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Olga primarily writes her articles for the Edge of Chaos agile development blog powered by TargetProcess, Inc. She has been with this company for 5+ years. Olga currently resides between Minsk, Belarus and Buffalo, NY. She enjoys tennis, travel, and psychology. Olga is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 39 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Agile Tool Reviews: Trusted Content?

03.26.2010
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Yesterday Google alerted me about a review of TargetProcess  by Boris Gloger. I started reading this review and I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could Boris Gloger, such a respected Scrum trainer, overlook some important features of an agile tool he’s reviewing?

Writing reviews  is a very responsible task. It only seems that web can tolerate all. There’s no censorship, no security checks on whether the info in a review can be trusted or not. Reviews are about knowing all the facts. Only when you make sure that you know all of the subject matter, then you can write a review.  I’d never stand up as a guru and claim - my people, I’m your guru, I know all about this tool -  and then - ooops.. - I’ve got some essential flaws in my knowledge of this tool.

Now, let’s see what Boris Gloger overlooked. Comments on Boris’ page do not work(!!!), unfortunately.

Target Process is a tool created by Target Process Inc. to manage agile process. They can support Scrum, Extreme Programming, Lean and others. The tool have a good set of features and some nice ideas to speed up the addition of data for your project. They also provide a Eclipse and Visual Studio add-in so each developer can see their to-do list right on the IDE. If you like to try it for yourself there’s a 30 day free trial available.

Ehm.  TargetProcess comes for free not only as a 30 days trial. It’s free for small agile teams up to 5 people. It’s our humble donation to the growing agile community. Boris, it’s a fully functional free copy with free updates and subscriptions for agile teams of 5.

The “Features” works like an Epic or Theme for your stories and if don’t care for that it can be totally skipped. If you’d like to use it’s possible to determine an estimation and priority for the features but it really doesn’t make much sense to me.

The Features DO work like Epic or Theme and you can rename Features to Epics or Themes or any other name of your choice. The names are completely customizable and it’s up to you which name to choose.

I’d prefer to see something simpler like tags for the stories.

What??? We’ve got tags for user stories and for all the other entities! We’ve got bundles of tags. Tags board. Tags are powerful tools for categorization and filtering, so if I were a certified Scrum Trainer I would have quadruple checked before making such a blunt statement about no tags in any agile tool.

We talk about estimating feature so, of course we can estimate stories also. That’s the first problem i think the tool have, it’s only possible to estimate using time units, ideal or not. That’s no mentions to story points at all, this miss, pushes Target Process to field of time tracking tools, which is not a good thing.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. You missed the point with story points. They’re there, and you can choose between ideal time units and story points. This bold statement of no user story points in TargetProcess pushes you, Boris, to field of shallow reviewers that do not take enough time to study the agile tool they’re reviewing, and then spread this distorted knowledge to their students on Scrum trainings.

Target Process is supposed to work with different agile models, so they use the term iteration instead of sprint.

Foul and a miss. As I already mentioned, one can customize terms and rename the term “iteration” to “sprint” or whatever. TargetProcess is supposed to work with different agile models, so we’ve made our terms and processes completely customizable.

On the Taskboard there’s an awkward choice, there’s only two columns available Open and Done, where’s the WIP ? It’s on another tab Kanban Board, I really don’t understand why they went that way, but it’s no good at all.

Ugh. I really don’t understand how Boris could have overlooked such essential part of TargetProcess as customizable states and processes flow.  Two columns Open and Done on the task board are available for dummies. For advanced reviewers, all the states they want are available. Users can introduce as many states as they need to their development process, and they can give any names to those states. Kanban Board states are customizable as well. It’s no good at all that our honorable reviewer missed this..!

It’s hard to say what I think about Target Process, they had good ideas, like the shortcut flows, but really bad ones like the Kanban Board. Overall the tool is ok but not very intuitive, could be more polished on the user experience, and of course the common problem of too much focus on time tracking hurts a lot.

Boris, I promise you will not be that hurt as you take a closer look at TargetProcess. You seem to have some special inkling with too much focus on time tracking, that’s why you see it where there’s no special focus on it. Time tracking in TargetProcess is just in the right amount, no less, no more. IMHO, it’s rather less of it, than more.  As for user experience - draw the curtain… look in here :)

References
Published at DZone with permission of Olga Kouzina, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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Comments

Sindy Loreal replied on Sat, 2012/02/25 - 9:09am

I partially agree with you, Boris. TargetProcess is not perfect and was not designed for really small teams. Small teams should use whiteboards and simplest tools.

But if you have distributed or quite large team, you need something better than whiteboard (not always, but in many cases).

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