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November 2017 Chicago Agile and DevOps Meetup –Damian Brady Talks DevOps for Any Language, Any Platform

by Angela 23. October 2017 13:57

Microsoft and Polaris Solutions are teaming up to host Damian Brady on Wednesday November 1st in Downers Grove, IL. He'll spend an action packed hour giving you a guided tour of Visual Studio Team Services to see how seamlessly it works for any developer using any platform.

"This is no longer the Microsoft of old! I’ll be showing live demos in three different operating systems, using three different languages! As a developer, you can easily use your existing toolset and existing investments alongside VSTS and Azure. Come and learn about all the new VSTS announcements, out of the box features, and extensibility options to help your team adopt new Agile, Git, and DevOps practices!" ~Damian

Please be sure to register for the event, building security will not allow unregistered guests to enter the Microsoft space.

Dinner will be provided, and parking is always free and easy at this location.

Damian is an Australian CDA specializing in DevOps. He's currently based in Toronto, Canada, but will be moving back to Australia - the land of the dangerous creatures and beautiful beaches - in 2018.

Formerly a dev at Octopus Deploy and a Microsoft MVP, he has a background in software development and consulting in a broad range of industries. In Australia, he co-organized the Brisbane .Net User Group, and launched the now annual DDD Brisbane conference. He regularly speaks at conferences, User Groups, and other events around the world, and he's been an occasional guest on various podcasts like .NET Rocks and Hanselminutes.

Most of the time you'll find him talking to developers and IT Pros to help them get the most out of their DevOps strategies. https://twitter.com/damovisa

Tags:

DevOps | Software Development Lifecycle Management | Release Management | Continuous deployment | Deployment | VSTS | TFS 2017 | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Visual Studio Team Services | Tea

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Fear, A Major Speed Bump on the Road to Quality

by Angela 3. February 2017 22:26

I warned you that I’d be blogging about the “messiness” of ALM and DevOps consulting. And this is a long one so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or cocktail of your choice (whatever I won’t judge). It’s actually based on something I wrote for the QAI Quest Magazine. If you haven’t checked out the CQAA (Chicago Quality Assurance Association) community or their upcoming QUEST conference in Chicago this April, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, here is the article:

A large part of my job as a scrum master and agile coach is focusing on quality. Quality of process, quality of teams, and quality of software. While all of these can be challenging to improve, one of the hardest to tackle is quality of the team. I’m not talking about individual’s skillsets, although that is important. I’m talking about the ability of the team to work together as a WHOLE. In my experience, teams that cannot accomplish this cannot produce a quality product. Missed requirements, sloppy handoffs, miscommunication of what is “done”, and a host of other issues arise when the team just can’t seem to come together in a truly open and collaborative environment. Causes for this failure are complex and will vary from team to team. But one that I run into time and time again is fear. Yes, fear!

I’m not a psychologist and I don’t purport to know all the answers, but I can speak from experience - both in terms of myself and what I see in others. I have seen fear manifest itself in the following situations:

· Underestimating feature delivery times to hide a lack of confidence, often leading to painful sprint reviews when committed features aren’t delivered on time, or not at all.

· Code being integrated too soon to avoid being late, resulting in bugs “leaking” into production.

· Misunderstood requirements being implemented without question, and promptly being rejected by QA or a frustrated product owner.

· Resentment when team members feel someone is not pulling their weight, when in reality that person is silently struggling.

· Failure by team members to ask for clarification because everyone else surely must “get it”.

The fear of being seen as not good enough or smart enough by our peers is real and pervasive in IT. Ironically, the end result of hiding our struggles is often working extra hours and even cutting corners to make the unrealistic deadlines that we set for ourselves. This inevitably leads to doing the very thing we are fearful of … letting people down.

Tying this back to quality:

· Imagine if the team was afraid to admit that a requirement was vague, that it would be extremely complex to develop, or almost impossible to adequately test.

· Imagine if they assumed they’d figure it out as they go and plowed ahead.

· Imagine if someone on the team rushed to complete a feature and skimped on testing to prevent blowing their estimates because of fear of retribution for being wrong.

You probably don’t have to imagine it. It’s likely happening on your team right now but no one is talking about it! So, what can you do once you’ve realized that fear is holding you or your team back? What I have learned on my own journey is that it’s not enough to recognize when I am acting from a place of fear; I also have to recognize it in others. And much like quality, it is EVERYONE’S responsibility to create a collaborative and supportive environment.

As a Scrum Master, here are some of the things that I ask myself in order to help address fear on my teams.

· Is someone new to the team, or to their role, and clearly feeling overwhelmed or struggling to fit in?

· Is someone is hesitating to speak up when they clearly have a strong opinion or idea?

· Are people afraid of being judged harshly or told their idea is “crazy” or “dumb” in a team setting?

 

Now, that’s a lot of stuff to keep an eye on. (Hey…no one ever said that being the Scrum Master was an easy job.) So, let’s say that you notice something. What do you do about it? How do you head-off fear and/or actually do something about it?

Well, if someone on the team shares a concern or asks for help, be sure to thank them for bringing it up and offer them support, or try to connect them with someone who can. If people are hesitant to speak up in a large group setting, approach them after the meeting, and discuss it in a more casual environment. If they need some encouragement or support, find a way to share their ideas with the team in a less intimidating way. Find ways to bring new team members on-board and make them feel connected quickly. Make sure no one is discouraging open and honest conversation by dominating conversations or by openly criticizing ideas or opinions, even jokingly. Joking, while good natured, can be misconstrued as criticism, and simply telling a teammate that they “just can’t take a joke” is a great way to alienate them and ensure their participation in future activities is limited. Besides, some of the biggest discoveries in history started with an original premise that was totally out there!

I’ve given talks on fear at a number of conferences, and every time people have approached me afterwards saying “I feel that way too. It’s so good to know I am not alone!” Research shows that around 70% of people struggle with these kinds of fears, and based on my experience, it is higher in IT! That means that in any given meeting you attend, MOST of the people in the room are afraid to share their thoughts for fear of negative consequences. Imagine all of the great ideas being squandered and land mines we are failing to avoid.

Hopefully you’re already thinking of ways to improve the quality of your team, and ultimately of the products you are delivering. Strive to be more vigilant, more supportive, more honest, and you will be well on your way to creating a high-quality and high-performing team!

 

If you’re attending quest, I also have a few sessions there that you may want to check out if this article spoke to you.

Getting Your Agile Team Unstuck! Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Common Agile Setbacks: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/half-day-tutorial-getting-your-agile-team-unstuck-tips-and-tricks-for-avoiding-common-agile-setbacks/

Fear and (Self) Loathing in IT: A Healthy Discussion on Imposter Syndrome: http://qaiquest.org/2017/sessions/fear-and-self-loathing-in-it-a-healthy-discussion-on-imposter-syndrome/ 

And if you’re not attending Quest feel free to send me a message via this blog or on Twitter!

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Get Registered for ST Louis DevUP Before Tickets Sell Out

by Angela 13. September 2016 14:27

You may be thinking, what the heck is St Louis DevUp. Well, previously you may have known this conference as St. Louis Days of .NET.  The conference is about a LOT more than just .NET, and has a shiny, new name to boot. I’m especially excited about the Next Generation Process and Tools track, but I might be biased Winking smile The full session list has been posted, so start marking your favorites, it’s going to be a hard choice this year!

We have some awesome, seasoned speaker talking about agile, scrum, test automation, DevOps, development, data data data, and so much more,  And there are a TON of tracks to choose from:

Web Development JavaScript Development Mobile Development
DevOps Automation & Tooling Data Everywhere! Quick, Yet Correct
The Modern Day Architect Soaring to the Cloud Next Generation Cloud
Next Generation Processes & Tools Career & Soft Skills Cool & Fun

 

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Polaris Solutions Agile Lunch and Learn Series Continues with Rapid Product Development on Sept 28

by Angela 29. August 2016 17:07

You may have noticed that the Chicago Visual Studio ALM user group has been ramping down, and in its place we are ramping up an Agile Lunch and Learn series. This past winter we had a Release Management and DevOps themes event, this Spring we covered SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), and this Fall we are introducing a talk on Rapid Product Development.  I am really excited about this one, as its a topic near and dear to my agile heart, and the speaker (Zach Beer) is someone who has lived rapid product development for a good portion of his career. Zach is a recent addition to the Polaris family and he has some amazing experiences in the Chicago Startup community to draw from for this talk.  We are so excited to have him on our team, and to be able to bring his expertise to our clients and the community. Check out the details below, and sign up soon if you are interested, we have only 16 spots available for this one. Below are the details…

 

Agile Lunch and Learn: Rapid Product Delivery

Do you feel like your team is grasping at straws about what your customers want?  Do your customers wait weeks or months for a release that doesn’t address their most pressing needs?

Lots of organizations struggle to find the most effective way to meet their customers’ needs.  Agile processes like Scrum can help organize teams, but they don’t explicitly show teams how to deliver the most value to customers.  In this presentation, we’ll discuss how choosing what you work on is as important as how you work on it, how product development can go sideways, and what strategies your team can use immediately to start delivering value to your customers sooner.

Please join our Agile experts for this free lunch and learn to hear more about how you can transform your company into a high-performance customer-pleasing engine.

Complimentary lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

Seating is limited. Register now!

 

Event Info

September 28, 2016  11:30 AM – 1:00 PM CDT

Microsoft Office – Downers Grove

3025 Highland Pkwy Suite #200

Downers Grove, IL 60515

 

clip_image002Zach Beer is an agile strategist and Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions.  He has spent the last ten years developing software for start-ups around the Chicago area, gaining deep technical and organizational skills applicable to a range of industries and corporate structures.  He specializes in understanding business value and applying that understanding to the process of creating software. A certified scrum master, software architect, and speaker, he is passionate about helping people and companies reach their potential.

 

Polaris Solutions, LLC

Polaris Solutions is an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) consulting firm. We specialize in helping teams deliver high value software through technical leadership, process improvement, and software development expertise.

PolarisSolutions.com

info@polarissolutions.com

Tags:

Agile | Scrum | Software Development Lifecycle Management | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Product Development

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Chicago DevOps Community Roadshow–April 2016 Recap

by Angela 22. April 2016 09:41

Last week myself and some of my favorite community leaders and MVPs were able to deliver a free community event focusing on DevOps practices and tools thanks to the generosity of Microsoft. Not only did Microsoft provide the great venue for free, but they also supplied the funding that covered a great hot breakfast, beverages, and a Microsoft Band 2 for the raffle!

2016-04-15 07.26.31

We had over 100 people register, and people started trickling in early. We had a surprising number of enthusiastic attendees already seated and ready for Jim’s 8:30am keynote!

2016-04-15 08.37.10

Next we had some great talks by Landan, Erik, Chris, Min, and Greg. Topics included continuous integration with Visual Studio and TFS 2015, environment provisioning and DSC with Azure, release management with TFS RM and Octopus Deploy, and metrics and monitoring with Application Insights and SonarQube.

2016-04-15 08.50.042016-04-15 09.43.392016-04-15 10.54.122016-04-15 11.22.08

 

There was a lot of great discussion, some awesome demos, and everyone had a great time. Thanks again to my rock star team - Eric Boyd, Landan Rotter, Angela Dugan, Greg Levenhagen, Chris Taylor, Jim Szubryt, and Min Maung - who seems to not really like any of us enough to stand next to us Smile

2016-04-15 12.57.28-1

Slides from the event are still being uploaded, but you’ll be able to access everything here. Thanks again for attending, and if you didn’t make it and would like to learn more about any of these topics, shout at me on email (via the link at the bottom of this blog post) or twitter and I’ll connect you with the right people!

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Join Polaris at the QAI QUEST Conference in Chicago Next Month

by Angela 22. March 2016 12:15

Next month, the Quality Assurance Institute brings the Quest conference back to Chicago. Quest is the Quality Engineered Software and Testing Conference & EXPO, and it’s a fantastic place to network and learn about the latest trends in quality assurance, team collaboration, and software delivery. From the website:

LEARN - ASSESS - APPLY - CONNECT

QUEST 2016 Conference is the best source for new technologies and proven methods for Quality Engineered Software and Testing. Thought leaders, evangelists, innovative practitioners, and IT professionals from across North America gather together for a week packed with classes, tutorials, educational sessions, hand-on workshops, discussions groups, EXPO, and networking events. Let your quest to build, test, and deliver quality software begin with QUEST 2016! You’ll see sessions around topics such as Agile, Leadership, Measurement, Test Design, Automation, Open Source, Performance, Test Data, Mobile, Security, DevOps, And More… Check out the conference schedule here.

Chris Taylor and yours truly will be delivering a number of sessions at the conference including:

 

I’ll also be speaking at the Manager’s Workshop. I’m excited to have an opportunity to participate in this. I’ve attended in years past as an attendee, and it’s an awesome opportunity to network and learn from peers and thought leaders about some of the things we all struggle with in the software business.

I hope you can attend the conference and perhaps even stop by one of our sessions! Register here while tickets are still available.

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FREE Half Day DevOps Community Roadshow Event in Chicago on April 15th

by Angela 18. March 2016 12:32

Everyone seems to be asking for "better DevOps" these days, but admittedly it's hard to pin down exactly what that means, and to complicate things even more, it seems to mean different things to different people. Is it about people? Is it about processes and practices? Is it about tools? Is it about culture? Yes, all of these things and more! 

This event is focused on some great tools and a few key practices, because we only have 4 hours and we'd probably need a week to tackle everything we'd really like to :)  We'll be talking about Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio Team Services, Visual Studio, Microsoft Azure, Application Insights, and even some tools you might not expect at a Microsoft event like SonarQube, Octopus Deploy, and Chef! Because let's be honest, our tool belts are overflowing these days, and sometimes it's hard to know which ones are the best one for the job. To that end, we've assembled a fantastic team of local MVPs and technical community leads with loads of experience tackling the various challenges that we all face in the quest for "good DevOps", whatever that means. Check out the agenda below to see more details about what topics they'll be talking about, and be sure to stick around for the raffle of a Microsoft Band 2!

As an added bonus, we're even buying you breakfast! Real breakfast too, with bacon, sausage, eggs, and OJ, not just bagels and coffee. Seating is limited, so please be sure to register to secure your spot today.

This event is being organized and run by some of most passionate folks in the community that I know including Angela Dugan(me!), Chris Taylor, Eric Boyd, Greg Levenhagen, Jim Szubryt, Landan Rotter, and Min Maung. Join us next month for this free, half day event in downtown Chicago to explore DevOps and Azure!

Head on over to Eventbrite today for more details and to get registered!

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Chicago Code Camp Call for Speakers is Open

by Angela 17. February 2016 08:52

In case you haven’t heard, Chicago Code Camp call for speakers opened last week and we need you! Not heard of Chicago Code Camp? Well, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair because we have a great story! This is our 8th year, and once again we’ll be staying in downtown Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology to make sure we are centrally located and easy to get to by car, train, or subway. It is a day to learn from the community. It is a day to contribute to the community. Please join us by sponsoring, attending, speaking, or all three! We cannot be successful without you. 

The mission of Chicago Code Camp is to provide a credible resource within the IT industry. Our goal is to offer a wide range of opportunities to learn about advancements in our field, to share knowledge from our experiences, and to develop valued relationships with our peers. To that end, Chicago Code Camp is a FREE, day-long event. We are here to connect the talent and expertise within the Developer community of the Windy City, and that includes YOU. Discussions for the day have previously included development and trending topics in .net, java, open sourced frameworks, web, mobile, cloud, robotics, testing, soft skills, and more.

So what ideas, technologies, or strategies do you want to share with us? Everyone has something to contribute, whether its information on a new JavaScript framework, teaching us how to leverage Docker to strengthen our DevOps practices, sharing experiences adopting scrum, or how to handle ourselves better in job interviews. We are looking for a broad set of experiences across just about any topic related to being a technology professional.

Note on our selection process: In order to be fair towards all the speakers who submit for sessions for the Code Camp, the speakers are chosen via a blind voting process by the Chicago Code Camp Advisory Council (CCCAC). The advisory council is made up of various local and regional user group leaders and industry experts. The council will only see the topic title, abstract, and level of difficulty of the talk when voting for the abstract. The council does not have access to the presenter's information. The abstracts with highest votes are then placed into tracks and presenters are notified.

So take a few minutes to absorb some caffeine, think about some topics you’d be willing to share with the rest of the tech community in Chicago, then submit your ideas here: http://www.chicagocodecamp.com/Submissions/WantToShare

 

Hope to see you at Chicago Code Camp this April!  Oh, and general registration is not open yet, but stay tuned for news on that Smile

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Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!– Feb 17th at the Chicago ALM User Group

by Angela 8. February 2016 11:18

Continuous self-improvement on agile teams is traditionally done through agile retrospectives, a form of post-mortem held at the completion of an iteration. More often than not, retrospectives begin to fade and the list of action items keeps growing until teams simply succumb to business-as-usual practices. In some cases, teams eventually abandon retrospectives altogether because they feel like a waste of time! I’ve seen it happen, it is NOT pretty.

  1. Do you feel like your retrospectives are a death march where no one is actively participating?
  2. Do the same problems seem to resurface repeatedly?
  3. Are your retrospectives ending prematurely or being cancelled in favor of "getting more real work done"?
  4. Or maybe you feel great about your agile retrospectives, but just want to learn more about Kaizen...

Join Angela as she leads this interactive discussion about how you can use Kaizen to analyze and improve your agile retrospectives. She will begin with a brief review of what an agile retrospective is, and walk through some retrospective scenarios she has experienced on her own scrum teams.  Angela will then explain the concept of Kaizen, and walk through the Kaizen process.  Lastly, Angela will demonstrate how you can use a Kaizen process to turn your agile retrospectives back into the effective continuous improvement tools they are meant to be!

RSVP

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

Date and time: Wednesday, February 17, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Agenda:6:30 Dinner and networking, 7:00pm Main Speaker Presentation

Speaker Bio: Angela Dugan is a Principal Consultant and the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions, a small .NET development and ALM consulting firm based out of Chicago, Denver, and St. Louis. Angela has been in software development filling various roles since 1999, including 5 years at Microsoft. In 2011, she followed her passion back into the consulting world where she could be far more hands-on with her customers and play a greater role in the local tech community. Angela runs the Chicago ALM user group, is an active organizer and speaker at several local conferences including Chicago Code Camp and ThatConference, is a Microsoft ALM MVP, a Certified Scrum master, and a certified SAFe Program Consultant.

Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, a chicken farmer (seriously, they have chickens!), an aspiring runner, a blogger, and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 1910 house in Oak Park that she is constantly working on/cursing at with her husband David.

Please don’t forget to register, Aon center security requires it!  I know parking is pricey in the city so please don't overpay for it. SpotHero has some great parking very near to the Aon Center for as little as $10, I use them and I love the service!

 

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Agile | Kaizen | Scrum | Software Development Lifecycle Management | Continuous improvement

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Will I see you at St Louis Days of .NET this year?

by Angela 9. November 2015 14:19

St Louis Days of.NET is definitely a favorite of mine. This will be my third year both attending and speaking at the conference, Polaris Solutions is also sponsoring the conference again! Everyone involved is so passionate about the community and great to work with, I’m excited that my company can be a part of it. And for the money, it’s hard to beat these speakers and sessions! Speaking of, I hope you have your ticket because they are SOLD OUT!

Be sure to stop by the Polaris Solutions booth and chat with one of us about ALM, TFS, agile/scrum, and any number of other topics. You can also keep up with all of the STLDODN news and announcements on their website,on Facebook, and of course Twitter. Many of us at Polaris will also be speaking at the event, and posting regular updates on twitter as well. Hope to see you there and on Twitter! Smile

My Sessions:

Friday, 8am in Discovery C

I know it’s early but I’m super energetic so I’ll do my best to kick off the conference in an awesome way for you!

How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile world!

If you’ve been using Team Foundation Server for a while, you know it can do everything short of making you a latte as you walk into your morning scrum. TFS has come a long way in the last 10 years, and with the release of TFS 2015 and all of the features being released to VSO at break-neck speed, it’s hard to know why you should consider upgrading or even adopting in the first place. With the release of TFS 2015, Microsoft has laid down some SERIOUS awesomeness with a reboot of Team Build, a ton of new agile based team planning features that will melt even the saltiest scrum master’s heart, and easy integration into collaboration tools like Slack, Hipchat, and Trello with service hooks. And lastly, there are some cool new testing capabilities, some which are open to people with no licensing, yeah, FREE STUFF. Join me for a tour of the best of TFS 2015, IMHO anyway.

 

Saturday, 12:30pm in Discovery D

Yikes, right after lunch! Again, I think my energy will come in handy, have to keep everyone awake, ha!

Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

With so many process frameworks and methodologies out there, it’s hard to know where to begin. And just when everyone seems to be warming up to agile, here comes SCALED agile. But how is SAFe really different than agile? When is it appropriate? Does using the SAFe framework prevent a company from having scrum teams? How big or complex do you need to be for SAFe to make sense? Isn’t SAFe just a glorified version of waterfall that companies adopt when they can’t handle “real” agile? I found myself overwhelmed with choices, and confused by all of the conflicting articles out there on what SAFe was, and how and when to consider using it. I decided the best solution was to go through the training and spend some time practicing it in the field. Since becoming an SPC, I have coached a number of clients on improving their processes leveraging techniques from SAFe. In this session I plan to walk through the tenets of SAFe and help you to understand how SAFe can benefit your team!

 

Find the full detail with speakers and rooms here.

 

Follow us, we’re nice,and we’re on twitter!

Polaris twitter account: https://twitter.com/teampolaris

Angela’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/OakParkGirl

Alejandro’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/alejandrormz

Josh’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/jcgillespie

Chris’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/cbkadel

Clint’s twitter account: https://twitter.com/ClintEd

 

 

All Polaris Sessions

Alejandro Ramirez - Specflow for Agile Teams

Angela Dugan

  • Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework
  • How TFS 2015 is Going to Rock Your Agile World!

Brian Yuan - How to Climb the AngularJS Learning Curve

Chris Kadel

  • Introduction to Dev-Ops: 2+2=5
  • Team Foundation Server Building Extravaganza 2015

Clint Edmonson

  • Agile Metrics that Matter
  • Application Architecture Jumpstart

Josh Gillespie - Discover PowerShell DSC

Nathan Gomez - Entity Framework for Non-Sadists

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