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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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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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Slick and Easy Integration of TFS with Slack

by Angela 26. August 2015 20:42

Maybe you’ve been lamenting the lack of robust chat functionality in TFS, or maybe you’re just already in love with the chat tools you have, and would love to have a way to make it a more integral part of your TFS experience. With the latest release of TFS, this is easier than you think! If you’ve been using VSO, or if you upgraded to 2015, you can do just that! Now while you can get super fancy and do some integration acrobatics programmatically, you can also do some quick integrations right through the TFS web UI. And I’m all about quick and easy integrations when I can get them.

In my case, I wanted to setup TFS and Slack so that I could receive important notifications from TFS right in my active chat window. It’s not hard, but there was quite a bit of bouncing around so I wanted to share the basic steps and hopefully lead you quickly down the right path to get it set up.  So fire up your TFS instance and follow along, or just grab a cup of tea and take a peek at just how simple it is to get these two great tools talkin’.

Start right here in the TFS admin tools, in the Service Hooks tab:

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When you add a new hook, there are actually quite a few options including Campfire, Jenkins, Slack, and a host of others.Once you select the service, just choose the event that you want to subscribe to, and specify any other filters or options based on the service event you are subscribing to.

Currently you can setup subscriptions for a number of events including:

build completed

code pushed (for Git team projects)

pull request create or updated (for Git team projects)

code checked in (TFVC team projects)

work item created, updated, or commented on

message posted to a team room

In this example, I am just keeping it simple and asking to be notified any time a new work item is created in the team project, at any level. I *could* have narrowed it by work item type, or even area path.

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Next you’ll need to set up an Incoming WebHook for whatever tool you are looking to send messages to from TFS. In Slack, you would go to the Configure Integrations menu to start this process:

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Assuming this is your first integration into Slack, you’d need to setup a channel to post to next. If you do have existing channels, you may select one of them assuming you don’t mind merging multiple streams of information.

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Channels give you a way to tap into a feed of messages within Slack, rather than have information from many sources all jumbled up into a single flow of data. Since it’s super simple to switch between channels in Slack, I just created a separate one for this new stream. 

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Once you have your channel setup, add the incoming WebHooks integration by grabbing the URL that will be used to send the JSON payload to Slack, and paste it into the Service Hooks dialog back in TFS.

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Make sure to hit the TEST button to ensure that everything is working as expected.

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You should see a notification from Slack about the test message (if you’ve enabled notifications), as well as in the Slack channel feed. Rinse and repeat until you’ve setup all the types of integrations you want. It’s that easy!

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Now whenever any of those configured events are triggered, you’ll get notified in Slack!

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Hopefully that quick walkthrough gave you a good idea of the kinds of integrations you can setup between TFS and some other great automation and collaboration tools using just the TFS ServiceHooks available right in the TFS web console.

Have fun and happy integrating!

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Demystifying TFS 2013 .3 Access Levels and Licensing, a bit

by Angela 7. October 2014 09:58

In case you’re wondering, yes I specifically included the TFS update number because the licensing for TFS changes so often these days, that you really do have to be know what version of TFS someone is talking about to be sure you’re telling them the right thing. Anyway, I work with a lot of customers who get really confused about TFS Access Levels, in terms of what they mean and how you know who belongs in each “bucket”. You may even be thinking “what are access levels?” depending on what version of TFS you are running today.  Access levels were introduced with the release of TFS 2012, to ensure that users of the TFS web tools were only accessing the features they paid for.  You can find the access levels administration page in your TFS admin console, at the TFS instance level (so make sure you are in the Control Panel and not at a lower level, like at the Collection or Team project levels).

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You may have noticed (default) in the Full Access level row, this means that if you do not EXPLICITLY assign anyone to an access level, they will get Full access by default.  Not a big deal on my personal TFS instance because I have Visual Studio Ultimate and am the only user.  On your own instance however, best to leave the default at Limited, and add Active Directory groups to each Access Level to give your TFS users the right level of functionality, based on their licensing. Otherwise you risk unintentionally giving people access to features they have not paid for, being out of compliance with Microsoft, and having very unhappy users when you later have to fix things and end up taking away your TFS user’s features because they haven’t paid for them. There unfortunately isn’t obvious documentation on how this works for TFS 2013 so you may not have even realized that’s what was happening, but I did find reference to it in the TFS 2012 docs.

Now your next question is probably “What features does each access level give you?”

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  1. 3) With Limited access, users can create and modify only those work items that the user creates and can query on their own work items only.

  2. 5) Read-only.

This list only applies to on-premise TFS, access to web features on VSOnline are slightly different these days, and access is controlled by your license level automatically since you have to sign in with your MSDN account or Live ID. Note the major differences between each level, since this may even influence what license you decide to buy for your users. Most people fall under at least Standard access, but your QA, developer, and support teams often require a Full license for Web-based test management and the feedback tools. If you’re not familiar with them, definitely look up some videos and watch them in action, or reach out to me for a quick demo! :)

OK, so now you understand where to set access levels, and how they control what a user has access to on the web. How does each access level map to a license? This is pretty simple actually.

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You may be wondering, “well what about Visual Studio Professional?”.  Yeah, not sure why they left that one out, but since VS Pro includes a CAL, those users would get Standard access. Note that this means that VS Pro users do NOT get access to some really cool features listed above.

Now what about security? It’s very possible that your Active Directory groups are currently mapped to a user’s role, and does not necessarily coincide with access levels.  Particularly if your developer group has a mix of VS Pro, Premium, and Ultimate.  Now you cannot just assign your TFS_Developers group (or whatever you call it) to one access level, since some fall under Standard and some fall under Full. My advice is to create 3 Active Directory groups that map to your 3 access levels and chuck people into those AD groups as you buy or renew your licenses with Microsoft.  Technically, you could set one Access level as the default, not create an AD group for it, and anyone “unassigned” to an access level gets the default. I avoid that because it assumes too much, and that is how users fall through the cracks.  Just create Active Directory groups for each level, assign that AD group to the corresponding level, and whenever you add new TFS users they get added to that access level AD group to allow them access to the right TFS web features.

Limited access level, Add Windows user or group

 

Hopefully this shed some light on how Access levels work, and does not further confuse you. TFS licensing is rather complex, but sitting down and planning out your security and access model, and leveraging Active Directory as much as possible can make this really simple to administer in the long run. You can also find out more about licensing from the Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing White Paper, it’s honestly a blog series in and of itself, and again it is so complex and changes often enough that I’m not even going to try to untangle it just yet.

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It’s almost Fall, and that means more Conferences

by Angela 6. October 2014 09:39

So conference season is kicking in full force again, and I already have quite a few on my radar, though sadly I doubt I can attend them all.  Here are a few worth taking note of, and some are coming up FAST so be sure to register if you’re at all interested because you may lose out!

 

DevOps Days Chicago (10/7 and 10/8): I am particularly bummed that I cannot make it to this one.  Not just because it is organized by my friend Matt Stratton of Arrested DevOps, but because it’s guaranteed to be chock full of topics relevant to ANYONE in the software biz.

DevOpsDays is a community-driven technical conference that focuses on bridging the gap between development and operations. The first DevOpsDays took place in Ghent five years ago, and there have been over forty events worldwide since then. Now, it is finally coming to Chicago.  DevOpsDays provides a collaborative environment where people can interact with their peers, learn about tools and automation, and discuss best practices. The topics covered are relevant for developers, system administrators, infosec engineers, QA engineers, product managers, technical managers, and anyone else responsible for delivering software.

This 2 day event is only $149. You can even receive a 10% discount on registration by using the promo code DEVOPSMATT when registering: http://devopsdays.org/events/2014-chicago/registration/

Also, seriously listen to Arrested DevOps, it’s a great podcast.

 

St Louis Day of .NET (11/13 through 11/15): Just a 5 hour drive (or Amtrak ride) away is this fantastic conference.  I attended, ran a booth, and spoke at this event last year.  There are over 140 sessions with a full day of “pre-compiler” sessions where you can get your hands dirty for a very small additional cost. It’s currently still in early bird pricing, so just $200 for the conference, and $84 for a full had precompiler session. If you register after October 13th the price jumps to $300, and it’s $600 at the door.  So register quick!

They have top quality speakers, a great conference space, a full roster of local tech sponsors (like Polaris Solutions of course!) fun events to network (and just have fun), and is a really good value given how little it costs to attend.  Also, the hotel is pretty swank too, so bring the family if you want to just spend the weekend there :)

 

Agile Day Chicago 2014 – (October 9th) This as a new one (to me anyway) and seems really promising.  For just $99 I get an entire day of learning, collaborating, and sharing ideas with other agile practitioners in the Chicagoland area. The theme this year: Product Driven Learning - Listening, Learning, and Doing. 

  • Learning - Learn patterns and ideas that are currently being done for product learning
  • Listening - New ideas for product learning
  • Doing - An all interactive track where you will be doing things hands on

Sessions will speak to various topics like product design, leadership, technology and development practices all with a focus on outcomes.

More information can be found here - http://devjam.com/2014/07/31/agile-day-chicago-2014/

 

I’m also super stoked to be attending the Microsoft MVP Summit again! But this one is just for Microsoft MVPs. Hope to see you there if you;re an MVP!  And if you’re not an MVP yet, chat with me some time about the benefits, and what kinds of activities qualify you for MVP, it’s an amazing program to be a part of :)

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Something a little Different for the Chicago ALM User Group in October

by Angela 17. September 2014 15:54

So you may have noticed that the Chicago ALM User Group has been a little quiet this summer. Summer is always a tad slow and everyone would rather be out enjoying some time with the family, or maybe by heading up to the Wisconsin Dells for ThatConference like I did :)  Well, summer break is over and the Chicago ALM user group is back! We’ll be meeting in early October for something a little different.

I recently started working with a local firm who has come a long way in their quest for agility and a healthy corporate culture. They've accomplished some amazing positive changes in their use of ALM tooling, in their software delivery process, and most importantly in their corporate culture. Join us in October to hear their story, and maybe pick up some tips on how to make similar changes within your own teams.

Story-telling and panel discussion: Ever wonder how agile is supposed to work in real life, like how it’s described in the books? We did too and tried it out. We want tell our story, “There and Back Again”, a development team’s tale of how we are becoming agile including the thrills of victory and agonies of defeat, then open it up for a panel discussion.

Speaker Bios:

Daniel Porrey has 24 years’ experience in the IT industry with a range of skills from networking and hardware to software development. He has worked for several international based organizations striving to achieve high efficiency while driving the greatest levels of business value. Having been "classically" trained in IT as an Engineer, he has successfully completed numerous large scale projects under the waterfall methodology. With the need to gain even higher performance from his teams, the desire to hire and retain high performance talent, and the ability to deliver more automation, he converted his group to agile over the past several years with great success. In all endeavors, his primary focus has been on the quality of the delivered product.

Anthony Perkins has been part of developing software almost two decades. He has experienced being developer, software architect, and now manages a .Net application team. After working in the waterfall environment most of his career, Anthony is in the midst of transitioning to agile methodologies. Driving for continuous improvement, he looks for ways to improve the delivery of high quality software and overall development process.

Raja Tirumala Rao Guna  has over 9 years of software development experience in Microsoft.Net technologies.   He worked in different roles starting as developer and moving up the path as Dev lead, Tech Lead and Architect, though always a developer at heart.  For the past 2 years he been working on agile projects and using TFS to help on board his teams with Agile engineering practices.

Chris Steele has more than 14 years of professional software experience, and has been working with agile for over 9 years, with a heavy focus on Scrum. Working independently, with consulting agencies, or internally, in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia has provided him with a wide range of experiences and a keen insight into the common problems and solutions that companies find when embracing agile, as well as how to present and sell it to clients ranging from the smallest to global enterprises. Having worked as a development team member, a ScrumMaster, a Product Owner, a resource manager, and an agile coach, in a variety of settings, Chris has had the opportunity to directly experience the day-to-day pulls and stresses inherent in each role, and in almost every organization type imaginable. Passionate about organizational change, and the benefits of agility, Chris also has experience as a speaker both locally and internationally.

 

Register now to secure a seat! http://chicagoalmug.org/

Tags:

Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | Microsoft | Process Methodology | Productivity | SDLC | Scrum | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | TFS | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | development

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Referencing and Copying Test Cases in MTM 2013, a Lesson in Patience

by Angela 22. August 2014 15:49

Recently, I’ve had some lengthy discussions about test case, suite, and plan copying in Microsoft Test Manager (MTM), and it something that a lot of people are struggling with. In some cases, people are not even aware that you can do all of these things, let alone the subtle differences around what they are doing behind the scenes. Either way, hope this sheds some light on another way that MTM helps you to manage your testing efforts. There are a handful of methods for reusing test cases across multiple test suites and plans.

1) Add existing test cases – also known as re-using a test case by referencing it. So, in MTM, test cases are by default REFERENCED when you add them to test plans/suites.  You do this through the Add button in the Plan tab of MTM.

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The implication for using Add is that you need the EXACT SAME test case in multiple places, and if the test case changes it needs to change everywhere. So if I add a test case to 3 different test suites, any change to the test case is reflected in all 3 places automatically. Think of the test case instances that you see in the suites as pointers back to the original test case. Handy! Or annoying depending on your test versioning strategy. As an added bonus, with Add you can pull in test cases from any test plan in the team project collection by simply removing the @Project clause on the query!

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2) Create test suites by referencing existing test cases performs a shallow copy of test suites from a different test plan within the current team project, allowing you to easily reference its test cases. There are 2 places where you will find this option, in the context menu of the Test Plan, as well as in the MTM menu bar of the Plan | Contents tab.

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In MTM 2010, this option was called “Copy test suites from another plan” , which to most reasonable folks sounded like it copied everything. But it was not really a full copy of everything, it was actually a brand new test suite based on the original suite, and the suite contains REFERENCES back to the original test cases. As you can see, in MTM 2013, the menu option is now more explicit about what it is doing. The brand new suite has a new ID and the same name as the original test suite, it also includes all of the original test cases but is just referencing the test cases and their associated requirements. Changing the new test suite does not affect the original suite, but remember that changing the test cases in the new test suite would change the test cases in the original test suite. Also, note that this can only happen across different test plans in the same Team Project, so you cannot use this feature to duplicate test suites into the test plan you are currently in, or to duplicate test suites across Team Project boundaries. Maybe that is an edge case, but people have asked me if they could do it.

But what about the cases where you really do need to effectively BRANCH those test cases?  Say you have a new version of some functionality, but you still need to support the original functionality, and so you need to have two slightly different versions of the same test case. Well, you have yet another option – Copy. Technically you have a few more options yet.

3) Create copy and add to suite is a shallow clone operation on just a single test case. Accessible in the MTM client, you just right click on any test case, and use this tool to create a new copy of the test case, and save it into the test suite that you are currently in. All links, comments, steps, parameters (shared and otherwise), and properties are carried over - but new versions of all of these related items were not created. The new test case refers back to the same links, parameters, etc. of the original test case, and even links back to the original test case so you can see how it originated. Test run results associated to the test case are NOT copied over. Attachments are NOT copied in this case either. And again the scope is the current Team project, current test plan, and current test suite. I cannot cross Team project, test plan, or test suite boundaries with this command.

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But we’re not done!

4) You might have noticed a Copy (CTRL + C) option in that context menu in the MTM desktop client as well. Don’t be fooled, this just creates another reference to the original test case wherever you paste.  So while it is similar to using the Add button, I can only Copy a test case using this command into another test suite within the same test plan. In other words, it does not work across Team Project or Test Plan boundaries, but it MUST be used across test suite boundaries. And in this case, Copy actually means reference, instead of you know, copy. I know, really? OK, one more option to cover in this blog post.

5) Create a copy of this work item (including links) is the Copy option available only on the web, and it is slightly different than the options available in the desktop version of MTM. This appears to just be the standard Copy Work Item context menu option that you can access anywhere on the web, and nothing specific to the test tools. Clear as mud, right?

Honestly, I’m also having a hard time understanding how it is SUPPOSED to work because it has some odd behavior in my opinion (on VSOnline anyway). It allows you to specify a “Project” in the creation dialog, which I assume means TEAM PROJECT, like it does when you are creating copies of any other work item type from the web. The new test case work item is created in the specified project, with the same references as the original work item, but also adds it to the existing test suite in the current project. I assumed it would only create the new test case in the team project specified. Apparently not. So it does the same type of copy that Create copy and add to suite does, but allows you to do it across team project boundaries. image

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Frustrated yet? I know I am and I’ve been using these tools for years. It’s a lot to keep straight, and even I sometimes forget which options bring over which links and artifacts so I have to refer back to the handy tables available on MSDN.  Definitely talk to your team and decide which options to use and when.

Oh, yeah, and cloning is also an option now, but that is another larger discussion so stay tuned for another blog post on that one.

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Strengthening Your Team Through Vulnerability

by Angela 10. July 2014 11:56

This is actually a cross-post from my company’s blog… but likely you don’t go to that one very often and I didn’t want this post to be overlooked.

I go through phases where I devour books, usually when I am attending industry conferences where speakers are recommending books that have elicited “AHA!” moment for them. In many cases, it’s the same handful of books being quoted repeatedly. These 3 books in particular have been coming up a lot, and they inspired me to rethink how I work, and live:

1) Drive (which I am actually reading right now for a second time)

2) Five Dysfunctions of a Team

3) Getting Naked.

The first is a psychological study into what motivates people (hint:it’s NOT actually money in most cases). The last 2 are actually “business fables”, a genre that I hadn’t realized existed before now, and that I really enjoy. I am noticing a few themes common to all 3 of these books, that can have a tremendous positive impact on organizations. Yet in my experience, these themes rarely come up when management is discussing strategy for change, whether it be organization-wide or focused on a particular group. No matter how well thought out your processes and procedures are, or how “best of breed” your new expensive tooling is, one thing will always lay waste to even the best laid plans, is culture. Now, addressing corporate culture is nothing I can sum up in a single blog post, but one aspect of it in particular calls out to me as needing urgent attention. FEAR.

I am not suggesting the use of fear to control your team, quite the contrary. I am suggesting that to strengthen your team, you need to expose your fears, more specifically you need to show each other vulnerability. Does that sound a little odd to you? Are you thinking “how can I be a strong leader or teammate if I am showing fear, or appearing vulnerable to my team?” It seems a bit counterintuitive.

Many of the issues that prevent people from breaking old habits, from really making a difference, from moving forward, is guardedness. I see this not only on teams I have worked with professionally, but in myself in my daily life. I suspect many of us keep our guard up by default. We protect our calendars, our intellectual property, our reputations. But this often means we are effectively operating as a team of 1, and there is no real sense of understanding or trust between team members or between the team and its leadership. Adding to that, if there is an implied stigma (or explicit punishment) for saying “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake”, more focus and energy will be spent by people on protecting themselves, rather than on learning from their mistakes and improving.

For the team, it means admitting when they need to do some research before taking on a new project, admitting they need more time when their forecasts were off because they did not understand the full scope of a problem, or admitting when they have hit a wall and need some help to make progress. For management it means admitting your own mistakes to your own managers as well as to your team, trusting your team to do the right thing, and accepting mistakes as an opportunity for growth. If all of that seems overwhelming, start by sharing your stories with one another - a few basic facts like your least and most favorite subjects in school, your hobbies, the last movie you saw.  The simple act of sharing a few bits of personal back story with one another can really open people up, inspire a base level of trust, and even uncover common threads that bring a team closer together. It might seem trite, or overly simplistic, but you’d be surprised how differently you view your teammates when you find out they coach little league 3 nights a week where your kids play, or that someone else has also dreamed of being a concert pianist all of their life. Give it a try…

Until we all learn to be open, honest, and vulnerable with the people we work with, it will be extremely difficult to ever build up the level of trust necessary to truly improve and grow, both as individuals and as a team. And seriously, go to Amazon and pick up those 3 books right now.  It may just be the best $40 you’ve spent in a while.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Collaboration | personal growth | Productivity | SDLC

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A few more little nuggets of goodness in TFS 2013.2

by Angela 22. May 2014 13:59

Are you still hedging on installing update 2 for TFS 2013? OK, c’mon now, we’ve installed it for a number of clients and are running it ourselves.  It’s stable, it’s OK, just install it.  Not convinced?  Well on top of the great features I mentioned in my initial post about TFS 2013.2 RC, here are some additional features that might just push you over the edge to install the RTM version. None of the are mind-blowing, but honestly, they made a big impact on me personally.  Any less click I have to do to finish a daily task equates to a lot less annoyance in my life.  So here we go…

Team Days Off

So hopefully you’re not looking at this wondering “what the heck is THAT for?”. Because capacity planning is a must for any team, but entering time off could be a pain when you were looking at large teams with upcoming holidays. But if you look closely you might notice a new button at the bottom of the capacity planning tab called “Team Days Off”.

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Loved this for Memorial Day! Small change, but big impact for people managing teams in TFS.

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Sure maybe it’s only happening once per iteration, but what if you have weekly sprints? Even a small team of say 7 people equates to setting up days off 7 times a week as opposed to once. That’s like 30 clicks they just saved me, for just this one team! I have many teams on many projects. MATH.

Shared Parameters

OK, so this is a pretty big one. Something I hear a LOT is that parameter management can be really daunting for large teams where a lot of the same parameters get used across multiple test cases that are not leveraging common shared steps. How on earth do you keep track of them, update them consistently, and coordinate across teams to prevent duplication? Well, now you don’t have to! So in the client tools you’ll notice when working with parameters, that there is a new link to manage shared parameters on the web. Why only on the web? Because agile, and this is what you have NOW, which is better than 3 weeks ago which was NO shared parameters anywhere. My hope* is that it gets into the client in a future sprint, but right now it’s only on the web.

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So once you click the client link you’ll be redirected to the TFS web tools, where you will find it in the Test tab. Don’t see the Test tab? Well you need to be licensed for Visual Studio Premium or Test professional AND you have to be in the right Access Level.

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From here you can manage parameter sets to be reused across multiple test cases. 

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Any changes you make to these parameters effect every test case using them. HUZZAH!  It might not be entirely intuitive how to use them though. So in each test case work item, you now have the opportunity to not only use shared parameters, but to create shared parameters from existing ones. Simply open a test case work item and scroll down the the bottome where the parameter section is.  Here you’ll see both options:

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Lets create a shared parameter so we can reuse the set of usernames:

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It works much the same way that reverse engineering shared steps did. Pretty easy! And now I have another set of shared parameters I can leverage across my test cases:

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And here is the icing on top, there’s traceability, yes, traceability.  So you can even find out what test cases are using the shared parameters that you create, and vice versa.  Just switch to the properties view of the shared parameter in question.

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Did you hear that? I think it is a chorus of cherubs singing :)  If you don’t do a lot of QA like me, this may not seem earth-shattering, but trust me. This is going to save me a lot of time, and a lot of clicks. Hey, I have carpal tunnel, saving clicks is a big deal to me, and not just because I’m lazy.

So there you go, 2 more very compelling features to hopefully convince you to upgrade your TFS instance to TFS 2013.2. Stay tuned for more TFS goodness…

 

*seriously, I don’t know for sure and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.

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I’m Talking TFS ALM at the Chicago SharePoint Developer Group May 15th

by Angela 13. May 2014 07:51

So often people hear that I focus on TFS for ALM and think I can’t possibly help them because they’re not doing traditional .NET WinForms or WebForms development. Not true! TFS ALM is cross platform and technology agnostic.  Well, within reason, if you’re using a tool with embedded and proprietary SCM you might not be able to use TFS VC, but the rest of TFS’ capabilities certainly still apply.

This month I’m talking to the local SharePoint developer meetup group to talk about TFS for SharePoint ALM, how TFS 2013 can help them reach a higher level of agility, and where it can streamline their processes with build, test, and deployment automation.  During this meeting I’ll be doing a lap around TFS, pointing out what’s new and cool for SharePoint, and doing some demos of my favorite tools. If you’re a SharePoint developer, come join us this Thursday and learn more! I’m nice, and usually pretty entertaining :)

Learn more and sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-SharePoint-Developers-User-Group/

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