Raising the Curtains for 2022!

Welcome 2022

With a new year can come new resolutions. Old resolutions, however, tend to crop back up. More sport, less stress, less time at work, and eating better- who knows, maybe that plan to stop eating chocolate and going full vegan might come to fruition this year.

A new year also brings new trends. Here are some of the predictions that have been made for 2022:

  • Vogue is predicting that the suit is making a comeback. With a return to the office and a somewhat-normal social life for many, people finally have a reason not to wear jogging pants.
  • Sportswear might be going out of fashion, however, home gyms aren’t going anywhere. It seems those who exercised in the comfort of their own home in the last two years don’t need gyms anymore.
  • The ‘Mocktail’- a non-alcoholic cocktail – is being predicted to take the world by sobering storm.
  • User Generated Content (UGC) is also here to stay. The personalized touch of the influencer has completely turned the world of marketing on its head and it’s only going to get bigger.
  • Apparently, the business world’s response has been a turn to Account Based Marketing. Instead of trying to reach as broad a client as possible, companies are supposedly becoming increasingly focused on reaching the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Sticking to new years resolution usually lasts as long as New Year’s Eve itself. Trends, especially predicted ones, also have a way of going out of fashion quicker than the time it takes to make a mocktail.

One thing that won’t be a fleeting trend this year is sustainability. Here at microTOOL, we have been thinking about what can be tackled in 2022, how can we benefit our existing and potential clients and employees in the long term. How can we improve day-to-day operations at microTOOL, become more efficient, and improve our products in 2022?

Stick to what you know

microTOOL began producing agile software products in 1984 and has been working to introduce agile business methods into the world of business ever since. Through our own experiences, we have found that a gradual, incremental introduction of new systems and methods is the best way. We begin with a ‘tool zoo’, meaning that, like a zoo, we guide clients through the multi-faceted functions that our tools have to offer one step at a time, seeing what they like and what their priorities are.

Over the years we have not only built software and management tools for clients but used the same tools in our own day-to-day operations, giving us an intimate knowledge of the capabilities of our software and making us more than able in guiding new clients in its usage.

Requirements Engineering and Project Management

For requirements engineering and project management, we rely on objectiF RPM. Customer requirements are recorded and evaluated according to their needs, and our project ideas are documented as business epics in the portfolio management section. We also derive stories from customer requirements and business epics (à la SAFe), which are planned and implemented with the assistance of release and sprint planning from Gantt charts and backlog techniques.

Test Management

We also use objectiF RPM for our test management. Test cases are assigned and specified for customer requirements, business epics and stories. Test plans are combined via test set executions and used for verification and validation. The implementation is then model-driven and uses mTOOL in combination with Visual Studio. From the customer requirement and business epics to the acceptance test, we operate neatly, comprehensibly, and efficiently.

Collaboration

In the last couple of years, working remotely or from home has become a norm out of necessity. With version 7.0 of objectiF RPM, the specific needs of those working away from the office have been tailored to, with chat options, video conference features, and desktop sharing all facilitating collaboration. With objectiF RPM, virtual meetings can all happen in one place.

Resource Management

As is often the case with agile working, we have to deal with work teams not being fixed in their responsibilities and work duties. Some colleagues work on several projects at once, and, like in any company, sick leave and holidays also have to be worked around. Until now we have managed holidays and sick leave with our tool in-STEP BLUE working in conjunction with MS Excel. This is something we want to change. For 2022, we plan on configuring objectiF RPM to take over all aspects of resource management, including a calendar for staff with entries for public holidays, booked holidays, and sick leave. With this, release and sprint planning will be made possible without any media clashes.

Time Recording

The law states: time recording at work is mandatory. In our experience, tracing and recording time worked is a much-loved topic of discussion among staff. Here at microTOOL, we’ve been using objectiF RPM for years for our own time recording. In the last two years, we’ve made several improvements to our system, such as:

  • Reducing the number of cost centres.
  • Display options for planned time and actual time worked.
  • Option to view differences in the time planned and worked in different time scales; by the day, week, month, quarterly, or year.

With such a comprehensive overview of overtime, our members of staff certainly enjoy knowing whether or not they can go home early on Fridays.

How do we plan tasks in other departments?

Task Management

Central to our marketing department’s task management is the Kanban feature in objectiF RPM. In 2022 we want to extend this to our sales and support teams, who until now have worked with Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Procurement and Inventory Management

Like our resource management, our procurement and inventory management are still being performed with in-STEP BLUE and MS Excel, however, we plan on objectiF RPM taking over these tasks.

Customer Relationship Management

When it comes to managing customer data, contracts, invoices, etc. we also plan on making the switch from using in-STEP BLUE with MS Dynamics CRM to objectiF RPM. The incredible adaptability of objectiF RPM means we can manage data models, workflows, and evaluations all in one place.

objectiF RPM’s motto is ‘enterprise software for increased business agility’. In 2022, we’re going to push the boundaries and realise the full potential of what the tool has to offer. This starts with making objectiF RPM our Single Source of Truth (SSOT)!

Features, features, improvements, improvements…

Beyond the internal process developments at microTOOL, the question remains: what product developments can you, the user, expect in 2022?

A few days ago we were delighted to announce the release of Version 8.4 for objectiF RM and Version 7.4 for objectiF RPM. These updates bring enhancements and improvements in usability such as scheduling with Gantt charts and importing artefacts from MS Excel.

Looking to the new year, version 6.7.3 of in-STEP BLUE is close to completion. This new version will allow users to apply colour highlights to columns, as well as include public activities in their project plans in the web app, allowing them to better navigate activities.

As with all new version releases, all users will be invited to the free webinars (in German only), ‘What’s new in objectiF RM/RPM’ and ‘What’s new in in-STEP BLUE’. These will take place in February. When you want to find out how best to use these upgrades, be sure to join us!

These are the planned feature blocks for the coming year:

  • The area for resource management in the web app for in-STEP BLUE is to be expanded. This will include graphically displaying staff assignments with capacities and workloads, as well as improving and expanding the multilingual feature of the tool. Kanban boards in the web app will also be configurable.
  • We’re currently investing a lot of time in the AI aspect of requirements engineering. Voice control of objectiF RM and RPM is one of our goals. For those dealing with thousands of requirements, it will soon be possible to check the comprehensibility and similarity of your requirements.
  • UML and SysML have supported our solutions for years. With the addition of custom artefacts to the data model, the need for configurable, custom diagrams for graphical visualisation has become pressing. In 2022, we will work on how to configure and generate generic diagrams that have their own means of expression.
  • Last but not least, 2022 is the year we want to make objectiF RPM the enterprise software for better business agility. We will do this with further expansions that will let you design your own workflows and artefacts.

We are growing

We have big plans for 2022 and are looking forward to realizing them!

Already, at the end of 2021, we were able to recruit four new colleagues, one of whom is a student at HWR Berlin (University of Economy and Law in Berlin). Welcome to microTOOL, Tina, Marta, Gregory and Rasmus!

We are looking to expand our team further, so if you or somebody you know would be interested in joining us, please get in touch! Anyone wishing to begin a dual computer science degree in 2022 is welcome to attend an interview with us.

Direct is always better

In 2022, we hope that face-to-face meetings will once again be possible. We are tentatively planning our own in-person events and hope to take part ourselves in events organized by our partners HOOD, PMI and GPM. We hope you can join us!

Feedback

As a software-tools manufacturer, we are always looking for new ways to help you find solutions.

What are your wishes? How can our products be tailored to fulfilling these wishes? What other topics should we address in our blog? How can we offer better support in general? Please, let us know!

Let’s make 2022 a better year together, there are still 11 months left…

Enrico Fritz is the managing director at microTOOL. A computer science graduate, he began at the company as a software developer and branched out into project management methods, product development and support. Now working on the business administration side of things, he is responsible for the introduction and maintenance of microTOOL’s software solutions for project management, requirements engineering and application lifecycle management for customers of all types and branches.

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