Category Archives: agile

HP Agile Manager – impressions and outlook

In my first two blogs about HP Agile Manager (HP AM in the following) I provided some facts about the upcoming product.

This blog elaborates on impressions, use scenarios and outlook.

Let me start with the summary first. Wow, this is the type of product that was expected by many HP customers who work the agile way! It took HP quite some time to deliver a product on the agile premise. Now, agile practitioners can use the browser of their choice and are no longer stuck with the Internet Explorer, which is still required to run HP QC/ALM.

For IT departments in large organizations this product will be a big relief and cost saver, as they don’t have to care about installations and needed permissions any longer. No ActiveX components like in QC are required to run the UI. It simply runs anywhere without any download. I did state “will”, because currently the product isn’t delivered at all to IT organizations. The only way to get it is through a SaaS service from HP. While this is an excellent opportunity for companies who are allowed to store data outside of the company network, this is a killer argument for companies who aren’t allowed to do so. From my experience specifically European companies will have some issues here. And this is not just because of intellectual property stored elsewhere. It also has to do with the fact that HP SaaS is typically located in the US. Network latency issue often have an impact on service availability.

From a usability perspective HP AM is certainly great for young generation employees who are used to web interfaces. IT veterans still have their way to go learning new navigation aspects of such a web application.

For a “1.0 release” HP AM delivers a rich set of functionality for agile development. With its hierarchical concepts of themes, features, users stories and tasks large development projects and programs can utilize this product for agile development. And this is not a surprise, as the concepts for HP AM stem from one of HP’s internal development organization with a long experience in agile development. HP utilizes internally a lab prototype product which was presented at several events already. See last paragraph on blog New Opportunities for QM.

Therefore, customers have good reasons to assume, that this product is practice oriented and delivers value to agile development organizations. However, utilizing HP AM to its full potential may be a challenge for organizations just starting with agile. E.g. Estimation, planning and tracking features require corresponding practices at the organization level.

Looking at the competition, HP has to accept that in the second decade of agile development there are already market leaders established. With Rally Software and VersionOne among the most successful. So, how can HP win? Well, HP has a great software portfolio and specifically well established test management solutions. An integrated test management approach is critical for success in agile development. HP AM can hardly win as a standalone solution, but  tight integration with other HP offerings will transform HP AM into a killer app.

It will be interesting to see how fast HP is able to leverage other HP Software solutions.

HP announced already a synchronization tool between customers HP QC/ALM instances and the HP SaaS solution that will allow to synchronize data. However, it seems that data is only partially synchronized. Within the HP AM product Q&A customers already stated, that this is not what they expect. They want to have all data synchronized. Why? Well, there are several reasons. Customers who already have deployed QC/ALM often have build a lot of project management support processes around this tool infrastructure. Reporting, analytics and data warehouse applications are often well established. It is understandable, that they need to have all data in one place. This is specifically true for organizations who do hybrid development: Agile and non-agile.

Next week on Discover 2012 in Frankfurt existing HP Customers will have a chance to experience HP Agile Manager live. And there will be opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences with other practitioners. For example the Vivit TQA roundtable on agile development.

HP AM is a late start, but good start. Stay tuned.


HP Agile Manager Beta

Vivit Roundtable: Agile Development with HP QC/ALM

The Vivit TQA Special Interest Group on “Testing, Quality, and Application Lifecycle Management” within Vivit, the independent HP Software user community, will conduct a roundtable session about agile Development at HP Discover 2012 in Frankfurt.

The sesson will take place on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from 14:45 to 15:30.

Don’t miss the chance to exchange ideas and experiences about agile development with other practitioners.

Here are the event details.

HP Agile Manager – Beta Functionality

This blog provides first impressions about the beta functionality of HP Agile Manager (HP AM). It’s not meant to cover all functionality.

User Stories are the de facto standard in agile development. Tools simply have to support them and so does HP AM.  A user story consists of a name, a description and may have some time tracking associated.

Initially a user story may only consist of a name and a sentence statement. At later stages in the development process a user story may get more information and tasks associated which are needed to complete the user story. In HP AM tasks can be attached to user stories initially or whenever  more details are available.

The nice thing is, that detailed task information is aggregated automatically in HP AM. E.g. All estimations of tasks are summed up and presented at the user story level. This does not only apply for estimates but also for time already spent on the user story.

The task board represents a good practice of most agile projects. Visual representation of project status and progress is made transparent to all team members. Work items (tasks), flow from left to right according to their completion state. A developer can simple drag a task from status New to In Progress to indicate, that he is working on it. Once all tasks of a user story are completed, the user story is automatically marked done.

User stories can be added to the product backlog and from there subsequently associated to a specific release and sprint.  These three backlog types can be managed separately in HP AM and will provide different levels of granularity. All these backlog types can be arranged in spreadsheet fashion with free selection and positioning of attributes. The following screenshot is an example of the release backlog.

Defects, that arrive during the course of development and testing can be added to the backlog as well.

That all works fine and represents basic agile support, but for larger projects it is barely sufficient. You need elements that guide development beyond the current development iteration.

For planning in the large HP AM offers the concepts Themes and Features.

A Theme represents a goal for a product release. A release may have one or more themes, but having more than five would be counterproductive. Themes guide a release and help to stay focused when too many requests arrive. Does a new request fit into a release theme? Yes! Add it to the release backlog. No, thanks, add it to the product backlog, consider it for a subsequent release.

Features are widely used in the IT industry, yet they lack a common definition. The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon defines it as „a prominent or distinctive user visible aspect, quality or characteristic of a software system or systems“.

User stories can be attached to features, so that product management gets visibility into the product development progress. Progress is typically managed by development at the user story and task level, and that might not be the best form to understand the overall status. The next screenshot displays interrelationships between themes, features and user story and how HP AM shows progress based on Stories.

HP AM includes support for managing several agile teams in a project. Teams can be given a sprint capacity and a team might be assigned for a sprint or not, as seen in the following example:

I did not have a look at the ALI Dev integration. That will be left for later.

As a last note I will mention the advanced feature that allows linking of items. User stories can be linked to defects. As long the corresponding defect isn’t fixed the user story cannot be set to Done. This represents good agile practices.

User stories can also be linked to other user stories to denote a dependencies. While there is the goal that user stories need to be factored in a way that they are independent of other stories in reality that cannot always be avoided. In such a case it is good to get some tool support to be aware of the situation:

I will close here mentioning, that this type of relationship management is a strength of classical requirements management. HP QC has good requirements management functionalities and this was mapped to the HP AM.

In my next blog I will set the current offering into context and speculate about the future.

HP Agile Manager – Public Beta

On October 17, 2012  HP announced public Beta for its upcoming product HP Agile Manager (referenced as HP AM in the following). The Beta program will run until end of November and is a continuation of the private Beta which started in summer 2012 with selected customers.

HP AM is a fully web based solution to plan and execute agile projects. This SaaS solution provides integration capabilities into build and development environments. Using HP AM agile development team members and manager have instant access to project progress and rich possibilities for planning and analytics within agile development programs.

HP AM represents a major step in HPs agile offerings within the application lifecycle management ecosystem. While HP QC already has enabling features for agile development since 2008 there is not a dedicated product available that focuses solely on agile development. As of today two add-on components are offered for agile development: The HP Agile Accelerator and Application Lifecycle Integration (ALI). The Agile Accelerator delivers a specific customization for QC Enterprise or ALM, so that agile teams can start working in QC right away. With ALI HP offers QC users an integration into development and build environments.

HP AM can be used alone, or in combination with other offerings. For the HP QC/ALM community it will be of specific interest to understand how HP leverages its existing environment in combination with the new offering.

In my next blog I will provide a closer look at the beta functionalities of HP AM.

Stay tuned.


User Group Meeting in Switzerland on August 21, 2012

The Vivit TQA Special Interest Group on “Testing, Quality, and Application Lifecycle Management” within Vivit, the independent HP Software user community, will conduct a meeting on Tuesday, August 21, 2012, from 13:30 to 17:30 at Swisscom in Bern, Switzerland. The meeting will be free of charge. Event language will be German.

The meeting will feature information and an open discussion on:
– requirements management
– requirements-based testing, and
– agile development
… with HP Quality Center / ALM.

You find detailed event information and registration options at:
Vivit Worldwide

HP QC Accelerator New Landing Page

Update Feb 7, 2013: The pages referenced below are gone. Post is kept for historic reasons only.

HP has renewed a lot of web pages. Unfortunately many links are gone or moved to some other place.
The agile accelerator new landing pages are:

From there you get access to several resources, like whitepapers and webinars. Trial software can be obtained as well.

New Opportunities for QM

On September 20, 2011 Dr. Andreas Birk and Gerald Heller provided some insights about the opportunities and challenges for testing in agile development organizations at an event at HP Switzerland.

While many test organizations still puzzle how to react on the agile development approach from a testing perspective there is a growing set of experiences on the practice side. Agile methods have a lot of quality practices already built-in. For example, when looking at scrum the following QM related practices are often applied:

However, there are also a couple of activities that present challenges to testing in agile environments:

E.g. Setting up test environments in more complex project contexts might require so much time, that parallel system testing within the development cycle cannot be established. In such situations a testing team needs to find an alternative solution together with the development team, so that the goals of testing can be achieved.

However the top challenges are found where roles and competencies are touched. For example: joint estimation for user stories sounds good, but often testers don’t even participate in sprint planning meetings. And if so, they aren’t allowed to add testing effort to the size of the story. Becoming a full member of the team requires often needs time, where active change management and coaching continuously must address those topics.
The full presentation is available on request.

Peter Vollmer from Hewlett-Packard’s development organization provided interesting insight how HP addresses these challenges in its global agile development context. In particular HP not only uses HP Quality Center, but also the HP Accelerator for agile planning and status tracking. His presentation is available on request.

New Agile Project Management Module

On March 30, 2011 HP hosted an online event called “HP Software Expert Day”. Experts from HP responded 24 hours to questions around Quality Center and ALM raised from the community.

When I skimmed over the questions my eyes stopped at one named “Further development of agile tools”. The author was looking for better agile solutions than those provided today.

The HP expert provided some encouraging words about the future. HP is working on an agile project management module that is targeted for the next major release. Beyond supporting good management of requirements and tests it will also track progress and backlogs with burndown rates.

That sounds promising to me. As HP is pretty late on this I have the hope that it will release finally a cool agile management client which is build on the new REST API, so that it can be used across a variety of platforms.

The information was posted on the HP blog “Quality Center Information and News” on March 30, 2011.

New Version Of Agile Accelerator

HP announced by the end of December 2010 a new basic version of the agile accelerator 4.0. There is now a version for QC 10 and a version for QC11/ALM available. New support is included for unit testing. Development tasks can be tied to unit test cases (NUnit, JUnit, or FitNesse). Continuous integration tools like Cruise Control/Hudson can be called from within QC to start the build process. Agile reporting is streamlined. There is also a new team-based Sprint burndown chart that shows a burndown comparison across teams.

The basic module can be freely downloaded from this link.