Agile methods improve your workflow and are contagious!

Communication No Comments »

Amid laughs, Lego plays, origami papers, plastic sheets and colorful pencils is how you could see Zentyal staff at HQ on the 21st of December. The reason was the Agile workshop Teresa Oliver had prepared for Zentyal crew. But what is Agile? Is it really useful tool to improve the project development? Teresa, founder of Skok and in charge of this Agile training session, was pleased to respond to some questions for those who still don’t know what Agile techniques can do for your work-flow.

Zentyal: What is Agile?
Teresa Oliver: It is a different way of managing projects and teams. It is based on giving value to the customer as soon as possible, as frequently as possible and adapting to the change all the time. It means not to have complex and fixed requirements at the beginning of the project, but build and deliver them at the end of it because there are many possibilities of not doing everything right from the beginning, not to have understood the requirements properly or it might also happen that customer needs change during the project. For this to work it is vital that the teams share and practice a range of values like confidence, communication, respect and absolute transparency, and this is not always easy.

Z: Why games can help to overcome these issues?
T. O.: We combine many short games to stimulate the conversation about different Agile values with other longer games such as Lego and the ones with board and pieces in order to understand the complete cycle of a project. These games helps to embrace and fix concepts much more clearly than a traditional presentation.

Teresa Oliver delivering Agile training at Zentyal HQ

Z: If I want to practice Agile methodologies, what are the first steps to be taken?
T. O.: When we -Skok- collaborate in a company, we start with a basic workshop for the whole team, comparing their common everyday work with an Agile one. Afterwards we choose a pilot project, we apply Agile principles from the start and we learn what happens: What works and what has to be adapted to this specific environment. And later we extend, little by little, the learning to the rest of the projects. It uses to be very contagious.

Z: Is it possible to apply Agile in other environments apart from software development? Some people say they use it in their lives.
T. O.: Of course! In fact it is done more and more: At universities and schools, for managing ONGs, for organizing children tasks in families, to mobilize multidisciplinary teams for transversal projects in big organizations… Agile can be useful in every environment where there is a set of people sharing a common goal and dealing with uncertainty and a fast adaptation to change.

Z: In case I want to learn more, to whom I should turn to for advice?
T. O.: Apart from books and blogs, I recommend to meet people in your local community that share these interests. In Zaragoza we have Agile Aragon, a small but very active community, that meets periodically to organize events, talks, bring people from other cities to share their experiences, make Agile programming sessions, etc. There is nothing like personal contact.

Z: How can I find my local Agile community?
T. O.: In Spain local communities are listed here. A good worldwide list, can be found here.

Thanks Teresa for making Zentyal Team a little more agile :)!

A post by Marta Cambronero

Step by step: small goals and reward yourself

Communication No Comments »

Awesomeness by small and affordable tasks

We all know that goals are important in our life. Yes, you are right, I said “life” and not only “work”. If you are used to work with goals, have you tried with them in your personal life? But I am not writing about life goals. Today I would like to write about some of those epidemics that are spreading all around the world: Poor concrete goals.

Doh! “Poor concrete” would not be the right words. Your goal in this project is to develop a huge web administration tool, users will be able to…. and administrator will be able to delete… when a “friend” is deleted a soft deletion will take place… and… do not forget to enable… is it clear? Of course it is. But, once you have to play the ball, the goal would seem to be huge and unaffordable.

We all have started a work day and felt that that day we did not want to do anything. Better sleeping habits could help, but probably the problem was the task that had to be done. Too complex? Too repetitive? Too difficult for you? Or you just simply do not like it. Let’s take a magic spacecraft.

Maybe you could fly up away your task. This would give you a clear and motivational context. Isn’t it clear? Don’t be so tight! Imaginary fuel is free, you can fly up higher and higher. Now you can see your company’s main direction and you may take a look at how it aligns to your personal and family life.

But I told you this was about avoiding “poor concrete goals”, once you have achieved a fully (I am always optimistic) motivational state it is time to dive deep into that task with we do not want to face up, let’s use again our magic spacecraft. It is everything about divide and conquer. Simple and smaller tasks use to be more affordable and motivating. Why do not use them? Now you only have to manage those tasks.

Internet is plenty of web tools that would help, but this is not about platforms, this is about you. It sounds aggressive, but it I promise, it is all about you. Sometimes simple is best. You can write them out on a whiteboard, on a piece of paper, or why not?, on a window glass with that whiteboard marker you have. But writing them out is not enough.

Apart from doing them, the key point is deleting them from your list. You can play basketball with the post-it, or you might burn it; maybe you would rather cross off the task with unusual passion. You have finished a task, you deserve a reward, so take it! No one is gonna give it to you (at least sooner enough), you have to take it by yourself. Take it and enjoy your work.

A post by Miguel Julián

Visiting BeCode’s facilities

Development No Comments »

Zentyal stuff with Xavy at BeCode

A few days ago two of us went to “La Cueva” (The Cave) at Valencia. La Cueva is the name that BeCode’s people give to their facilities, guess why? Well, it is not that cold and dark, but it does not seem to be like other development companies facilities. It is a ground floor of a building they all share, and it is also the place where they also organise open workshops for the neighbourhood (bicycle fixing, guitar lessons, WordPress workshops, …).

Inspired by the Desk Surfing movement, we decided to ask them for a place to work and exchange knowledge and opinion. Thus we arrived and they all welcomed us at their daily meeting and started working. It seemed that we arrived there at one of the coldest week in Valencia, but the environment there (and the heaters) made feel us warmer.

In those three days we had time enough for talking about many topics. We could practice with fluid interfaces with a Javascript kata with Jasmine lead by Xavy. We also share points of view about testing strategies at complex architectures (like Zentyal’s one), and we also talked about design patterns and SOLID concepts in software development.

You managed to make us feel like if we were at home, so from this little internet corner we would like to thank you all your dedication and efforts. Be sure that we will back, better sooner than later, mainly because we already miss those beer talks. Thank you for everything.

More info | BeCode | DeskSurfing

A post by Miguel Julián

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