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How Easy Software Used Scrum to Create Software to Manage Scrum

May 2, 2024

In this episode of the community podcast, host Dave West speaks with representatives from Easy Software, including CEO Filip Moravek, Product Owner Jan Řeřicha, and Professional Scrum Trainer Karel Smutný. Easy Software has been using Scrum to develop and improve their product, Redmine, a project management tool. The team discusses their journey with Scrum, including the implementation of Scrum boards. They also touch on their future plans, which include further AI integration into their product. The episode highlights the benefits of using Scrum not just for Developers but also for management and task management, and emphasizes the continuous improvement aspect of Scrum.


Dave West  0:19  
Hello, and welcome to the community podcast. I'm your host, Dave West here, CEO Today's podcast is going to be focused on a on a success story about Scrum about professional Scrum. It's actually going to be about an organization called Easy Software, which sounds like a contradiction. My experience with software is it's never easy, but maybe they're changing the paradigm there. And I'm very fortunate to be joined by two people from EZ and one of our professional scrum trainers that have been working with them. I'd like to welcome to the podcast, Phillip, CEO of Easy Software. Yan, the product owner. They're easy software and chorale and above professional scrum trainers. Welcome to the podcast gentleman.

Filip  1:10  
Hello, everyone. Hello. Hello.

Dave West  1:14  
It's great to have you all here. And you're speaking to us from one of my favorite cities Prague, which is a beautiful, beautiful, amazing city with an amazing vibrant software and process community. So it's great that you could find the time to talk to us. Okay, so let's get to the meat of the story. Maybe we start with you, Phillip talking a little about who Easy Software is.

Filip  1:45  
Okay. Thanks, Dave. My name is Philip and I am founder and CEO of easy software. And our story begins almost 20 years ago, I was attendee of intensive one week tools about project management and maybe it stretch. But I fell in love with project management, because I had strong inner insight that doing things in the right way make us more productive. And notice, even more importantly, the right project management can make us more satisfied and happier in our daily life. So who does have seven we started selling project management software later we went with easy Redmine. She's our product on aim to international market successfully. Our main market is Western Europe, what we have also presents in USA, Japan and other countries, around 80 countries in total. So now we are stable midsize company with no investors. We have around 100 people on board representing 12 Different nations. And our focus is work and project management software. sounds

Dave West  3:12  
super, super interesting. So and the majority of your customers in the Agile space in the hybrid space in the traditional space fill it or, you know, what do you what are your customers using your products for? And actually, maybe Yan, you want to start talking a little about that?

Jan  3:32  
Yeah, I think that Gartner would describe us as adaptive and project management company or collaborative work management company. So we see all three waterfall agile and processes and all of these three approaches or decision making, say frameworks we want to accommodate into one software. Obviously, for larger companies, it would be more project oriented, maybe PMO would be our typical client. For smaller companies, we would be a backbone for many company processes and work management, ranging from hiring to support. Excellent.

Dave West  4:19  
Thank you. Thank you, Yan. So okay, so the reason why you're on this call, though, isn't just to talk about Redmine case. So the genesis of this podcast was actually a press release that I read that described how easy software works with 200 Scrum teams, I always like anything that says 200 Scrum teams to deliver more valuable scrum boards with your tool Redmine. So, yeah, and you're the product owner for that tall Redmine. So, can you give us a little bit of background about a little bit more context about this press release and the situation you're in? So

Jan  4:55  
we've known Karl scrum trainer for several several Are yours and we worked with him already before. And we realized there is not really a tool that would be perfect for Carl to recommend on his training. At the same time, we felt like our product is missing some capabilities in the Agile arena. And that's how our partnership started. And we engaged with Carl, on the series of discovery workshops. And that's actually how our collaboration started and how the scrum boards that the article that you mentioned are about.

Dave West  5:44  
And let me see if I get this right. So you use Scrum, on scrum to do Scrum boards, it all gets a little bit sort of turtles all the way down, right. But so ultimately, you worked your corral to set that initial product backlog with those discovery workshops. And then you incrementally release features to a bunch of Scrum teams all around the world, and got that feedback. Can you talk a little bit about how that how that worked in reality in your situation?

Jan  6:15  
Exactly. So the scrambles basically consists of the backlog, the review and planning and finally, the team board. And as we work on these three separate boards, we were gradually releasing them each of them separately. So thanks to Carol's knowledge, we describe the backlog into a free section, the inbox where the product owner can manage whatever is coming into, into his work. And a mate can make a decision, maybe it's not really something that he wants to spend time on. And therefore there is a trash bin or he can continue with the with the process and move the the item to the to refine or when it's refined to another section, which is called refined. So that was the first thing that really is the first thing that we use to prioritize the future work on this on this product. Next, it was important for us to see the use cases of the scrum. So we focused on review and planning. Sometimes these meetings are just next to each other in the calendar. And it's important to see the backlog within those. So, refund section of the backlog is reflected for our sprint planning, which makes it super easy to plan. And finally, the team board where all the daily corroboration happens, where Carol instructed us to really visualize the goal of the sprint on a prominent spot. And with little sticky notes, which any team member can put on a board in order to make a note on anything that is happening during the sprint because as Carl said, there are not many tools that are this flexible and this easy to use. So these free boards.

Dave West  8:34  
So let me get this right. So you were and obviously you shared the boards as you say it I mean, it's sort of obvious when you say it, but you shared the boards to use the boards. So could customers actually see the the features that you were working on the capabilities that you were releasing on the scrum board on your own scrum board? Or, you know, or did you sort of like like to hide that stuff? How did you work with your the Scrum teams.

Jan  9:07  
We we released all the free scrum boards at the same time, let's say at the end. But for us internally, we implemented each of the board incrementally. So our teams first worked with the backlog then added the planning on top of that. And then finally there was the inside a sprint collaboration board that was ended as the last.

Dave West  9:37  
It reminds me i i have a you know an embarrassing admission. I was the RAPP Rational Unified Process product manager. So when you were just starting easy software or those many years ago and Felipe you'd got into project management by I don't know because you were drunk or something. The I was the Product Manager. This was 2526 years ago. So a little bit before that. And I remember that one customer asked me, hang on a minute, do you use Rupp to develop Europe and we really didn't, which was very embarrassing, but you actually did use Scrum to develop the scrum boards.

Karel  10:16  
And they used the scrum boards to develop this crumbles. I know

Dave West  10:21  
as a reason why it's so awesome. And actually surprising that knows most organizations don't do it, I understand this some competitive and you don't want to necessarily tell people that your competitors the features you're delivering, but it just makes so much so much sense. So okay, so you're developing and delivering these, these these boards to the 200 plus teams that are working with you. How's it going?

Jan  10:52  
To be honest, we would like to see more people using that with us, we see a lot of benefits from using the scrum boards, developers being more engaged, we can track how successful we are at achieving the sprint goals. We are good, we feel that there is a lot of flexibility when it comes to estimating the items. And internally, it is software, we see a lot of benefits from adopting the scrum boards. And we would like and we are hoping for more clients to take advantage of those benefits as well.

Dave West  11:38  
So what is the biggest feature request that people are asking about your scrum boards now? I'm not not not putting you on the spot and saying this exactly what you're getting to build next. But what would be the biggest bit of sort of like no improvement that you're that you're you're driving the scrum boards to what's the what's the big next thing that you're doing?

Jan  12:03  
Okay, it's a very good question. So we started with the simplicity. So on a team board, we are currently working with just three cups might be a little controversial. But just free comes to do work in progress in progress and done nothing more to our idea is to drive the collaboration. basically ask everybody to collaborate because if it's not done, it's not done. So it's still working, work in progress. And I have to admit that some of the clients are not really appreciative of that, because they are used to different tools that allow many columns on the board. So this is something that is controversial for us at the moment.

So we will see how it goes. We are currently at just recounts.

Dave West  13:05  
I remember I was an analyst at Forrester Research working with rally software. And I remember Todd and who else was there? It was there was a few people in a meeting and I sat down. And I was an analyst. And you know, I was trying to encourage them to do things to their product. And they had a very similar approach that you're describing. And I tried to explain that they needed to have multiple, a very complex workflow expressed, because that's an I remember that Todd returned their CTO returned to me. He just said, Look, that's because people aren't really cross functional working together. They're still in stovepipes. And you you want the you want your tool. The tool is encouraging and reinforcing those stovepipes. I know corral. You've got a very strong opinion about stovepipes and about workflow inside the team boundary.

Karel  14:07  
So when I started to work with these software, I think it was two years ago now. We had a first workshop two years ago, January, February, something like this. What I really liked that is is Oprah wanted to take the bold steps and to do things differently. We had a lot of conversations. So there are many Agile Scrum boards around they're all saloons and cards and you have checklists and comments on the cards. You can do that. Everybody does the same. But these do not really promote the team collaboration. Everybody who knows me knows I'm a big fan of JIRA. JIRA is awesome tool. It promotes everything, but not team collaboration. Except for that. So so when we had our first discovery workshops, user story mapping and We created the differentiators, one of the differentiators make it as easy as possible, as simple as possible. But to promote the team collaboration and the current springboard, the last I saw is something between mirror when you have large flexibility mirror gets as close to physical board as it gets in online. But it has that structure of user stories or backlog items, as we call it, the And a very simple stickies with just x and color which moves from left to right. And that's it. Not all customers appreciate it because they are used to be more and more columns. If we rephrase, Henry Ford, if I asked my customers what they want, they would want more columns.

Dave West  15:47  
Now, yes, I understand that and, and so what you're describing there corral is that ultimately, I mean, work does go through many states, obviously, you know, however, that the that complexity, those states are never really adequately represented in a, you know, a seven stage, you know, board or whatever. So instead, let's keep it simple. Let's keep it where it's really communicating. So that when somebody says, Well, it isn't when they say, why is that not done? I thought it was done. You said, Well, it's not done done. Because whereas historically, we've been able to represent that as well. It's in that just that column just before the real the final column, and you're like, Well, hang on, no, it doesn't matter if it's in that column, or the first column or the third column. We're trying to get this work on it. I assume that's what you really mean. Corral, right?

Karel  16:42  
Yes, yes. And the more columns, the more rigid the word becomes. in product development, yes, the work goes through many stages, but not always in the same order for all the work. So just having stickies to do in progress done gives you a large flexibility in how you can represent a workflow for every backlog item in a different way. And really try to do things in parallel in a collaborative way. I have seen in my career, around 100 teams, many of them were using all sorts of tools, Asia, DevOps, JIRA, target process, Trello, Excel sheet, whatnot. And the more columns, I saw, the less collaboration I saw in the teams because the work really became like a production line from left to right. And I usually say this column is actually called not my problem column.

Dave West  17:38  
And that's exactly what my friends at Raley software was saying, when I was an analyst. I mean, I didn't believe them. And I obviously marked them down in the, in the wave that we were doing. But but they were exactly I think that they were onto something, I think they were onto something. So. Okay, so you've you've released this software, it's being used every day, you're getting good feedback from from clients, you know, where we're going, and we're not going to add apparently lots of different columns to your thing, though, that is a feature request that's on your backlog. So what's next, for easy software and Redmine? What's next few,

Jan  18:18  
we would like to continue with the learnings that we got things to corral and development of the scrum boards. We'd like to be closer with our clients moving with a little step forward. So after the scrum boards, which shifted our attention to the implementation of AI, so obviously, big topic for all the companies, at least all the companies doing software for project management. And for AI, we are again using the scrambles to facilitate the development. And we also got the group of early adopters. We are seeing very early but good feedbacks on the implementation of AI. The priority in the AI arena for us is the security where we want to build our differentiation on Phillip didn't mention it at the beginning. But we offer not only cloud but also on premises deployments. And we believe that AI embedded with the project management tool delivered on premises could be a really valuable and good offering, especially for companies who might be facing let's say some industrial espionage and who don't want to send their data and they Whether I'm going to have 100% Security

Dave West  20:04  
Wow, that, that that's a heck of a topic. You know, Cloud is just somebody else's computers. Right. I think somebody said that once. But But hang on a minute, let me just I do want to, as we've you mentioned, the infamous artificial intelligence, LLM generative AI, whatever you want to call it, algorithms data. intelligently presented, right. So where in the area of AI you focusing, because I spoken to a bunch of project management software companies, about their use of AI, and there's many different places, some people are looking at it in terms of finding holes in project plans and looking for opportunities, you know, particularly in the construction industry is a great example of this, you know, the fact that, you know, concrete always taken 20%, you know, longer to arrive than it should. So, why the heck does your plan still have that, you know, back to back critical path, you know, for instance, and I'm just using concrete as an example, I haven't, no idea of concrete is always late, or whatever. But, so, some people are using it later, as people are using it for more population development of plans of work and asking those intelligent questions about, Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, did you know this other project over here is doing something similar? From the words you're using? Maybe you should talk, you know, whatever. You know, there's many different applications of this kind of large language model kind of AI that's happening, where's easy software using it?

Jan  21:43  
There we are pursuing three main use cases. First is basically ask a question that's related to a specific collection of resources. So basically, being able to connect your web, being able to upload your PDF. So let's say company knowledge, maybe even in a form of knowledge base, and asked specifically for the information that is included there. second use case is helping with writing. So creating content, maybe editing, some spelling mistakes, translating from one language to another. And last one is helping with readings. So summarizing long discussions and descriptions on the issues on the tasks. That's something where we see AI at the moment. Wow.

Dave West  22:37  
That's, that's awesome. That is really interesting. I, yeah, the future is certainly going to change in the project management and product management space with the application of these intelligent clients. Okay, so thanks for sharing your journey with us. Thanks for sharing your little adventure. Thanks for sharing the use of Scrum on scrum using Scrum boards, which is still so complicated to say, I'm not going to say it again. I really appreciate you taking the time out of your evening to talk to us any last words of wisdom before you know to our listeners.

Jan  23:24  
And we I would like to say that it's been a great journey for us which from and with help of Cara, we were able to improve our internal product development and adoption of the scrum. And I think Philip can see some benefits coming from the right.

Filip  23:45  
Yeah, I wrote to say that scrum approach is not only for developers, for example, use principle of reviews for management team as well. And I have to mention that use task management for handling spam because we have used task management for for Scrum and it was more darts ground and reduce scrap and we have to change our mindset and approach and not use tasks or issues that work related PBIS and with different lifecycle of items during our work and it was great. mind shift for for us, for developers for per product manager and even for me so I have to say that I'm very happy to say that we start gerrae to scram and try not to scramble box. It's endless story to be better, better. And And I want to wish success to all other teams and companies to follow to follow this path because

Dave West  25:09  
it's great. Okay, you heard it here, right? Maybe software isn't easy, but it's a little easier with a little bit of Scrum. That sounds great. Maybe we shouldn't make that our tagline at some point. Well, thank you for listening to today's scrum documentary podcast. With your host, Dave West, I was fortunate to be joined with our friends from Easy Software talking a little bit about how they use Scrum themselves to build the scrum boards on their product Redmine and how they continue to use Scrum to help them deliver a little bit more value to their clients every every sprint every increment, which was which was great to hear. If you liked what you heard today, please subscribe, share with your friends and of course, come back and listen to more interesting stories here on the community Podcast. I'm lucky enough to have a variety of guests talking about everything in the area of professional Scrum, product thinking and of course agile. Thanks for listening, everybody. Thank you, and Scrum


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