Innovation Sprint at Tempo

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Last month we staged our fifth innovation sprint here at Tempo HQ. The innovation sprint is where we dedicate two weeks of our time to searching for new ideas and solutions, and our developers get the opportunity to work on something completely different to their usual projects. The goal is for team members to come up with ideas that may benefit us at Tempo and could end up being developed going forward. This can be new features or products, feature redesigns, automation of something which we are getting tired of doing manually, or something that might benefit Tempo and our team members generally.

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In this Innovation Sprint our team members came up with some brilliant ideas, many of them really useful and we’ve implemented some of them already. Here are some of the highlights from the Innovation sprint:

Demo DB for TODAY

Team: Björn Orri and Baldur

This team decided to tackle a problem which we at Tempo had been facing for a long time. The problem is that we have created demo database with data spanning from February to mid-March in our Tempo products. So in order to use the demo database we always needed to change the date on our computers locally to 15th of March in order to show some data. This process gets tiring very quickly, is time-consuming, and can cause other problems.

So Björn and Baldur took it upon themselves to create a Python script that reads the XML and moves the dates to “today”, but also takes into consideration week starts etc. This innovation can benefit for example our customers who need to use our database to demo Tempo products to potential buyers. It also helps our marketing team with our data for realistic use cases and other marketing purposes. But most of all it automates something which we are really getting tired of doing manually.

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Team Agenda view in Tempo Teams

Team: Jón Þór, Sonja, Tómas

This team decided to focus its efforts on our Tempo Teams. They’re idea was to create a new view within Tempo Teams called Team Agenda. The Team Agenda view shows the latest iterations that the team is working on along with its stories and issues. The iterations can be clicked on and that opens up the backlog for that particular sprint. This view also shows how many hours are remaining in a backlog item and also shows whether there is enough capacity remaining.

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Iteration Timeline

Team: Árni Freyr, Höður, Jón Egill, Lúðvík

The idea for this was to improve Tempo Planner by allowing users to visualise the timeline in more detail within an iteration. The Iteration Timeline renders a timeline of the iteration period showing a possible forecast of how issues lineup based on rank, estimate, and assignee. This can be very useful for Scrum Masters and team members that pull tasks from the sprint backlog. They can use this as a forecasting tool for seeing how iteration are progressing in relation to workload.

Account Charts

Team: Anna, Ester, Malte, Sveinbjörn

This group worked on creating new Account Charts which will be used in our upcoming 1.0 release of  Tempo Books. The idea was to create a Finance report which gives you a high level of information about the data (expenses, worklogs, plans) without having to take a look at a lot of numbers to understand the information. The team created some awesome charts including a Area chart showing accumulated expense/income over time, Line chart comparing expenses with income over time, and more.

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Tempo ZSH plugin

Team: Axel

For this innovation sprint one of our Timesheets developers Axel took it upon himself to create a neat plugin for developers. The idea was that a user/developer would be able to log his work through the environment he’s currently working in instead of being limited to the browser. The environments that Axel is usually works in are his browser (Chrome), his editor (Intelij), and the console (zsh). His focus was on the console part and he managed to create a Tempo ZSH plugin in a short time. This idea is valuable for developers/users who could log their work faster then to open up a web browser and logging work through that. Axel demoed his work and the plugin worked perfectly.

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Tempo SAFe workshop

Team: Eiríkur Ari, Ólafur Jens

Not all of the ideas at our Innovation sprint are development oriented and our Tempo Cloud team Scrum Master Ólafur and leading Tempo Cloud developer Eiríkur showed us that. They decided to focus their efforts into creating a Scaled Agile Framework workshop for our Tempo Team members. The goals of their workshop were the following:

  • Getting Tempo people familiar with SAFe
  • Understand the concepts of SAFe
  • Explore workflow, roles and the Epic -> Feature -> Stories hierarchy
  • Understand why SAFe is beneficial to Tempo and its customers

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The workshop went great and participants agreed that the workshop had been very useful and beneficial.

At Tempo, we really strive to offer our team members the opportunity to grow in their positions, develop their great ideas, and have some fun while doing it. If you’re a world class thinker and are interested in joining our team, feel free to contact us!

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Bjarki
Bjarki is the product marketing manager for Tempo Planner and Iceland's number one pineapple enthusiast. He loves playing soccer, training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and listening to old school 70's funk.

3 Responses

  1. This is in regard to your innovation sprints. Our company is looking to implement something similar within our Scrum process to what I read in your blog. Obviously, you don’t need to share information, but am very curious as to your process for the innovation sprint. How did you ensure success of the process? Did you try it out with a few developers at the start? Does every developer work on something? Do developers pair up by themselves or assigned by someone? I have spoke to our Tech leaders and they are on board but obviously have concerns about ensuring people invest in this and that we get buy in from the business. Any tips/advice for someone like us? Trying to put together a list of pros/cons for the business.

    Thanks in advance for your time!

    • Bjarki Bjarki says:

      Hi Patrick,

      Yes all of our developers participate in the innovation sprint. Prior to the innovation sprint everyone is able to submit their ideas to a shared document. The developers can then choose to work on their own idea or participate with others on their idea, so they assign themselves.

      The innovation sprint ends with a demo in which all participants show what they’ve been working on. So far the innovations sprints have been very beneficial and in every sprint we’ve had some ideas which have been included into our Tempo products or improved our work environment.

      It usually involves applying new technologies and work methods often resulting in a prototype or even an early product of some sorts. In any case it should make us better prepared to face new challenges in future development using new technologies.

      Please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Best regards,
      Bjarki

  2. […] the last Innovation sprint, Axel, one of our Tempo Timesheets developers, created a Tempo terminal CLI. Eric was so impressed […]

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