The Rolodex days are over; the ExecDev is born

Remember when you used to have a Rolodex on your desk that was packed full of business cards, scribbled-out-then-updated address cards, and maybe a few hand written reminder notes with birth dates and special occasions listed?

What caused the demise of the Rolodex days in your world?

Was it your mobile phone, Outlook, a CRM tool, or some combination of these?

Just as our personal contact management tools have matured in the past two decades, so has our software development industry. Today there are extraordinary tools that allow us to more easily keep track of all of our important information, and the important people, who are on our software development teams.

The Cultural Shift Linking Executives and Developers

As an Executive and/or Product Owner, you are likely familiar with the terminology DevOps. Great progress has been made, both in teaming and tooling, and DevOps is made easier with Visual Studio 11. Now more than ever before, Developers are able to link with IT Operations staff through Visual Studio 11 capabilities.

But what about linking Executives and Developers?  ExecDevs, if you will. The ability to finally bridge the gap between Executives and Developers is a noteworthy development that we’ll see come from using Visual Studio 11, bringing a full end-to-end story to the table.  Let’s face it … there’s almost always a gap between developers and executives, right? Not being technical myself, it’s sometimes challenging to find ways to see progress, understand constraints, and steer direction when something is heading down the wrong path. It’s hard to do much until it’s too late – the product has been built and the money (time) has been spent. The technical language and tool interfaces have made it difficult for Executives to have a role in the end-to-end development process.

For those who read this post and choose to use Visual Studio 11, you have the power to fix this (more on company environment and team culture in later posts)!  I can enthusiastically share that the ExecDev tools like Microsoft’s Feedback Client and Reporting Tools will change the way you think about software development. You’ll also change the way you communicate with your development teams. Microsoft’s ExecDev tools are tailored for you, the Executive/Product Owner! It’s about time, right?!

The Value of Early Collaboration

As the industry has matured, so have the tools.

Providing concrete, actionable feedback has never been easier. With the Visual Studio 11 Feedback Client, you can literally open up the application, mock-up, document, or anything else to provide targeted feedback. You can record audio and video, take screenshots, attach files, and have all the feedback attached directly to the developer’s work tracking system (Team Foundation Server). As an example, see the Feedback Client being used to review Bing (Fig. 1). I’ve added a video with voice, text feedback, and an annotated screenshot. Very complete, yet simple and fast.

Fig. 1: Feedback Client in Action

Also, reporting provides up-to-date information, at a glance, on the status of the project. Just a few great reports include: Release Burndown (Fig. 2), Product Release Burndown (Fig. 3), and User Story Progress (Fig. 4).  No longer is the day where Executives need to wait until product completion before seeing the end product. In the case of software development, time is money. The most expensive part of building software is the time. Let the ExecDevs tooling help you keep track of your important information, allow for easy visibility into status and progress, and provide an extraordinary way for you to view iterations and provide visual and verbal feedback. All this to help you help your team to avoid failing at all — or at least help you fail faster.


Fig. 2: Release Burndown Report


Fig. 3: Product Release Burndown Report


Fig. 4: User Story Progress Report

Dear Executives,

I challenge you to become a more active player in the end-to-end development lifecycle of the software that’s being built in your organization. It can be easier than it ever has been! Try it. I’d love to know your feedback on Microsoft’s Feedback Client and Reporting Tools in Visual Studio 11.

-Lori Borg


Dear Non-Executives,

I ask that you share this post with the relevant folks in your organization as an alternate way of saying what you’ve probably been saying already. Take it upon yourself to do your best effort in encouraging the link between Executives and Developers! I’d love to know your feedback on what has worked for you and your organization to strengthen the ExecDevs link.

-Lori Borg

If you’d like help, let us know! Northwest Cadence provides Executive Briefings, Demonstrations, and Training Sessions on various topics covered in this post.

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