Agile development might have gotten away from itself. Originally intended to define how development teams can work in a responsive way—delivering software in shorter cycles and emphasizing (among other things) people over processes and tools—agile has now exploded into the enterprise, with new tools providing visibility and actionability geared to managers and stakeholders, not only developers.
With the fall release of its eponymous software, VersionOne is taking a step back by introducing TeamRoom, a scaled-down, lighter-weight version of the software that meets developer needs first and foremost, while still providing insights for project managers and data managers. TeamRoom ships as a part of the VersionOne product.
“If I think about agile and go back five years, it was very much a developer and development-team phenomenon,” said Robert Holler, CEO of VersionOne. “But the pendulum has swung over to management with a big M, and how do we transition some of that back so the team has a better environment [to work in]?”
TeamRoom provides the storyboards, task boards and work-in-progress limits developers need, and lets them select and display only the information that’s important for them to complete their jobs, Holler explained. Team mascots and personal avatars help customize the view, and still provide managers with the visibility they need, he added.
The entire focus of TeamRoom, Holler emphasized, is the team. “How do we create an environment that’s tailored just for the team, almost at the expense of the rest of the organization? How do we remove the noise? How do we remove the additional overhead? How do we get rid of all the things they might not necessarily need to do their daily jobs, and give them just what they need?” he said of the process to create TeamRoom.
“When I log into my TeamRoom, all I’m looking at is my upcoming backlog and the items in a storyboard or task board that are in process. In context of that, can I see the communications going on with respect to those work items, and can I see what’s recently changed, and can I answer questions in my daily standup as to what’s happening and what I worked on in the last 24 hours, and really turning that into the focus as opposed to the enterprise ALM focus.”
Holler said this release differs from what’s been done in the past, in that past releases have been additive. “Let’s add this in, and let’s add this in, and let’s make it for bigger organizations, and let’s manage multi-project, multi-program, cross-departmental stuff,” he said.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work with agile portfolio management [and other enterprise-level capabilities], and we believe those are absolutely important, but we also felt like there was another end to the spectrum that was absolutely important, if not core, to agile. At some point, someone’s got to start paying attention to that, and we decided that was going to be a point of differentiation for us and a focus for us.”
The fall release also reflects additional enhancements made around Kanban and CA Clarity integration (for time reporting), as well as some new visualizations, to which Holler said cannot be done justice by speaking about them. “I’ll simply say that, ‘Hey, I’ve got a story, and that story came from an epic that came from a higher-level epic, that broke down into tasks and tests and has dependencies among other stories, and wouldn’t it be great to see that visually?’ That’s all I’ll say. You’ll see a picture and you’ll go, ‘OK, I get it.’ ”