Tracking the big picture across a portfolio

Posted on December 1st, 2010 in Portfolio Management, Silver Catalyst, Silver Stories, Tools For Agile by siddharta || 1 Comment

A big problem in effectively managing multi-initiative programs and portfolios is the ability to quickly grasp the big picture across all the initiatives and teams involved. The new Workspace Dashboard allows you to do just that. The screenshot below shows a typical dashboard.

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Creating Ad-hoc notes in Silver Catalyst

Posted on July 26th, 2010 in Kanban, News & Updates, Silver Catalyst, Tips & Tricks by siddharta || 1 Comment

One of the really nice things with physical cards is that you can easily annotate it with stickies and other things such that the story card conveys a huge amount of information right at a glance.

For instance, lets say that one feature requires having a conversation with Bill. This is not a formal task that you want to track, but its just a kind of ad-hoc reminder on something that needs to be done.

Doing this with physical cards is easy! Just take a small sticky, write “Talk to Bill” on it and slap it on the story card. Done!

You’ll never forget with the sticky right there on the card. When you’re done, take out the sticky, tear it up and throw it away.

This simple operation can become extremely complicated with an electronic tool.

That’s the kind of problem we always grapple with.

How can we make the board as simple, visible and flexible as a physical board, but retain all the functionality that electronic tools excel at?

Creating Ad-hoc notes in Silver Catalyst

So here is how you can create ad-hoc notes in Silver Catalyst and get them to display on the card in the board.

It’s very simple really.

Just go to the project settings and add a new custom field as shown below. Lets call this field ‘notes’. Set the type to text.

And…you’re done!

Now if you fill up this notes field, it will appear on the card on the board. Just like the image below.

Wasn’t that simple?

New in Silver Catalyst: Card Annotations

Posted on June 18th, 2010 in Agile, News & Updates, Silver Catalyst by siddharta || No Comment

One of the things that is fantastic about physical post it notes is the way you can easily make various bits of information visible. You can jot down any relevant information, like created and started date, cycle time, any reference id. You can use stickies to identify who is working on the feature, and further stickies to indicate blocks and other bits of information. By doing this you can easily visualize what is going on.

This is an area where electronic tools often fall short. Many tools don’t use a card visualization at all, and of those that do, most just display a card with the description on it.

Being big believers in visual management, we just couldn’t leave it at that. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and implemented a brand new feature – card  annotations.

Feature properties are now annotated on the card so that whether you are looking at the backlog, or the board, you see all the information that you need to.


Here are some examples of annotations in Silver Catalyst.

The above (click to view full size) is an example of annotations when viewing features in the backlog. Each row is colored according to the feature type. Red is a bug, green is an enhancement and so on. Additionally, cards are annotated with priority (Must), and Class of Service (Expedite, Fixed Date). In case a feature has a fixed date for delivery (for example to meet a conference/demo date) then the time until it is due is annotated. If there is an estimate then this is annotated on the card as well. These annotations are there to help you to make smart choices when looking at and ordering the backlog.

In addition to the ID and class of service, the feature card also shows properties related to external integrations. In this case, it shows links to change sets in source control that are linked to this feature (#55 ,#60, #61). We also see external test results from another tool annotated on the card (10 tests, 6 passing).

If you have linked Silver Catalyst with Silver Stories then you will see some Stories annotations like which initiative this story originated from (Silver Catalyst).

Task cards are annotated with the task estimate (if any) and the person working on it. The person is color coded – each user is assigned one color so you can quickly glance around the board and figure out what everyone is working on.

There is a lot of scope for using annotations – for example, you might want to create custom properties and have it show up as an annotation on the card. With card annotating, all the information you need on the backlog and on the board is made visible – another example of our commitment to helping you use visual management principles to improve your delivery process.

New in Silver Catalyst: Feature Details

Posted on June 18th, 2010 in Agile, News & Updates, Silver Catalyst by siddharta || No Comment

We’ve just deployed a new feature in Silver Catalyst. The feature view and task view pages have been reorganized. In addition, you can now add additional feature details on the feature view page. We’ve added tabs to separate the feature contents from the event history and have moved the history to its own tab.

The page also sports the new property bar in a yellow band at the top of the page. This bar contains all the properties that are associated with the feature.

The screenshot below shows more details

Silver Stories in Action: Enterprise Kanban Boards

Posted on May 31st, 2010 in Agile, Kanban, Lean, Silver Catalyst, Silver Stories by siddharta || No Comment

Silver Stories has an Enterprise Kanban board to track the flow of MMFs from the story tree. In this screencast we explore the functionality of this board. In the process we show how Silver Catalyst can be linked up to execute upon the backlog created in Silver Stories, and the expand-collapse pattern for enterprise kanban boards.

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