The product backlog should contain all future work to be done.
“A product backlog is a list of the new features, changes to existing features, bug fixes, infrastructure changes or other activities that a team may deliver in order to achieve a specific outcome.” - Scrum Alliance
This is a good definition because it points to a broad target for the product backlog. The backlog is not only for new features customers, the product manager, or the CEO, are clamoring for. It is really about all future work that will create value for customers.
And, yes, when you eliminate bugs, you do create value by making the software more usable and satisfying. Or, when you improve your infrastructure to get better performance or faster time to market, you do increase value for customers.
It is important to remember the product backlog is not, strictly, a product management tool. This is because being a product owner is not the same as being a product manager. Your goals and audience are not the same. Surely, there is overlap, but it is not the same thing.
This means, as a product manager, you may have many more documents, tools, maps, etc to manage the product. Assume the product manager is not the product owner in the development Scrum team, because she does not have to be the product owner. Obviously, this means the product manager uses many documents (product road-map, wish lists, user research, market research etc…), and these documents are not the product backlog, and are not all replicated in the product backlog!
A good approach is to prepare several levels of documents in the product backlog.
These levels are categorized by how soon the backlog items will be worked on. Here is an example you can use the following scale. Yours could be different, but with the same idea to have a clear idea of how soon a backlog item will get worked on.
Learn more about Scrum with our online interactive Scrum study guide, or get this Scrum book.
There is a new version of the article "How to use memos and notes to increase productivity".
This updated version covers the latest mechanics in SAM9000 Kanban.
Notes are now the main way to document product backlogs in Scrum, in addition to regular meeting notes, brainstorm etc..
Want to learn about Scrum and Agile?
Or you already know Scrum and are considering getting a certification?
SAM9000 Academy just published a new book: Scrum and Agile Study Guide.
This book is a comprehensive guide to learn and master Scrum and Agile.
The guide is structured to allow beginners and experienced team members to increase their knowledge.
Unlike other books, it is designed for any industry using or willing to adopt Scrum, instead of only covering the software industry. You will learn how Scrum applies to professional services, consulting, marketing and other businesses.
The advanced chapters and topics cover 100% of the latest Scrum Guide 2020. They will allow you to study and get a professional Scrum Master certification (CSM, PSM, or PSPO), if you decide to.
This Scrum guide interactive e-book is available free, as a trial with limited content, in an online format with interactive questions.
If you prefer, there is also a Kindle version available on Amazon.com
SAM9000 Scrum Study Guide on Kindle. Also available in paperback at Amazon.
Scrum is about people first.
Whether people within the team and organization, or customers, Scrum is about people.
It is not about process, operations, or things. This is why values come into play and are important.
For a group of people to work together, it is extremely useful to have an understanding of shared principles and values.
But what is a value?
A value is your judgment of what is important in life, or within a certain context.
So, the five values of Scrum are "Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, Courage."
With everyone agreeing on these values, it is a lot easier to stay in sync and go toward the same goals, together.
Commitment can take several forms. But the idea is the same.
For a team to be successful, its members must be committed to it and to each other. Just like any relationship, without commitment, you do not have much of a relationship.
For example, when you see somebody needs help or is struggling, it should be natural, out of commitment, to offer help and support. Scrum has a flat hierarchy. Everybody should feel they can contribute without having to be coerced or from fear for their job.
The iterative (repeating cycles) and short sprints / phases, helps to stay focus.
Focus as a value seems self explanatory otherwise. In reality great Scrum practitioners understand focus is not about process or goals.
For example, make sure to focus on why you are doing something while doing it. This is where your deep focus should be.
Similar to the value commitment, for the team relationship to work, great Scrum practitioners know that openness is crucial.
Openness is critical for the team to be effective, because the team must be self-organizing. In order to do this, every team member needs a clear understanding of what is going on, why and who. Good decision making requires good information. Since this information cannot come from "the top" (there is no top in Scrum), it must come from everyone, equally.
For example, you should be forthcoming about where you are, including if you have difficulties. A difficult one is when you admit you made a mistake and asking the team to help you to recover.
“Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people.”
You should respect your colleagues. You should respect their decisions and experience.
You should receive what you give, so this value is important for the team to work well together.
For example, you should assume another team member took care when they decided in a way or another. It is not always easy. Maybe you have more experience, or maybe you think you have a better idea. But look at it this way: if you want others to respect you in what you do, that should be your incentive to give them respect first.
Frankly, Agile and Scrum require a lot of courage.
Team members need to be courageous to be opened and transparent about their work, their activities, production, .. basically everything.
Several examples above take courage to do. This is why, without courage, it would be difficult to uphold all five Scrum values.
As a last example, and not to repeat those above, you can demonstrate courage when you tackle Agile and Scrum itself, as a system. It is difficult to always face unknowns and challenge yourself to always learn and be better. It would be a lot easier to coast and hide after a while. It takes courage to take on the challenge of becoming always better at what you do.
A Sprint is a fixed duration event, typically less than a month.
All the work to create value happens within a sprint.
This includes Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective, happen within Sprints.
This is why Sprints are the most well known part of Scrum.
Although, a Sprint is often illustrated as a loop, reality is more mundane and straightforward.
Once Scrum starts, a Sprint will start, proceed, then end, to be immediately followed by the next sprint.
There is no actual loop.
If, for example, an organization decides that their sprints will always start on the first day of the month, and end on the last day, you can easily see that each month is a Sprint. And that would be it: each new month is a new sprint, within which other Scrum events happen.
Scrum is always in a sprint
Sprints are more special than a "calendar month".
As you can see in the image above, the product backlog gathers input from the organization's vision and customers' feedback.
The product backlog itself is not a repository of specifications. It contains prioritized features or actions that will create value for customers. Then, a subset of these actions is selected to be part of a sprint.
This subset, the Sprint backlog, is then transformed in actionable, specific tasks, that will create value.
How to do this is decided within the Sprint Planning phase of the sprint.
Near the end of a Sprint, if everything went according to plan, a new Product Increment has been created.
The increment is not necessarily released to the public or customers, but it exists. It is an addition to the existing product, which now is more than it used to be.
And another Sprint starts right after that. This could be for as long as the organization wants or needs it to.
SAM9000 Kanban was recognized by CrazyEgg as the best to manage multiple projects with your eyes closed.
We are very happy with this recognition.
There are many project management apps, dozens and even hundreds in fact. They are not all the same. Each has a specific focus. We appreciate very much this comparison and review.
From the review:
"Imagine taking complete control with a custom Kanban board that shows the relationship between projects and allows you to wield data powerfully. That’s what SAM9000 can do for you."
CrazyEgg also highlighted the power of the AI in Sam.
"Your Agile PM software, then, also becomes your virtual assistant while giving team members a clear and focused objective by eliminating confusion on what to do next.With SAM9000, project management is so seamless that it makes the number of ongoing projects you have irrelevant."
Read more via CrazyEgg
Based on job postings, articles, it seems there is an unstoppable trend toward 100% automated tests in software development. This comes seemingly, at the expense of other methods like black box testing or, the heresy, manual testing.
This is surprising because they are many issues with fully automated testing.
The rise of TDD, BDD
But really, the focus of most teams and organizations is on TDD.
I can see the allure: "Let developers test their own code automatically. Have machines confirm everything is fine, with continuous integration multiple times a day.. no more bugs.. ever.."
The intent seems so logical, it is hard to argue. And many drank the cool-aid.
This article is not about the flame wars between TDD proponents and others. Some argue it is backwards to write failing test first, and it is inefficient to work so hard to make sure tests stay in sync while the code evolve in time.
Others, of course claim this is the only way to ensure coverage and automation.
But TDD or BDD, or even ATDD, the idea is still fundamentally about 100% test automation, set up or wired by developers and run by machines, automatically.
Now, if you do not practice TDD, or pretend to, it is going to be very difficult to get a job.
Testing the wrong things at the wrong time
Too much time is spent writing automated tests for everything.
Every team is different, and some will insist every function in every module has a test. Why would not you want to target 100% test coverage?
Because it is a massive waste of energy.
You should write tests you intend to run multiple times and forever, at a level where you want to avoid any break in functionality. Selecting the right level is the difficult decision.
The trends toward decoupling modules and services should help. Because you could have automated tests at the API level. You can then even treat these tests as black box testing, which is even better.
Not enough integration and system testing
If your software is very simple, unit testing could be enough. You could automate UI testing with a good tool and increase your confidence.
But when your software is more complex, for example it relies on a full database with many relations (SQL or NOSQL), real testing becomes very difficult.
You can mock database connections, you can try use other abstractions, but you are no longer actually testing the software. You are testing an idealized version of it. That is another very common problem.
If your application requires creating and manipulating a lot of data, faking it, automatically, is a huge challenge.
I would rather have experienced "manual testers" vetting all new functionality.
In QA, the Q is for Quality
The focus should be on new features. This is where most bugs will come in.
Sure, the new feature, if architectural changes were needed, may easily break other functionality and code. This is why regression testing is still important.
Still, focusing on the new feature and working hard to achieve a very high level of quality will help the most.
First, because you will find more bugs, second because this higher quality will be more resilient to breakages in the future, when new features come in.
When to use Selenium?
Also, when automation testing is badly done it has a huge impact on efficiency and maintenance costs.
It is easy to lose sight of the big picture. If you use Selenium or a similar tool, do not use it to test everything. Instead, focus on important scenarios, those you want to make sure still work after before a new release.
There is an important place for automation testing. But not when any change requires 30 minutes of automated tests before a commit.
And this should never be at the expense of black box testing, manual testing including system testing and acceptance testing at the highest level (UI with realistic and important scenarios). You should always try to avoid these mistakes.
This is 2021 as the time of writing, and still, many people do not know what a PWA is.
It is a terrible name, I admit: Progressive Web App. Only the Web App is self explanatory.
For what really matters, a PWA web site can pretend to be an App.
You can install this web site as you would an App, on many platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux.
It gets a shortcut on your desktop and launch menu, or home screen (for smartphones).
But, crucially, it is not an App. It looks like one, giving you all the benefits, without the security issues or viruses.
Microsoft is also now pushing PWA with Edge
The future should be bright for PWA. The technology and standard can be used by anybody.
Recently Microsoft decided to make it very easy to interact with PWA sites and apps. It was already easy on Android.
Users should love it because research shows they install fewer and fewer Apps on their smartphones.
So, offering a PWA as an alternative is very helpful.
PWA are powerful although not as good as native apps
PWA do not require a specific level or sophistication in their interface.
In fact they can be crude. But it is also possible, using React, Vue.js and other frameworks, to offer very sophisticated UI and experiences in a PWA.
Many developers would argue React Native or actual Swift and Android native apps are the right way to go.
In terms of performance and capabilities, this is certainly the case. But these do require going through the App stores on multiple platforms. It is a pain. And as recent examples showed, Apple or others can suddenly decide to remove your App from the store.. for little or no reason.
On the other hand, for users, PWA can be close enough: it looks like an App, they do not have to install them and they are secure.
PWA for desktop is great too
But in this case, there is no sufficient data to show users mind using the desktop App stores.
There is less incentive for PWA on desktops than on smartphones.
That being said, PWA have the same very important security advantage over regular desktop software.
They are extremely secure in comparison. There is no virus. They are fully sand-boxed, meaning they do not have access to your files or network. You are still vulnerable to some web specific threats, but no more than going to any web site, which.. they are after all.
Apple might be limiting this future
Within the Apple Eco-system you can absolutely use PWAs. They work great. I use them everyday.
Support is slightly more limited than on other platforms, but it still works great.
The issue is the significant risk Apple decides to force everyone to go through their App stores, regardless of device.
This is already the case on iPhone and iPad, obviously, with the exception, the loophole of PWA "install".
On desktop, it is no secret Apple would love to force everyone to use the Mac store to install anything.
Even though Cupertino presents this as for the security and privacy of users, it seems more realistic it is a move to close everything behind Apple's pay wall.
For now, PWA work on Apple devices, but who is to say this will be true in five years.
The price could be to create a PWA version for everyone and every platform, and create a native version or at least a version going through the Mac and App stores for Apple.
Regardless, PWA are the future, and if something replaces this technology, it should still offer the exact same advantages.
By the way, SAM9000 Apps are all PWAs. They work great on all platforms, with many different form factors. They are ultra fast, just like any App. But they offer users the flexibility to use our software on their preferred device.. or like myself on several devices, sometimes at the same time!
This question is often confusing. What is the difference between the two?
They are very similar. After all, a product manager identifies market needs. This manager also has a road map, and decides feature acceptance criteria.
Product Manager is not synonymous of Product Owner, even though the same person can be both.
In Scrum, a product owner is a role, it is not a job. Anyone selected can be a product owner. In some organizations, this is a highly technical position, in others it is a very market/customer position, from marketing or sales.
Difference between a Scrum product owner and product manager
A product manager (a job) can absolutely be a product owner (a role).
It is simply not a requirement that a product manager takes on the role.
For example, in organizations with several Scrum teams, each team may select a technical product owner for the role. And this person will work with the organization's product manager, as an external stakeholder.
Here are the key differences to remember
So, in Scrum the product owner has the role to make sure the team is working on the right stories, from a backlog the product owner manages.
Also, the product owner makes sure sprint deliver what was agreed upon.
It is more and more obvious that Agile is causing massive disruptions in the corporate world.
This is even more acute considering disruptions caused by technology and startups moving against established businesses.
What worked for decades can be made obsolete in as few as five to ten years.
No enterprise is immune. Be it AirBNB against hotels, be it Tesla against car makers, these Agile new comers create massive value while destroying a lot more elsewhere.
The same disruption is happening within companies.
This is because many companies, in order to become more competitive, are trying to adopt Agile.
It could be Scrum, SaFE, Lean or other methods, but definitely Agile is no longer exclusive to software and tech companies.
The vast majority of businesses, say 99.99% to illustrate how pervasive that is, use a very feudal model.
The CEO replaced the king, and many levels of various "nobles" are made of managers. It is also comparable to military structures, which, again are examples of this ancient power structure.
This structure does have some advantages, and frankly, was instrumental in building the civilizations running the world.
It also has major flaws.
The structure is meant for a quasi static world, where change, innovation is slow.
This is why Agile insisted on breaking hierarchies in many of its methodologies. But why?
In short, because there is too great of a distance between decision makers (including stakeholders) and producers / creators. Understand the word "creator" as meaning, those who actually create value for customers in the organization.
This distance, with long paths to the ultimate level of decision, make traditional organizations slow to adapt.
Also, because adapting requires information, and this too, moves slowly within all the management levels.
Power structures and politics may even block information entirely, making it impossible to make enlightened decisions.
So, truly Agile organizations, have very flat management structures and shallow hierarchies.
They push decision making as low as possible, with self managing Agile or Scrum teams.
Scrum is annihilating middle management
When corporations actually tried to eliminate many layers of middle management, they often saw no impact on production, customer satisfaction and value creation.
At the same time, these businesses enjoyed higher productivity and better cost structures.
In Agile terms, it is clear that middle management, not being creators, do not really create value.
Obviously, they might help in terms of operation management, efficiency.. It is their intent at least. The problem is, the alternative structure, Agile or Scrum or Lean, can do the same or better... without them.
If you are a middle manager, non creator / producer, this is a very dangerous and risky position for the future.
I would absolutely recommend, strongly, to adjust and move in positions where you participate directly in production.
In Scrum, for example, you could move to product owner or product management.
These roles will not be eliminated by Agile, not necessarily.
Many members in an Agile team are more directly creating products or services, if you do not have the expertise and skills, it might be difficult to participate this ways.
However, most Agile methods require a cross functional team. In these teams, someone representing customers is a highly valuable position. This is because Agile is built on the notion that customers is central to every activity.
Not all companies will switch
It is doubtful that all companies will become Agile. It is very likely that many businesses will remain very feudal and the foreseeable future.
But those vulnerable will probably not survive without switching. This is because they will be out-competed by Agile organizations. Those will create more value, faster, and a lower cost.
Agile, because it often works symbiotically with technology, is there to stay. In fact, the "Agilization" of corporations will greatly accelerate in the ten years.
Choose carefully where you stand.
The 2020 Scrum Guide contains numerous updates and changes that make it the best guide yet. If you haven't done so already, you can find an online version of the 2020 Scrum Guide here.
According to Scruminc.com: "In a very real way, Scrum hasn’t changed at all, our description of it simply gets better as we get feedback on how people are using it. Iterating to a better outcome.
The 2020 Scrum Guide addresses the common misinterpretations and misunderstandings we and many others have observed as the use of the framework continues to grow."
Scrum, summary of changes
Test your Scrum knowledge
If you want to test your knowledge as a Scrum master or as a Scrum team member,
you should try the free Scrum master quiz.
There are several ways to send big files for free.
However, it usually comes with a catch. You should keep this in mind.
6 ways to transfer large files to friends for free
If you do not want to spend anything, and for smaller files, the options above are serviceable.
For some of them, in particular those not offering any pro or paid plans, I would be very careful with. Storage in the cloud and security is very expensive. You should be careful to trust an organization giving this for free, unless they are a huge tech company which can afford to operate at a loss.
File Sharing for business is more than it seems
When you need file sharing for your business, either internally for your team and associates, or externally with clients (or both), you should consider a professional and paid subscription.
Most on this list do offer paid plans for professionals.
Another consideration is storage size and duration. Pay attention to how long you can keep files. With some providers you can keep files forever, and use this as an optional backup in the cloud.
Security and privacy are also very important considerations. Is the company taking security, with encryption seriously. Do they protect your files against hackers with secure authentication?
For businesses taking their files and data seriously, you could check a solution like SAM9000 Files.
This offers file sharing, security with full encryption. This cloud storage also offers durability, you can keep your files for backup. The maximum for transfers is 25 GB per file.
If you work typically on projects and your files are related to these specific projects, this kind of solution is far superior to those in this list. Project based file sharing also allows clients to upload large files directly to your business, so you can work on their projects.
The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.
Lean means creating more of what customers want while minimizing cost of resources and time.
Lean is about creating value for customers.
What is value?
Value is a product or service to customers they evaluate is worth something to them.
So, the first goal of a lean organization is to create more value, of increasing worth.
The second goal is to ever minimize waste creating this value. Waste is any activity, resource, including capital, that does not directly add value for customers.
Lean for Services, not just for Manufacturing
Many consider lean only applicable to manufacturing (making widgets). This is not the whole story.
When the main activity of an organization is to provide services to customers, this organization may greatly benefit from Lean Thinking.
read move via Lean.org
Also, consider this free e-book :
Introduction to Scrum and Scrumban
If you are a small business owner like me, or you work for a small independent team in a larger organization, you sometimes have to be smart about the tools you use.
You have a limited budget, and at the same time, an ever larger list of things to go, with limited resources.
In my case I had to find a way to handle large files for my team consulting business.
On the surface it seemed trivial. My desktop came with decent internal storage. If somebody else, in the same office, needed a file, I could share a folder, a quick password exchanged, and done. Easy... until it was not.
With the business growing, the first issue was sharing files internally, in a better way.
Sharing local files on your computer does not work if your computer is switched off, or if it is a laptop and you are not there.
Also, since everyone is sharing local files, a game a "chase the file" becomes unavoidable. Where is that file, for this project, on your computer? mine? where?
Stage 1 : NAS
A Networked Attached Storage is the first solution and a big step forward.
What is it? It is simply a disk or disks within an enclosure, directly connected to your network. I attached this NAS to the switch next to our router. In fact, there is a computer hidden inside this box. It is switched on 24/7, so this solves the access issue.
You can get a NAS from Western Digital, QNap or Synology.
There are many configurations possible depending on the number of users, and needs of your business.
This is a very important step. Getting this centralized storage makes it possible to have a "single truth" for our files and projects.
A NAS, for a small business, is much better than a real Windows server, let alone a linux server. (btw, NAS are usually linux servers masking as appliances!).
Full size servers are very expensive, very noisy, and require expert management. If your business is bigger than mine, you may not be able to avoid using one.
For my team, a NAS is ideal. I use it for years, with absolutely zero maintenance. Even firmware updates are handled automatically by the box. They are easy to configure, or let us say, not too difficult. And if you cannot set it up yourself, call any Geek Squad or similar, and they can arrange that, no problem. Set it, and forget it.
NAS is great, but it is attached to your network. It does nothing to help you with file sharing or remote access.
I know, some NAS, if not all now, offer remote access, or "cloud" feature.
But, please, never ever use a NAS cloud feature.
It is not safe. You really open your entire network to intrusion and hacking. Do not do it.
Stage 2 : Backup the central shared files
Another huge benefit with a NAS is the ability to backup.
My NAS, like many others, came with a great feature : Backup everything!
Just connect a disk to it, and configure the NAS to copy everything on that disk, every day or week or month etc..
Extra bonus, you can use multiple disks, swap them after the backup, and take one home.
This way, your back up is not in the same location than your working files. This is very important in case of disaster (fire, theft, etc..). I know there is another copy of my files somewhere.
This is a lot easier when all important files are centralized on the NAS.
That being said, each one in our team has also local working copies of files. Because local access is a lot faster for computers, for some files, you need to work on them locally.
What we do, is simply put a copy of these working files on the NAS, either daily, or weekly (because our local computers also have a simple backup running, just in case).
Stage 3 : Dropbox or similar
Instead, I chose, initially, Dropbox.
With Dropbox, you can sync a folder to the cloud (the real one), so I did.
It worked initially. Except when it did not. Sometimes the sync would fail, or get confused.
Still, overall, this was a pretty good solution. Anyone in the team could stay in sync, so remote work was possible.
But at this stage, Dropbox) showed two major issues impeding our business.
First, security, even though better than the NAS, I did not feel comfortable at all, having Dropbox with direct access to my business or personal disks.
To confirm my fear, Dropbox was hacked, showing they were a target and vulnerable.
Second, organization, just like with the NAS, with multiple people trying to organize folders and files, it is very hard to keep everything clean, and easy to navigate.
Mind you, the same was true with the NAS. I guess, both were difficult to keep organized.
This was becoming a major pain, a major issue for our projects.
Sometimes we would search for files, wasting precious time, and not even find them.
Stage 4 : Project based file management, cloud storage and file sharing
What we needed was a simple solution to centralize important files per project.
It seems so obvious now, but it was not until we did.
Our consulting business require us to receive large PDF and excel files from our manufacturing and engineering clients. We then generate very large and complex files and binary data for them. Sometimes they include pictures too etc.
All these files make sense within a specific project, for a specific client, or are useless to us.
We also need to make sure a client does not receive someone-else's files.
During the project, we often have to send them draft copies of these huge files. They are too big for emails.
Of course, we could use Google drive or other similar methods, we were using Dropbox too prior.
But then again, that is another copy of the file to manage, sort and categorize in a way.
Then we started to use a dedicated cloud solution, optimized for projects : SAM9000 Files.
With SAM9000, all these requirements, all these pain points, disappeared.
When we have a new client, we create it in Sam. We create each project under its client. It really takes 30 seconds flat.
This step is critical though. Because we start by creating each project. This means, we have a structure to build on.
Then, any file I want the team to know about, I attach to the right project.
Everything happens in the cloud by default. There is no sync. So there is no security issue access our network like all these syncing solutions I did not like or trusted.
As soon as the file is attached, it can be small or 10 GB, it does not matter, everyone in the team can see it.
But you control when you get it. Maybe Tim or Cassie is not working on that project : so they do not download it.
Still, anyone can browse the cloud storage, using a project based navigation, including the name of each client.
There is also a search.. invaluable search.
I can search a reference code (a PO#, or order or contact name etc..), and find a project or a file. Each file uploaded can get a tag or comment, and the search will use that too. Search is priceless.
Months or years later, a few keystrokes and you can find that specific file or group files you did not remember their name etc..
SAM9000 Files goes further. Our clients can also upload file. Instead of using WeTransfer, or other solutions they may have or not, we give them a simple link.
They go to it on their machine, and upload whatever files they want to send us. The link is unique and comes with a simple password. They do not need to register, just use the simple password we gave them by email.
The kick is the fact their files will automatically go directly in the right project, for the right client in the SAM9000 structure.
This is, to me, the secret weapon: not the guest upload, which is great, but the fact the system self organizes your files without you realizing it.
No longer do you have to choose weird folder names, and have a deep structure of folder within folder within folder. The structure is created for you, super flat, easy to understand and navigate, and the same for all team members.
Most of the time, I do not need to search for anything, I just go to the latest project of client X. One click later, I can see all the files we uploaded.. this creates, as a side effect, a history, a diary of all uploads and versions of these files.
When we need to send a file to a client, it is easy.
It is probably already in the cloud system in SAM9000 Files. So, I just select it and click on "share file".
This creates a public link, with an expiration date, I think it is eight days by default. If I want the expiration later, I just select another date in the calendar widget.
Copy, paste this link into an email to the client, and that is it.
It does not matter the size, they will get it.
With time, I realized I use the cloud app also as a backup. I just leave the files and history in the cloud.
I know they backup everything and the files are super durable. I have my own copy on the NAS too, and its backup. But it is good to know we have copy on an industrial strength server, fully managed by them.
There are many ways to share files now. It has never been easier.
That being said, there are several categories of file sharing you should be aware of. They might not all be what you should use.
Syncing solutions typically let you pick a folder on your machine, sometimes on the network, and will keep a copy visible from the cloud. Anyone with access to the cloud account will see the same files. Dropbox started this way.
Transfer solutions do not need to have access to a folder on your machine. They also typically do not keep your files forever, although you often have the option to store files more permanently.
Project based, or content based are very different. With these systems, files are always stored in a specific context. This context can be projects, or teams or other categories. But they are very different from the other types of file sharing services. This last category is what we want to focus on here.
SAM9000 Files - project based file sharing
With project based file sharing, your goal is to clearly link files and documents to specific projects for your team.
The first benefit is classification and retrieval. It is very easy to find all relevant files and documents for any project tracked in your app.
Another benefit is keeping historical records of your files and backup.
A typical use case with SAM9000 Files is to upload files, share them within the team while working on a project. Then, leave the files in the system, in the cloud. This creates a repository, an archive, for you to go back to when needed, with no extra effort.
With a powerful search, it is also easy to find files based on project name, tags, file name etc..
What files? even large files?
You can upload any file, including huge files in the system. There is a hard limit, but the app keeps increasing it.
As of time of writing, you can upload 25 GB files!
The storage itself is unlimited. It means, you can grow to multi-terabytes (TB) if you need to, 10 or 100 TB? no problem. You are more likely to be limited by your bandwidth than SAM9000 Files.
Pricing is based on the storage you use, and you do not have to allocate too much in advance. You can start with 100 GB. When you approach your limit, the system will offer to purchase another block of 100 GB, accessible to all the team members. The price is not per user, but per storage. You may have any number of team members, it is unlimited.
What about sharing?
First, any file attached to a project is automatically "shared" with any team member. A team member is an authorized user, invited to the account permanently. You can add an unlimited number of team members.
But these team members have very high privilege. They can upload, download, delete any file, create projects etc. This level of access is only for your core team.
For external users, partners, you can easily create a link on any file you upload to a project.
This public link is unique and expires automatically. However, you control the expiration date. You can expire a link to a file in 10 days or 10 years.
The file will still be there, only the public link expires.
The most important concept to understand is this : SAM9000 Files is project based.
This is the big difference with many other solutions. It is even impossible to upload a file without a project first. You first create a project, optionally group projects by client, then you upload files to these projects.
Do not compare this to sync based solutions.
You should only compare this app to other apps project based, or with sophisticated file management.
SAM9000 Files is the best for project based file sharing for the reasons mentioned above and a few more we can look into now.
Cloud File Security
Project based files, usually for businesses, are always sensitive, often confidential.
Your file sharing solution should be secure. They take this very seriously at SAM9000. To login, you use a non hack-able one time password sent to your email. Hackers cannot steal this password, since there is nothing to steal!
There is no fine grained privilege though. Some might see this as a limitation. Other software offer very fine grained access control to specific files, specific people or group of people.
Reality is, these fine grained settings make configuration and maintenance more complicated.
Instead, in this app, the idea is grounded in Agile and Lean thinking. Everyone in the team is equal. If you are in the team, you should be able to see every file, every project, and participate and work as a team.
Restricted access to files should be handled with separate accounts and separate teams.
File themselves are extremely secure and protected.
They all are encrypted with 256 bit encrypted, the same used for military, banking etc. Furthermore, the entire transmission pipeline is encrypted. That is, uploading or downloading files is always encrypted in flight from the cloud storage to your computer or phone.
Storage uses multiple copies of each file for durability. This means your files are stored multiple times, on multiple servers to make sure they are never lost or corrupted.
Mobile, remote access
Being a cloud based solution, remote access is a given. Your team might be in the same office, or with members working from home or on site, it does not matter. You can access all projects, all files and documents, from anywhere with an internet connection.
You can upload or download directly from your phone too, including the camera.
Best file sharing tools
The scrum master is the team role responsible for ensuring the team lives agile values and principles and follows the processes and practices that the team agreed they would use.
I found this survey results very interesting.
I found very interesting that, according to the survey, Scrum masters spend less than 12 hours per week on purely "Scrum activities".
Also, most of this time is not in meetings, but on training or refining the backlog.
Typically a Scrum Master does not have any actual authority. This is why becoming an effective Scrum Master is actually very difficult. A Scrum Master CSM or PSM certification can help, constant and sustained learning is key.
read more via Dzone and Scrum Alliance
Even though I do not think Agile is a "methodology" and therefore should not be at the top position, I agree with the rest of the list.
read more via DPM
What do you think are the highest paying IT certifications?
There are so many of them. It is helpful to know which ones are more worthwhile.
According to GlobalKnowledge, the top certification per salary expectation is Google Certified professional cloud architect. This surprised me. I would have thought that AWS Certified solutions architect would come first, not second. PMP at number five was also a surprise, since it is not specifically an IT certification, but a project management one.
Find the list of Top-paying certifications via GlobalKnowledge
Digital.com reviewed SAM9000 Kanban (formely APM) recently.
We are delighted to be recognized by this online magazine dedicated to small businesses and honest reviews.
They are looking at solutions to help small businesses. From web hosting to e-commerce solutions, or marketing services, they cover many categories and a huge number of software.
You can find the SAM9000 review in their file sharing apps.
Digital.com is an independent review website and magazine.
You may want to check their guides for businesses and entrepreneurs.
Maybe you would like to become a Certified Scrum Master. After all, Scrum is probably the most used Agile framework globally.
Here are a few tips to get certified quickly.
Want to learn more about Scrum : free "Introducction to Scrum" e-book
First, what does not change
PMP® from PMI is still based on PMBok 6th edition. So courses, study guides, and prep exams are still 100% relevant.
What is different?
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam will change on 2 January 2021 to meet those needs and will focus on three new domains:
Content that spans the value delivery spectrum, including predictive, agile and hybrid approaches, will be included across the three exam domains.
The new exam is comprised of:
Also there are new types of questions. In addition to multiple choices, there are now questions with multiple answers, and questions with (sort of) interactive graphs with hot spots. The goal is to have a more interactive test, and more modern. This is really about form, since the material is exactly the same as before.
There could be more emphasis on emerging trends. These are mentioned everywhere in the PMBok, but expect more questions that before about these topics.
If you would like to test yourself against PMP or CAPM, you should try our free practice exams.
Simply get started by clicking the button below, and jump straight into prep quiz.
The PMP and CAPM are project management certifications created and managed by PMI.org
Learn more about these certifications.
Now, here are my tips if you want to succeed.
We are happy to introduce our newest online book: "Scrum and Agile Study Guide".
This includes a trial, with 30% of the content completely free forever. If you want to learn and master the theory behind how SAM9000 Kanban and Files work, you should read the book.
Later, we will make it available for Kindle and paperback. The online version, already available, is interactive and comes with some quiz questions to test what you learned. These will not be in the Kindle and paperback versions.
Major Changes in Notes and Logs
As a team of designers, we constantly need to be in communications with clients. And so far, the most effective tools to do this, is still old fashion emails. Nothing else, really, does the job as well, I will expand more on that later.
Instead of helping Emails were getting in the way of our projects.
The problem was, we needed to spend so much time managing our emails communications. Every day. All the sifting through irrelevant ones, answering or taking care of whatever issue they brought on. Some days, by the time I was done with them, I had little time left to get anything else done.
We get lots of emails. As a team, we work on multiple projects, in parallel, each with numerous emails from clients and with each other. Clients regularly send us last minute requests, ask questions, provide new information on their ongoing projects. We also used to forward each other information on these same projects. And write to each other with requests as well.
Keeping up with all the details of these emails, on multiple projects, used to be a major source of stress and aggravation for me. In particularly busy periods, I would worry, all the time, about missing or misplacing something. “Oh wait, did I reply to Mary about that last question? “ “Did I create a task to add this new product for project #4? “ “I can’t recall if I gave Paul the last files for project #7 so he can get started on…” “Where is that email about x” And so on, and so forth.
Another problem was the difficulty to integrate them to the flow of our projects.
For example, emails often require creating a task that we then want to include in the correct project. Or, we just need to file the attached documents into projects, for reference. When our projects and list of tasks were in another software, doing this was very cumbersome.
Lastly, emails are terrible when used to delegate or accept tasks. How can I know if the task I assigned was accepted? If I don’t get an answer, is it just because Jack forgot to notify me? Or did he reject my request? What is the status on my tasks? This task tracking can quickly generate a ton of internal emails.
What about other communication systems?
Many apps claim they will replace emails. Some are quite good. Especially when it comes to replace long email chains and integrate different communication methods. Whether for internal communication or even with some external clients. But these tools are far from ideal when it comes to official communications, share documents or bigger files or to efficiently manage projects.
The thing is emails can’t be replaced easily. They are still very much alive and relevant.
Some of these solutions have been around for several years, by now. Yet, not one of them has managed to replace emails.
So, don’t let the news and fads fool you. Email is not dead: there are currently 6.69 billion email accounts.
I think, the bad reputation of emails, comes in part from the fact they are misused. Indeed, they shouldn’t be used when you need an immediate answer. Or, when you expect you will need a discussion with back and forth feedback.
However, even in those cases, writing a recap email is a good idea. It ensures everybody is on the same page. It also keeps a history of what was said and when. The fact is, our memory is not as reliable as we think it is.
Emails are effective and are still widely used for work and business. They have many advantages:
How can we keep them and not their issues?
This is where SAM inbox comes in. With it, we can make the most out of emails. We keep their benefits without the hassle to manage them.
Sam is our team’s centralized email and document Management system, all rolled into one.
Once in the inbox we can decide to:
In addition, Sam comes with other powerful complementary functions:
Emails are neatly filed in each project in context.
All attached files are automatically filed and consolidated in their own folder for easy access.
Emails are here to stay. They have their advantages, and everybody uses them. But we don’t have to accept their limitations.
Sam inbox function has truly transformed our experience as a team. It helps us make the most out of them, in a fraction of the time, it used to take us. We can now, effortlessly, attach them directly into the right projects and create tasks that are linked to them. We like the convenience of having all their attached documents filed automatically.
And personally, what I appreciate the most is that once I have attached my emails to a project, they are automatically available to everybody in the team. It is great not having to spend so much time managing emails. Instead, I can focus on what I love, working with clients on great projects.
I hear a lot about self-organizing teams, these days. That made me realize that, without knowing it, I used to work in a team like that. We did not have a typical hierarchy with a manager that organized, planned and dispatched the work for the whole team.
We were a small group of people considered as the product development department and we were all responsible for making things happen. We basically had an internal client, the marketing department that would initiate new projects, usually corresponding to new product launches. Our job was then to develop the product, to make marketing tools to support our sales team and documentation for our order entry teams. To do this we often needed input from several other departments: IT, production, marketing, purchasing, order entry and accounting.
Software’s for self-organizing teams
Keep in touch and stay coordinated
Another aspect that defined our team is that we were a cross functional team. Most of the time, we worked independently on our own tasks within the various projects. However, our work also required to constantly stay in touch and coordinate in order to complete these projects efficiently.
An example to illustrate this would be that I did take care of the digital product catalog that was used by our dealers to order our company’s product. To do my work I needed the input from Jennifer our drafting technician in order to create the graphics for the digital catalog. I also needed to work closely with John to make sure our list of new products was consistent between the digital catalog and the coding of our internal ordering system he oversaw.
At the time we did not have a software solution, so we needed to either have meetings or use emails to coordinate.
This was far from an ideal situation and it used to be quite a source of aggravation. Meetings did take a lot of our time and so did having to use emails to ask for input from our coworkers.
In the defence of emails, they are great for the initial request and communication but not at all for the follow up that is usually needed afterwards.
This a case where we would have benefited from having a software solution to stay in touch and coordinated. Some of these solutions have powerful tasks assignment and approval system, for example. When well-designed these solutions have a double advantage: in addition to be a tasks system they can be used as a communication tool.
In the example above I could have assigned Jennifer a task to provide the graphics for the new product. I would have used this task to communicate the details of what I needed, like a list of new products for which I needed graphics, for instance. No need for an email and with a task I would have been able to follow up on it directly in the software.
Some of these solutions have lifesaving functions I could have used, back then. One of them is the ability to create tasks in advance when I was organizing my project and choose to have it assigned later. This would have been very useful when I knew that my co-worker was not ready to work on this task right away.
I would really have loved that. It would have allowed me to organize whole projects and automatize the assignment of many tasks in advance. Doing this would have freed my mind from having to remember all the details and following up on them. This used to be a big source of stress, having to stay on top of many tasks across my various responsibilities. Despite all my efforts, inevitably I did let slip a few of these details through the cracks and it was usually a lot more work catching up with them later.
Keep everybody on the same page.
In addition to be a self-organizing team, one of our challenge was having to deal with projects that constantly changed. Our internal client, the sales and marketing department, would often request last-minute changes to the content of the new line of products. It was then up to the person who received the request to make sure everybody else in the team was informed of these changes. This was enough of a challenge, taking the time to document it properly and then remembering to communicate it to the others. But on top it, the difficulty was that depending on the scope of these changes, this also meant we would need to shuffle priorities between our various projects to accommodate them.
Even without any changes our projects on their own involved a fair number of unknowns which required us to be flexible in term of priorities. As we progressed on them, we often needed to reassess priorities as a group once we had a better picture of what areas needed more work and which ones needed less.
These challenges are other examples where we would have benefited from a software solution. Some collaboration software’s for example give access to the same consolidated source of information in real time. This would have saved us a lot of time in communication. A system with a Kanban that allows to visualize all the team’s projects with their tasks would also have made our work much more effective when we needed to shuffle our priorities efficiently as a group.
I have even seen a great solution with multiple Kanban levels that does exactly that.
I could have looked at the main Kanban with or without my coworkers to assess the situation at a higher level and see the progression of our multiple projects.
This is one of the advantages with these types of solutions. Depending on our schedules and availability we could have chosen to review this independently or as a group. At this higher level, we could have checked different aspects:
From this higher level we could then have gone inside of each project to see the tasks Kanban level of each project. That is where we would have defined and kept track of what to do for each person in each project.
This solution even has a personal Kanban view, which is the consolidation of what has been scheduled for each team member. The system uses the priorities indications given by the team at project and task level to determine it. It is quite interesting powerful. This is really a great function and it would have helped each of us know what to should focus on at any given time. It would certainly have helped me and not waste so much time with my “what should I do next syndrome”.
Powerful Tools for Distributed teams and remote work.
Having a distributed team environment is a situation that happens more and more frequently. It can be for variety of reasons and having a project system solution that supports it represents a big advantage.
This was exactly my case. I had negotiated to work from home four days a week which allowed me to move to a location that would have been too far to commute every day.
At the time I had arranged to have a VPN connecting to our ERP system at work and that was already great. However, I was missing on a lot when I was working from home. To stay in touch, I could call my colleagues or email them to ask them how far along they were in their part of the projects. But that was far from ideal. The work environment at the office was not designed for this and it was extra work for them to keep me in the loop. As a result, I would often find out about important changes only on the days I was at the office.
With a work environment adapted to this situation and with everybody using a software solution that allows remote work that would have been a very different experience.
It would have been easy for me to stay in touch with the rest of the team. I would have felt as if I were at the office. At any time, my coworkers and I, would have had a good idea of what was going on, each from our location.
Remotely, I could have used all the same function such a system offers: coordinate our work with multi-level Kanban’s and assign each other tasks. In addition to these functions, we would had access to many others that would have allowed us to work together remotely.
Self-organizing teams have been around for a long time. But it is only until recently that we have access to new and interesting software and technology to make our work more efficient and enjoyable. Working in a self-organized team can be one the most fulfilling type of work environment. It means you have no manager micromanaging every detail. It gives each team member more flexibility and the possibility to organize our work as we see fit. However, depending on the type of projects it requires lots of efforts to stay coordinated and on the same page. Without those efforts’ things can quickly fall apart and become a nightmare.
This is where a good software solution can make a big difference. It helps minimizing the efforts it takes to keep the team functional. It helps with staying in touch, staying coordinated and making sure everyone has access to the latest source of information. This leaves more time to work on what we love the most and make things happen faster and in a more relaxed way.