Saturday, 3 December 2011

Remote SCRUM standup with MrTickTock

MrTickTock 1.4 has been released and published at http://mrticktock.com.

What's new?

In this version we have focused mainly on the  support for SCRUM standup (daily reporting).

You can ask how to hell web application is related to a face to face meeting... And you are right. SCRUM standup is by definition a daily face to face meeting of the team members. Unfortunately there are situations when you cannot perform a live meeting. Working in a remote team is one of the most common examples. You can of course try video or voice connection but what if your team is spread across different time zones? Londyn, Sydney, Tokio, New York, San Francisco... It is not possible to gather the whole team in the same time so skype does not help here...
But wait, there is SCRUM of SCRUMS...
Are you really sure you want your team leads to have a meeting at 6am or 10pm every day? They are humans and have their private life, kids, girlfriends, hobbies. People are lazy and will hate it after some time. Meeting after normal business hours is OK if happens from time to time, once a week, but not every day. SCRUM of SCRUMS simply does not work in all cases.

This is why we have introduced remote SRCUM standup in MrTickTock.
You may say that this is not SCRUM any more... And you are probably right. But it is still an agile aproach to project management. It is better to write your standup and allow your peers to read it few hours later than have no standup at all.
Belive us or not but having a written standups works. We practiced it for several months. It is not as good as a daily face to face meeting but it is much better than no meeting at all.

Here is what we have added to MrTickTock in version 1.4:
  • Every time report can have a note - we call it a SCRUM standup entry but you can also call it a comment or whatever you like.
    User can simply add a note by pressing small white paper icon located in the corner of the time entry input text. There is a public and private note available. Public notes are visible to everyone on the Standup tab while private notes are not visible to anyone except of the owner.
  • Standup tab - new page where virtual standup meeting takes place.
    It contains daily overview of the selected project(s). User can see all active team members, what projects and tasks they have been working on, how much time they have spent at work and what they have been doing (their public notes).
    The great thing about it is that user can go back and forth day by day and look for the older standup entries.
  • Ability to block users.
    One of our developers left project and company some time ago. We realized that we want to keep his time reports but we don't want him to be able to report time any more.
    This is why we have introduced a blocked user concept. Blocked user cannot log into the company account and have no access to any data. Simple but extremely useful feature. It is available on the Users tab (lock pad icon).
  • Non-working days - in addition to the sick and off statuses.
    User can simply click the day card and set the day as non-working. It should be used as a marker for bank holidays, independence day, etc. Marking day as non-working decreases the monthly and weekly planned workload which indicates how much time you should work in the week and the month.
    Please keep in mind that marking day as sick or off does not change the planned workload as we believe that most of the contractors and freelancers want to see their monthly and weekly limits (being sick usually does not decrease the limit you can work in the month and the week).
    The change of planned workload is clearly marked with the yellow flash so users can't miss it.
  • Weekend days.
    They are defined on the Settings page and marked by making day cards slightly grey.
    We know that not everywhere Saturday and Sunday is a weekend. In Israel and many other places people rest in different days so we have made MrTickTock friendly for all of them.
    Weekend days decrease the monthly and weekly planned workload in the same way as non-working days do.
  • More Keyboard shortcuts on the Tick-Tock page:
    • Alt+Shift+N when cursor is in the time entry field shows the note (standup entry) popup
    • Alt+Sifht+Enter saves the note when in the popup
    • Alt+Shift+C (cancel) close the popup without saving changes
    • Esc is the same as above but works only if there are no changes in the public and private comment fields.
  • Keyboard shortcuts on the Standup page:
    • Alt+Shift+Right Arrow moves the preview to the next day.
    • Alt+Shift+Left Arrow moves the preview to the previous day.
    • Alt+Shift+H moves the preview to the current day (today).
  • Reports improvements:
    • day names visible when grouping by date
    • report summary visible also on the top of the page (not only bottom)
    • better error handling. 
  • Drap & Drop of tasks for iPadMrTickTock allows to change order of tasks at the Tick-Tock page. You can simply drag and drop them with your mouse and move your most important tasks to the top. Now, you can also drag and drop tasks and change their order on your iPad - just touch it and move anywhere you like. It is really awesome!
  •  Windows Sidebar gadget - new version will be released in a few days and contain:
    • ability to create tasks 
    • ability to report time with start/stop button
    • ability to change task you want to work on


As usually there are also many other improvements and bug fixes as well as UI changes.


What's next?

Version 1.5 should be released quite quickly as we want to add few important enhancements to the Virtual Stand-up (virtual meetings) feature. The most important is ability to make note popup full screen. It should help users who write long standups :) Another one is a week preview on the Standup page.
New version will introduce a concept of closed task and also allow users (non-admins) to create tasks on the web (it is already available via new Windows Gadget).

We are also very close to the release of MrTickTock Android application 1.0. It will allow users to create, close and delete tasks, report time manually or with start/stop button on selected tasks as well as automatically report time. We believe the last feature will be a real breakthrough but unfortunately it is quite complicated to implement so we are still in the beta phase and need to test it more. Automatic reporting will base on the WiFi availability. It will automatically start and stop time tracking if user is in or outside the office.
Next version will allow to track time automatically basing on the GPS location.

That's all for today folks. You can try all of that at mrticktock.com.

We also publish most recent news via Twitter

Enjoy,
MrTickTock team

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