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An “Almogavar” was a class of soldier from many Christian Iberian kingdoms in the later phases of the Reconquista, during the 13th and 14th centuries. Almogavars were lightly clad, quick-moving frontiersmen and foot-soldiers. They hailed from the Kingdom of Aragon, the Principality of Catalonia, the Kingdom of Valencia, the Crown of Castile and the Kingdom of Portugal. At first these troops were formed by farmers and shepherds originating from the countryside, woods and frontier mountain areas. Later, they were employed as mercenaries in Italy, Latin Greece and the Levant.

Almogavar is an application that helps the Agile project manager track a project’s progress to its budget and generate forecasts and calculate percentage complete. It interfaces with various Microsoft Office 2013 applications like Word, Excel and Project.

Utilizing the core Condotiero functionality and database, Castellan Systems’ proven Project Management suite, Almogavar makes use to essential Condotiero functionality, while adding new functionality to support projects utilizing Scrum or other Agile product development models or approaches.

While there are other project management tools available in the market, they tend to focus on project planning & scheduling, task management and reporting. Almogavar covers all those facets of project management and more to support not only the project manager but also the rest of the team during the project execution. Besides project planning & scheduling, task management and reporting, Almogavar supports the Project Manager and the Project Team to perform such tasks as estimating, scheduling, epics & user stories definitions, risk analysis & management, decisions, action, defect and issue tracking, document control, status reporting, calculating cost to complete and tracking & monitoring status against the plan. While other packages out there highlight they cloud-based solutions, at Castellan Systems we believe that project data can be sensitive and should be protected. We've worked for many government agencies which require extra levels of security. Maintaining their projects' data within their vendors' firewall is a very important requirement for such agencies.

Almogavar has been designed by a project manager while working as a project manager. Every facet of Almogavar has been tested while performing those tasks in many projects. It has been refined as lessons have been learnt in actual use of the package. We actually use it internally to manage all of our projects. If we find that there is something else we need to do in a project, it finds its way into a new release.

You partner Almogavar with ClockKeeper, our timesheeting system (read more) and you have an unbeatable combination.

Note: Almogavar, as it has been built on top of the Condotiero core functionality, it's able to utilise the optional Conditieroadd-ons that can be purchased separately which add functionality to the core system. Please see the add-ons and Artificer pages.

So what does Almogavar do?

Dashboard

Almogavar has been built on our next generation application from ProMan. It's an application that can be used as an enterprise PM tool or by individual Project Managers or consultants to better manage their projects. Besides having the core functionality of Condotiero, it incorporates far more functionality to better support the Project Manager's efforts in an Agile environment.

It can be used by the whole team, not just the Project Manager, and it can function as a dashboard for management to gauge the performance of the overall project portfolio.

Almogavar allows you to record the project labour and expenses estimates. It also calculates revenue estimates based on the labour and estimates.

To support the above, Almogavar allows for the definition of rates tables, containing both internal and external rates per roles. Each individual project can then be linked to a specific rate table.

It also allows actual team members to be assigned to these estimated tasks; it will monitor and send out email notification to these team members when any of their assigned tasks are overdue for start or completion.

Almogavar records actual labour spent on each task and calculates cost. It also tracks actual expenses charges. Almogavar can print an invoice detail report to which a cover letter/invoice can be attached and then sent to the client(s).

Almogavar calculates % complete of a task. It uses one of three methods: Milestone based (spec’d, coded, tested, completed), Actual / Estimate or Elapsed time.

It sends out notifications to team members whenever any of the risks, actions, issues, defects or decisions which they've been assigned are overdue.

Main Project Screen
Dashboard

Almogavar can be used for minor projects (or tasks), large project or very large projects (or programmes) which are broken into several sub-projects.

Almogavar can be used for internal or external (i.e. client) funded projects.

In Agile, Personas are a powerful technique for defining users and customer of a product in order to make the right product decisions. This is necessary in order to build a connection with the beneficiaries of the product, develop empathy and understand their current wants, needs and circumstances. Keep your personas concise; don’t bloat them and don’t add irrelevant details. While your personas have to enough information to be useful, too much detail makes them difficult to work with. Relevant information of the personas of the persona can be recorded, including a picture.

Almogavar can define personas and generate a Persona card which can then be attached to a whiteboard or other surface.

Dashboard
Scheduling Screen

Agile teams typically differentiate between "epics" and "user stories". In most cases epics are just really large stories that sit far down on your product backlog until the team is ready to flesh them out into more detail. The logical question is how to scope an epic and then break it up into user stories as an agile business analyst.

There are a host of activities that happen between a semi-defined need (i.e. an epic) and a list of defined requirements to be built (i.e. the user stories). The goal in creating an epic to scope out a feature or a project to get just enough clarity around the what and the why and dig into just enough of the how to create a common understanding of what will be achieved with a given set of work. An epic is a great way to keep track of the big picture in agile environments.

Almogavar can record epics and user stories details. It can generate epic cards and epic reports.

User Stories are simple narratives; a series of related and interdependent stories makes up an epic. They are supporting artefacts for requirements. User stories are not expected to be a full and complete set of requirements. They are an anchor for a conversation. As a person who is creating and delivering requirements to a development team you may have further details written down, models created and rules listed. These are also useful and should be, like User Stories, used as supporting tools in a conversation with your developers.

A user story is the smallest unit of work in an agile framework. It’s an end goal, not a feature, expressed from the software user’s perspective. The purpose of a user story is articulate how a piece of work will deliver a particular value back to the customer. Note that "customers" don't have to be external end users in the traditional sense, they can also be internal customers or colleagues within your organization who depend on your team.

User stories are a few sentences in simple language that outline the desired outcome. They don't go into detailed requirements. Specific requirements are often added later, once agreed upon by the team.

Almogavar can record user stories details. It can generate user stories cards and user stories reports.

Update Schedule Screen
Dashboard

Almogavar supports the execution of a risk review/analysis workshop.

Almogavar assists in generating risk action plans.

Almogavar generates a Risk Management Workbook; template are provided in the package.

Almogavar defines the tasks and expenses that will be required to develop the requirements of the user stories defined.

Almogavar imports estimates from Ms Excel using the Estimating Workbook template provided in the package.

Almogavar can also export estimates to Ms Excel by populating the Estimating Workbook template provided in the package.

These estimated tasks and expenses can then be added to sprint to define the size of the sprint.

Earn Value Screen
Variations Screen

Almogavar can define sprints and include user stories, their tasks and expenses in their scope.

Almogavar requires at least one sprint to be defined. The estimated price, risk and expenses are automatically calculated when the estimates are entered.

When a sprint gets approved, the estimate figures of the phase are added to the overall project’s estimate figures.

Almogavar can generate project schedules in 2 ways. It can interface with Ms Project to allow the user to:

  • Create a project schedule using the tasks and assignments estimated in Almogavar;
  • Update a project schedule with revised project tasks details;
  • Obtain from the schedule planned, forecast and actual start dates as well as task duration and milestone status; and
  • Update a project schedule with actual labour, remaining labour.

But also includes a facility to create Gantt charts, and therefore project schedules, right there in the application. This facility can:

  • Create a project schedule using the tasks and assignments estimated;
  • Update a project schedule;
  • Update planned and forecast dates as well as task duration and milestone status;
  • Update the project's planned and forecast S-Curve; and
  • Forecast resource requirements based on the project schedule.

Earn Value Screen
Dashboard

Almogavar prepares and tracks forecasts to complete.

Almogavar can build a forecast by "reading" a project schedule generated in Microsoft Project. To assist with that project schedule generation, the Ms Project interface mentioned above is provided.

Almogavar maintains a Product Backlog board which can be viewed to review progress.

It also maintains similar Sprint Backlog boards which can also be reviewed for progress.

In both instances, the user stories can be easily expanded to view their details.

The charts are divided into 3 sections:

  1. Open: This section shows all user stories that haven’t been started (shown in light red).
  2. In Progress: This section shows all user stories currently being worked on (shown in light yellow).
  3. Resolved: This section shows all user stories that have been completed (shown in light green).
Earn Value Screen
Variations Screen

Almogavar allows you to record project variations and generates and prints Change Control Forms which can then be used to obtain approvals for the variation budget.

Almogavar imports estimates from Ms Excel using the Estimating Workbook template provided in the package.

Almogavar can also export estimates to Ms Excel by populating the Estimating Workbook template provided in the package.

Almogavar generates a project S-curve and other financial based graphs.

Almogavar performs Earned-Value calculations.

Almogavar prints timeline and earned-value reports.

Earn Value Screen
RAID Screen

Almogavar records & tracks Risks; it assists generating risk action plans.

Almogavar records & tracks issues and actions; these are then used when generating a status reports.

Almogavar records & tracks defects; these are then used when generating a status reports.

Almogavar records & tracks project decisions; these are then used when generating a status reports.

Almogavar generates an Issues & Actions Log; templates are provided in the package.

Almogavar generates a Defect Log.

Almogavar will notify a team member when they've been assign to resolve a risk, action, issue or defect.

Almogavar generates document identities and tracks details of documents.

It’s linked to the various other parts of the system where document ids are required for easy allocation of ids.

Document Register Screen
RAID Screen

There are 4 types of Quality processes/reviews that Almogavar tracks. Those processes are:

  1. Sprint Planning Meeting: This meeting is conducted prior to the Sprint as part of the Commit User Stories, Identify Tasks, Estimate Tasks, and Create Sprint Backlog processes.
  2. Sprint Review Meeting: During the Sprint Review Meeting that is conducted in the Demonstrate and Validate Sprint process.
  3. Retrospect Sprint Meeting: The Retrospect Sprint Meeting is conducted as part of the Retrospect Sprint process.
  4. Retrospect Project Meeting: This a meeting to determine ways in which team collaboration and effectiveness can be improved in future projects. Positives, negatives, and potential opportunities for improvement are also discussed.

Almogavar will track project progress and highlight when they are due.

Almogavar supports 4 different types of sprint retrospective:

  1. The Start, Stop, Continue method is about quick idea development. Instead of listing all topics, grouping them, and then trying to action specific groups, this technique tries to identify actions straight away.
  2. The Glad, Sad, Mad method can help to understand your team’s emotional health and bring about any necessary change.
  3. The 4 L's method can help to look at the current situation from a factual perspective.
  4. Quick Retrospect method can help to define the team’s key focuses of attention. The Quick Retrospective dives straight in, asking the team direct questions about the sprint: what was good and what was bad, and then capturing ideas and actions from the team.
Document Register Screen
RAID Screen
Almogavar supports a Retrospect Project Meeting, which is normally held at the end of the project.

The Retrospect Project Meeting is a meeting to determine ways in which team collaboration and effectiveness can be improved in future projects. Positives, negatives, and potential opportunities for improvement are also discussed. This meeting is not Time-boxed and may be conducted in person or in a virtual format. Attendees include the Project Team, Chief Scrum Master, Chief Product Owner, and Stakeholder(s). During the meeting, lessons learned are documented and participants look for opportunities to improve processes and address inefficiencies.
Almogavar can also:
  • Provides Project Status Reporting and overall forecasts.

  • Track project milestones.

  • Generate and print a Project Tracking Status Report and the Project Status Report; templates are provided in the package.

RAID Screen

As well as all of these tasks, Almogavar assists the Project Manager in other ways. Please check it out; it's available for download on a 30-day trial.

Almogavar is available in 5, 10 and 50 user licenses; but we're happy to negotiate any other arrangement. Just contact us.