Anything Connected customer storysee all customer storiesHow to organize hardware & software development in Fibery

Author
TEMPLATES used in this customer story

Anything Connected is an Industrial IoT company that simplifies data collection projects by providing companies with data sets that are customizable, integratable, and available remotely without the need for programming skills — using our proprietary Data Node and NodeFleet platform.

What do you use Fibery for?

Fibery is the center of our workflow right now. We use it to:

  • Do all things Scrum, such as

    • Organizing our Backlog and Sprints,
    • Log project progress,
    • Use Epics, Stories and Tasks, Subtasks, etc,
    • Retrospectives,
    • Visualize blocked items using a Gantt-like view
  • (currently we are using a calendar view with fake start/end dates),
  • Schedule our team availability,
  • Organize company purchases,
  • Onboard new employees,
  • Determine requirements for our releases,
  • Store lots of important research and other wiki information,
  • Storyboard our customer journey, also visually using the whiteboards,
  • Carry out our FMEA analysis,
  • Keep track of our Clients and updates.

Here is our workspace map 👇

Anything connected plus fibery

Why did you switch to Fibery and what tools did it replace?

As a startup, we didn’t actually organize our projects using any paid tools yet. Instead, we had all of these Excel sheets, which were scattered all over the place. We started out by looking for a way to keep track of our Kanban, as well as organize our requirements better. We used Trello (free tier) for a while, but we outgrew that pretty fast.

We started looking into a bunch of tools, but when we found out about Fibery, we decided to take the plunge (this page took away our final doubts). From there, we basically realized the functionalities Fibery had and started formalizing process after process to run on Fibery. Other software tools never stood a chance ;)

Now spill the tea: How does your Product Management process look like?

We use Scrum as our main software development process, using 2-week sprints. Every Monday we have a Backlog refinement meeting, where we discuss the Backlog items. At the start of each Sprint, we also join that with planning of the upcoming Sprint. Retrospectives have been few and far between, but we try to do those as well. Until a while ago, we did those at Friday 16:00, but have now moved it to the next week (and next Sprint), for obvious reasons. Every day, with the exception of the Backlog refinement days (it’s kind of part of it when it’s the mid-sprint “check-in” session), we have a daily standup at 10:00.

Anything connected plus fibery

From a technical standpoint, once a Sprint has been planned, software development starts. We use mostly Linux, Git, VSCode, Docker and a few other tools for our software development. E.g. for our embedded development, we use a Remote Container which houses our entire dev environment for the embedded side, simplifying setup and maintenance. When sensible, work is committed to git, and when pushed, a Gitlab CI/CD pipeline runs some build and test things (and also e.g. a security scan), and a build artifact (Docker image) is ready if everything passes. Eventually a merge request is created for a branch implementing some Feature, and it gets merged to develop/master/etc. We use git-flow as a branching model. We have AWS for our cloud hosting, which has our Django backend, and after a successful merge to e.g. master, a new container of the resulting image is deployed on ECS.

How do you scope & plan development?

We do software and hardware development, which is one of the main reasons we actually use Fibery. We have a very clear idea about organizing hardware development and were trying to look for a way to truly combine software and hardware development in 1 team. We ended up taking Scrum as a starting point and deviating wherever we could. This meant we really needed to be able to customize everything, which is not really possible in normal tools for software development.

As mentioned before, we do 2 week Sprints, with a ‘Kanban meeting’ at the start. In this meeting, team members write their own Tasks and Stories, which are then discussed and given an amount of effort. Scoping is done during this meeting as well. Tasks and Stories are then moved to the Sprint, after which they automatically turn up on our Kanban board, where they are tracked between Backlog, To do, In Progress and Done.

At the same time, Domains and Categories for the product have been determined, which cover the different components of our solution. We have created categories of criteria for these, that we iteratively build upon. This allows for the exact scoping of the criteria that we need to reach for a Release.

Anything connected plus fibery

How do you track and analyze progress?

We are working on a hardware development timeline.

Anything connected plus fibery

Hardware is in the lead. So every Sprint, new Stories and Tasks come and go, until we reach a Release. At that point, we check off whether we fit with all of the criteria all at once.

We don’t have a Bug entity (at the moment), but we have Stories, Tasks, and Subtasks. Our Backlog view is a List view of those Databases. We have created one Timeline view which represents some kind of Gantt chart with blocked/blocking Stories, but we currently don’t really use it.

Our retrospectives currently solely answer these 3 questions:

  • What went well last Sprint?
  • What could be improved?
  • What did we learn?

Sometimes, we create Action Items for the next Sprint based on the results of those questions. However, for the past few months, not much has been done to address the workflow-related feedback raised during those very few retrospectives, only a few other things.

We also use Fibery to carry out our Failure mode and effects analysis, here is how is look like 👇

Anything connected plus fibery

How do you store a development wiki?

We store some of our development info in docs. We have also used Fibery whiteboards, but a team member once accidentally removed a large amount of data from the whiteboards and then spent time remaking them with inaccurate info. We never really got back into using whiteboards since.

Note: This was not a fault of or due to the whiteboards, but solely of said user. At the time, reorganizing Entities/Databases was a bit more error-prone/buggy than now, and it resulted in the user deleting one of those Databases which they thought to be empty. One view showed no more of those entities, but they only later realized that it had a filter active. Deleting those entities also deleted the visualizations of them on that whiteboard, as well as its visual links to other entities. Currently, we use Sticky Notes a lot on those whiteboards, so as not to interfere with “actual data”.

Praise time: What is your favorite Fibery feature and why?

It gives us the freedom of an Excel sheet, with the capability of a professional workflow tool. Really it’s the board functionality that is most useful, due to how we can sort it and visualize it, in addition to that we can put all of the info in the same place, instead of scattered over different Excel sheets over different folders.

Our software engineer specifically likes how it connects information, both structured and unstructured. Providing the ability to fully create your own structure in the form of Databases, fields, automations, action buttons, etc, is also a joy to use and setup. It’s fast, consistent, and allows the convergence of information in one single place. So they would say that their favorite feature of Fibery would be its nearly complete customizability.

Of course, bi-directional links, automations, reports, its intuitiveness (once you get it) is also really great.

The new multi-pane view is also really, really useful, we can no longer do without it. We are also really glad with the Audit Log and Thrash Bin features. We only wish we’d had those sooner :)

Сriticism time: What you don't like/lack in Fibery?

A couple of things we noticed (some with links to the Fibery forum), in order of importance:

  • Polymorphic relations. Very useful to link entities to others without having to create individual, “duplicated” relations between them.
  • Also, if applicable, automation rules which could be shared across multiple Entities without having to copy/paste them. Perhaps inheritance or something similar could be done…
  • Validation rules on the Fields of an Entity. Being able to mark something as required is a nice first step.
  • Currently, Rich-Text fields are exempt from Filters and Automations (and therefore also Reports). Adding this would be really useful. For instance, we cannot use automations/reports right now to visualize how often a rich-text field has been filled in.
  • Improved history tracking for documents, to see changes more easily. In that same area, the Audit Log is also really great, as well as the history button for an entity.
  • A (automatic but customizable) graph view to represent a plethora of things, such as dependencies, installation steps, etc.
  • Every week, we manually back up the most important sheets (export table), but we would like to be able to backup everything automatically, in case Fibery somehow becomes inaccessible to us, for whatever reason.
  • The timeline feature is difficult to work with

    • It’s difficult to go backwards and forwards in time
    • The current day/week/month is difficult to spot
    • It’s not possible to create multiple levels of lanes (e.g. Epics > Stories > Sub-tasks)
  • The multi-panel navigation is great! I only wish that when you click/open the first entity, it opens in a half pane similar to when you have 2 entities open. The first half pane can then show the current view in its entirety. I am quite sure you have considered this in some form or another, so I was hoping to have this as a user-defined (or even device-defined) setting or something. When you click a second entity, the split-pane navigation is perfect as-is.

Finally, I am greatly anticipating the blocks feature! I hope that this also extends to views, so we can create truly custom views! Perhaps a Board view, prefaced by a little bit of text. Endless possibilities.

Also, a general thing you should know. The amount of customization that Fibery offers also leads to a high amount of discussions in the team as to how Fibery should be organized. Everyone wants it to work as they prefer, but there is so much that is possible, that we continuously bicker about minute details of how things are organized.

Author
TEMPLATES used in this customer story

Try Fibery 😉

Are you an early-stage startup? Enjoy 12 months of Fibery for free.

Dig into workspaces & workflows of some awesome companies: