Product Managers Unite!

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked. Lenore Adam investigates Atlas in her first Micro Focus blog post, enjoy!

With dev, test, and biz teams, that is.  Thanks to a Micro Focus Atlas, product managers can now be at one with dev, test, and business teams.

Agile methodologies, DevOps practices and dedicated tools have improved collaboration, efficiency, and time to market for development teams. But the needs of product managers are often overlooked.

Capturing evolving customer needs and understanding the impact of these changes on schedules, resources, and budgets are what product managers do.  PMs are the voice of the customer for engineering, and the financial and business analyst for the executive committee.  But to do the job properly they need information in real time for insightful analysis.

  •  How will a new customer requirement impact the release cycle?
  • Which requirements caused the project timeline to slip?
  • How much development time was spent on a specific requirement?

This need for knowledge has driven the development of Micro Focus Atlas requirements management software. Let’s put Atlas to the test with a couple scenarios.

Your customers demand a new requirement. Development asks ‘exactly how badly do you need this?’

Product managers often have to evaluate trade-offs, like whether a new feature is worth a schedule delay.  They rely on data to support recommendations, but without good data, sound judgment is compromised.  One of my mentors used to chant ‘the data will show you the way’.  But how?

To begin with, you need your finger on the pulse of current activity.  Atlas creates a bi-directional link with DevOps and Agile tooling.  Customer requirements created in Atlas are sent to the Agile backlog, establishing a direct connection between customer requirements and the dispersed stories and tasks needed to execute that requirement. Automatic status updates of these activities are centralized back into Atlas and available for PMs. No black box of engineering activity, no need to interrupt busy engineering managers for updates.  Setting up the sync is pretty straightforward as these YouTube postings prove:

Syncing Atlas & Rally

Syncing Atlas & JIRA

Syncing TFS & Atlas

Now, with an eye on the future, use this data within the Atlas environment to develop a what-if planning scenario to evaluate options.  What would be the expected schedule impact if a new feature was included in the release?  Does the potential increase in revenue offset the expected schedule delay?  Linking engineering activities to customer requirements gives projects teams the tools needed to make better decisions.

atlas

So why did the schedule slip?

The execs promised the sales teams and customers a timely delivery. So what went wrong?  Feature creep?  Did specific features take significantly longer to execute than planned?

Use the Atlas Time Machine feature to clarify cause and effect.  Explain why the original estimate was so far off with historical tracking that summarizes which stories were added, removed, or updated and how this impacted schedule over time.

Leverage the data in Atlas for your project post mortem to make the next project even better.  Atlas project baselining is where the team hits ‘rewind’ to uncover the original project definition and scope. The version control identifies each change, the person who made it and any associated discussions for context.  For the multi-disciplinary team, this is an opportunity for an informed discussion and objective review after the whirlwind of development and release.

The hands-on executive – ‘hey, remember what happened the last time you did that?’ 

What happens when an executive bypasses the decision-making process?  Suddenly, a requirement ‘proposal’ becomes a new requirement, end of story.  True confession: we often padded our schedules and budgets with a line item affectionately labeled ‘friends of execs’ to factor in these unpredictable yet inevitable curve balls.

The trick is to view the schedule before and after the unplanned insertion in a previous project.  Was there a schedule slip – and if so, how bad was it?  Even understand the breadth of impact by using the Atlas Relationship Diagram to trace downstream requirements that may also have been impacted.

And here’s the killer data point you need to save the project from unhelpful top-floor intervention:  How much development time was chewed up by the requirement?  That said, Atlas just records the facts. You’ll need to draw on all your expert diplomacy skills to present them. Try ‘Just sayin’…’

Micro Focus Application Delivery and Testing   

Accelerated delivery.  Continuous quality.

Make Atlas your resource for uniting business, development, and test teams. And it doesn’t cost a cent to get started. Access a free cloud-based trial of Atlas 3.0 and start.

Cyber Fun Days!

How can online retailers ensure virtual shopping carts will continue to be filled now that Black Friday has kicked off the seasonal shopping season? New writer Lenore Adam talks about ways to prevent website bottlenecks and guarantee a positive and consistent user experience.

As my colleague Derek Britton recently noted in his blog, Cyber Sunday is the latest extension of the traditional Thanksgiving retail feeding frenzy (pardon the pun, I struggle with any reminder of having eaten too much this past week…). U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart, along with several other major retailers, pulled their Cyber Monday promotions into Sunday in a bid to capture increased online demand.

For consumers, it is less of a trend and more of a way of life. Ubiquitous use of smart phones with fast internet has helped blur the lines between what were traditionally distinct retail and online shopping days. Economists estimate that digital shopping will rise by ‘11.7 percent this year, lifting the overall proportion of online sales to 14.7 percent of total retail activity, or $1 out of every $7’ that consumers spend this season. Despite these indicators, major retailers were caught unprepared for the volume of online shopping this year, promoting products that consumers were unable to order due to website overload.

Ensure a Positive User Experience

Even after the holiday rush, online retailers are still vulnerable to unpredictable demand. Will another polar vortex increase climate commerce and drive an unexpected wave of consumers to your site? Will those newly implemented e-commerce delivery options stress back-end systems and reduce peak performance? Are you ready for this season’s variety & volume of access devices, browsers, and geographically dispersed access points? Online retail success demands a positive user experience for a customer base accustomed to web page response times ticked off in milliseconds.

The mantra for brick and mortar retailers is often location, location, location. With online retailers it’s more like test, test, test. This is where Silk Performer and Cloudburst come in. Borland products help prevent our customers – who include some of the biggest names in online retailing – from becoming another online casualty. Archie Roboostoff, Director of Product Management, explains how Silk is used not only for website performance testing, but also for testing responsive web design. For example, use Silk to test…

‘…across different configurations of browsers to outline where things can be tuned…For example, Silk can determine that your application runs 15% slower on Firefox than Chrome on Android. Adjusting the stylesheets or javascript may be all that is required to performance tune your application. Testing for responsive web design is crucial to keeping user experience sentiments high…’

When ‘a 100 millisecond delay… equates to a 1% drop in revenue’, online performance clearly is business critical. With the competition just a click away, don’t lose customers due to poor site performance. Keep them on your site, happily filling up their shopping carts. Try Silk Performer here.

Lenore