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SOLVED (Mostly): MTM Hangs When Opening a Shared Step in the Desktop Client

by Angela 1. September 2015 09:57

This was a real head scratcher, and like many others who have run into this, I spent MANY hours digging through trace logs, event logs, dump files trying to figure out what the heck was going on. It ended up being a really obscure issue with Text Display size.

Anyway, let’s back up. The issue I am describing is one where from within the Microsoft Test Manager client you attempt to open a Shared Step – either from a test case or from the Shared Steps Manger. In either scenario, the shared step opens and before the actual steps load MTM greys out, you see the spinning blue circle of doom, and see the dreaded (Not Responding) message in the title bar:

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Somewhere in the distance, a sad trombone plays softly…   I was seeing this issue across multiple versions of MTM, multiple operating systems, and against multiple TFS instances. But not everyone was seeing it. Only certain people with a wide variety of versions, update levels, and OSs. So I dig through the event log, looked at MTM trace logs, dump files from the Task Manager, repair MTM, clear cache files, etc. No change.

Then I turned to the MSDN forums.  After about 45 minutes of reading unrelated posts about various ways to hang up MTM, I finally ran across this. I though “No way! It couldn’t be something that obscure”. But I tried it, and lo and behold MTM stopped hanging. Truth be told I don’t even remember changing the text size, but I must have.  It’s so weird that this is the only thing it seemed to have hosed for me.

In case you’re seeing something similar and like me could not remember where the heck to make that change, right click the desktop and choose Screen Resolution then go to Make Text and Other items Larger or Smaller:
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Make sure you choose smaller - 100%, and perhaps buy some bifocals because now we are going to go blind trying to read tiny, tiny font. Be sure to log off and then log back in like the operating system tells you to.
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Now everything works as expected. I worked from home the next day, and CANNOT reproduce the issue. Making me wonder if it is because at home I do not have a second monitor. But other people running in second monitors cannot repro. Oy.

I have been working with the MTM product team to try to figure out the root cause, as this has been hard to pin down. I have a number of people who have different OS, MTM, and TFS versions, some of whom also run MTM in a second monitor – and ability to repro is inconsistent ::HEAD DESK::  If you feel like trying to reproduce this issue, leave me a comment and let me know what happened for you, and your OS/MTM/TFS version, if your text size is 100% or not, and if you are using a second monitor. Would love some more data points to throw at the debugging efforts.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Test Manager | MTM | TFS | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2010 | Test Case Management

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Remote Desktop Connection Manager – Making this TFS Admin Smile Every Day

by Angela 3. August 2015 12:49

So I regularly have a handful of RDC sessions open to administer the various servers that make up TFS on-premises instances including the application tier, data tier, build server, test controller, agents, etc. Doing this with the build in Remote Desktop Manager can be a bit cumbersome when you need to have quick and easy access to multiple servers at once. Sure there are lots of little tricks you can do with saved profiles and desktop shortcuts, but I needed something better. A coworker of mine turned me onto a free Microsoft tool called Remote Desktop Connection Manager. Maybe you already knew about it, if so keep reading anyway because I’ve discovered a few configuration settings that were totally necessary for making the tool really useful, particularly with multiple monitors where you can run into wacky issues with resolution.

First thing I did was create a profile, only this profile can save all of the settings for all of the servers you need to connect to for a given client. Need to switch clients, no problem, just choose a new profile and suddenly the view refreshes and the tree view has a whole new set of servers at your fingertips. Below is an example of my current client environment, complete with AT/DT, build, test controllers, and both automated and manual lab environment machines.

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Each server has its own settings including things like logon credentials, display settings, encryption, etc. Your best bet is to set most of these things at the root level, which then applies those same settings to all servers beneath it. HUGE for things like AD credentials where *generally* you are always logging in as you. Nice thing is, there’s a checkbox on every settings tab where you can turn inheritance on or off, in the cases where you may want to save a server profile with alternate credentials.

This does happen to me when I am troubleshooting controllers and agents, and need to login with a different level of permissions. In that case, I may have the same server in the tree multiple times, but each one uses different credentials to connect. And my alternate login profile will NOT inherit Login Credentials from the root. Super convenient, just double-click and you’re in!

image

A few other handy things that I recently learned are how to get it to ACTUALLY full screen. Again I set this at the root and inherit because I want all of my servers to act the same. Because I have a second monitor that is unfortunately not capable of the same resolution as my laptop, with the default settings I can’t really ever full screen mode the remote server, AND if I drag the remote viewer from one monitor to the other it freaks out. To prevent this, and keep the server window docked at full screen in whatever monitor it is in, setup your Display Settings like the following (the first two settings need to be checked):

image

The other thing I was constantly struggling with was navigating Servers running Win 8.0clients + or Server 2012. I use a track pad, and getting those charms to pop up and switching between the desktop and the tiles when you can’t just use the native keyboard windows key or charms menu could be really frustrating. If you want to make your life easier, make sure keystrokes are always sent to the remote computer. So in this case go to Local Resources, and make sure that Windows Key combos is set to “on the remote computer”.

image

I need to bring some donuts to my friendly local sysadmin for that nugget. I’m sure it’s well documented somewhere, but I had missed this one and it made a big difference for me!

 

That’s it. Hope that makes your life easier, whether you are a TFS admin or not Smile

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | ALM | TFS | TFS 2008 | TFS 2010 | TFS 2012 | TFS 2013 | TFS 2015 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server | Productivity

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Manually Changing Test Configurations in Bulk in MTM –There is an Easier Way

by Angela 12. June 2015 15:56

Another one of those silly little tricks I didn’t realize was available to me until I tried, and I thought I would share, because SURELY someone else out there would need it at some point.

Just ran into a situation where someone created a bunch of test configurations and made it their plan default, then started adding test cases like the wind.  Before we knew it, over 1,000 test points were generated! (175 test cases x 6 test configurations per test case = 1,050 test points) We really only needed one test point per test case, and the last thing I want testers doing is opening every single test and editing the configuration. Hello carpal tunnel! And I could certainly write some PowerShell to fix it too, but heck even that would take a decent time to write, test in a sandbox, run in production, etc. I figured there HAD to be a way we could quickly fix this manually. There were a LOT of test cases but only a few suites that they were all contained in. I’ll use my own test plan as an example of the steps performed to protect the innocent Smile

Here is a test plan that I am going to use as an example. And notice I am in the desktop client (against TFS 2013.4 specifically), there is not an easy way to do this in the web tools that I am aware of. I have a number of test cases with multiple configurations, and let’s say in this case I really just need a single configuration across all test cases for this plan.

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You can certainly just open each test case and select the appropriate configurations at the test CASE level, but imagine a suite with 100 test cases, that’s a LOT of clicks.

image

Of course we can also do this at the SUITE level, and not everyone knows this is even an option so I’ll call it out just in case:

image

image

So certainly saves you from opening each test case before you can select the configuration, but again, if there are 100 test cases in this suite that is STILL a lot of clicks.

Well, did you know you could use CTRL or SHIFT to highlight multiple, or even all test cases in this view? You do now.

image

At this point, the assumption is that you want all highlighted items to end up with the same configuration.  If you need to change 100 test cases in a suite to different combinations of configurations, well, I can’t really help you.  But if you need to set them all to the same value just highlight all of the relevant ones, click in the last column, and select the configurations you want to set them all to.  If it happens that you need them all back to the plan default, just hit Reset. BOOM!

 

Hope that saves you some aggravation down the road.  Especially if you are not in the position to write PowerShell, as many MTM users are not..

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | MTM | Microsoft Test Manager | Microsoft Test Professional | Quality Assurance | SDLC | TFS 2013 | TFS | Team Foundation Server | Test Case Management | Testing | Visual Studio

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Still Running TFS 2010? It’s Aging Out of Support Next Month. Polaris Solutions Can Help You Upgrade Quickly

by Angela 4. June 2015 12:04

You heard me correctly, mainstream support for TFS 2010 ends on July 14th, less than 6 weeks from today! So if you’re thinking “it still WORKS, why should I upgrade?” Consider these points…

  • Any issues arising with your server will NOT be patched or serviced by Microsoft support, and it will be harder and harder to find experienced people to work on it (well, who WANT to work on it)
  • Your infrastructure team may be chomping at the bit to stop supporting the old operating systems and SQL Server versions that TFS is running on
  • You’re missing out on some amazing new capabilities that it would take me hours to cover and that I promise will revolutionize the way you develop and deliver software
  • You attract great new talent by offering robust and modern development environments, trust me on this
  • I can tell you from a LOT of personal experience, that the longer you wait to upgrade, the harder and more time consuming it is!

The good news is that you may qualify for up to $5,000 worth of free services to help you plan and prepare for your upgrade through the Microsoft Deployment Planning Services program (DTDPS)! Wondering what that is? Below is a quick FAQ that I created to explain the program:

Now what exactly IS DTDPS? Well first of all it’s a Microsoft offering, so expect MANY acronyms to follow. DTDPS stands for Developer Tools Deployment Planning Services. Specifically, the development tools that these services are meant to be used in conjunction with are the Microsoft Visual Studio ALM platform - Team Foundation Server, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Test Manager (TFS, VS, and MTM for good measure). 

So what does this really do for me? While most people are already very familiar with Visual Studio from a .NET development perspective, many people who own the other tools within the TFS platform are not taking full advantage of them. DTDPS is the solution to this problem, connecting customers with the right partners to make sure they are getting the full value of their ALM investment. Software that sits on the shelf is a huge waste of money.  And from Microsoft’s perspective is something you’re not likely to buy again, so it is of course in their interest to offer such a program.

What kinds of services are included in DTDPS? Currently there are 4 DTDPS offerings available: TFS deployment planning assessment, Visual Studio Quality Tools assessment, Visual Studio Agile Deployment Assessment, and Visual Studio DevOps Deployment Assessment. You’ll notice a theme here, the word “planning”. These engagements are not meant to be used to implement the tools. Instead, they are short, fixed-length (3 and 5 days) engagements for gathering data and analyzing your current environment and needs in order for us to help you build a plan for implementation and adoption of Visual Studio and TFS ALM tooling. It’s a great kickstart and will drastically accelerate your ALM initiatives.

But what if I don’t need one of those services, but need other assistance with TFS? Well, it depends. I know, I know, typical consulting answer. These programs can be expanded upon to assist customers with other ALM related concerns, so drop me a line at the email I provide below, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you in more detail. 

Who delivers the engagement? DTDPS is a program delivered through certified and experienced ALM partners like Polaris Solutions to help customers with SA (Software Assurance) benefits to take full advantage of the tools they own.  We have delivered dozens of these engagements over the past few years and every customer we have worked with has been extremely happy with the valuable roadmaps that we delivered. You will benefit from a wealth of relevant experience and proven ALM practices that only comes from us having deployed and leveraged the tools in a large number of different environments and business verticals.

OK, I’m intrigued, but how expensive is it? It is FREE. Seriously, and absolutely.  This benefit is available to customers who purchase Microsoft products with SA, think of it as a rewards program. In fact, you may have DTDPS credits without knowing it!  Many of the customers I work with did not know they had DTDPS credits available until I turned them onto the program.

I want in! How do I sign up?  Start at the DTDPS site. Here you can peruse the various services available and see which ones are right for you and your organization.  Then check out the DTDPS QuickStart guide which walks you through the steps of accessing your benefits.  Then you just pick a partner to work with, like us, and you’re on your way to a better way of doing ALM!

 

If you are interested in learning more about DTDPS, or if you would like to find out more about getting a free quick assessment of the effort required to upgrade and the benefits that your team would enjoy, please contact me at Angela@PolarisSolutions.com. And if you know anyone still using an older version of TFS (anyone running TFS 2013 or earlier qualifies) help them out and point them to this blog!

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How a Pinterest Hack for FireFox broke my TFS Web Tooling

by Angela 11. May 2015 11:43

Because I am sure you ALL use Pinterest right? Whatever, you do, you can admit it. Anyway, I ran across a weird case where a grease monkey script that I was using to hack Pinterest caused really odd behavior with my TFS web tools, and surely one or more of you will have this happen to you, or one of your fellow TFS users.

I logged into my TFS web portal today, and all of a sudden the TFS web tools were acting REALLY weird. The Code, Build, and Test tabs worked fine, but anything related to areas/iterations or work items was blank. A good portion of the admin screens were blank too.

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First I panicked a little because we had been having some serious issues on the data tier and had to reboot the server. I couldn’t imagine what would have caused this to happen. I was a TFS admin with god rights, and I could see code, builds, and test plans. Then I confirmed it was just me, and then I also confirmed it was only in FireFox. Whew!!

I cleared my cache, restarted the browser, and rebooted, still busted.I figured it HAD to be something I changed in my browser settings, or maybe an update I recently installed. I couldn’t remember what I had changed in FF lately, then it came to me, I had added a grease monkey script over the weekend to remove all of the “picked for you” items from my main Pinterest feed. Because Pinterest is important. And reasons, shush you. Anyway, I turned it off and everything went back to normal. Yippee!

Here was the blog post with the grease monkey script that I had installed: http://bethmcmillan.com/blog/?p=1254. I haven’t had time yet to figure out exactly which part of the script was killing my TFS app. All I care about for now is I can work again.

So if you have Pinterest users who are also using TFS, this may happen to you.  Hopefully if it does, you remember my lesson learned instead of panicking and going down a rathole of troubleshooting that will lead you nowhere.

Tags:

Application Lifecycle Management | Visual Studio 2013 | Visual Studio | VSOnline | VS 2013 | TFS 2013 | TFS Administration | Team Foundation Server

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A Little Story about How PowerBI Got into My TFS

by Angela 9. April 2015 14:29

So a few months ago I ran into an old friend from my Software Architects days who now runs the BI practice at another local consulting firm here in Chicago. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd when it comes to data and analytics, and as he started to describe this cool new thing called PowerBI to me, I got this idea.  What if we found a way to use PowerBI to slice, dice, and analyze TFS data, specifically VSO?! We needed to figure it out, then share it with the world, because how cool would that be?!

 

Sadly, we quickly discovered that there was no VSO connector available yet for PowerBI, but that didn’t stop us. We figured out that we could use the Office 365 Power BI tools against an on-premise TFS database and do some pretty neat analytics.  To make sure it was something that anyone following along at home could recreate, we even used the data from the publicly available Brian Keller ALM demo image. We started by pulling in work item data, and created a few dashboards, the first being a basic work item overview dashboard:

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Once we created a few charts, the fun began. We could select work item types, teams/areas, and watch the data change. For instance, by simply clicking on a team (Devices), all of the charts on the page would refresh with the portion of them relevant to the selected team visible.Cool right? As someone who often managed a product portfolio in TFS, the ability to see the big picture and drill in with a matter of a click or two is really valuable!

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Now imagine the ability to show scatter graphs to highlight patterns in your data, geo spatial coordinate data to map out where certain events are happening, the possibilities are endless. Obviously there is a lot more to share about the capabilities of PowerBI and TFS. So fast forward to today. Tom and I just wrapped up our TFS + PowerBI webinar, and recorded it.  So if you missed it, watch the full video here to find out more about PowerBI and how it can be used to drill into TFS data. You can also get a copy of our slide deck here.

And stay tuned over the next few weeks for exciting announcements on how PowerBI will be capable of connecting to VSO!

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Microsoft Office | MSDN | o365 | Office 365 | PowerBI | SDLC | SQL Server | TFS | TFS 2013 | TFS Service | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2013 | VS 2013 | VSOnline

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FREE webinar on April 9th - Lifecycle Analytics with TFS 2013 and Office 365

by Angela 16. March 2015 13:34

More and more businesses that I work with rely on software for their growth and success, today more than ever before. But businesses often feel a lack of control and visibility around their software processes, and fail to achieve the agility and efficiencies needed to succeed.

Microsoft has revolutionized software Application Lifecycle Management with a robust and highly collaborative toolset focused on transparency, quality, and efficiency. Visual Studio ALM provides a powerful collaboration and automation platform in Team Foundation Server (TFS), while offering a wide variety of interfaces to TFS including Visual Studio, Microsoft Test Manager, cross-platform development tooling such as Eclipse, and Office.

Microsoft Power BI is a complete self-service business intelligence solution that can be used to visualize the patterns and trends in your TFS data.

Please join us for this free online webinar to learn how to harness the powerful integration and reporting capabilities available in this suite of Microsoft tools to not only manage your software ALM, but to improve it!

Key Experiences:

· Overview  of Visual Studio ALM

· Overview of Power BI

· Capturing the right data in TFS

· Applying analytics and business intelligence to inspect and improve your processes

When:   Thursday, April 9th from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Register Now

Presenters:

clip_image002Angela Dugan is the Microsoft ALM Practice Manager for Polaris Solutions.  She has been working in the software industry for 16 years, is a certified scrum master, and a Microsoft ALM MVP.

clip_image004Tom Jaskula is the Data Analytics Practice Manager for Peters & Associates and is the president of the Chicago BI PASS chapter.   He has been architecting and implementing solutions using Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Business Intelligence products for 16 years.

Tags:

ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | VS 2013 | Visual Studio | Visual Studio 2013 | Team Foundation Server | TFS 2013 | SQL Server | SQL Server 2012 | Business Intelligence | Office 365 | o365 | PowerBI

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Setting Default Values on a Readonly work item field in TFS 2013

by Angela 4. March 2015 14:07

It’s actually a bit more complicated than that… What I was trying to do was set the Assigned To field on a NEW work item to a particular person, and then lock it in.  So new work items of a specific type can only ever be assigned to a particular person… The Assigned to dropdown would only ever get the full list of team members after it was transitioned away from the New state.

I tried a lot of things that felt like they SHOULD have worked. It appeared that I could do either set a field default, or make it read-only, but not both.  Here are the things I tried:

  1. I tried setting the field itself to both have a default value and be read-only at the field definition level, but it appears as a read-only blank field.
  2. I tried setting the field to have the default value, then added a WHEN clause to the field to set it to read-only when System.State = new. It appears as a read-only blank field.
  3. I tried setting the field to be read-only, then added a WHEN clause to set the field Default value during the transition into the new state (see below). It appears as a read-only blank field.
  4. I tried setting the field to have the default value, then set the field to read-only during the transition into the new state (see below). It appears as a read-only blank field.
  5. I tried setting the Assigned to field to be both set with a default value, and set to read-only in the New transition. Nothing was set at the field level. It appears as a read-only blank field.

Is read-only always processed before default value rules are set regardless of how you do it? I wasn’t sure, and I did run across the order of operations docs and it does not address read-only. :: SIGH::

If I remove the Read-only rule from every approach, the field defaults properly, making me think what I want to do is just not supported.  After scouring a lot of MSDN documentation, I have no reason to think otherwise but when I find out for sure I’ll let you know. Anyone see something else I am doing wrong? Or know for sure if it is supported or not? If so, please let me know! It’s kind of driving me crazy.  In the meantime, I did think of a workaround.   Instead of making the field read-only, I reduced the valid choices in the drop down while the item is in the new state to the one person it can be.  Not exactly read-only, but they can't change it to another value so it is effectively read-only...

<FieldDefinition name="Assigned To" refname="System.AssignedTo" type="String" syncnamechanges="true" reportable="dimension">
  <ALLOWEXISTINGVALUE />
  <ALLOWEDVALUES expanditems="true">
    <LISTITEM value="[project]\Analysts" />
  </ALLOWEDVALUES>
  <DEFAULT from="value" value="Joy" />
  <VALIDUSER />
  <WHEN field="System.State" value="New">
    <ALLOWEDVALUES expanditems="true">
      <LISTITEM value="Joy" />
    </ALLOWEDVALUES>
  </WHEN>
</FieldDefinition>

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Chicago Code Camp returns to IIT in Chicago in 2015

by Angela 3. March 2015 17:42

So did you hear that Chicago Code Camp is returning to IIT in Chicago?! Very exciting news. And a much shorter commute for me Smile 

What is Chicago Code Camp? Really?! I hope that isn’t a serious question. It’s a fantastic 1-day event! Here is the blurb from the website, because I don’t know that I can sum it up much better than this:

Chicago Code Camp is a community event where developers learn from fellow developers. The one day polyglot code camp's goals are for developer to share ideas, learn from one another, and then develop upon topics of interests that were discovered during events. Our topics from previous years included development (and/or trending practices) in .net, java, open sourced frameworks, web, mobile, cloud, robotics, testing, soft skills, agile and scrum practices, and more.

Sessions range from informal talks and panel discussions to formal presentations. There will be a mix of presenters – some experienced speakers with years in the industry, some that may be speaking in public for the first time, as well as students and first time developers. We are expecting to see people from throughout Midwest region and beyond.

2015 will be our 7th year of Chicago Code Camp and we are happy to return to the City of Chicago and to the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Call for speakers is OPEN so be sure to submit your best ideas! And keep in mind that we do get a lot of submissions, and voting is blind, so bonus points for very detailed submissions and creative content.

 

Lastly, and most importantly because this is a community supported event, there are also sponsorship opportunities. If you are looking to support the community, maybe even use the opportunity to do some networking, advertising, and recruiting of some great local talent, this is a great one to consider! Sponsorship opportunities start at just $500. Find out more on the Sponsors page.

 

 

***********UPDATE**********

Registration is now open, and the event is, as it always has been, completely FREE!

Tags:

.NET | Agile | ALM | Application Lifecycle Management | Azure | C# | Chicago Code Camp | Cloud Computing | DevOps | Mobile | Mobile development | Release Management | SDLC | Team Foundation Server | Testing | TFS 2013 | Visual Studio | VS 2013

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Polaris Solutions Holding an ALM Lunch and Learn on Agile Testing Success in St Louis Next Month

by Angela 24. February 2015 14:39

    Our St Louis office is holding a Lunch n Learn at the local Microsoft office in March. Agile testing is a challenge for most software teams, especially larger organizations with well-established QA groups and processes. Learn from one of our resident agile testing experts at the free event!

    More details:

    Description: If you are either planning to or are already practicing agile software development, Team Foundation Server (TFS) and Microsoft Test Manager (MTM) offer you a powerful platform to successfully plan, manage and execute agile testing.

    During this free lunch session we will cover in detail the different testing capabilities offered by TFS 2013 and MTM for Scrum and Agile methodologies, and will also share what we have learned from helping our clients as they implemented and matured their agile testing practices.

    Key Experiences:

    • The evolved role of testing in Agile Projects

    • Iteration test planning techniques

    • Test tracking with TFS and MTM

    • Different approaches to bug management

    • Test automation Do’s and Don’ts

    • Testing metrics that are worth measuring

    • Exploratory testing strategies

    • Best practices & lessons learned in the field

      Complimentary lunch will be provided to registered attendees.

      Presenter: Alejandro Ramirez is a Software Quality professional and Senior Consultant with Polaris Solutions. He has over 17 years of experience working in software in development, testing, and IT governance. His experiences range from small businesses, startups and non-profits, to Fortune 500 corporations in a variety of fields. He is certified in ITIL and Lean. He is also a blogger, speaker, mobility champion, and helps companies incorporate ALM strategies to continuously deliver valuable software.

      When: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (CDT)

      Where: Microsoft Corporation, 3 Cityplace Drive Suite 1100 Creve Coeur, MO 63141

       

      Register for this Polaris Solutions event today!

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