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Join me at APLN on Nov 9th to Talk Agile Metrics that Matter

by Angela 1. November 2017 01:04

Join APLN on Thursday, November 9, 2017 between 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM to chat with me about metrics that really matter. This talk is aimed at any organization regardless of your size, industry, platform, or process.


The Nielsen Company

150 N Martingale Rd, Schaumburg, IL (map)

Venue is near Woodfield Mall. If coming in through the front entrance, take a left and people will see a sign for the event (look to the right if coming in from the parking garage).


Topic:  How do You Measure up? Collect the Right Metrics for the Right Reasons

Description: How many times have you been asked to deliver on metrics that did not make sense, that were counterproductive to the team's effectiveness, or that were seemingly impossible to collect? Often times, the metrics being collected are the ones that are easy, but not necessarily the ones that matter. In some cases, metrics can even have a demoralizing or counterproductive effect on the team!

When it comes to software delivery, lean and agile practices and methodologies have clearly taken the lead. In the spirit of Kaizen, this session will take a look at the measures we can and should collect from agile teams, why these metrics are relevant and interesting, and how we can use them to help our teams continuously improve.

Preliminary Agenda:

6:00 - 6:30 : Networking and Food
6:30 - 8:20 : How do You Measure up? Collect the Right Metrics for the Right Reasons
8:20 - 8:30 : Closing

Food and refreshments which will be provided during the networking period.

Sign up here!

Tags:

Agile | Metrics | Scrum

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VS Live is Coming to Chicago in 2017 and I have a $400 discount to share with you

by Angela 20. July 2017 17:38

Hey friends! In case you haven’t heard, I’ll be speaking at Visual Studio Live in Chicago this year! ::cue massive Imposter syndrome episode::  Smile

Not familiar with VS Live? Visual Studio Live! provides you with immediately usable training and education that will keep you relevant in the workforce.  You’ll hear from Microsoft folks and industry experts about the latest news, new developments in tools and processes, and get some awesome networking opportunities. The conference is happening September 18-21, so sign up soon and get that time off requested before it sells out.

I am really excited to have the chance to share some of my experiences with you at the following sessions this year:

  • Getting Your Agile Team Unstuck! Tips and Tricks for Blasting Through Common Setbacks
  • Improve Your Retrospective Outcomes with Agile Kaizen

Now for the part you really came here for – I have been extended a special offer to share with you.  As a speaker, I can extend $400 savings on the 4-day package.

Register here: http://bit.ly/CHSPK08reg, the special discount code (CHSPK08) should pre-populate for you.

Amplify your knowledge at Visual Studio Live! Chicago — bring the issues that keep you up at night and prepare to leave this event with the answers, guidance and training you need.

Tags:

VS Live | VSTS | TFS | Agile | Scrum | Continuous improvement | DevOps | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | appl

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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

 

image

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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 Coder Conference is Next Week! Hope to see you there

by Angela 1. June 2016 16:41

There are a lot of conferences in Chicago this summer, well I suppose technically it’s still spring but from these temps you’d never know it! Anyway, I was invited to speak at Chicago Coder Conference this year (not to be confused with the awesome CCC = Chicago Code Camp conference), and I’d never really considered it before.  With all of the other conferences I am involved in and speaking at, it just hadn’t made the cut. I recently checked out their session list and holy cow are there some great people speaking, including a few of my coworkers. There is even a full day of hands-on sessions where you can dig in deep. It’s an seriously action-lacked 3 days. A few of the bigger names you might recognize are Doc Norton, Uncle Bob Martin, and Joel Tosi.

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the great topics being presented by some of the folks at Polaris Solutions, including yours truly:

 

Steven Contos

June 7, 2016 - Session 1 – Coding the Most Complex “Hello World” Program Ever Written and More Hyperbole

Room 600 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 AM

Florin Ciobanu

June 6, 2016 - Session 1 – Xamarin! The Babel Fish in the Developer’s Guide to the Mobile Apps

Room 621 from 10:00 AM  -  11:00 PM

Kevin Fitzpatrick

June 6, 2016 - Session 4 – Dear Coder: The Problem is Over Here!

Room 600 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

Angela Dugan

June 7, 2016 - Lunch & Learn – Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen!

Room 621 from 12:15 PM  -  1:15 PM

June 7, 2016  - Session 4 – Deconstructing the Scaled Agile Framework

Room 404 from 2:30 PM  -  3:30 PM

 

It’s not too late to sign up, and I may still have some discount codes I can share if you want to get in on it.  If you are interested, hit me up through the contact link on my blog for more info!

And while you’re in the mood to check out AMAZING local conferences, be sure to check out ThatConference!  I wrote a blog post about it here, including a great overview and some pictures. Check it out.  Hope to see you at Chicago Coder Conference next week, and at ThatConference in August!

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What Conference? ThatConference! That Joke is Getting Old But I Love It

by Angela 11. April 2016 13:02

Feels like just yesterday I was packing up and moving down another career path, and talking about this awesome conference with a funny name that was having it’s very first year. Can you believe it’s been almost 5 years?!  Well, here we are about to have our 5th ThatConference, and the call for speakers was a whirlwind, and we were blown away with the wide range of topics and subjects that people submit and voted on. This year is going to be so AWESOME! I know, I say that every year, but every year it’s true.

The speaker and session list includes an incredibly diverse range of topics. There are over 40 female speakers, and at least a dozen kid speakers so far - and the list of young campers speaking at the conference is still growing! You know, it’s one thing to be part of a successful conference, that feels really good. But it’s another to have a conference that incites such excitement that you have dozens of kids willing to roll up their sleeves and teach us all some great new skills. I just cannot get over that. I had neither the chutzpah nor the opportunity for something like that growing up, so I love that we can do that at ThatConference. If you missed the call for speakers, and you or your little ones are interested in speaking, keep in mind that we will have Open Spaces sessions to allow for spur of the moment talks.

Needless to say I am so proud to be a part of something like this, and am so grateful to be part of such a passionate and dedicated conference team – especially Clark and Carrie Sell. None of us knew what we were signing on to back in 2010 when the idea was born, including them I imagine Smile

Haven’t heard of ThatConference? Well, get on over to the conference website because I probably can’t do it justice. I hope you, and your family can make it this year! Early bird pricing is in effect, so be sure to grab your tickets and your rooms soon.  They won’t last – trust me on this!

Below are some fun pics from last year that I wanted to share as well, maybe you’ll see yourself in here Smile

Some fun times decorating badges:

11059778_1117004061661233_5205632739747645888_o

 

The amazing conference crew:

20150812867

 

Board game night!

WP_20150810_050

Our glorious stage (and leader!)

WP_20150810_028

Tags:

ThatConference | community | Cloud Computing | Azure | Mobile | Mobile development | Agile | Scrum | SDLC | web development

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FREE CQAA Webinar April 6th: Improve your Retrospectives with Agile Kaizen

by Angela 4. April 2016 07:56

I am doing a quick lunch-time webinar for CQAA this week Wednesday on how to improve your software team’s retrospectives with the Kaizen process. Check it out if you’re free!  And check out CQAA (Chicago Quality Assurance Association) as well, it is a great local organization focused on software quality and testing.

Description:

Continuous self-improvement of software teams is traditionally accomplished through 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!

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

Join Angela as she explains how you can use Kaizen to analyze and improve your retrospectives, regardless of your team’s process. She will begin with a brief review of what a retrospective is and walk through some examples of both healthy and unhealthy retrospective scenarios she has experienced herself. Angela will then explain the concept of Kaizen, the Kaizen process, and how you can leverage a Kaizen process to turn your retrospectives back into the effective continuous improvement tools they are meant to be!

Key Learning Objectives

Determining if your current agile retrospectives are effective

Learn Kaizen Burst techniques

Using Kaizen in agile retrospectives

About the Speaker (Hint: it’s ME! Smile)

Angela Dugan is the ALM Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions, a small technology consulting firm based out of Chicago and St. Louis. She has been in software development since 1999, including 5 years as an ALM Tools evangelist with Microsoft. Angela also runs the Chicago Visual Studio ALM user group, is an active organizer and speaker at several local conferences, is a Microsoft ALM MVP, and is both a Certified Scrum master and SAFe Program Consultant. Outside of wrangling TFS, Angela is an avid board gamer, an aspiring runner, and a Twitter addict. She lives in a 1910 house in Oak Park, Illinois that she is constantly working on/cursing at with her husband David.

Register now for this webinar!

 

The Chicago Quality Assurance Association, the Chicago Chapter of the QAI Global Institute is a nonprofit professional organization that was established in 1984 to promote quality principles and practices within Chicago-area companies. CQAA provides a forum for information professionals to present and discuss quality and process management within information systems, technology, and services.

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | Scrum | retrospectives | Agile

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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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Meetups, meetups, everywhere! But where do you start?

by Angela 24. February 2016 16:54

At our most recent Chicago ALM user group meeting I was approached by someone who was attending their very first technology meetup ever, and had chosen mine! I was glad to hear that he had really enjoyed the meeting and was looking for more technology focused meetups in the area.  I started talking about all of the groups I had recently discovered on Meetup.com and it turns out he had never heard of it. I had assumed he knew about it. Then I wondered, are there other people out there who haven’t discovered the awesomeness of Meetup.com? Maybe you already knew about it, maybe you didn’t, or maybe like me you signed up for an account some number of years ago and haven’t logged in for a while to see what’s new.

If you’ve never been on Meetup.com it would be worth signing up for a free account and seeing what else is in your local area that might be of interest to you.  Heck, there are plenty of meetups that aren't even work related that you might want to attend! It will ask you some questions about where you live, and what topics are interesting to you, and then as you join Meetup groups it learns about your preferences and suggests groups to you that it thinks you will like. Creepy and awesome right? The number of available meetups might be a little overwhelming at first, but here’s the thing - you can watch meetups to get a feel for what they talk about and who attends, so effectively stalking the meetup, before committing to attending it.

Here are just the agile related ones that I am signed up for right now. I wanted to share because maybe you’ve been wanting to find other groups that focus on agile related topics and wasn’t sure where to start.  And hey, if you have one that is not in my list please let me know!

Chicago ALM Meetup – OK, this is MY group and we’re not actually on Meetup.com but I feel like I have to talk about it on my own blog. We discuss a huge variety of topics around Application Lifecycle Management including DevOps strategies, ALM tools like TFS, and various agile practices like continuous integration, continuous deployment, and test automation. We meet in the downtown and Downers Grove Microsoft offices anout 8 times a year. Sign up to be notified of new events at the Chicago ALM user group website!

Chicago Agile Open Spaces meets the first Tuesdays of every month at 5:30pm in the Loop. Been to a few, really great bunch of people who know their stuff! Their next meeting is March 8th and they are talking about Success with: Distributed Teams / Remote Teams: http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-Agile-Open-Space/

The Chicago Agile Methodology Group meets the third Tuesday of every month at the Catalyst Ranch in west loop. Haven’t been to this one yet, kind of small still, but have some great topics coming up. Their next topic is March 15th on Getting Intentional About Rank and Power in Agile Organizations: http://www.meetup.com/The-Chicago-Agile-Methodology-Group/

Agile Professional Learning Network - This is one is interesting as it is marketed as "professional learning". I see a lot of my PMI contacts attending this one, likely because they meet in the same complex for their own meetups. And hey, NOT in the city for once! The meet the second Thursday of every month in the near northwest burbs (not far from Ohare), but I heard they may be moving closer to Schaumburg soon. Their next topic is Agile Tools vs Physical Boards: : http://www.meetup.com/APLN-Chicago/

Scaling Agile Chicago - This one is new, and is pretty exciting to me as someone who recently got their SPC. Also not in the city which may appeal to a few folks living in the MW suburbs. Seems like they are still figuring out their location and cadence.  The next meeting is SAFe 4.0 Primer, March 31 , Schaumburg Library:http://www.meetup.com/Scaling-Agile-Chicago/

Agile Project Management: I was really excited about this one, but they don't meet very often yet.  I am thinking about reaching out to them about presenting, maybe they just need some support.  http://www.meetup.com/ABOK-ORG/

Chicago Agile Project Management: The meet on the last Monday of the month at 5:30pm at ITA in the loop. Wondering if it replaced the one above, it seems a bit young as well, and this month's topic looks awesome! Alas I'll be on vacation so won't be able to attend myself: Rapid Quality in Agile 3.0  http://www.meetup.com/Chicago-APM/events/228704700/

 

There are meetups for darn near EVERYTHING, so whether you’re into programming in Ember, using Lean for delivering products, raising backyard chickens, reading SciFi books, or reading SciFi books about backyard chickens who prefer developing in Ember (You never know, it might be a thing!), there is a group for you. Apologies in advance if you lose the rest of the night spelunking through Meetup.com Smile

Tags:

community | meetups | Agile | Scrum | SAFe | Lean | Application Lifecycle Management | ALM

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