• What Is Kanban? Without getting into the debate over the difference between Kanban with a capital K and kanban with a lowercase k, we will use the term Kanban with a capital K to indicate a new approach to software development using Lean concepts and techniques, including the famous Kanban cards, which originated from the Toyota Production System.

    Unlike Agile, and Scrum in particular, Kanban does not require new roles such as PO or ScrumMaster. In all simplicity (which is its strength), Kanban allows an IT organization to keep all their current specialists (such as DBA, business analysts, testers, etc.) and continue to use their software development life cycle even if it is based on the waterfall approach. The reason why Kanban experts do not worry even when faced with a waterfall model is because it is the very premise of the Kanban approach to optimize using Lean concepts and techniques no matter what process a team is using.

    Although different Kanban (Lean) practitioners have different ways of applying Kanban in software development, we believe the essence of how a software team uses Kanban consists of the following steps at the simplest level:

    1. Visualize the current workflow
    2. Capture current metrics and rules
    3. Identify bottlenecks
    4. Establish a new service level agreement (SLA) and policies
    5. Limit work in progress (WIP)
    6. Measure new lead times and some other metrics
    7. Optimize

    Let's review these seven points, one by one, in more detail.

    1. Visualize the current workflow.
    Without a clear understanding of how the current process works and how work is actually performed, any discussion will be purely speculative. This is why the first step will be to visualize the workflow as soon as you can.

    2. Capture current metrics and rules.
    Without a good understanding of what the performance of the current process is and whether the business users are happy or not, any improvement attempt will be hazardous. Therefore, it will be key to capture rules as to what has been going on.
    Examples of such rules could include the following:
    a. All requests are delivered between six and twelve weeks.
    b. No development will be allowed before the chief architect has given approval.
    c. All products should be tested by users before being released into the market.
    d. Some users are available only to perform user acceptance testing.

    3. Identify bottlenecks.
    By interviewing the team, we came to realize that the chief architect represents a bottleneck, especially when he is not available or is so overloaded that he cannot perform his review on time.

    4. Establish a new SLA and policies.
    The intent behind the idea of SLA and policies is to identify the business customers' or users' expectations and what both sides should do to get to this new level of performance so that they can establish a trusting relationship.
    For an example of SLA, we can imagine that the team will guarantee that all new requests will be delivered in less than six weeks. In return, the team could use this opportunity to require that the users be available three weeks before production to thoroughly test all the new features. In terms of new rules or policies, the team could decide that they should work on regulatory requests first and only take care of non-regulatory items after.

    5. Limit work in progress (WIP).
    Once the new SLA and mutual expectations have been reached, it will be time to review the team members' workload and see how to establish some limits on WIP. The idea behind limiting WIP is to set the number of requests for work a team can accept into the system without becoming overloaded.
    To clarify this point, let's go through an example with some diagramming. Let's assume that we have a team of two business system analysts, three developers, three testers, and two technical writers. With three developers on the team, we can only have a maximum of three requirements being developed at any given time. To mark this limit, we write a number 3 into the upper right corner of the Development column.
    Because development work normally takes longer than requirements and analysis, we can imagine that the order point (the point at which the business analyst can pull one requirement into the Analysis and Design column to work on) will be 3, but the limit can be higher than 3—let's say 5.
    Now, before examining more advanced concepts in Kanban, let's assume that there are three members of the staff working on this project, which can be translated into three lanes.
    We should remember that because we only have three developers, we should turn the Analysis and Design column from a pipeline into a queue. This allows a developer to work on any request that is in the queue, something they could not have done if the queue had stayed a pipeline only for a specific developer.
    To make it easy for team members to know when an item will be ready to be pulled into the next column (station), a column can be divided into two sub-columns, one "ongoing" and one "done,".

    6. Measure new lead times and some other metrics.
    Like in Scrum, the Kanban team also has a daily standup, but unlike the daily standup in Scrum, Kanban's daily standup focuses more on the workflow (to make sure that it is continuously moving) rather than on the Sprint's goal.
    Before each daily standup, an update should be made to show the team's progress. The diagram that shows whether the lead time is improving or if there is an increase in throughput is called the cumulative flow diagram or CFD.

    7. Optimize.
    As part of our continuous effort to optimize the development team's work, we may be tempted to also organize the work around common data-related requirements to keep the work flowing.
    This would mean that the number of limits in the Development column could be increased to 6.
    This is to say that the order point for the Analysis and Design column can also be increased from 6 to 9.
    Eventually we could combine the Analysis and Design and Development columns to allow for more frequent customer interaction.

    Similarities between Agile/Scrum and Kanban

    more
  • What Is Lean? Lean is the English term—popularized by a team of researchers working under James Womack's direction from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—to describe the system known as the Toyota Way inside the company that created it. For practical purposes, we will consider Lean as a catchword that describes a system approach to producing more with less by empowering employees and by minimizing waste.

    To illustrate what waste is, let's review the seven types of waste that Shigeo Shingo identified (along with co-creator Taiichi Ohno, the acknowledged father of Kanban):

    Transportation
    The unneeded movement of products and/or materials between process steps is waste. Moving things between plants and floors can lead to damage and, most important, create no value for the customer.
    In software development, this could equate to the hand-off of some paper documentation from one team to the next.

    Waiting
    Any time a worker is idle and waiting for something to do, he or she is wasting time.
    In software development, this happens when some members of the development team are free but do not have anything they can work on.

    Overproduction
    Producing more than what the market demands is waste and can lead to other waste, such as high material costs and expensive human resources.
    In software development, this is what happens when the team produces features that are not really needed by the users, a phenomenon known as silver plating.

    Defects
    In software development, this is any deliverable that has errors and/or requires rework.

    Inventory
    Whenever inventory happens to exist along the assembly line, that is waste. Even if it may be needed, it is still non-value added.
    In software development, this is what happens when there are artifacts throughout the life cycle that no one needs to use to create their production.

    Motion
    Any movement of employees that does not add anything to the process is waste.
    In software development, this is any process step that requires an exchange between two team members that does not add anything to the overall process of value creation.

    Extra processing
    Any processing step that does not add any value to any artifact or product is waste.
    In software development, this is what happens when team members have to do certain steps or things that do not directly contribute to the creation of value for the end users.

    In addition to these seven types of wastes, an eighth form of waste has been added, which is the "underutilization of human resources."

    Even though Lean has been mentioned for quite some time in software development, as witnessed by the writings of some early Lean authors, there were no such Lean processes as Scrum or XP within the Agile space. All of this changed with David Anderson's first known attempt to apply Kanban to software development.


    Similarities between Agile/Scrum and Kanban

    more
  • Building Communications Solutions with UCMA Although the Lync SDK is used to integrate communications functionality into applications that
    run on the client, UCMA is typically used to build communications applications that run on the
    server; for example, hosted in Internet Information Services (IIS), exposed through Windows
    Communication Foundation (WCF), or running in a Windows Service. A UCMA application is
    usually a long - running process such as an automatic call distributor used to handle and distribute incoming calls in a call center. Users interact with the UCMA application via an endpoint that can either be a contact in Lync, such as sip:HelpDesk@fabrikam.com , or simply a phone number. The user can start a Lync call, instant message with the UCMA application contact or dial the phone number associated with the application.

    Consider the following scenario where Contoso, a fictitious company, uses a UCMA - based
    application to run its call center operations.

    When customers call Contoso’s customer service phone number, the UCMA application picks up the calls and guides callers through a workflow, such as one built with the UCMA Workflow SDK, to gather information from them such as the reason for their call, their account number, and so on. After the workflow gathers the necessary information from the callers, it places them on hold and searches for an agent with the right skills to assist them. Customers remain on hold until an agent becomes available; the UCMA application tracks all the agents ’ Lync presence so it knows when an agent becomes available again to handle a call.

    When an agent picks up calls, he or she already knows a lot about the callers based on the information they provided. An Agent Dashboard application hosted in the Lync conversation window can display information about the caller such as order history or any open customer service tickets that require attention. The agent can use this information to provide better service to the customer.

    An application such as the customer service Agent Dashboard is built using the Lync SDK, including the Lync controls and the Lync API. The UCMA application interacts with the Agent Dashboard using the Context Channel, a new feature in UCMA 3.0 that provides a channel across which a UCMA application and Lync SDK application can send information to each other. For example, if the agent realizes that he needs to consult another agent to help with the call, he can issue an “ escalate ” command from the Agent Dashboard application. The command is sent across the context channel to the UCMA application, which knows how to process it and look for another available agent with the necessary skills to assist with the call.

    Part of a supervisor ’ s duties in Contoso ’ s customer service department is to monitor the performance of agents and coach them on how to provide better service to customers. The supervisor can launch a Supervisor Dashboard application that shows a list of all active calls. The supervisor selects a call to silently join, allowing him to monitor the call without the knowledge of either the customer or agent. The new audio routes functionality in UCMA 3.0 enables developers to build routes across which audio can travel in a conference, effectively controlling who can hear what. When the supervisor is monitoring a call, audio flows to her from the conference but doesn’t flow back in, allowing her to listen in to a call without being heard. If the supervisor needs to provide coaching to the customer service agent, an audio route is established from the supervisor to the agent, allowing her to “ whisper ” to the agent without the customer hearing any of the conversation.

    UCMA 3.0 includes several other enhancements that are covered in more detail later in the book, including an easier development experience for working with presence and conferences, and a
    feature known as auto - provisioning, which greatly simplifies the process of managing the plumbing and configuration information required to run a UCMA application.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more
  • Adding Context to Conversations The context of a conversation refers to the subject or topic of the conversation; the Lync API provides some mechanisms for embedding context directly into a conversation, allowing the participants to immediately know what a new conversation is about.

    A great example of adding context to a conversation is the “ Reply by IM ” feature in Microsoft Outlook that allows you to respond to an email message using Lync. The message recipient sees the subject of the original email message in the incoming conversation notifi cation window (also known as the toast) and as the title of the conversation window. When the person receives the instant message, she knows right away what you are contacting her about.

    The Lync API introduces the concepts of Launch Link context and Lync Extensibility Window context that you can use to enhance the communications capabilities of your applications by embedding context into the conversations started by the application.

    Launch Link context allows conversation recipients to launch applications directly from the Lync conversation window. For example, you select a customer account when working with a CRM application; after selecting the account, you can see the account manager ’ s presence and are able to start an instant message or audio conversation with her directly from the application. The
    conversation that the account manager receives contains a link that she can use to launch the CRM application directly from the conversation window. The contextual data payload supplied with the conversation also includes information about the particular account that you are contacting her about. The user can launch the CRM application and automatically load the customer account record in question.

    Lync Extensibility Window context allows you to host Silverlight or Web applications in the Lync conversation window. When a person receives a conversation that includes Lync Extensibility Window context, the Lync conversation window expands to host the specified Silverlight or Web application. The application hosted in the Lync conversation window enhances the conversation by providing additional services to it not available in the out - of - the - box Lync experience.

    Launch Link and Lync Extensibility Window context are often combined to provide an end - to - end contextual conversation experience to the user. For example, a developer working in Visual Studio can highlight a section of code — using a Visual Studio add - in — and learn which team member authored that section of code. The Lync controls are used to show the team member ’ s presence and, if she is available, start a conversation with her. When she receives the conversation, you can use Lync Extensibility Window context to display the section of code in question in a Silverlight application hosted in the Lync conversation window. If the developer needs to modify the code, you can use Launch Link context to include a launch link in the Lync conversation that allows her to start Visual Studio and automatically open the project containing the code.

    You can build two main types of applications to run in the Lync conversation window. The first is a companion application, such as a translation application that provides two - way translation of an
    instant message conversation. This type of application interacts with the conversation but doesn ’ t depend on it for startup parameters; the user can start this application as needed from the Lync conversation window. The other type of application depends on the conversation it is hosted in to provide the necessary startup parameters; for example, when a customer service agent in a call
    center receives a call, a Silverlight application automatically loads in the Lync conversation window and uses the caller ’ s phone number to look up the customer record and display information, such as the recent order history to the agent.

    The contextual conversation functionality provided by Launch Link context and Lync Extensibility Window context allows you to inject contextual data into conversations, providing for a richer and more efficient conversation experience that ensures that participants always have access to the contextual application data that they need.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more
  • Working with Lync UI Suppression When the Lync client is confi gured to run in UI Suppression mode, its interface is completely hidden from the user. Applications that use Lync UI Suppression are responsible for recreating those user interface elements from scratch. The Lync API with Lync running in UI Suppression mode is the recommended development pattern for applications you would have previously built with the UCC API.

    Lync UI Suppression requires that the Lync client is installed on the user ’ s machine; this eliminates the complexity of managing the connectivity of the application back to the Lync server infrastructure. In UI Suppression, you use the Lync API to replicate some of the functionality available in the Lync client, such as signing users into Lync, retrieving their contact list, and starting and responding to conversations in different modalities.

    When working with UI Suppression, you interact with conversations at the modality level —activating individual modalities manually, creating conversations, adding participants, and disconnecting the modalities when the conversation is completed. For example, you can build a Silverlight instant messaging client that provides a completely customized user interface for instant message conversations. In this case, you would be responsible for recreating application functionality and user interface elements such as a contact list and conversation window. You would work directly with the instant message modality, creating a conversation, connecting the modality, sending instant message text to participants, notifying participants when someone is typing, and delivering the instant message text to the participants in the conversation.

    Using the Lync API with Lync running in UI Suppression mode, you can build compelling Lync - replacement solutions such as a custom instant messaging client, or a dedicated audio/video conferencing solution.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more
  • Integrating Lync Functionality into Your Applications Using the Lync Controls Think of the Lync client as being built out of LEGO blocks, each providing a specifi c piece of functionality such as showing the presence of contacts, organizing contacts into groups, and interacting with contacts by starting instant message or phone conversations. The Lync controls separate the functionality in Lync clients into individual controls that developers can drag and drop into their Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) or Silverlight applications.

    The Lync controls include a control to show the presence of a contact; for example, the presence of an account manager in a CRM system. Controls are also available to easily start an instant message or audio conversation with that contact at the click of a button. with no additional code required. A set of other controls provides functionality for managing contact lists; for example, to integrate the user ’ s Lync contact list into an application. You can also use custom contact lists to create and display an ad - hoc list of contacts, such as the account team for a client in a CRM application. Additional controls are available to search for contacts and display the results. Controls are also available to set the current user ’ s presence, personal note, and location.

    Due to their obvious dependence on user interface elements of the Lync client, the Lync controls are not available in UI Suppression mode.

    Integrating Lync functionality into applications using the Lync controls allows users to launch communications directly from the application that they are working in without needing to switch to the Lync client. The Lync controls are available in WPF and Silverlight and are extremely easy to use; you only need to drag and drop the appropriate controls into the application, and they work without the need for any additional code.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more
  • BUILDING COMMUNICATIONS APPLICATIONS WITH THE LYNC SDK The Lync 2010 SDK includes the Lync controls, a set of Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) controls that you can use to integrate functionality found in the Lync client directly into your applications.

    The SDK also includes the Lync application programming interface (API), a brand - new, managed API for building custom communications solutions. The Lync API is intended to replace the IMessenger and UCC APIs available with Office Communications Server 2007 R2. The IMessenger API was easy to get started with, but was fairly limited in functionality; it was also a little cumbersome to troubleshoot because it used COM interoperability to interact with the running instance of Communicator on the user ’ s machine.

    The UCC API was very difficult to get started with in comparison, but it provided the most power and functionality if you wanted to build a Communicator replacement. Unlike the UCC API, the Lync API requires the Lync client to be running — it reuses the connection that the client has established with the Lync infrastructure. You can configure the Lync client to run in UI Suppression mode — where its user interface is invisible to the user — enabling you to build custom communications clients previously only possible when using the UCC API.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more
  • LYNC PRODUCT OVERVIEW So, what is Lync? Microsoft Lync Server 2010 is the successor to Offi ce Communicators Server, and Live Communications Server before that. Although most people might be familiar with Lync as an enterprise instant messaging solution, it ’ s a lot more than that when you take advantage of all the features it has to offer.

    Lync adds value to the Microsoft applications that you use every day: Office and SharePoint. It provides a unified communication and collaboration experience across Office and SharePoint, providing the same way to start an instant message, audio call, or desktop sharing session with a contact regardless of the application you are working in. The new Lync client (the replacement for Microsoft Communicator) enables you to connect with people within your organization by allowing you to perform a skills search to find coworkers with a particular skill. The Lync skills search queries users ’ My Sites for skills that they have indicated expertise in.

    Lync provides a built - in conferencing solution that you can use to schedule and host online meetings with contacts both inside and outside your organization. Online meetings are easy to create by scheduling them in Outlook, or by selecting a list of contacts in Lync and starting an ad - hoc meeting. For users outside your organization who don ’ t have the Lync client installed, the Lync Web App — the successor to LiveMeeting — enables them to join your online meeting and participate in your application sharing session. Attendees can dial in to a conference call, or have the Lync Web App call them back on a number they provide. A new conference lobby experience allows presenters and the meeting organizers to exercise more control over the online meeting by notifying them when people outside the organization join the meeting and providing them with the option to admit these visitors (or not) into the meeting.

    The following is a brief overview of the new features available to administrators. The Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Control Panel is a new Silverlight - based tool for administering a Lync deployment; it includes functionality to :

    » Manage users
    » Manage the various servers in the Lync topology
    » Confi gure instant messaging and presence
    » Create and maintain voice dialing plans
    » Confi gure conferencing
    » Monitor the quality of service in the deployment
    » Adjust bandwidth utilization

    Administrators can alternatively use PowerShell to execute management scripts in the topology. The Lync Server Management Shell provides an experience that Exchange and SharePoint administrators are already familiar with from managing their environments using PowerShell.

    Now that you know a little bit about the functionality offered by Microsoft Lync Server 2010, it ’ s time to learn about the development tools that you use to build communications functionality into your applications.

    Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Unified Communications Development with Microsoft Lync Server

    more