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How Jira Align Helps Business Agility for Safe

If you consider Enterprise Agility as a modern-day steam engine, then JIRA Align is one of the pistons powering enough pressure into the engine, to drive the required business outcomes in the market. JIRA Align helps unlock the agility of an enterprise by connecting the dots between business strategy and technical execution. An integrated agile platform, JIRA Align is built on a lean foundation with agile features powering teams from the ground up.  In today’s article, we will be exploring what makes JIRA Align one of the top leaders in its space today.  What is Jira Align?  Jira Align is, simply stated, JIRA software on steroids! It can be called Atlassian’s one-stop solution for organizations looking to onboard the Enterprise Agility train, running full steam. It is an immensely useful tool that can be adopted for planning agile initiatives at an Enterprise level.  While JIRA software which is more commonly in use, is a tool that benefits us to be Agile, its functions are more suitable at a team level; and get a bit complicated if the functions had to scale up across multiple teams. JIRA Align helps sort this out by aggregating team level data across the business function and aligning every team to the overall vision. It has the capability to visualize the data across your enterprise depending on which role you are playing and how you would like to view the data.  For example, if you were a Product Owner and would like to track progress on the roadmap being delivered by 10 different teams, JIRA Align is for you!   “Our mission at Jira Align is to Simplify Software at Scale by bringing your business and your software development organization together in one intuitive platform.” – Atlassian, JIRA Align initiative.  What is Enterprise Agility and why is it so important to my organization? For many Enterprises Agile / Agility, is just a mere buzzword; one amongst the many that are out there in the market. However, for more serious eyes it represents an opportunity, a stepping stone to be prepared for ‘Success’. Enterprise agility is a state whereby an organization is able to adapt when the circumstances in which it operates change rapidly. The feedback-based environment, with a level playing field, allows the enterprise to respond to changes in a timely manner, in the true Agile sense.  Why Jira Align?  If your organization is looking for a SWIFT journey towards Enterprise Agility then JIRA Align is the tool you need to adopt. It helps the executives and leadership team to track and make sure that their trams and business function are working towards and delivering the same enterprise value. This is a fascinating tool that brings together Enterprise Strategy, Product Management and Execution. It has managed to add various levels in it like Themes, Initiative, Solution, Program, Team etc., and clearly connects how they all flow into each other to achieve Enterprise Agility. Strategic Alignment:JIRA Align was named a leader in the latest assessment of Enterprise agile planning tools by Gartner Magic Quadrant (2021). It helps teams extend their planning and co-ordination at various levels within the organization.Work Transparency:Making work progress visible across your Enterprise— and that too in real time — is one of the key features of Jira Align. By creating an integrated view, it helps break down company silos and bridge the gap between technology and business teams. It provides that single source of truth to the leaders and executives of how their product is emerging and when it will be ready for launch.Innovation:    By looking at the bird's eye view of the enterprise, JIRA Align helps in optimizing the value streams and thereby uncovering opportunities for innovative ideas to flow.  Flexibility & Security:   It allows flexibility for multiple teams to thrive, co-ordinate and operate out of a single Program board while tracking their collective progress towards the next quarterly increment. This is irrespective of the framework or technology the teams operate in. JIRA Align also commits to the highest level of security bolstering security safeguards and, most importantly, forging the trust between operations and products. What an absolute win-win, isn’t it? Transformation via connected teams: Transformation starts when the teams are connected and can together imagine the greater vision. JIRA Align helps in getting real time visibility of component dependencies with the other teams and helps planning to be that much simpler. The feature board present in this tool is completely auto dynamic and creates a huge difference in the transformation for the portfolio and enterprise layers. Improved Cost savings: Lack of work alignment may result in what Atlassian calls as ‘Orphaned Features’. These features have somehow lost the focus that was originally envisaged and have been missed out in the delivery phases. Such features are a risk to cost and may emerge very late in the product launch, thereby becoming a budget management nightmare. At JIRA Align, an orphaned feature dashboard is offered which will help overcome this issue.How does Jira Align support and benefit SAFe in my organizationJira Align surprisingly blends in very well with SAFe. It works well with small organizations with Essential SAFe, right up to large enterprises looking to improve Business Agility with Full SAFe. It also benefits each and every role within the organization; be it a Scrum Master, a Release Train Engineer or a Portfolio Manager.  Some of the points that stand out are as below:  Simplified PI planning: In the current situation where remote PI planning is the need of the hour, the lack of an appropriate tool to help support this was a big problem statement. JIRA Align helps close this gap by providing features which carry out critical activities integral to a successful PI planning. It helps in both preparing and successfully executing the PI planning activity. It helps with consolidated feature estimation aligning & visualizing business values across the teams, tracks dependencies in a dedicated manner using dependency maps, risk highlighting etc. The program predictability report at the end of the activity allows the POs to visualize how successful the PI will be. DevOps pipeline: The tool also allows teams to build a common pipeline that can be utilized for teams running on the same tech stack, thereby automating the program components, helping reduce dependencies and improving time to market. It also helps with the overall DevOps management by allowing to build a Kanban board to visualize the DevOps pipeline in the first instance.  Training and benchmarking progress: SPCs and Agile coaches can utilize the assessments feature built into JIRA Align to make sure every team member has a common understanding of the vision and helps produce quantified assessments to help and guide with improvement areas.  Role based metrics and dashboard: If you are a Release Train Engineer and would like to understand how your teams are progressing against the PI, how would you do it currently? Probably visit each team’s dashboard individually? However, this may not give the full picture. Even if all teams report good progress against their own dashboard, it does not mean that they have sorted out dependencies and can integrate after the sprint. That’s where JIRA Align comes in handy. It gives the RTE a dedicated dashboard providing a consolidated multi-tier view of the progress across teams. For example, a burn down chart across teams.  Lean Budgeting: The Portfolio Room in JIRA Align helps with allocating lean budgets to the teams associated with the PI. It also helps with financial reporting especially if you are keen on understanding how the spend is spread across the teams.  Accelerating Value delivery: Most importantly, JIRA Align helps with direct feedback with the customer using the Ideation Zone, thereby allowing a continuous improvement mindset to flourish and accelerating value delivery. What other frameworks does Jira Align support?As mentioned earlier, JIRA Align offers a very flexible support for various agile frameworks. Atlassian claims that JIRA Align is the one and only platform that allows the organization to adopt any scaled framework, be it a standard one or a hybrid one. Frameworks that are supported include the following,  SAFe LeSS DaD Scrum at Scale Spotify These super popular frameworks can easily align with the JIRA Align tool. However, the beauty is that it not only supports these frameworks, it also allows the organization to mix and match a hybrid model as they evolve and transform in the Enterprise Agile journey.What type of Industries can Benefit from Jira Align?JIRA Align has a varied set of customers across multiple industries. Most importantly JIRA Align has its Software as a Service in very highly reputed and regulated industries like Banking, Financials and Insurance. Atlassian has worked with some of the biggest enterprises around the world to address their scaling concerns and deploy Jira Align in the cloud. Regardless of the industry your organization operates in, and as long as it involves rapid software development, required at a scaled level and willing to move to a cloud environment, JIRA Align will suit you just as well!  How does Jira Align compare to other platforms?According to Gartner, Azure Boards, GitHub, Rally, Jile etc are some of the main competitors and alternatives that could be considered. However, most of the reviewers on Gartner have given JIRA Align a higher rating due to the following reasons.  Better at service and support Easier to integrate and deployBetter evaluation and contracting Also, as highlighted earlier, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools report for 2021 has mentioned that JIRA Align has a competitive edge over other alternatives. Key strengths highlighted in the report are as below,  Atlassian’s Jira Align provides end-to-end visibility, traceability and insight into the flow of all product delivery processes, tying that all back through the value stream for efficiency. How long does it take to implement Jira Align?Gartner predicts that Jira Align has a very modern and intuitive user interface (UI), but at the same time it is really complex and vast, and it may take some time to optimize the Jira Align implementation in an organization. Atlassian recommends that Jira Align customers should purchase configuration and training services to get them a solid start with JIRA Align. While Jira Align has primarily been sold as a cloud-based solution, there is also an on-premises version for customers with regulatory requirements.  From a timeline perspective, getting accustomed to JIRA Align and getting the team trained on its use will take an organization anywhere from 2-3 months, depending upon the number of employees and organization size.How do I learn if Jira Align is right for my organization?Atlassian recommends that enterprise organizations of over 1,000 people are generally the best fit for Jira Align. You may also be a good fit for Jira Align if you: Are working to align the work of teams, programs, and portfolios Are working with leadership to standardize tooling and reporting across many agile teams (50+) Would like to visualize and align the work of multiple programs or ARTs across your organization Are connecting the work of teams to strategy and funding at the portfolio level Are using a scaled agile framework or are creating your own to enable an agile/digital transformation Conclusion: Jira Align is one of the most widely used Enterprise Agile planning tools, thanks to the wide variety of features that it has to offer. It has a strong market understanding with the recognition of the need for business agility, supporting hybrid models of scaling and an enterprise grade security and data governance. As a leader in the Gartner’s Magic quadrant, JIRA Align is surely a tool not to be missed if you are moving towards Enterprise Agility.   
How Jira Align Helps Business Agility for Safe
KnowledgeHut

How Jira Align Helps Business Agility for Safe

If you consider Enterprise Agility as a modern-day steam engine, then JIRA Align is one of the pistons powering enough pressure into the engine, to drive the required business outcomes in the market. JIRA Align helps unlock the agility of an enterprise by connecting the dots between business strategy and technical execution. An integrated agile platform, JIRA Align is built on a lean foundation with agile features powering teams from the ground up.  In today’s article, we will be exploring what makes JIRA Align one of the top leaders in its space today.  What is Jira Align?  Jira Align is, simply stated, JIRA software on steroids! It can be called Atlassian’s one-stop solution for organizations looking to onboard the Enterprise Agility train, running full steam. It is an immensely useful tool that can be adopted for planning agile initiatives at an Enterprise level.  While JIRA software which is more commonly in use, is a tool that benefits us to be Agile, its functions are more suitable at a team level; and get a bit complicated if the functions had to scale up across multiple teams. JIRA Align helps sort this out by aggregating team level data across the business function and aligning every team to the overall vision. It has the capability to visualize the data across your enterprise depending on which role you are playing and how you would like to view the data.  For example, if you were a Product Owner and would like to track progress on the roadmap being delivered by 10 different teams, JIRA Align is for you!   “Our mission at Jira Align is to Simplify Software at Scale by bringing your business and your software development organization together in one intuitive platform.” – Atlassian, JIRA Align initiative.  What is Enterprise Agility and why is it so important to my organization? For many Enterprises Agile / Agility, is just a mere buzzword; one amongst the many that are out there in the market. However, for more serious eyes it represents an opportunity, a stepping stone to be prepared for ‘Success’. Enterprise agility is a state whereby an organization is able to adapt when the circumstances in which it operates change rapidly. The feedback-based environment, with a level playing field, allows the enterprise to respond to changes in a timely manner, in the true Agile sense.  Why Jira Align?  If your organization is looking for a SWIFT journey towards Enterprise Agility then JIRA Align is the tool you need to adopt. It helps the executives and leadership team to track and make sure that their trams and business function are working towards and delivering the same enterprise value. This is a fascinating tool that brings together Enterprise Strategy, Product Management and Execution. It has managed to add various levels in it like Themes, Initiative, Solution, Program, Team etc., and clearly connects how they all flow into each other to achieve Enterprise Agility. Strategic Alignment:JIRA Align was named a leader in the latest assessment of Enterprise agile planning tools by Gartner Magic Quadrant (2021). It helps teams extend their planning and co-ordination at various levels within the organization.Work Transparency:Making work progress visible across your Enterprise— and that too in real time — is one of the key features of Jira Align. By creating an integrated view, it helps break down company silos and bridge the gap between technology and business teams. It provides that single source of truth to the leaders and executives of how their product is emerging and when it will be ready for launch.Innovation:    By looking at the bird's eye view of the enterprise, JIRA Align helps in optimizing the value streams and thereby uncovering opportunities for innovative ideas to flow.  Flexibility & Security:   It allows flexibility for multiple teams to thrive, co-ordinate and operate out of a single Program board while tracking their collective progress towards the next quarterly increment. This is irrespective of the framework or technology the teams operate in. JIRA Align also commits to the highest level of security bolstering security safeguards and, most importantly, forging the trust between operations and products. What an absolute win-win, isn’t it? Transformation via connected teams: Transformation starts when the teams are connected and can together imagine the greater vision. JIRA Align helps in getting real time visibility of component dependencies with the other teams and helps planning to be that much simpler. The feature board present in this tool is completely auto dynamic and creates a huge difference in the transformation for the portfolio and enterprise layers. Improved Cost savings: Lack of work alignment may result in what Atlassian calls as ‘Orphaned Features’. These features have somehow lost the focus that was originally envisaged and have been missed out in the delivery phases. Such features are a risk to cost and may emerge very late in the product launch, thereby becoming a budget management nightmare. At JIRA Align, an orphaned feature dashboard is offered which will help overcome this issue.How does Jira Align support and benefit SAFe in my organizationJira Align surprisingly blends in very well with SAFe. It works well with small organizations with Essential SAFe, right up to large enterprises looking to improve Business Agility with Full SAFe. It also benefits each and every role within the organization; be it a Scrum Master, a Release Train Engineer or a Portfolio Manager.  Some of the points that stand out are as below:  Simplified PI planning: In the current situation where remote PI planning is the need of the hour, the lack of an appropriate tool to help support this was a big problem statement. JIRA Align helps close this gap by providing features which carry out critical activities integral to a successful PI planning. It helps in both preparing and successfully executing the PI planning activity. It helps with consolidated feature estimation aligning & visualizing business values across the teams, tracks dependencies in a dedicated manner using dependency maps, risk highlighting etc. The program predictability report at the end of the activity allows the POs to visualize how successful the PI will be. DevOps pipeline: The tool also allows teams to build a common pipeline that can be utilized for teams running on the same tech stack, thereby automating the program components, helping reduce dependencies and improving time to market. It also helps with the overall DevOps management by allowing to build a Kanban board to visualize the DevOps pipeline in the first instance.  Training and benchmarking progress: SPCs and Agile coaches can utilize the assessments feature built into JIRA Align to make sure every team member has a common understanding of the vision and helps produce quantified assessments to help and guide with improvement areas.  Role based metrics and dashboard: If you are a Release Train Engineer and would like to understand how your teams are progressing against the PI, how would you do it currently? Probably visit each team’s dashboard individually? However, this may not give the full picture. Even if all teams report good progress against their own dashboard, it does not mean that they have sorted out dependencies and can integrate after the sprint. That’s where JIRA Align comes in handy. It gives the RTE a dedicated dashboard providing a consolidated multi-tier view of the progress across teams. For example, a burn down chart across teams.  Lean Budgeting: The Portfolio Room in JIRA Align helps with allocating lean budgets to the teams associated with the PI. It also helps with financial reporting especially if you are keen on understanding how the spend is spread across the teams.  Accelerating Value delivery: Most importantly, JIRA Align helps with direct feedback with the customer using the Ideation Zone, thereby allowing a continuous improvement mindset to flourish and accelerating value delivery. What other frameworks does Jira Align support?As mentioned earlier, JIRA Align offers a very flexible support for various agile frameworks. Atlassian claims that JIRA Align is the one and only platform that allows the organization to adopt any scaled framework, be it a standard one or a hybrid one. Frameworks that are supported include the following,  SAFe LeSS DaD Scrum at Scale Spotify These super popular frameworks can easily align with the JIRA Align tool. However, the beauty is that it not only supports these frameworks, it also allows the organization to mix and match a hybrid model as they evolve and transform in the Enterprise Agile journey.What type of Industries can Benefit from Jira Align?JIRA Align has a varied set of customers across multiple industries. Most importantly JIRA Align has its Software as a Service in very highly reputed and regulated industries like Banking, Financials and Insurance. Atlassian has worked with some of the biggest enterprises around the world to address their scaling concerns and deploy Jira Align in the cloud. Regardless of the industry your organization operates in, and as long as it involves rapid software development, required at a scaled level and willing to move to a cloud environment, JIRA Align will suit you just as well!  How does Jira Align compare to other platforms?According to Gartner, Azure Boards, GitHub, Rally, Jile etc are some of the main competitors and alternatives that could be considered. However, most of the reviewers on Gartner have given JIRA Align a higher rating due to the following reasons.  Better at service and support Easier to integrate and deployBetter evaluation and contracting Also, as highlighted earlier, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Agile Planning Tools report for 2021 has mentioned that JIRA Align has a competitive edge over other alternatives. Key strengths highlighted in the report are as below,  Atlassian’s Jira Align provides end-to-end visibility, traceability and insight into the flow of all product delivery processes, tying that all back through the value stream for efficiency. How long does it take to implement Jira Align?Gartner predicts that Jira Align has a very modern and intuitive user interface (UI), but at the same time it is really complex and vast, and it may take some time to optimize the Jira Align implementation in an organization. Atlassian recommends that Jira Align customers should purchase configuration and training services to get them a solid start with JIRA Align. While Jira Align has primarily been sold as a cloud-based solution, there is also an on-premises version for customers with regulatory requirements.  From a timeline perspective, getting accustomed to JIRA Align and getting the team trained on its use will take an organization anywhere from 2-3 months, depending upon the number of employees and organization size.How do I learn if Jira Align is right for my organization?Atlassian recommends that enterprise organizations of over 1,000 people are generally the best fit for Jira Align. You may also be a good fit for Jira Align if you: Are working to align the work of teams, programs, and portfolios Are working with leadership to standardize tooling and reporting across many agile teams (50+) Would like to visualize and align the work of multiple programs or ARTs across your organization Are connecting the work of teams to strategy and funding at the portfolio level Are using a scaled agile framework or are creating your own to enable an agile/digital transformation Conclusion: Jira Align is one of the most widely used Enterprise Agile planning tools, thanks to the wide variety of features that it has to offer. It has a strong market understanding with the recognition of the need for business agility, supporting hybrid models of scaling and an enterprise grade security and data governance. As a leader in the Gartner’s Magic quadrant, JIRA Align is surely a tool not to be missed if you are moving towards Enterprise Agility.   
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How Jira Align Helps Business Agility for Safe

If you consider Enterprise Agility as a modern-da... Read More

ITIL vs Agile: Make Right Choice for Your DevOps Career

Speed, agility and efficient use of technology has always been a challenge across organizations with complex IT environments. There is an unarguable need to go digital, and to do that, enterprises find that they must scale up and align the scope of their IT services—while at the same time managing to stay on top of the evolving business landscape. Agility and IT go hand in hand. Business agility cannot be achieved without innovative and agile infrastructural support, and organizations must put in considerable effort to upgrade their IT services and boost their tech capabilities. DevOps practices have been proven to alleviate the challenges associated with making IT work to realize business objectives. By integrating processes, people and tech to generate continuous value, DevOps has succeeded in increasing capabilities of delivering high-quality products and services quickly. The  DevOps global market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.6 % to reach USD 12.85 billion in the next 5 years (Grand View Research) and DevOps engineers are much in demand across industries and sectors. If you’re seeking a career in DevOps, which certification should you undertake: ITIL® Vs Agile? Let’s find out. What Is ITIL?Source Link: axelos.comTIL (an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a framework that codifies the best practices, processes and mindsets required for a software organization to deliver value through IT services. It deals with an end-to-end operating model that encompasses the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of IT services and products. ITIL has gone through many successive revisions, and the most recently updated version is ITIL 4. ITIL 4 is based on seven guiding principles that include:  Focus on value Start where you are Progress iteratively with feedback Collaborate and promote visibility Think and work holistically Keep it simple and practical Optimize and automate These principles guide all ITSM decisions and actions, and are the basis behind ITIL’s suggested best practices. ITIL 4 incorporates new practices that have been adopted in the decade since the last version refresh; such as Agile, DevOps and Lean IT.What Is Agile?Source Link: invensislearning.comA methodology that is fast growing in popularity, Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams to succeed in the face of volatile markets, delivering quality products and services to their customers. The work is carried out in small iterations, and requirements and plans are inspected and evaluated at the end of each cycle so that changes can be factored in as and when needed. Agile is built upon twelve foundational principles that were first outlined in the Agile Manifesto. These principles encapsulate the thinking behind Agile. They are: The highest priority of Agile teams is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. The customer is at the centre of all processes. Agile teams welcome changing requirements, even if they come in very late in the development journey. Agile processes harness change and can adapt in order to deliver competitive advantage. There is frequent delivery of working software, through iterations that range from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. The shorter timescale is always preferred. Agile emphasizes collaboration, and businesspeople and developers must work together daily throughout the project. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who are empowered with the environment and support they need and are trusted to get the job done. Face-to-face conversation is the most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team. Progress must be measured and communicated, and working software is the primary measure of progress. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a consistent pace through the project. Agility enables continuous improvement, with a focus on technical excellence and good design. Agile teams have simplicity at their core. Simplicity is defined as the art of maximizing the amount of work not done and prompts just-in-time development. Teams are self-managed and cross functional. The Manifesto states that ‘the best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. The team sits together at regular intervals to inspect the work done and reflect on how to become more effective. They then recalibrate and adjust their behaviour accordingly. There are many methodologies that come under the Agile umbrella, such as Scrum, Kanban, XP and DSDM. All these methods follow the Agile values: Individuals and interactions (are preferred) over processes and tools  Working software (is preferred) over comprehensive development  Customer collaboration (is preferred) over negotiations  Responding to change frequently (is preferred) to following a plan ITIL Vs Agile – the Key Differences In the DevOps world, the choice between ITIL and Agile has become a topic that is hotly debated. Both methodologies are quite different, even though they have the same end goal: that of creating and delivering value, while optimizing resources.  As ITIL has now transitioned from Version 3 to ITIL 4, it has kept a pace with the speed of today’s businesses. There is, therefore, a visible shift from rigid processes to more flexible, seamless experiences. ITIL 4 has embodied the principles of Agile and offers a more holistic frame of reference to ITSM. The key differences between ITIL and Agile are laid out in the table below:ITILAgileFocuses on processes and practicesAgile is a group of practices based on core values and principlesITIL follows predefined traditionsAgile is innovativeITIL 4 is in sync with Agile practicesAgile embraces and responds to changeITIL does not seek feedback from end usersAgile teams believe in continual feedback, and improve their processes and the product after each iterationITIL requires comprehensive documentationAgile believes in minimal documentation, only when needed and just enoughITIL lays more emphasis on processes than on the customer, and believes that customer value is created by following the right methodology to fulfil SLAs (service level agreements)Agile is customer-focusedITIL creates a stable and sustainable IT environmentAgile has a flexible environment that supports changeHead-to-Head Comparison Between ITIL and AgileITIL and Agile are both essential to the creation of business value. However, while Agile looks at improving the delivery of products or services, ITIL is focused on streamlining processes and practices. Both are complementary components of DevOps, which works to seamlessly integrate the interaction and flow between the two IT functions of development and operations. By blending together the key points of both frameworks, a successful DevOps culture can be built.Can You Integrate Agile and ITIL?As technologies keep evolving and organizations step up to stay ahead of these advancements, IT teams find themselves at the centre of transformations. Technologies like cloud computing, AI and IoT have fuelled innovative ways of working, which require agility in order to embrace the transformative changes necessitated by the industry.  Both Agile and ITIL have always focused on building products or services that meet customer needs and deliver high quality. They believe in keeping processes simple, acting quickly and streamlining value delivery—together offering a blueprint that maximizes the creation of value. With the advent of ITIL 4, the ITIL framework had added Agility to the framework, in a transition that has proven to be a gamechanger. ITIL 4 embraces Agile and DevOps ways of working, and encourages a collaborative, iterative, and customer-centric approach to ITSM. ITIL 4 nudges teams toward a new frame of reference that is customer-centric and adapts more easily to what teams need, and how they work. The most radical change that ITIL 4 has brought about to enable this shift is the concept of the Service Value Chain (SVS), which represents the interlinked set of activities that must be undertaken to create highly valuable products and services that are closely aligned to customer expectations. Along the way, inefficiencies, redundancies and bottlenecks are eliminated, improving delivery speed and optimizing resource allocation. Value and value-based tools are given an overarching emphasis in ITIL 4, with Lean thinking driving co-creation of value. By seamlessly aligning Agile and ITIL to drive DevOps, organizations can pave the way to quality services with quick turnaround times. The Last Word Today’s businesses are in a state of constant change with advancements in technologies also happening at warp speed. This unpredictability needs to be reined in to create stability, while at the same time allowing for enough flexibility in order to adapt to the evolving changes. A combination of ITIL and Agile offers the best solution for business service management solutions. A DevOps approach that merges ITIL’s best practices with the smooth change management enabled by Agile, offers the perfect recipe for business success in an uncertain world. 
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ITIL vs Agile: Make Right Choice for Your DevOps C...

Speed, agility and efficient use of technology has... Read More

What Is an Agile Environment? Explained With Example

As more and more companies choose to go the Agile way, there is growing appreciation for the many transformational benefits that this innovative suite of methods can provide.Agile represents a radical deviation from traditional, siloed project management processes. It does away with legacy systems and processes, infusing flexibility and the willingness to embrace change. With a network of cross-functional teams working in tandem to deliver products and services that are closely aligned to the changing expectations from the market, Agile is guaranteed to deliver fast, optimize resources and maximize value. The first step in adopting an Agile operating model is to set the stage, laying a foundation where flexibility, innovation and adaptability can thrive—the Agile environment. How can your organization create a fluid environment that fosters the Agile mindset and easily aligns itself with change? Let’s find out. Being AgileAt its core, Agility is much more than a set of principles and processes; and in order to reap the benefits of this methodology, it’s very important to get everyone on board with the Agile mindset. What this means, is that in order to do Agile, you must first be agile. What, exactly, does this mean? The dictionary defines Agility as ‘the ability to move quickly and easily’. And this is indeed the essence of what being Agile is all about.  Simply stated, Agility in project management is the ability to move quickly, easily and adapt to changing circumstances. When project requirements change, the team must analyse the change and course-correct as needed so that they can keep on top of customer needs.  In order to do all this, they must be on board with the Agile mindset. As Steve Denning, author of the book The Age of Agile, put it: “(Agile) is a shift in mindset from a top-down bureaucratic hierarchical approach to a very different way of thinking about and acting in organizations. If you have don’t have the Agile mindset you are going to get it wrong.” What this entails is a complete shift in the ways we think and the ways we do things. When the team blindly follows processes without understanding and internalising the core Agile values, the Agile transformation is unlikely to succeed. What Makes an Agile Environment? Agile follows four values, which inform and guide all the processes and practices in an Agile environment. These are: Individuals and interactions over Processes and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan As stated in the Manifesto, it's not that the items on the right are not valued! It's just that the items on the left are valued more, and that’s what brings about agility. An agile environment, therefore, is one that fosters and supports a culture that encourages teams to work collaboratively toward achieving goals, while implementing the Agile framework and following its values and principles.  Agile environments help teams to be nimble, accept change and adapt to evolving requirements, thus bringing in innovation and creativity in the development lifecycle. An Agile environment will ensure that Agile values are followed.Characteristics of Agile EnvironmentsFocus on customerAgile approaches have the customer squarely in focus at all times. Customer needs are emphasized and the team’s highest priority is to satisfy the customer through quick, early deliveries of incremental value. Stakeholder feedback is solicited at every stage and is incorporated into subsequent iterations. By keeping all those who matter in the loop, customer satisfaction is guaranteed.Embracing changeAgile is all about embracing change. Even late in the development cycle, if there is a change in requirements or features, the team should retract their steps and accommodate the change, rather than stick to a rigid, predefined plan. The team is required to be nimble, adapt and pivot to embrace new, evolving circumstances.Leaving room for innovation Agile does not apply a cookie cutter method to project management; rather, it allows room for flexibility and innovation. Agile teams work in close collaboration, brainstorming to find solutions and working as a team to come up with innovative ideas. Agile fuels new ways of thinking, and comes up with brilliant, ingenuous products and services that are a cut above the competition. Focus on process improvement Agile methods are a natural choice for projects where high quality is a key focus. Agile techniques help teams to improve their processes in a continual cycle, where they inspect, reflect and adapt themselves at the end of each iteration. Process improvement events such as Reviews and Retrospectives are built into each cycle, and teams enhance and deliver value at every stage. Working in iterations The iterative approach taken by Agile focuses on delivering incremental value in stages, rather than all at once in the end as was the case with traditional processes. Each iteration is timeboxed, typically with 2-week cycles, and there is a release of value at the end of each cycle. The product is therefore successively refined and its quality is continually enhanced. Collaboration Agile teams all work together collaboratively toward a shared common goal. They do this through shared responsibilities and accountability to deliver products of value and high quality, as a team. Right from defining tasks and estimating effort to developing, testing and releasing, the team is closely aligned with each other in meeting the shared objectives.Examples of Agile EnvironmentsAn example of an organization that has successfully adopted the concept of an Agile environment is Google. Google’s Mountain View office houses workspaces that are fluid, with plenty of space for functional collaboration. With less space allocated to individuals and more space designed around collective teams, Google teams have a positive, exciting workspace that is fluid and dynamic and supports creating value together. Communal tables in open spaces encourage stand-up meetings, while project rooms on the periphery have tools for group workshops. Teams can use dedicated team rooms with writable wall surfaces and display areas where brainstorming sessions can take place. Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb, Salesforce and other forward-thinking organizations have also recognized the importance of providing their employees with creative, collaborative infrastructure and spaces that will help foster innovation and fuel productivity.How to Create an Agile Physical Environment An organization that wants to go agile can start by offering a conducive environment; one that equips its workforce with the right physical infrastructure and tools. They can do this in several ways:  By collocating the teamA collocated team that is able to hold face-to-face conversations is in the best position to collaborate well. When teams are in the same physical space, trust is enhanced, communication is encouraged, and transparency is the result. A workspace should ideally have no hierarchy at all, with open-plan workstations that allow people to collaborate more easily. They can get clarifications at once instead of waiting for online responses, and can help each other when they find themselves in a tough spot. However, in today’s world collocation of teams is not always an option. Teams that are distributed across geographies and time zones can take advantage of online collaboration tools such as Teams, ProofHub, Trello, Asana and so on to stay on the same page and keep in touch on a real-time basis. Set up a dedicated physical space Teams that are in the same location will perform better when they have a dedicated team room where they can work together in close proximity. One wall can be set up with whiteboards and pin up boards for team collaboration, mapping of tasks and so on. The space can be set up to boost productivity; workstations around the edge of the room and a conference table in the middle will work well. Keep the team safe from distractions Any outside distractions, such as interference from management, consults on other projects, and so on will throw the team off track and greatly hinder progress. It is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to smoothen any and all such obstructions, and some of the ways in which this can be done are listed here: Avoid multitasking Work on one goal at a time Let the team figure out who works on what Block any outside distractors Distractions will drain the team’s focus and result in wasted time, energy and effort.  Equip the team with the right tools There is no dearth of productivity-enhancing tools that can help a team stay on track with respect to schedules, budget and resources. Some tools that will enhance the team’s productivity and boost progress are: Zepel Jira Github Wrike Trello Conclusion As hundreds of organizations have found to their delight, an Agile transformation results in real and lasting positive impact. When done right, Agile can empower organizations to outpace the competition, adapt to changing market scenarios, work on innovative solutions to everyday problems, and continuously maximize value.  
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Planning Poker: An Agile Estimating and Planning Technique

One thing that all Agile teams have in common is their capacity to have fun while they work.  are creative, flexible and think out of the box; and working on an Agile team is a far cry from working on a dreary, process-heavy waterfall project. By building in collaborative team activities and doing away with excessive documentation and rigid mandates, Agile team members are always on their toes and passionate about their work.  One of the innovative ways in which they work is by planning Poker, a consensus-based game that helps to arrive at estimates and work out timelines for releases. Let’s find out how to play Poker!  What Is Planning Poker? Definition and Process‘Planning Poker® is the secure, fun way for agile teams to guide sprint planning and build accurate consensus estimates.’ - planningpoker.com  There’s no doubting it; Agile estimation is very hard. A project in which the requirements are continually changing is definitely going to have volatility in terms of timeframes, budgets and schedules. How, then, can the team chalk out a roadmap and figure out milestones and releases? Arguably the most popular way to estimating schedules on an Agile project, Planning Poker is a technique that allows each team member to weigh in on the planning process for each user story.  Here’s how the process plays out: The team uses a deck of Planning Poker cards which have values printed on one side, say  0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40 and 100. These values represent the units in which the team will be carrying out the estimation, which could be (for example) story points or ideal days. The Product Owner describes a feature that needs to be developed. The team asks doubts, discusses the feature and gets the required clarity. Each estimator holds a set of Planning Poker cards and selects one card in private. The number on this card will indicate their estimate for the work on the feature. They place the card face down on the table. All the cards are revealed at the same time, so that no one is influenced by another person’s decision. If everyone has the same value, that is chosen as the estimate.  If not, outliers are discussed, and another round of estimation is carried out. This process is continued till the team arrives at a consensus for the estimate. The estimates for subsequent features are taken up one by one, in a similar manner. Common PitfallsThe process is not completely intuitive, and while it is simple it could take a newbie some time to get used to the concept. Teams that are new will, therefore, often fall short of the estimate or go too long. However, with experience they will be able to arrive at more accurate estimates. For a sprint with many features, this process could take longer than expected as each estimate might run into multiple rounds of consensus building. If there is one experienced member who is very dominating, he or she might lead the discussions and quell the opinions of others on the team (who might be saying the right thing but might not be heard). Again, this method does not always work well with distributed teams, as for the process to work well, they should ideally be in a face-to-face session. If the story is not fleshed out well, the estimate might not be accurate.Expected BenefitsThe most significant advantage of Planning Poker is that every team member’s voice is heard. This increases team morale and build the right rapport. The group gets into the rhythm of discussing and collaborating on the project, which will hold them in good stead for the rest of the journey. These discussions help to give clarity on the features to be built, and dispel any ambiguity around the user stories. This ‘game’ builds commitment and accountability. As each team member has contributed to the estimate, they will work toward achieving it wholeheartedly. Last but not least, Planning Poker is fun!  Agile Estimation – Relative Vs AbsolutMost of us are used to absolute estimates. Let’s take an example. If you’re asked, for instance, how long you would take to walk three rounds of a park, you’d probably say that you can walk one round at a brisk pace in 8 minutes. You are not going to tell them your answer in relative terms, for example, you would never tell them that you can walk one round in four fifths of the time it would take X to do the same! In Agile, however, we prefer to work with relative estimates, as this offers more flexibility. Story points are determinations of the effort needed to complete task A, relative to the effort needed to complete task B. As there is a lot of uncertainty around the requirements, and the team does not want to spend too much effort estimating on a task that might change very soon, story point estimation is the perfect way to arrive at a rough and ready calculation of the level of effort needed for a task. When Should We Engage in Planning Poker?Typically, a Planning Poker session will be held just after the initial product backlog is written. It could take up to a few days, and is useful in creating initial approximate estimates that will be used to determine the scope, and plan and size the entire project. In an Agile project, it is only to be expected that product backlog items get added as the project unfolds. It would therefore make sense for the team to hold subsequent agile estimating and planning sessions during every iteration. These sessions can be held a few days before the end of the iteration, or whenever the team feels it is most convenient. How Does Poker Planning Work with a Distributed Team?Planning Poker always works best with a team that can sit across a table and hold discussions. However, this is not always possible, especially when teams span geographies and work across different offices.  In such cases, Planning Poker can work over a conference call or a Skype session. A Product Owner could share a set of items that have to be estimated, and the estimators log in at a prescheduled time and pick and show their cards over the video call, in much the same way as they would in a face-to-face session. There is a moderator, usually the Product Owner, who leads the discussions and makes notes. Does Planning Poker Work?Yes, it certainly does, and teams that use this method report that they are able to arrive at more accurate estimates more consistently than when other methods are used. Averaging individual estimates will always lead to better results.The reason for this is that when team members are all allowed to weigh in on the planning process, everyone’s opinion is heard. This is not the case when estimation is carried out by a project manager who does not take the team’s opinions into account. Since it is the team members who are ultimately working on the project, they will have the best sense of the effort needed to finish each task.Tips for Planning Poker in ScrumPlaying Planning Poker for the first time? Here are some tips from the pros, to help you get your game going! While it is definitely a game, it’s a serious game and not to be taken lightly. Each member must carefully evaluate the feature and calculate the time they feel it would take to complete it in its entirety. If they have any doubts, they should get them clarified. The discussion that ensues will help the team to get going in the right direction during the development phase, as it clears the air and removes any ambiguity. Agile estimates are relative and should not be converted to work hours. This will negate the value of using flexible Agile story points. The estimate is team-level and not on an individual level, as the team drives the work. If your opinion differs from that of others, make sure that you speak up. Your understanding of the feature may be the right one. It’s also important to note that the team should never suppress the voice of each individual; rather they should hear what everyone has to say with patience and understanding. Keep the card sizes small. Most teams like to use numbers smaller than 13, as larger stories will not fit into one sprint. If the story is too large, it should be broken down into a manageable chunk of work. Even if someone on the team is new to Planning Poker, make sure that they are not excluded. The entire team must be engaged. Keep expectations realistic. Point value creep, which is a condition where the estimates of stories inexplicably become larger over time, leads to unrealistic expectations and too much pressure from stakeholders. This causes stress and burnout in the long run. In the End.... As with everything to do with Agile, Planning Poker is a process that sounds easy enough but might take time and experience to get right. Take our tips to heart and be wary of the potential pitfalls that we have listed out, and your team will be able to get the most benefit from this tool! 
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Planning Poker: An Agile Estimating and Planning T...

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A Guide to Agile Infrastructure & Transformation

In the post-Covid era, as we enter a new phase of globalization, organizations must cope with increasing volatility and uncertainty.  Agile enterprises have managed to stay afloat through these turbulent times, staying ahead of the competition and keeping up with the rapid pace of evolving markets. By readily adapting to new cloud-based applications, remote ways of working, and workplace digitalization, companies that have adopted Agile were able to get ahead of their peers and stay relevant in the global market.  However, just adopting Agile is not enough. In order to ensure and sustain business growth, these companies must have the underlying support of the right infrastructure. What is Agile infrastructure, and what are its benefits and limitations? Read on to find out.What Is Agile?Before we define Agile infrastructure, let’s first understand what Agile is all about. Even as globalization has shrunk the world, it has also brought in a lot of unpredictability— and in some cases even chaos!  To cope with these volatile markets, companies realized that they needed to do all they could to adapt to changes, support newly evolving technologies and keep productivity levels up. They found that Agile was the answer.  Agile is the ability to create and respond to change. It is a way of dealing with, and ultimately succeeding in, an uncertain and turbulent environment. —Agile Alliance The Agile framework was conceptualized in the early 1990s as an alternative to old-fashioned and rigid project management systems that were opposed to change of any kind. Agile is cantered on four values that inform and guide its processes, and they prioritize Individuals and interactions over Processes and tools Working software over Comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over Contract negotiation Responding to change over Following a plan The fourth value talks about ‘responding to change, as opposed to following a plan.’ By doing this, agility helps an organization to cope with change and adapt to evolving conditions. Agile’s iterative and incremental model supports flexibility and helps organizations align themselves with changing conditions.  Originally conceptualized as a software development methodology, Agile has now transformed into a general framework for managing any kind of project and has found acceptance in sectors as diverse as healthcare and retail, marketing and pharma. At its very basic, Agile requires a culture shift and a change in mindset. It is flexible and versatile and encourages quick responses to changing conditions.What is Agile Infrastructure?Traditional ‘waterfall’ infrastructure does not allow changes till the very end and is not the best solution for complex and volatile projects. In contrast, an Agile infrastructure is one that supports incremental upgrades, quick deployment and provisioning, and allows for feedback and improvements at every stage.  Agile infrastructure is founded on Agile values and principles and applies them to the hardware and software components of the organizational IT networks. With this infrastructure at the core, teams are easily able to adapt to new technology and collaborate across geographies. They work in small increments using lightweight deployment and roll out applications in quick successive releases.Why the Need for Agile InfrastructureRapid Deployment: In a traditional project, processes were linear, and it was only when the project was nearing completion that the product would be released. In direct contrast to this way of working, Agile works on the premise of quick, iterative releases, each of which represents a completed feature or set of features in their entirety. This results in faster deployment and continuous delivery of value and sets in motion an iterative cycle of feedback and improvements. More Flexibility: Traditional infrastructure is rigid and conservative and does not easily allow for change. However, with Agile, teams can factor in amendments as and when required, course correct at any stage over the course of the project journey and deliver releases that are in sync with customer expectations and the changing needs of the market. Continuous Feedback: Traditional project methods would typically solicit feedback only after the project was completed. This could result in setting back the final release, and it would often take months to redo the project in accordance with the changes requested. The feedback cycle in Agile Infrastructure allows for stakeholder and end user inputs at every stage. This helps to mould the product according to what the customers need over the course of the project, rather than stick to what was defined during the initial stages. Continuous Improvement: As Agile believes in rapid deployments, the end users can review and use the product in phases. After each incremental release they give their feedback and the product is improved accordingly, getting fine-tuned at each stage so that it completely meets all the expectations of the customers. Limitations of Agile InfrastructureAgile infrastructure comes with some limitations, and these could pose complex challenges that must be overcome. Infrastructure involves hardware, software and networks, and in certain scenarios the hardware is fixed and cannot be easily changed. This could make a do over hard, even when required. As infrastructure deals with physical hardware, there is a limit on the initial release cycles. Due to the nature of certain projects, the first release of a minimum viable product might need a large number of setup tasks to be completed. As a result the initial release might turn out too long and break the cadence of equal cycles. Again, while projects that deal only with software are flexible, when the hardware aspects of an Agile infrastructure project need to be course-corrected it gets very complicated. It is easy to start over with software development, but the same is not the case with hardware. Agile is based on the concept of cross-functional teams, with resources who are capable of collaborating and multi-tasking. When it comes to infrastructure projects, people often have specialized skills only. They may not be required for a long period on a single Agile project and will be working on two or more projects at the same time. As a result, they might be unavailable when needed on a particular project and this will hamper progress. Short iterations and quick release cycles work well with software development, but when it comes to dealing with hardware releases these may not be viable.   There could be long-term manageability issues on Agile infrastructure projects. An Example of a Transition to Agile IT InfrastructureSource Image: testingxperts.comA mid-sized UK-based UI-UX-services company chose to adopt an agile approach in its 50-person IT infrastructure subsidiary. They chose to roll out an agile operating model across the entire infrastructure organization and focused on first improving their processes. Within the first year of deployment, they found that their Agile transformation had brought down IT costs by over 40%, while at the same time productivity was doubled. Automating repetitive operations and replacing legacy models with new, flexible iterative models was at the heart of their transformation. Principles for Agile TransformationTraditional organizationAgile organizationOrganization and resourcesTeams are function-specific, with staff with specialized skillsets who are focused on tasks.Teams are integrated and cross-managing, and comprise of infrastructure engineers with a variety of development skills.TechnologyCustomized infrastructure that requires significant manual effort from infrastructure teams.Standardized infrastructure, with a large part of deliveries being automated. Application developers can configure infrastructure on their own using self-service tools.ProcessesRigid, sequential processes and repetitive tasks that are performed manually.Repetitive work is automated, and processes are cyclical and flexible.CollaborationInfrastructure requests are ticketed and are dealt with by service managers on behalf of infrastructure teams. Once developers put code into production, they are no longer responsible.Application development and operations roles are integrated, and developers handle all operations using self-service tools.Approach to Transforming Infrastructure Using AgileOrganizations with legacy systems that are looking to transform their IT infrastructure to an Agile model can employ a structured approach to the design, deployment and monitoring of Agile teams and resources. This approach involves the following steps:  Chalk out a vision for the new infrastructure organization.  Outline all the infrastructure service offerings that will be provided, in order to define the scope of the teams. Decide how closely the infrastructure organization will work with application developers, and the extent of their involvement with operations such as deploying code. Decide on automation and cloud strategies. Identify objectives and metrics for performance and value creation Identify the opportunities with the potential to create organizational value. This can be done through a study of data on past consumption patterns and projected future needs. The work can then be organized around scope, and effort divided between teams of appropriate sizes needed to complete tasks. Each agile infrastructure team should be aligned with the Agile methods needed to complete the assigned tasks. Typically, teams working on automating infrastructure might be smaller, with around 10 people, and work using Scrum; while teams that work on support and operations might use Kanban or Scrumban. Next, work on a structured process for putting together agile infrastructure teams. Team members should be trained, a strong team charter developed, key stakeholders aligned to the project needs, and an initial backlog should be built. Work on the sustainability of the Agile transformation. Once the agile infrastructure teams are launched, teams who will govern the work should be set up to ensure progress toward goals. They will oversee changes in priorities and will ensure that the use of Agile practices is enforced.  Conclusion While traditional IT infrastructure processes were very successful in the past, the advent of digitization has made it an imperative for companies to align themselves with Agile infrastructure. An Agile adoption is not easy, and it requires significant change in the culture and mindset across the organization. However, organizations that can pull off a successful Agile infrastructure transformation will be able to adapt to volatile markets easily, hastening time-to-market even while cutting costs and boosting productivity.  
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A Guide to Agile Infrastructure & Transformation

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What Is Acceptance Criteria? Definition and Best Practices

Let’s think of a scenario where your development team is working on a set of user stories for a product. At the end of a sprint, the developer might have marked one story as complete—but the Product Owner thinks otherwise! The story is pushed to the next sprint for further work, and the team velocity is reduced as a result. This misunderstanding could have been avoided if the developers had a clear, unambiguous understanding of what the Product Owner’s expectations actually were.This is where Acceptance Criteria play an important role. Sometimes called the Definition of Done for a user story, they help to lay out the requirements that must be met to mark the task as being complete in all aspects.What Are Acceptance Criteria?Acceptance criteria are the predefined requirements that must be met, taking all possible scenarios into account, to consider a user story to be finished. In other words, they specify the conditions under which a user story can be said to be ‘done’. When all the criteria are met, the team can set the task aside and move on to the next story. Why Do You Need User Story Acceptance Criteria?As our example illustrates, having a properly articulated set of acceptance criteria will remove all ambiguity around the feature that is being developed. The developers will know what the client expects and will be clear about what the expected functionality is.  Acceptance criteria are used to: Manage expectations: Acceptance stories clearly define the boundaries of the task. Usually, acceptance criteria are testable, with yes/no or pass/fail results that leave no room for misinterpretation. Arrive at a shared understanding with the client: There have been instances where the client might feel that they needed more from the feature, and that it does not meet their requirement in its entirety. Well documented acceptance criteria will address all such ambiguity. Spell out the functionality for tests: The defined criteria will help to check whether the system is performing in line with the expectations. Work on estimates: When the team is clear about the boundaries of each task, they will be in a position to make accurate estimates.  Manage scope: Scope creep happens when stakeholders change the requirements midway through the project. One deliverable could suddenly expand to five, and unless the scope is properly defined at the outset the user story will be liable to scope creep, throwing schedules and budgets into free fall. Tips for Writing Acceptance Criteria with ExampleSource Link: productcoalition.comThe image above, which needs no explanation, shows what could happen when the acceptance criteria are not well defined! Each of the outcomes has a tree, a rope and a swing; but they are a far cry from the poor customer’s ask. So, now that you have understood what acceptance criteria are, and why they are important, here are some recommended best practices for writing good acceptance criteria!  Make sure that each and every product backlog item or user story has a unique set of acceptance criteria.  They should be simple, articulated well, and should be easily testable. Each criterion should answer to ‘yes/no or pass/fail. Make sure that the acceptance criteria are defined, and frozen, before implementation of the user story. No tweaking allowed! Focus on the end result, not the approach. In other words, think of the What and not the How. Wherever relevant, include all the non-functional criteria along with the functional aspects, so that there is a clear and complete understanding of what is needed. It would be good practice to set up a process where the team members write the acceptance criteria, and the Product Owner signs off on it. The PO holds the product vision, and this way you can be sure that the overall goals are being met. Here are some examples of well-articulated acceptance criteria:This is the user story: As an Agile trainer, I want to print an assessment report, so I can share the details of a student’s performance on the course with her employer. The acceptance criteria for this story could be: Display the student’s assessment scores for each of the tests completed. Choose the scores that must be shared with the employer. Pick the option to Share the report (other options can be Print or Save). Choose the person with whom the report should be shared. If there is an incorrect response, display an error message. Share the document through email. Here’s another user story: As an online shopper, I want to view my cart, so that I can make the payment. The acceptance criteria for this story might read: On clicking ‘view cart’, the cart opens up in a new tab. Numbers of each item are displayed and can be changed. Total invoice amount is displayed. On clicking ‘checkout’ tab, you can select delivery time and address. On clicking ‘proceed to payment’, various payment options are displayed. Choose between various payment options. Set the chosen option as default option, if required. On clicking ‘place order and pay’, you can enter account details, and are taken to the bank website for making the payment. Who Is Responsible for Writing Acceptance Criteria?There is no allocated responsibility for writing acceptance criteria. While it is usually the product owner or product manager who gets around to defining the functionality, just about anyone on the team could write acceptance criteria for user stories. The writer must be careful to ensure that the acceptance criteria are written from the perspective of the end user, and for this reason the product owner (who is considered to be the voice of the customer) often undertakes this task.  However, it is now common practice to make this a shared activity in which everyone, including developers, testers and QA people, take part; so that there is a 360-degree understanding across the team as to what the feature will entail. The more roles that are involved in this activity, the better — as this gives more opportunities for team collaboration and discussions. Many hands make for better work, and there could be some functionality, dependency or scenario that one person has missed out, but the other person has been able to identify; simply because they are coming at the problem from a different angle.When Should User Story Acceptance Criteria Be Written?The acceptance criteria should be written before the user story is moved from the product backlog into the sprint backlog. This usually happens during the backlog grooming session at the end of each sprint (or for the first time, before the first sprint starts). It is important to write and finalize the criteria before the implementation begins, so that any challenges faced during the actual work do not cloud the definition of the task functionality.  Also—and this is a bit tricky—always ensure that the acceptance criteria are not written too early. As is the nature of Agile projects, priorities keep evolving as requirements change, and they may need to be rewritten.How Should You Format User Story Acceptance Criteria?There are two commonly used formats for acceptance criteria: Given/When/Then For a user story that typically follows this format: As a (intended user), I want to (intended action), so that (goal/outcome of action). …the acceptance criteria would be like this: Scenario: (explain scenario). Given (how things begin), when (action taken), then (outcome of taking action). For example: User story: As an online buyer, I want to add a book to my shopping cart, so that I can purchase it. Acceptance criteria:  Given that I have shortlisted three books in my wish list, when I click on one book, then it gets added to my shopping cart. Verification List  The team makes a verification checklist, defining a list of pass/fail or yes/no statements that will mark the functionality as complete.Whatever the format you choose, it should be something that the team is comfortable working with. Summing up A user story, on its own, can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. It is only when the acceptance criteria are defined that there is complete clarity on the expected outcomes, and both the customer and the developer are in sync with regard to the functionality that a user story will provide. By setting up a clear process for defining acceptance criteria and making sure that they are taken seriously, Agile teams can make sure that there is no ambiguity, everyone is on the same page, and the customer gets what they have asked for. 
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What Is Acceptance Criteria? Definition and Best P...

Let’s think of a scenario where your development... Read More