:08

Been curious about Microsoft’s latest release of their testing tools? Want to know more about managing your test environments, both on premise and in the cloud? How about when to use test automation and what tools Microsoft has to meet your automation needs?

There is a great half-day testing event coming to a city near you if you live in the Midwest area, wanted to be sure to share it with everyone before it filled up. Since I am delivering the content I can tell you there are going to be some great topics being covered! Best part, it is free. Check out the details and agenda:

How do I integrate better with the team?

QA is near the end of the process chain, so one of the best things they can do to be successful is improve their efficiency and collaborate better with the development team.

In this session, we want to answer all of these questions:

  • What if you could draft and select test cases early in the project and ensure you have test coverage by assigning them to requirements?
  • What if the bugs you discover could automatically include data about the underlying behavior of the application and the machine it’s running on?
  • Are you getting enough information about a release to know what to test?
  • Which new features have been implemented? Which haven’t?
  • Which bugs are supposedly resolved?

We’ll discuss how to take advantage of the opportunities for improving collaboration between testers and developers.

What should I automate?

While manual testing is always going to have its place, there are several types of tests that can be automated for efficiency.

In this session, we’ll discuss everything from automating functional and load tests to the automation of writing test case steps and designing for reuse.

How do I set up a dev/test environment?

Today’s applications are more complex than ever and it can be very challenging to set up and maintain these environments. Many organizations resort to a small number of shared environments, but you are trying to keep up with frequent developer builds, concurrent projects, and ever-changing data.

This session introduces Microsoft’s Lab Management solution which allows developers and QA to self-provision their own environments. We’ll look at you can take advantage of virtualization (on-premises or cloud) to create environments, roll them back to known states, and attach them to bugs while minimizing the labor in your data center.

During this event, your local MTM Specialist will provide you an inside look and show you the capabilities of Microsoft Test Manager. Furthermore, we’ll cover how quality is an accountability and addressable by the entire development organization.

REGISTER NOW at a city near you using one of the links provided:

10/10 Southfield, MI

10/22 Milwaukee, WI

10/23 Chicago, IL

10/24 Indianapolis, IN

10/28 Nashville, TN

10/29 St. Louis, MO

10/30 Kansas City, KS

11/4 Columbus, OH

11/6 Cleveland, OH

11/6 Edina, MN

Event starts promptly at 9am. Complimentary Food & Beverages provided in the morning

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September 25th, 2013 Edition of the Chicago Visual Studio ALM User Group: Visual Studio ALM 2013

by Angela 17. September 2013 09:29

image

 

Well, with all the excitement of ThatConference, I skipped having an August meeting but we’re back! 

With the upcoming release of Visual Studio ALM 2013 tools, it seemed necessary to spend some time digging in! Jim and I will be spending this meeting talking about what's new and cool. We are still arm wrestling over who gets to demo what features, so for now just know it will be awesome! :)

And don't forget to get your fresh downloads of TFS and VS 2013 RC today. MSDN subscribers will also find everything they need through their Subscription site.  If you’re interested in participating in the virtual launch event on November 13th, be sure to check out the VS 2013 Launch Site and sign up soon!

Meeting Date: Wednesday September 25th

Agenda:6:30 - Dinner, 7:00 Presentation

Location:Microsoft-Downers Grove 3025 Highland Pkwy, Ste 300, Downers Grove

Registration:      http://chicagoalmug.org/ 

PLEASE NOTE: Security has gotten tighter at the Downers Grove building.  You MUST register as building security will NOT allow individuals to access the building without being pre-registered.  Their rules, not mine.

 

 

Speaker Bio:

Angela Dugan is the Polaris Solutions ALM Practice Manager. She focuses on TFS implementation and customization in the real world, Visual Studio related training and mentoring, and helping organizations to adopt Agile/Scrum methodologies. Angela had spent the previous 14 years as a custom application developer with a small consulting firm in Chicago, as well as did 5 years at Microsoft as an ALM evangelist. Catch up with her adventures on her blog.

Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, an aspiring runner (up to 2.3 miles without vomiting!), and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 102 year old house in Oak Park that she is constantly working on with her husband David.

Jim Szubryt manages the application architecture team for the Enterprise Workforce at Accenture in Chicago. This responsibility includes managing the TFS Team that supports 2,500 developers in the global development centers. He has worked with the global teams on implementing ALM practices and his team is in the process of piloting TFS 2013.

He is also a Microsoft ALM MVP and a Microsoft Visual Studio ALM Ranger. He was project lead on the disaster recovery planning guidance that was published in March. Currently he is the Project Lead on the Ranger’s guidance for reporting with TFS 2012. Prior to becoming a project Lead he has written parts of the TFS 2012 upgrade guidance and the TFS Server guidance that are found on CodePlex.  His blog can be found here.

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ALM Ruminations Part 2: TPS Reports and Writing Myself a New Pair of Fluevogs

by Angela 3. September 2013 17:58

Yes, Fluevogs. What? I don’t need a minivan!  My husband will find it amusing that I managed to get a plug in there for my favorite boots from the Fluevog fall lineup. It’s OK, I’ll stop talking about shoes now, read on...

If you’ve been following along with my ruminations about the process struggles and pop psychology required to survive software development, you may have already seen my first post. This is a follow-up, and I hope to have MANY more assuming I can find time between TFS installs Winking smile  So without further delay:

Favorite “Drive” quote #2: Goals that people [teams] set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy. But goals imposed by others – sales targets, quarterly returns, standardized test scores, and so on – can sometimes have dangerous side effects.

So why do some managers cling to measuring their people by metrics like Lines of Code, # bugs fixed, and other archaic and easily gamed statistics? I can’t say for sure but I have some theories. One that I keep finding is that it’s often what they KNOW how to measure, and it makes them to feel like they have control over things. But sadly the accuracy of those metrics if often unreliable, at best. Add to that, their direct reports may have figured out how to work the system to meet artificially established goals, hiding issues, and masking discontent. Or perhaps software development management folks haven’t yet figured out what behavioral scientists have known for years - that creative work is actually HARMED by the use of extrinsic rewards systems.

Solving the first issue (bad metrics) is tough, how do you make someone see there is little value in many of the metrics that have traditionally been used since the beginning of IT? What SHOULD they be measuring instead? What are they themselves being measured on, and are those metrics effecting how they reward/punish the software team? I’m still working on perfecting how to address this one myself, and I often immediately point to the Dilbert where the software developer “codes himself a new minivan” as a wake-up call. Often times, it does not even occur to them that their cherished status reports might be at the root of the team’s problems.

The second point (hiding issues) is one I see even more often, where software teams themselves train managers that no matter how unreasonable a deadline, no matter how many times they change requirements, that the tem will double-down, work a lot of overtime and get it done. Even worse, most times the overtime goes unreported, and so any normal manager may conclude that any “small request” can be accommodated at the drop of a hat, and so will continue to do so. The team may be seen as a hero, but can also be seen as one that does not plan well, and is often scrambling to meet deadlines.  It is a double-edged sword. The team inevitably burns itself out trying to keep up, quality suffers in favor of getting features out the door quickly, and the manager often doesn’t get everything they wanted anyway. And no one is happy, not you, not the manager, and certainly not the customer. It’s lose-lose-lose situation and it doesn’t HAVE to be that way.

On the last point (squelching creativity), this is possibly the toughest of all to address, because again, most of us “IT folk” are not psychologists. Maybe your boss does not have an IT background, and simply does not understand that writing software is actually quite complex and difficult. You may have crafted hundreds of web pages, but that doesn’t mean that the 101st web page isn’t a totally different animal. God forbid the framework or tooling upon which you rely to build web pages has gone through a major upgrade recently!  I blame this on the inappropriate and overused comparison of software development to building a house. NO, NO, NO it is NOT just like building a house. And if you think the metaphor holds I doubt if you’ve ever actually written any software, or at least you haven’t in the last 10 years or so. Or maybe you want your software to turn out like just another plastic shoebox in a huge soulless fields of cheap Mc Mansions. Sure, in some cases the issue here is that IT management do not personally feel the pains or understand the challenges that the team is going through, or maybe they, in fact, are causing the pain… After all, the first step to recovery is realizing you have a problem in the first place…Seriously, we need an “agile intervention” offering complete with a 12-step program!

So if this sounds like where you work, buy your boss a copy of Drive and an anthology of Dilbert cartoons, and please stop training them to continue to give you unreasonable goals by working overtime and underreporting issues and bugs to make things look rosy. I promise you, that strategy may payoff in the short term, but in the long term nobody wins!

OK, I have a lot more spinning through my head but I think we’ve done enough navel gazing for this post. Stay tuned for more musings in the next week or so.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | General | Process Methodology | SDLC | Scrum | development

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A Continuation of My Ruminations on the Human Factor of ALM

by Angela 2. August 2013 12:41

Part 1: In the beginning

In my “And Now For Something Completely Different” series, I wax philosophical, almost literally, on human behavior. Now I’m hearing that Bjork song in my head. Anyone else? No? Just me? Ok then, moving on.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m some kind of behavioral science genius, I had quite a few of these realizations while reading “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us” by Daniel Pink. Earlier this year at the ALM Summit, it seemed like every other speaker that I went to see recommended that book. And so I gave in and ordered it, hard to argue being that it was around $10 on Amazon. I also then spelunked into a deep rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles, scientific studies, and other related digital publications to see what the real experts had to say. And while nothing I read was specifically aimed at ALM, or even technology per se (except for the use of OSS to disprove money as a primary motivator), I found so many ideas that were EXTREMELY relevant to what I was doing in my day to day job. So this post will focus on the first major point of many that I dog-eared in the book.

Favorite quote #1: The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. (and ditch the stupid contests!)

Intrinsic motivation. This is one of those things that you KNOW to be true, but you can’t quite put your finger on the why of it. I know I had that reaction whenever contests and incentives were announced at my previous job. I immediately groaned, rolled my eyes, and tried to think of the fastest way to produce the results they wanted while still doing all of the work that I saw as actually being valuable. You know, the stuff I am “graded” on during my end of year review.  Turns out, everyone felt that way too. And we never got the type of results from those silly contests that management was hoping for. It also felt like a form of punishment, as in, if you need to incentivize me with $500 do this, it must REALLY suck! Imagine our enthusiasm to take on that challenge? At the end of the day, money and rewards only get you so far, and too many bonuses and rewards can actually backfire and decrease motivation. People have to be internally motivated to WANT to do something for a strategy to realize long term success. Now I’m not a volunteer, mind you, I get paid very well at my new job, but I did leave a higher paying job to realign my career path with my passions. At the end of the day, the challenge of solving customers’ problems and making their lives better was driving my behavior. My passion is ignited and sustained by fresh, new problems and by having at least a little freedom to be creative in how I do my job. I should note that in most cases, I am speaking specifically from the perspective of a person working in IT so if you are in a vastly different line of work, you may not agree with all of my observations.

So back on track, my first thought was that this is yet another example of where agile is just a natural fit for software development. People enjoy challenge, and novelty, and need an environment that fosters that. Not that Waterfall based environments cannot provide freedom, novelty, and challenge (don’t laugh), but I have yet to find one that provided freedom, let alone the RIGHT kinds of novelty and challenge to promote a motivational environment. For instance, working 80 hour weeks for a month to make a deadline because of poorly planned milestones that you had no early visibility or input into is NOT a motivating challenge. And when the next 6 – 12 months of your life are scheduled, collated, and written in stone well, there goes freedom and creativity. Your focus now is on making dates, at any cost.

Because Agile and Scrum-based processes focus on self-direction, introspection, and continuous improvement, people get opportunities to constantly evolve and find new and more efficient ways to solve problems. Now that’s FUN. I’ve met few software engineers who don’t respond to that kind of motivation in a VERY positive way. After all, software development is as much of an art as a science. Despite all of the misleading comparisons to building a house, building software requires FAR more creativity and flexibility than framing a McMansion in the suburbs. And making software is HARD. The first time a Scrum instructor (Richard Hundhausen to be specific) uttered those words out loud, I kind of laughed, but then realized just how significant that statement was. Say it out loud with me and really think about it, “software development is HARD”. Sure there are hundreds of frameworks and software patterns out there to help you do it, but at the end of the day knowing how and when to use them, or even when to stray from them, is a really tough skill to master and requires constant recalibration.

Any artist will tell you that being confined by strict rules, and working under a heavily structured rewards and punishment system, stifles their creativity and narrows their focus. Working without freedom and with stifled creativity results in an inferior product, and an unhappy artist. It’s no different for software craftsman. At first I bristled a little at that term, “software craftsman”, but have come to embrace it as being a FAR more accurate label for what we do. Software is not churned out using repetitive and unchanging patterns like a Whopper. It relies as much on the right-brain as it does the left, and if it doesn’t for you, you might be doing it wrong.

Next we’ll talk about metrics. Hairs on the back of your next standing up? Did you get a little chill just then? I did.

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | Collaboration | Process Methodology | SDLC | development | Scrum

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And Now For Something Completely Different

by Angela 12. July 2013 09:15

So, I feel like most (if not all) of my posts have largely revolved around ALM events and specific features of the Visual Studio product line. After quite a few conversations with customers frustrated with the non-bits and bytes aspects of ALM, I wanted to write down some thoughts on some things I am seeing out in “the real world”. You see, we always talk about how ALM is about people, process, and tools. And 9 times out of 10 (maybe more like 49 out of 50 in reality) any ALM talk I go to focuses only on process and/or tooling. Why? Because solving the people problem is HARD. Nay, that implies people are a problem, and that it is one that can be solved. In a lot of cases, the best you can hope to do is recognize the challenges, address the low hanging fruit in the short term, and in the long term support people’s evolution to a more agile way of thinking in any way that you can. But like me, you may have Microsoft certifications, or even Scrum.org certifications, but you certainly don’t have a degree in psychology.

You can educate people on the principals of agile but you can’t MAKE people truly embrace them, and it can be incredibly frustrating if you’ve seen the mountains of evidence, and maybe even have personal success stories of your own proving it is the right direction for a team. Kind of like me knowing that if I went to the gym regularly and started paying attention to what I ate, I would be a much healthier and physically fit person, but I can’t seem to convince myself to make the 1.5 block walk to the local gym to do it. Sad, I know. But I’m working on it, kinda. The roadblock I see even more often is that while the team wants to give it a go, management’s attitude is that “agile couldn’t possibly work for MY organization”. It is always followed by reasons like “’we’re too big”, “we’re too small”, “we’re too heavily regulated”, or my favorite “I couldn’t possibly TRUST my developers enough to give them that kind of freedom”. This is where I try not to look completely horrified in front of the person who just said that. I’m a professional after all J

I joke about wanting to go back to school for a degree in psychology sometimes when I find myself in these situations. Honestly, I’m only kind of joking. Being an ALM practitioner is not just about knowing how to configure a build server, or create a new work item type, or even migrate a massive organization to the awesomeness that is the Visual Studio ALM toolset (or any other ALM tool for that matter, I happen to be Microsoft focused). Those things help, a lot. But it’s also about leading organizations through cultural transformations, whether those be massive agile transformations, or simply getting teams to have a more healthy, open, and collaborative relationship on the simplest of terms. They will need mentoring, maybe even hand-holding to get through some of the roadblocks of a massive change. This is true in ANY walk of life, but for now I am focusing on the software development world.

I apologize that this is a bit of a teaser, but people tend to get bored pretty quickly so I’ll leave you here and promise to dive into something even deeper in my next post. And as always, I’d love to hear about your own experiences, or be linked to some particularly helpful advice you’ve come across. I am a passionate evangelist and agilista, but I’m by no means an expert, yet. That will take many, many more years, and even more grey hair (that you will never see!).

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | Agile | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio | Process Methodology

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