Despite what you hear on the news, not all IT projects undertaken by the federal government are unsuccessful. Granted, there are challenges to overcome, but a talented development team with a clear vision can build bigger and better things. In Washington, D.C., the capital of the federal contracting world, a small IT company called AIS is making a big difference at the FBI using the Agile approach to deliver an application that is being used by the FBI every day.

Agile software development, at its core, is more about focusing on interactions between team members, collaborating with customers, actively involving users, and responding to change quickly…and less about focusing on preparing comprehensive documentation or following processes. However, the AIS team at the FBI uses a hybrid approach that is heavy on constant interaction with the customer and the user community, without losing the significance of processes and documentation. For our application, AIS uses a team of requirements analysts, programmers, infrastructure engineers, software testers and helpdesk support to form a strong software development team to accomplish these tasks. Read More…

Chemistry FlasksThe ability to inspect and adapt is what differentiates good software development teams from great software development teams. For agile teams, the retrospective is a key event to making that happen. Just as the daily scrum is a scheduled time each morning to plan an attack for the day, the retrospective is a scheduled time at the end of each sprint for the team to inspect how these daily attacks were executed and create an adjustment and improvement plan for the next sprint. If your team’s retrospectives have become stale and boring, or fail to generate concrete actions and experiments for the next sprint, then try some of the following adjustments. Read More…
Some end-of-the-week reads from AIS employees’ personal blogs:

Windows Azure Planning: A Post-Decision Guide to Integrate Windows Azure in Your Environment: AIS’ CTO Vishwas Lele posted a complete planning guide on how to best adopt and integrate Windows Azure into your organization. (Fleeting Thoughts)

SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati Session: Clint Richardson (who wrote the excellent three-part series on The Best New Features of SQL Server 2012) presented a Voluntold admin session at last week’s SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati. His presentation, relevant links and PowerShell code are all available at his blog. (pointblankadmin)

Understanding and Using System.Transactions: Ash Tewari has compiled an excellent library of resources to help you understand and effectively use System.Transactions functionality in your .NET projects. (tewari.info)

Adaptive Problems Require Responding to Change Over Following a Plan: More deep thoughts on the Scrum framework and Agile values from Ryan Cromwell. (cromwellhaus)

Aliasing Multiple Properties in Knockout JS Bindings: David Benson figured out another handy use for Knockout JS’s “with” statement: you can emulate c# style “using” directives. (dben codes)

Teach Your Kid to Code: Steve Michelotti (and his 5th grade son!) will be co-presenting a great, fun session called Teach Your Kid to Code at the CMAP meeting next Tuesday evening in Columbia, MD. (Don’t forget to get out and vote early, too.) (Steve Michelotti)

Happy Friday! Here are some of the latest posts by AIS employees from around the web and their personal blogs:

Using Git-Tf: Suppress the TFS Warning When Loading a Solution: Using Git-TF? Getting annoying TFS warnings in Visual Studio? Senior Software Engineer Kip Streithorst can help. (It’s Null?)

Fight Clutter and Confusion in the Workplace. The Importance of Process Streamlining and How to Do It: Developer Terra Gilbert has discovered a natural knack for process streamlining and improving documentation. Here are her tips. (codeterra)

Recent Items in Windows 8: Oskar Austegard plays around with a new Windows 8 install and solves the case of the missing (or at least hard-to-find) Recent Items folder. (mo.notono.us)

KnockoutJS & ASP.NET Mvc Partial View Loading: How to dynamically load “partial views” bound to KnockoutJS view models. (Null != Steve)

Scrum Fundamentals Recording Available: In case you missed Ryan Cromwell‘s Scrum Fundamentals webinar, the presentation is available on his blog. (And be sure to check our Events page — we add new events every week!) (cromwellhaus)

dailyscrum

The Daily Scrum, sometimes referred to as the Daily Standup, is a simple activity most teams have adopted or experimented with at some point.  In most instances, the extent of their guidance is to limit the gathering to 15 minutes and to answer three questions:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you do today?
  3. What impediments do you have?

Most leaders will jump at a chance for their teams to share this type of information and communicate every day.  Fifteen minutes is a small price to pay for a bit of insight and the appearance of teamwork.

Read More…

Trying to kill some time this afternoon before the long weekend? Here are some quick reads from AIS employees and bloggers:

Lightning Talk: Experiences with Feature Focused Apps: At a recent Scrum.org gathering, trainer Ryan Cromwell presented a “lightning talk” about his work on feature focused apps. (cromwellhaus)

Favorite Excel Spreadsheet Shortcuts: Who doesn’t love a good shortcut? Here are seven really helpful ones. (tewari)

SharePoint URL Hack: Get the list schema xml: We’re all big fans of simple, time-saving hacks, too. (SharePoint Therapy)

Here at Applied information Sciences, we use Yammer quite a bit to facilitate quick, transparent and open communication. For such a distributed team of smart individuals, it’s an invaluable tool to building camaraderie and cohesiveness. Yammer allows us to discuss hot industry technologies and opens the channel to shared experiences and knowledge.

I recently used Yammer to conduct a poll here at AIS:

Read More…

In addition to contributing to AIS’ brand-new corporate blog, many members of our team have their own personal blogs. We may be biased, but we certainly think they’re worth a spot in your bookmarks or reader feed. Here’s what some of them have been writing about lately:

Beyond the Agile Programmer: Innovative Teams: Ryan Cromwell attended illustrator Brad Colbow’s session on Building a Design Culture at Midwest UX (where AIS was a sponsor). It got him thinking about how Scrum can enable a culture of innovation. (cromwellhaus.com)

Using Windows Azure IaaS to host SharePoint 2010: Harin Sandhoo shares the time-saving PowerShell script he uses to set up the infrastructure for SharePoint farms in Azure’s IaaS offering. (sandhoo.wordpress.com)

Update Azure DB Firewall Rules with PowerShell: Here’s another handy PowerShell from Tom McKearney for work-from-home Azure developers who are tired of constantly updating their SQL Azure Firewall settings.  (Codemares)

Setting Up SharePoint 2010 in Amazon Web Services (AWS)
: Chris Hettinger has absolutely everything you need to know about migrating a SharePoint environment to Amazon’s great big datacenter in the cloud. (messor.com)