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KADOS - Open Source Scrum

Charles Santucci, Marmotte Technologies, http://www.marmotte-technologies.org

KADOS is a web tool for managing Agile projects (Scrum more specifically) through visual boards on which are displayed post-its representing User Stories, Tasks, Activities, Issues, Actions, Bugs and any objects you wanted your project to manage.

Web Site: http://www.kados.info
Version tested: v1.7 released on May 1st 2014
System requirements: a web server with PHP 5.3 at least, a MySQL database v5.1 at least
License & Pricing: KADOS are published under MIT and GPL licenses and it's totally free
Support: by forum on Sourceforge.net or e-mail to the team.
Languages: French, English, Spanish, German and Brazilian Portuguese.
Documentation: Documentation is available online in French and English at the KADOS documentation web site

Introduction

Excel backlogs are nightmares

When they start to work with Scrum, most teams use Excel sheets to manage their backlogs. They are easy to build, to send by email and to update. The ScrumMaster, previously a project manager, is happy to keep his management tool and forgets that his job has changed with Scrum. The customer is also happy, as the IS/IT teams will manage the project. There is no need to be involved and all errors will be blamed on the lousy communication and the team!

But Excel sheets have a big default: they lack visual management ability. Visual management is currently done by sticking post-it on walls or big boards with any columns that fit your project.

Visual management is efficient if you have walls

Then you have your wall covered with post-its. It is nice because there is a lot of colors that help you to represent functions or type of requests. Everybody shares the same view of the project and the team members move their post-it smoothly. But, one day the Scrum Master begins to stop updating the burndown chart daily. And team members are not so eager to move a task when it is finished. Then a management decision starts to slice your team between here and another country.

Where could you find a wall between here and there? It seems that the adequate wall is somewhere in the Red Sea. It is not easy to continue with visual management. Then somebody has an idea. Let's find a free, self-hosted, Scrum compliant tool allowing to keep our visual management efficient.

Why making a new Agile project management tool?

It not easy to find a free, self-hosted, with some support and regular releases for backlogs. There are many of them created since 2000. The problem is that you have to pay a fee for most of them or they are not free software or when they are, you don't have all features in the Community Edition ..and the missing features are just what you needed.

After a few hours peeling the web, when you find one that is promising, you just forget that it is written in Java and that you only have a PHP hosting available. At that point, you are faced with a sad fact: there is tool matching your needs! No problem, let's make it

KADOS distinctive feature

This introduction explains the main distinctive KADOS features: post-its on boards! To be efficient, post-its are managed on walls and this is inserted in a project organization consistent with Agile and Scrum approaches. Then, taking advantage of putting post-it in a database, why not use the boards for all post-its attributes. Most tools use columns board just to change the post-it status, but it's not that difficult to use board for setting priority, business value, complexity, hierarchy, etc...

This is why you will find a lot of "dashboards" in KADOS. Each one will perform an attribute change for post-its. Therefore, you have no lists or elaborate forms for managing post-its, just boards with columns! (Excel lovers may have a small heart attack at that point, let's allow them to stop reading in order to get better)

Installation

Go to SourceForge to download the last release. You just need a web server (Apache is the best) and a MySQL database with admin access to create the tables and insert basic data. Then you'll need at least one user with read/write rights for the application to access the database.

Follow the install instructions: deploy the application, launch the ".sql" file and set the connect.conf file to give access to the data for the KADOS application. Connect to the application using login admin and password admin (change the password if you are willing to use the application in production)

Projects

KADOS proposes to create three types of projects depending on the levels of complexity you want to manage:

  • one level for a simple dashboard with one line by User Story and any tasks for each User Story
  • two levels if you want to have releases in your projects: each release will have a dashboard with tasks
  • three levels if you have a project with phased releases such as Scrum where releases have sprints.

This feature allows to cover all type of agile projects and even to flirt with Kanban. Let's take a look at the Scrum project that has the complete set of features of the three project types

Scrum Project

A Scrum project is structured with three levels: project, releases and sprints. Each level has its own backlog. These levels can be viewed and created in the project cockpit. All the releases and sprints form a project plan.

open source scrum agile project management

Figure 1. Releases and sprint hierarchy.

The second main screen for a project is what is called a Kanban. It is not strictly speaking a true "Kanban", it is more a board of post-its that we will call a dashboard. Dashboards are used to update some attributes of the post-its: status, allocation to release or sprints, Business Value, complexity, etc...

In a project, you'll find many types of post-its: User Stories, Tasks, Issues, Actions, Activities... Most of them can have subtypes that are defined with different colors. The main dashboards are used for allocating User Stories to release and sprints following some Scrum activities and for changing Tasks status

The figure 2 below is taken from the KADOS roadmap. You can find yellow post-its for real User Stories (feature request) and pink post-its for Bugs found by users. These post-its are broken down into tasks. The figure 3 shows light brown post-its linked to each User Story or Bug, describing development tasks. Different colors can be added to have different types of tasks.

Many KADOS users (for Scrum projects) have one color for development tasks, one for bugs and another one for tests. Thus you can describe and manage entirely a User Story without any other tool, setting KADOS as the Scrum team tool.

open source scrum agile project management

Figure 2. Product backlog and allocation of User Stories by release

open source scrum agile project management

Figure 3. Sprint backlog and Tasks Status Board

Others features

LDAP

By setting a parameter and adding LDAP configuration, you can add users from a LDAP mixed with local users. KADOS will try to find users in its database first and if the search is not successful, it will try to find the user in LDAP. It will then create the user in its database (without the password)

Risk and Problems Management

Each project has an "Issues" board allowing users to manage Risks, Problems and Actions plans. Risks and Problems can be linked to all post-its of the User Stories type.

Features Management

Features are used to group User Stories in any functions or any meta-description that you have in your project. User Stories are allocated to features with a visual dashboard (What a surprise!).

External connections

You may have an external project management tool that cannot be replaced by KADOS (and that is not KADOS job). You will be able to create a project from that tool, by configuring access to the project management tool database, but only if it is a MySQL database. One day, there will be web-services, be patient!

Tags

Tags are small post-its that can be stuck on each standard post-it. They have a color and a very short name and are displayed on the right side of the post-it. They are useful to specify to which transversal topic the User Story is linked or to add any taxonomy on post-its for instance.

Colors Management

Colors are used for all post-its and tags in order to set subtypes for types of post-its and to differentiate tags. They are first created in a color list and allocated after that to post-its with a visual dashboard. You have been warned before, visual board is my hobby!

RSS

The progress of User Stories can be followed with RSS. Just use a link depending on the scope you want to follow: project, release or sprint.

Check-list

To manage project activities that are not directly related to project content, you may use a checklist of activities which is a very simple visual dashboard with three columns (ToDo, In progress and Done). There is one checklist by release. It can be used to follow documents writing activities or relationships with other projects...

Roadmap

KADOS has a roadmap, letting users to push new features requests or bugs to the development team. It is, of course, managed in a KADOS project!

KADOS features are quite mature since the 1.6 release, but there is a lot of new requests and work for a few years!

Conclusion

KADOS is an agile project management tool focused on providing maximum visual management capacity to its users, while being usable for many projects or activities out of the world of Agile software development.

Based on widely used technologies (PHP and MySQL), it can be easily installed and used by people outside of the software galaxy. We have heard stories from users that used it to manage a trial and or a Request for Proposal process.

Try it!

References

Web site: http://www.kados.info

Documentation site: http://docs.kados.info

Roadmap: http://roadmap.kados.info (credentials: pokados/pokados)

Demo site: http://demo/kados.info

Download: http://sourceforge.net/projects/kados/files

KADOS on Ohloh: https://www.ohloh.net/p/kados

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/kadosTool

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScrumKados


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This article was originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of Methods & Tools

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