Agile User Stories [Video Transcript]

Hi, I’m Mark. I help organizations write software more efficiently. A big part of this is helping teams find ways to organize their work in a way that follows Agile values and principles. In this video, we’re going to talk about creating user stories.

User stories are Agile, in and of themselves, but they can be used to help us follow Agile principles. For example, here are three Agile principles that we should keep in mind for this video. Working software is the primary measure of progress. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. Simplicity, the art of maximizing the amount of work not done is essential.

If working software is the primary measure of progress, we need to make sure we organize and track our work in a way that supports this goal. We need to make sure that our work is organized and chunked into units that represent value to the customer and we need a way to sort out what is extremely valuable from what is less important.

Visualize Your Story

Most teams find that the best way to achieve these things is to visualize their work so it’s easy to see what has been done, what is being done and what is yet to be done. Visualizing the state of various pieces of work can be done in software or even on a wall with sticky notes, but in this video, we want to concentrate just on how to represent the units of work.

A good approach is to represent the work through simple stories that describe what the users world must look like in order to mark a story as complete. Here are some example stories using a typical story template.

As a registered user, I want to change my password so I can keep my account secure. As a website visitor, I want to subscribe to the mailing list for a product so I can get product updates through email. As an admin user, I want to disable a user so I can prevent unauthorized logins by past employees. As a mobile app user, I want to save all my data to the cloud so I can access it from another device.

There isn’t anything magical about this particular format for stories. The examples we’ve just seen cover who, what and why. Having a template is a good way to make sure you capture enough information to represent the idea of what the user needs without getting bogged down in all the implementation details.

How A Good Story Will Improve The Development Process

When our development efforts are driven by stories that represent our understanding of user needs, it supports our principles and fosters good development practices. Stories that are written in ways that violate our principles will hinder good development practices. Anything we can do to increase the quality of our stories will make the rest of our development process more efficient.

One time, I was working with a team that was just starting to organize their work like this, and we were using a template similar to the one we’ve just seen. One of the users had missed the initial meeting where we explained what we were trying to do. He was a bit confused and asked why he kept seeing all these short pieces of poetry about software. Evidently, he thought we were writing some strange form of haiku.

Good stories start off as fiction. The setting is the world in which the user interacts with the software. The story is written from the user’s point of view and talks about things from the perspective of the user. The user perspective is very important because our principles say that we are going to define our progress based on giving the user the ability to do something valuable with the software that they were not able to do before.

What To Avoid In Your Story

If we are working on stories that aren’t creating business value for the customer, we are doing work that we’ve explicitly said isn’t going to count as progress. How do we handle all the work we need to do that the user cannot see? How do we handle stories about the developer’s world? How do we handle stories like this?

As a developer, I want a database with all the tables to model the data so I can store information the application needs. This is a bad story because it violates our principles for software development. Notice I said the story is bad, not the idea of having a database to store data. We definitely need a database, but if we create this story, almost all the application depends on it being done first. We could complete this story and have no functionality we can show our user, nothing they can actually use as working software, but this would violate our principles.

Further, the information we need to acquire, to complete this story will only be known when we’ve figured out how we are going to build the other parts of the system. In effect, a story like this is both a prerequisite for and a dependency of every other story. When you have two things that both depend on the other being done first, you have a recipe for deadlock. If you’ve ever worked on a story like this, you may have experienced a long period of time where the user is asking how things are going and the development team is saying, “Well, we have a bunch of setup work to do first before we can start working on the actual application.”

There is another way. If you write your stories from the user perspective, you can build just the parts you need in order to create some value for the user. This likely will mean building some of the database but only the pieces you need as you need them to complete each story. It may seem counterintuitive for developers to build software from the user’s perspective because such an approach means you may have to rework some of the things you’ve done in the past as future stories become clear.

However, software projects that fail usually do so because they weren’t focused on delivering actual usable business value to the user on a regular basis. Building the application the way the user thinks about value minimizes this risk. If you are following the other Agile principles, the cost of some rework is trivial compared to the benefits it provides in delivering business value sooner rather than later. To learn more about user stories, check out Blueprint Software.

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Security Guard Management Software – Why Your Organization Needs One

There are currently a number of techniques used in managing security guards in an organization. The traditional ways have been to have a coordinator or officer shouting out the orders, creating a roster or chart detailing their respective responsibilities and then documenting them on a common register. Today, a more straightforward and efficient technique is to use security guard management software. For more information, you may appreciate the resources available at Silvertrac.

Today security software has grown to more than merely filling-in the blanks a computer spreadsheet. They are now integrated software programs that can do a lot more for your organization. These modern programs can help your organization in managing huge numbers of security workers while maintaining the individual security guard’s details for better outcomes.

Checking Duties Becomes Effortless

Security guard management software makes it easier for those in charge of scheduling to document the exact hours worked, by each guard or officer, retain an updated record of absents, and much more. Analyzing the number of overtime hours worked becomes easy. In a similar manner, it becomes effortless to compute the number of hours a guard has worked at each particular location. Obviously, the benefits of more efficiency to your organization need no further emphasis.

Timely Information and Customized Reports

Firms involved in security management are usually responsible to those who have engaged their services, providing them diverse reports. These may cover the number of guards, and hours worked on their site among other elements. This was previously a labour intensive, but with security guard management software, it only takes a couple of minutes. Individual guards and officers could also have access to different kinds of records, custom-made per the specific needs and according the hierarchy of the guards and officers.

A benefit that is often overlooked when using security guard management software is that you can retrieve data for further analysis. Knowing that you are overpaying your guards too much for overtime is good, but you need to know why and where it is coming from. In addition, there are lots of other useful reports that could be generated from this software.

Cost-Effective

Perhaps the ultimate benefit of using security guard management software is that the increased accuracy also comes with decreased labour costs. For example, your organization will no longer require the services of a payroll clerk as the task can be carried out by your office manager with just a couple of computer clicks.

Conclusion

Security guard management software means no more stacks of paper landing on your desk each week! You are also contributing to a reduction of your carbon footprint. The benefits of installing this type of software are endless and not debatable. The security software market has numerous programs to choose from and it is vital that you select one that is aligned with your specific security guard setup. For more information, you may appreciate the resources available at Silvertrac Software.

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IT Monitoring Software – Reducing the Need for Updates and Upgrades

Downtime is the biggest threat to most internet providers and technology companies. When a business relies on cyberspace, tension and uncertainty is always present. The founders must make huge promises to stay in business because competition in this sector is fierce. They also need to market heavily so they can gain the trust of a cynical general public. Without an IT Monitoring Software running in the background, tech companies cannot stand behind their cyber-based products. Glitches would pop up often, and the company would spend an enormous amount of time fixing diminutive problems.

Updates and Upgrades for Inevitable ErrorsThe interconnections used for most virtual and electronic platforms are extremely complex. Developers are always excited when they create new products, but they haven’t mastered the art of eliminating problems. Do they test each product before releasing it? Of course, but no tech company releases perfect products or services. Every new tech creation on the market needs a software update or product upgrade within 6 -12 months. Upgrades and updates are usually corrections for glitches that emerge after testing. Tech-based creations with error-free platforms and modules are extremely rare.

Constant Upgrades and Doubting Consumers

Consumers become skeptics when they see too many new releases and updates for the same product. In the mind of a shopper, money is the main motivator behind the rash of modifications. They are not tech savvy, and they are not aware of the issues that can arise — even after a release. No excuse will be good enough for them, and this is fine because no company wishes to give an explanation. Tech companies would rather market new products than explain the reasons behind their actions. It is sad to say, but the public at large will always purchase trendy new products — even if they are skeptics.

Modifications from a Business Standpoint

From a business perspective, it seems wasteful to release a new product that needs a modification in just a few months. What about time and labor costs? Isn’t it expensive to hire a tech professional. Developing a solid long-lasting structure, and tracking it with IT monitoring software makes more sense. The monitor would catch the errors within the interface and adjustments would take place as needed. As new threats emerge, the company can find a solution without altering the product or service. This is a much cheaper solution, and it is also a sound remedy for this inefficient business practice.

Creating Better Products in the Future

Only time can tell us how long repetitious updates and upgrades will exist. They are a necessary inconvenience at the moment, but hopefully this will change with new technology. IT monitoring software is a helpful implement, and tech companies can benefit greatly from them. Eventually, tech professionals will need to start releasing glitch-proof products if they want to appease skeptics.

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The Guide to Office Cleaning

Think about the first impressions that customers make of your organization. Some of these have to do with the quality of services that they receive. Some opinions they will quickly form during their visits to your business location. That’s why office cleaning, when it’s done right, of course, can really help your brand and make your customers more comfortable. The lack of proper cleaning can have the opposite effect. We are serious about office cleaning, and we know that, if you aren’t paying attention to the details discussed below, then you aren’t getting the business workplace thoroughly clean. You are also losing out on important opportunities to make the most favorable impressions on new customers and returning customers. If you visit the Jan-Pro website, they may be able to provide you with more information.

Use Containers and Filing Systems for Paper Organization
The worst thing you want to avoid is for customers to feel that their personal information is not secure in your office environment. This is especially true in any office that handles medical information and/or stores data, even birthdays, personal identification numbers, and customer payment data. Use filing cabinets, fireproof records storage, and locks/keys to keep customer information secure.

Keep Desks Clean
It’s easy for tired or overworked employees to misplace important items, everything from their car keys to a new customer’s check for a large sum of money. The culprit could be a messy desk or a cluttered workstation that multiple people use. You can establish a routine that employees will secure all of their desktop areas and filing systems before they leave. This ensures, at a minimum, that cleaning crews cannot access sensitive materials when the regular employees are not in the office.

Provide Access to a Variety of Common Cleaning Items on Every Hallway
Employees are more likely to clean up spills, remove dust, and dispose of waste when they don’t have to leave their work areas. In addition to having janitorial staff changing waste containers at least once a day and sweeping and mopping floors and disinfecting bathrooms and kitchens, provide materials such as glass cleaner and disinfectants, rags, wipes, brooms, dust pans, mops, and extra plastic bags. These should be available for all employees to access them. If theft is a problem, then you can give a key to at least one person on each hallway to access these materials when they are needed. That being said, don’t forget to keep documentation on hand for employees who must handle chemicals, especially if they get something in their eyes or otherwise react to these materials.

Clean offices reassure customers and employees that your workplace is professional and that their personal information is safe. If you visit the Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems website, they may be able to provide you with more information.

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Choosing an Enterprise Content Management Tool

Enterprise content management is a documentation system used in an office setup to manage unstructured information such as Excel spreadsheets, images and PDFs. The idea behind ECMs is to reduce the backlog of unprocessed documents and streamline business operations. However, an ECM system can serve you well if you make the right choice. Here are tips on how to choose a good ECM tool. For more information, visit the GMC Software website.

Identify the needs of the organization

You need to identify what your organization requires to enable you choose the right tool. Come up with an objective list of requirements. For instance, your organization may not require an ECM tool with a lot of features if it uses only Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. If the main requirement is document management, consider an ECM that has a fast and an expandable repository for retrieving and storing information. If the organization’s priority is record management, go for a tool that can allow the business to manage high value and sensitive’s information.

Consider the interface of the tool

A good ECM tool must give the user an easy time during operation. Go with a solution that is user-friendly and offers secure access to sensitive information. A simple interface will allow users to retrieve and share information more quickly. Also, it is wise to settle for an option that allows you to consolidate data for an easy retrieval.

Tool management

You need to hire an expert who has what it takes to ensure that your ECM is performing as expected. Consider whether the tool will require an outside or an inside expertise. It is advisable to go for a solution that allows people inside the organization to have administrative privileges. It should also support delegation of duties among the staff. An in-house input is also cheaper than outside expertise. However, you may need outside expertise for large-scale maintenance routines.

Flexibility

The tool you choose should be flexible enough to adopt emerging trends. It should have flexible deployment options to support on-premise and cloud applications. The product must also have a good track record in working with other entities and helping them switch between cloud and local operations. You don’t want to end up with a tool that cannot fit into your plans.

Support

You need to consider the support system from the provider. A good tool should come with incentives such as free updates and routine maintenance. You must determine how the support will handle your questions and problems in the future. Not all ECM tool providers have good support systems. Some even take days to respond to customer issues.

Ensure you do your due diligence to get the right ECM solution. Never take short cuts because they can cost you a lot of money and resources. Take your time and consider all the factors discussed above. For more information, visit the GMC Software website.

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What to Look For When Buying ID Card Printers

There are many reasons why your company may need to invest in ID card printers, and there are many great equipment options available for purchase. ID card printers are most commonly used to make employee ID badges in the corporate world, but they can also be used for student ID cards, payment cards, membership cards and much more. Because of this, everyone from a major corporation to a local fitness club may need to invest in an ID printer. If you are ready to invest in a new ID card printer for your business, pay attention to these points as you make your final buying decision. The Avon Security website is a good reference if you want to find more information online.

The Cost of Supplies
One of the first factors to review when comparing different ID card printers is the cost of supplies. For example, the cost of the ink ribbons varies by printer. Some ribbons have a longer life than others, and this can impact the total cost of printing. Therefore, research the type of ribbon that is used in each printer you are interested in. Then, compare the cost of the ribbon and its anticipated life to make an educated buying decision. This will help to ensure that your printing costs remain affordable for your budget.

Compatibility With Different Cards
These printers are designed to work specifically with thick cards, but they do not all work with the same type or size of cards. Review the card requirements for each printer you are thinking about buying. Verify that you have easy access to ordering new cards when needed, and review the cost of specific cards. This will affect how convenient and affordable it is to continue to use the printer in the future.

Printing Speed
Another point to consider is printing speed. Some ID card printers print very slowly, and these often are more affordable. This may not be a major concern if you only need to print an ID card from time to time. However, if you need to print dozens of cards per day, a slow printing speed could impact productivity dramatically. In this case, it may be worthwhile to pay for a faster printer speed.

Having the ability to print your own ID cards is truly beneficial in many work environments, and the only thing standing in your way may be the lack of an ID card printer. Before you make a rash decision to rush out and buy the first printer you find, carefully review the options to find the right printer for you. The Avon Security Products website is a good reference if you want to find more information online.

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Install a Security System On Your Home

If you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of criminal activity, then you must learn more about the latest home alarms. In the past, few homeowners worried about having automated alarm systems in their homes, but today, more people are installing these devices. Modern security systems are easier to install, and the devices are also more affordable. When you want to protect your valuable items such as jewelry, electronics and cash from theft, then the installation of an alarm system is imperative. The technicians who install security systems can evaluate your property to provide suggestions and an estimate to have alarms at entranceways such as garage doors, windows and regular doors. More information and resources can be found on the Aartech website.

There Are Numerous Types of Security Systems

Basic home alarms are designed to make a loud noise that will scare away potential thieves, alert neighbors and notify local law officials. In addition to installing basic security systems, you can upgrade to devices that have additional features such as smoke or fire alarms. These systems may also have bright lights to help a home’s residents see in dark or smoky conditions to make it easier to find emergency exits. At the same time, one of these alarms will notify a nearby fire department immediately in order to protect your home from the damages of a fire. For ultimate protection from theft or fires, you can have a closed-circuit television security system installed.

Home Alarms Are Easy to Use

Learning how to operate home alarms is easy because the devices have simple to use keypads that are usually located near a home’s main entranceways. With these keypads, you can have special security codes to turn on a home’s alarm system at anytime, and it is also possible to turn off the alarms. Experts recommend using caution when choosing keypad codes to deter criminals, and you should also change the codes occasionally. A limited number of people should have the home alarm’s code, and you must avoid keeping the code numbers on your cellphone or sending the information online to someone else.

Types of Security Systems

If you are a do-it-yourselfer, then it is possible to buy security systems at a store in order to install devices on doors and windows. There are numerous styles of home alarms available, including:

• Inertia or vibration sensors
Motion sensors
• Glass breakage detectors
• Photoelectric beams
• Microwave detectors
• Ultrasonic detectors
• Passive infrared sensors

Some of the simplest home alarms emit loud noises that will alert you or a neighbor that a break-in is occurring. These are suitable for protecting you while you are home or if you live in an area with nearby neighbors. More information and resources can be found on the AARtech Canada Inc website.

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Diztronic Galaxy Nexus TPU Case (Rev 3) Reviewed

galaxy-nexus

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has been out on the market since 2011, but Google’s ever-changing upgrades to the Android operating system allow the Nexus to outshine many of the newer contenders on the smartphone market today. Especially true is the newest upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which undeniably makes the Nexus perform like a whole new gadget. No wonder there are still so many users holding onto their Galaxy Nexus. To prolong its life and keep it scratch-free, casing for the Nexus is a must. Today, we are going to review the latest revision of the TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethan) casing from Diztronic.

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