Articles about Agile

The OmbuLabs Workflow: working with GitHub and Pivotal Tracker

As a remote team, we work and communicate asynchronously a lot of the time. Additionally, as a software agency, we work not only on client projects but also internal projects related to various aspects of the company. This means we will have stories and pull requests opened accross different internal projects at all times and it is important that everyone is on the same page when it comes to what needs their attention and what the next steps are.

We have shared more information on how we use Pivotal Tracker here. We also like to use GitHub to its full potential. Therefore, we needed a standardized workflow that would take into account how we use both these tools and ensure everybody on the team knows what is going on by looking at a Pivotal Tracker board or a list of open Pull Requests.

In this article, I will walk you through the workflow we created for our team. You can find a flowchart representation of the workflow here.

Read more »

Team Retreat: How They Can Help Remote Teams "Click"

Remote work is a growing reality. In the 21st century, we have distributed companies that work 100% remotely, with team members scattered around the world.

While remote work has its benefits - diversity in background and experiences, access to an immense talent pool, cut down office costs to name a few - it also brings its challenges. And the biggest one is communication.

There are several pieces of software that aim to facilitate communication in a remote work environment. At OmbuLabs, we use Slack for our day-to-day conversations and Zoom for our calls. However, as a remote team, we don't get to meet our teammates face to face. We don't have "water cooler" chats or as many opportunities for casual chats as an office environment.

So how can we bring our team closer together? How can we build that team spirit that comes from seeing everyone and talking about our casual, social lives? Well, last month we had a team retreat. And it was great.

Read more »

Onboarding New Team Members with Slack Workflows

When a new team member comes onboard, there are several tools and resources they need to access, as well as processes, practices and guidelines they need to be aware of. There is also workflow and company culture information you want to communicate. After all, each company has its unique features and you want new team members to be comfortable with the existing team.

For remote teams, this process can be very challenging. Thankfully, if you use Slack, you can use their Workflows feature to easily onboard new team members, making the process actionable and easy to follow.

In this article I'll describe how I used Slack Workflows to make the onboarding process here at OmbuLabs quick and easy.

Read more »

Making Your Clients Better Product Owners

Different clients bring different projects, perspectives, workflows, and experiences, as well as different challenges. Before starting a project, one of those challenges is to define who will be the Product Owner.

Ideally, you would be able to assign the role internally or to the client based solely on the characteristics of the project. However, that's not always the case. It might just be that the client insists on being the Product Owner or that you are a small team and can't really assign the role internally. Whatever the reason, you might end up in a situation where your client isn't really a good Product Owner.

Here I'll share some strategies we implement to help our clients become better Product Owners and ensure the best experience for them and for our team.

Read more »

Tips for Working Remotely in a Team

We have been a fully remote company for a year and a half now. Making the transition to being fully remote can be challenging for any team. During the past year and a half we have worked on making sure that our team is as productive, communicative and social as it was when we had a traditional office space. Here are some tips that we have found to be useful for remote teams:

Read more »

Submit Great Pull Requests

Pull Requests let developers tell other team members about changes they've made to a project repository. Once a pull request is created, team members can review the set of changes, discuss potential modifications and even push follow-up commits before the changes are merged into the repository. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your pull requests are easily understandable to the reviewers.

Read more »

Using Google Calendar for Account Management

At Ombu Labs, we like to split our time between working on our own products, open source and client projects.

Our own products include everything from OmbuShop, an e-commerce platform, to FastRuby.io, a Ruby on Rails upgrade service. In terms of open source, we recently created Audit Tool and are constantly searching for more projects to contribute to. We also work on a variety of interesting client projects, and with our current team size, like to take on two to three of them at a time.

As an Account Manager, it can get hectic trying to manage all of this. Google Calendar can be a serious help.

Read more »

Kickoff Calls for New Projects

When starting a new software development project with a client, it is important to get started on the right foot. The way you communicate with a client at the beginning of a project can set the tone for how communication will be throughout the project.

Therefore, at Ombu Labs, we believe it is crucial to start off every new project with a Kickoff Call, where we can take time to get to know the client's team and speak in depth about their goals and priorities for the project. We like to discuss the following list of topics with clients during our calls:

Read more »

How we use Pivotal Tracker at Ombu Labs

We like to use GitHub to its full potential at Ombu Labs, so any tool we add to the toolset needs to integrate nicely with it. As a growing agency working in larger and increasingly more complex projects, we need a project management tool that allows us to keep track of our work and plan accordingly. For this, we use Pivotal Tracker.

There are many things that are easier with Pivotal Tracker, as long as you are using it the right way. Some of its features are very useful for agile teams like ours. This is how we like to use it to ship value with every sprint and keep track of our team velocity.

Read more »

The Joys and Woes of Pair Programming

There are a few agile practices that I really love. Pair programming is one of them.

We try to do it as much as possible at Ombu Labs. We usually keep the sessions under two hours and try to follow a regular schedule.

When we find ourselves blocked by a code problem, we use our daily scrum to coordinate a pairing session. It's quite a step up from rubberducking or using a cardboard programmer to find a solution to a problem.

@mauro_oto and I pair programming

The Joys

As a Senior developer, I find that pairing sessions are great for coaching Junior developers. I enjoy teaching them about best practices, design patterns, frameworks, languages, code style, XP, and TDD.

From the point of view of a Junior developer, I believe it's a great opportunity to learn from someone who "has been there before". When you program with someone with more experience, you will often learn about design patterns, elegant object-oriented solutions, tips and tricks.

Read more »