How do we prevent debates over whether changes to user stories are new work or bugs?

I will answer your question from the point of view of Scrum.

User stories may be captured weeks or even months before the sprint in which the work is done. But a user story is a simple one or two sentence description of the requirement. There will be few if any requirement details captured and nothing about the implementation. Because these stories are so simple they tend to have a long shelf life.

In Scrum we use a just-in-time approach to user story discussions. At the beginning of each sprint the team meets with the Product Owner during sprint planning. They run through each story they plan to include in the sprint and the Product Owner provides the details they need to do the implementation.

So it is only at the last minute that the discussion takes place and all the details are fresh in the team’s minds as they start their work.

Also, the Scrum concept of the Product Owner is that they are the primary source of all requirements. The Product Owner spends a lot of their time speaking with stakeholders and builds up a strong understanding of what work needs to be done.

The Product Owner is also available to the development team throughout the sprint. If there are any questions or clarifications needed then the Product Owner is on hand to answer them.

Finally, at the end of the sprint the completed stories are demonstrated at the sprint review. This is an opportunity for the Product Owner and stakeholders to double-check that the new features are as they would expect them to be. If they spot a problem then any necessary fixes are added to the product backlog.

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Active questions tagged agile – Project Management Stack Exchange

Do QA testers have to follow their sprints strictly?

My dev team consists of:

2 developers 1 QA tester 1 Scrum master (me)

Currently the QA tester is part of the scrum team, however I do not make him follow a strict sprint from not having a lot of work. Whereas I protect the dev team from outside interference since they have a lot of work to do.

Since he is only active once work has been completed which is generally at the start or end of the day, he does other tasks when he is idle. Hence, we have just set a time at the start of the day and end of the day for 1 hour to do QA.

Is this ok?

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Recent Questions – Project Management Stack Exchange

FreshBooks Software Review: Overview – Features – Pricing

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freshbooks logoOverview Presentation

FreshBooks is an online invoicing, accounting and billing software for small business owners. Most of the time, freelancers, consultants, and small to medium-sized business make use of office suites such as word processors, spreadsheets and email for just about anything, even if they are not the best tools for the job. Cloud-based applications and services now can perform business functions such as billing and invoice management more efficiently. By using the leading cloud accounting solution, even one-person first-time owners are able to manage finances and create professional-looking invoices easily.

Features, Benefits, Product Strengths

  • Easy-to-use Online InvoicingFreshBooks is simple and straightforward to use. It has an intuitive interface that enables users to create, send and track invoices in a few minutes. Users can add their company logo, payment terms in any currency, and client information. Unit costs, amount totals and taxes are automatically computed. It will notify the users if clients have already viewed or paid the invoice, and will follow up those who have not paid with late payment reminders. It accepts credit card payments and can print paper copies for clients who prefer them.
  • Time and Expense Tracking – This online billing software makes it easy to log time and billable hours wherever the user may be. It has native iOS and Android apps that enable users to use their smartphones and tablets to track time, take photos of receipts and quickly convert hours and other billable items into invoices. It can even import expense data from bank accounts and credit cards and enter them in a specific tax category.
  • Bookkeeping, Financial Reporting, and more – Freshbooks cloud accounting solution is a productivity tool that enables users to perform bookkeeping functions without getting intimidated. It allows them to get organized easily and get paid quickly. It has Accounts Aging and Time to Pay reports that help users know the details of their business. It also has Invoice Details, Revenue by Client, and Profit & Loss reports to discover outstanding invoices, the best clients and the financial health of the business. It also integrates with many web services and apps such as PayPal, Stripe, Google Apps and more.

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FreshBooks online invoicing, accounting and billing software offers freemium plans. Users who have 1 client can use the software-as-a-service for free. The Seedling plan that is priced at $ 19.95 per month allows users to manage up to 25 clients. As plans go higher, more features are available. All plans include free and friendly customer support, import and export of data, security safeguards, backup procedures, and ability to accept credit card payments. It is free to try for 30 days. Subscription can be canceled at any time.

freshbooks pricing

Social Network Presence

Target Market

Freshbooks is for freelancers, consultants, law firms, marketing agencies, professional services, IT web services and other small to mid-sized businesses. It is valuable for business owners, managers, accountants and finance staff.

Supported Language

The interface is available in English but invoices can be sent in the following languages: German, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Estonian.

Some of their Clients

Client information is not available. However, the site states that it is currently servicing 5 million customers in over 120 countries.

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Tina Roth-Eisenberg stated that FreshBooks made her look professional and also saves her a huge amount of time.

Melissa Crnic described it as a very helpful software that makes tax season stress-free with its features.

Why FreshBooks

Invoicing, accounting and billing are essential business functions that should be managed well. FreshBooks is an easy-to-use, highly accessible and scalable cloud software that makes all these business functions simple, organized and professional-looking.

Company Info

Freshbooks is a service offered by 2ndSite Inc., a privately held computer software company based in Toronto, Canada. It was founded in 2003 by Mike McDerment (CEO), Joe Sawada, and Levi Cooperman (VP Operations). While with a previous Internet consulting business company, Mike accidentally saved over an old invoice. Dissatisfied with the current tools at that time to create invoices and manage billing, he decided to build what now has become the leading cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners. In July 2014, it received $ 30M first round funding from investors. The company is committed to building a time-saving software and providing extraordinary customer service.

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Intellectual Honesty of Managing in the Presence of Uncertainty

There was a post yesterday where the phrase embrace the intellectual  honesty of uncertainty and a picture of Dice. I interpreted – possibly wrongly – that picture meant uncertainty is the same as tossing dice and gambling with your project. 

While uncertainty is certainly part of project management, it’s not gambling, it’s not guessing. It’s probability and statistics.

So when someone suggests that tossing dice is the same as embracing uncertainty ask a few questions:

  • Do you have a model of the underlying uncertainties of your project. The reducible and irreducible uncertainties?
  • Do you have reference classes for the past performance of the work you are planning to perform?
  • Do you have mitigation plans for the reducible uncertainties?
  • Do you have margin for the irreducible uncertainties?

Of the answer to these is NO, then you are in fact tossing the dice for your project’s success.

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Herding Cats

Field Service Manager – Solar Inverters / Confidential / Los Angeles, CA

Field Service Manager – Solar Inverters Posted Feb 10

Confidential, Los Angeles, CA

  • This employer requests that only candidates within 100 miles of Los Angeles, CA apply to this job.

    You appear to be located near Absecon, NJ, more than 100 miles from Los Angeles, CA.

    Please be aware of this if you choose to apply for this job.

The Customer Service Manager will drive and execute global process effectiveness for continuous improvement, customer service, and technical support for North American customers. The role will include high-level technical support, process development, administration reporting, customer solution coordination, and interaction with global operations, service, engineering and sales. The Customer Service Manager will also manage the field service team deployed to troubleshoot field issues and RMA process.

BA/BS Degree (engineering a plus)
Knowledge of solar PV technology used in residential, commercial, and utility applications.
Experience with inverters (or power conversion), solar Balance of Systems, data monitoring solutions.
7-10 years of experience providing post-sales technical support, field service, maintenance, and troubleshooting complex electrical systems.
A minimum of 2-3 years of team management experience.
Excellent verbal, written, and computer communication skills

Click here to apply – Please mention that you saw the job on GreenBiz



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GreenBiz: Green Project Management

Report: Microsoft buying digital pen firm N-Trig

Microsoft is believed to be buying Israeli firm N-Trig, the company behind the pressure-sensitive stylus included with the Surface Pro 3, for as much as $ 200 million, according to a report from Calcalist.

N-Trig has faced numerous financial difficulties over the last few years after the 2011 decision to focus on digital pens. Globes reports that the company had failed to meet financial conditions attached to a loan and that it was suffering heavy losses, leaving it with less than $ 5 million cash on hand. At its peak, the company was valued at $ 200 million to $ 300 million with plans to float on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Those plans were cancelled last year.

Microsoft already held a 6.1 percent stake in N-Trig and was responsible for 79 percent of the company’s revenue. While the first two generations of Surface Pro used Wacom styluses, Microsoft switched to N-Trig hardware with the Surface Pro 3.

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Ars Technica » Technology Lab

ICCPM and IPMA renew alliance to strengthen project management capability globally


11 February 2015 – Canberra, Australia – The International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) has announced the renewal of their alliance agreement with the International Project Management Association (IPMA). The alliance supports both organisations’ aims of strengthening the project management profession. ICCPM and IPMA share the ideals of each other’s organisations and look forward to working together to further these ideals.

150211-pmwj32-ipma-IMAGE1As a non-profit global membership organisation IPMA’s mission is to promote recognition of project management; to offer know-how, products and services across public, private and community sectors; and to leverage the diversity of its global network for benefits across economies, society and the environment.

ICCPM is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2007 and as the peak body for complex project management seeks to advance complex project management knowledge and practice through education; and the provision of support and tools to allow organisations to effectively address complexity and better manage complex projects and programs.

Photo: Reinhard Wagner, IPMA; Yvonne Butler, Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM); Steve Milner, AIPM; Deborah Hein, ICCPM at the AIPM and IPMA President Lunch, November 2014.

The alliance agreement between ICCPM and IPMA allows the organisations to further each other’s mission and objectives through reciprocal exchanges such as publications, research and events and generally work together in a spirit of cooperation for mutual benefit of the organisations and their members.

The theme of the 2015 IPMA Annual Conference “The way to Project Management in Multicultural Context” aligns with ICCPM’s 2015 conference theme “Building Capability in Complex Environments” and the sharing of knowledge from these two events will further strengthen the project management profession and provide lasting benefits for participants and organisations.

ICCPM looks forward to a long and successful collaboration with IPMA.

ICCPM CEO, Deborah Hein is enthusiastic about the renewal of this agreement. “There are many opportunities for collaboration between our two international organisations heading into 2015. The focus for ICCPM this coming year is to finalise development of our complexity awareness education offering for initial delivery in Australia and then look to our partners to work through our global delivery options, IPMA have already indicated an interest in working with us on that front, which is a very exciting space to be in. The renewal and strengthening of our relationship is a demonstration of our commitment to support and grow the project and program managers of the future to enable more success in the delivery of all projects and programs – not just the complex ones.”

Reinhard Wagner, President of IPMA is excited about the opportunities this alliance offers to the profession: “Our research clearly indicates that project and program managers are faced with an increasing complexity. Products, such as passenger cars or aircrafts, are created with multiple technologies, in a dynamic context with changing requirements and a supply chain across organisations, countries and cultures. This is why we need to better understand the complexity we are faced with and develop new approaches for the management of projects and programs in such a context. ICCPM and IPMA will jointly support individuals, projects and organisations in managing complex projects and programs.”

The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) and ICCPM also work closely together in the area of complex project management and AIPM welcomes the alliance between ICCPM and IPMA. The National President of AIPM, Dr Steve Milner, is positive about the renewal. “The alliance will further benefit the project management profession as the three organisations, AIPM, IPMA and ICCPM, continue leading the way.

For more information, contact:

Deborah Hein (ICCPM):     +61 2 6120 5160 / /

Reinhard Wagner (IPMA):  +49 1522 2936871 / /

Yvonne Butler (AIPM):       +61 2 8288 8750 / /

150211-pmwj32-ipma-IMAGE2The International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) is a not-for-profit organisation working to advance knowledge and practice in the management and delivery of complex projects. ICCPM was formed in 2007 based on an initiative launched in 2005 by Australian, UK and US Government bodies and defence industry organizations aimed at improving the international community’s ability to successfully deliver very complex projects and to manage complexity across all industry and government sectors. For more information about ICCPM, visit

Source: ICCPM

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Project Management World Journal

Retrospective Technique: What Did You Learn?

All About Agile | Agile Development Made Easy

This content is syndicated from Agile Advice by Mishkin Berteig. To view the original post in full, click here.

Retrospectives are a key part of continuous improvement in Agile teams.  The retrospective techniques that a team uses should be adjusted to the needs of the team.  In a Scrum team, for example, the ScrumMaster will often decide on the techniques to use based on the current issues facing the team and then facilitate the retrospective for the team.  There are some great resources which give you collections of tried-and-true retrospective techniques including Esther Derby’s book “Agile Retrospectives” and the amazing online tool “Retr-o-mat“.  As an active consultant and trainer, I am always looking for new techniques to share with my clients.  Sometimes, I even create a new one (or at least new to me).  The “What Did You Learn” technique is new: I’ve been using it and testing it for a few years now to refine it.

What Did You Learn?

By itself, this is a powerful question.  As part of my work with OpenAgile, I’ve been helping teams and organization to focus on learning as an even broader category than continuous improvement.  The Learning Circle and the processes in OpenAgile help with focusing on learning.  The question “what did you learn?” is very open ended, and can certainly work as an extremely simple type of retrospective in OpenAgile or in Scrum or other Agile methods.  Often people like to have a little more structure and guidance so the “What Did You Learn?” retrospective technique provides four categories of learning for people to think about, share, and discuss within a team.


Setup for this retrospective is very simple: a flip chart or whiteboard divided into four sections or columns works fine, along with a piece of paper for each person in the retrospective, divided up the same way, and sufficient markers and pens for everyone.  Here is a downloadable PDF version of the handout for the “What Did You Learn” retrospective.

The facilitator will also participate at various points if they are a member of the team (e.g. a ScrumMaster).  It is easiest to do this with a group in-person, but can also be done reasonably well with video or teleconferencing.


The facilitator introduces the retrospective with a welcome and, if necessary, a recitation of the Retrospective Prime Directive.  Then, the process is described to the group.  Each of the categories of learning is also explained as follows:

  • Questions.  When you can formulate a question about something, it means that you have learned about a gap in your knowledge.  In other words, you have discovered something that you would like to learn.
  • Information / Data / Facts.  These are specific details that relate to some area of knowledge or skill.  This category of learning is the simplest and is often what people focus on when asked “what did you learn?”  Information tends to be dry and unemotional.
  • Insights / Concepts / “Aha!” Moments.  Often when we have a collection of facts or an experience, we see a pattern or make interesting connections between things.  This leads us to the great feeling of an insight.  Insights tend to be exciting or scary and have an emotional component.
  • Action Items.  These are decisions about what we would like to do in the future, but they could be extremely short-term or very long-term or anything in between.

There are three main stages in the retrospective as follows:

  1. Individual Reflection.  For 10 to 15 minutes, each individual works silently to write down the things that they have learned in the appropriate category on the handout.  Everyone should try to get at least a couple things into each of the four categories, but more is welcome.
  2. Sharing with the Group.  Systematically going around the group and getting people to read from what they have written.  This is another 10 to 15 minutes.  This stage should not get bogged down in discussion, but brief clarifying questions should be welcome.
  3. Identifying Important Learning.  The group now has open discussion to decide on a small number of things it considers the most important that it has learned.  This could be based on popularity, but impact, depth, or uniqueness might also be factors in considering importance.  These are the items that get written down on the flip-chart.  This is usually the longest part of the retrospective and can take up to 30 minutes.


This is an excellent retrospective for a team that is going through a significant transition such as starting a new project, a major change in business direction for a product, or as a wrap up technique for sharing lessons learned with other parts of an organization.  It is not a good technique for a brand new team that hasn’t worked together before as there will be little common ground for deciding on the importance of peoples’ various shared learning.

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RelateIQ Software Review: Overview – Features – Pricing

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Overview Presentation

relateiq-logoRelateIQ is a relationship management platform that extracts important data from emails, smartphone calls and appointments, and integrates it into a single application, in addition to providing rational support to its valuable clients when required. RelateIQ, established in 2011, has grown to become a popular cloud-based customer relationship management software, with a highly talented team of employees and gaining clients’ trust in every step towards success.

Features, Benefits, Product Strengths

  • Automatic Information Capture and Integration - RelateIQ’s platform routinely analyzes and isolates a user’s professional emails and other necessary interactions, unlike traditional relationship management systems which usually rely on data input by users. As of now, RelateIQ supports several applications like Google Apps, Exchange 2010, Exchange 2013, Office 365, as well as Facebook for photos.
  • Intelligent Suggestions and Reminders - In clubbing together the data gathered from several sources, RelateIQ leverages data science to search through emails, analyze them, offer suggestions and give reminders to its salespeople. RelateIQ introduced “Closest Connections”, a feature that improvises a time-consuming and potentially erroneous sales practice used previously, with which it identifies warm introductions for potential prospects based on actual activity occurring within a team’s email inbox, calendar, phone, and social network profiles.
  • Packed-up Security and API - RelateIQ has placed a lot of focus on security, and recruited engineers from top companies like Google, Palantir, LinkedIn and Yahoo. Their enhanced security system uses two-factor authentications and provides protection against DDOS and MITM attacks. Additionally, strict internal access control is ensured for its customers. The RelateIQ API is focused on ensuring ease of use for its customers. The API is based on RESTful principles, and uses HTTP authentication standards and HTTP methods to make the API as easy to use as possible. The API makes the requests, objects, responses, and errors consistent and easy to understand for its customers.

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RelateIQ offers several pricing packages for its valuable customers, all including a 30-day risk-free trial period. Their packages include a Small Team plan at $ 49 per user billed annually, Business plan at $ 99 per user billed annually, and an Enterprise plan on contract. It gives top-tier support and tailored training for its Enterprise customers, in addition to the extra care and extended support provided to its Small Team and Business members.


Social Network Presence

Target Market

RelateIQ is ideal for everyone including individuals, small and big organizations. It helps its users working on several projects that fabricate a large amount of information and requires an even greater amount of decision-making to successfully supervise them all.

Supported Languages

RelateIQ supports English only, but they give support in other languages too on clients’ requests.

Some of their Clients

RelateIQ has big names as their customers like Box, Asana, and T3 Advisors. This list also includes News Corp, Binc, GrowthPoint, and InstartLogic along with Knewton, KPCB, MindSumo, Rallyware, Sookasa and StyleSeek.

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Managing Director of T3 Advisors David Bergeron stated that switching to RelateIQ boosted their CRM capabilities from 60% to a full 100%, enabling them to secure high profile deals and enhanced prioritization of tasks and clients.

News Corp. initially used RelateIQ in a few of its departments, but were so impressed with the internal adoption that they expanded its use throughout the organization.

Box, a huge company with more than 500 employees, uses RelateIQ to collaborate and share their content across any medium from anywhere.

Why RelateIQ

RelateIQ simplifies, automates and deepens the way to engage with customers in professional relationships. Whether to manage a sales pipeline or track deals to closure, RelateIQ ensures tools and insights to boost the efficiency. It automatically analyzes and tracks the day-to-day communications which impel relationships in sales, business development and more, using algorithms and data to make their customer’s job easier and better.

Company Info

RelateIQ, an auxiliary concern of Salesforce, is an enterprise software company located in Palo Alto, California, USA. It was founded in 2011 by Adam Evans and Steve Laughlin. In 2014 acquired RelateIQ as their own subsidiary company. Salesforce is treated as world’s number 1 CRM provider. RelateIQ’s team includes data scientist DJ Patil as Vice President of Product, Ruslan Belkin as Vice President of Engineering and Armando Mann as Vice President of Sales.

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Marketing Module Introduction – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online – Success Portal

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