My #Mingle experience

One of the things I love about being a consultant is that you are forced to work with new technologies. Companies and people tend to find something they like and then stick to it. This is true whether we are talking about food, TV shows, or software. I have used TargetProcess for an Agile project management tool in the past and I loved the interface and the functionality that was provided.

On my latest project, the client had already chosen Mingle. I was actually looking forward to using a different Agile project management tool so I could compare and contrast. After being able to use Mingle for a while on my projects here are my observations:

Kudos!

  • I love that Mingle and TargetProcess both allow you a ton of power to customize the product to fit your current situation. Both TargetProcess and Mingle also implement the concept of workflow. This is very powerful and if anything I would suggest that Mingle’s transitions are a more elegant solution.
  • Although Mingle seems easier at the start, it actually took me longer to understand the structure and process and what structuring my cards in a certain way really meant. That said, once I understood those implications, Mingle provided more power and functionality.
  • The flexibility to make every object in the process a card and define the attributes for those cards is a very powerful metaphor.
  • The only place Mingle seems to be awkward is when you are creating and managing by Iterations. The process and functionality didn’t seem to flow as nicely as it did in TargetProcess. In hindsight I believe TargetProcess is perhaps better suited to Iterative execution of projects where Mingle is better suited to pure Flow execution of projects. Once we dropped the concept of Iterations and just focused on the Flow and WIP, the Mingle template and process was much simpler and easier.
  • MQL is an interesting beast. Once you understand what the basic syntax and functionality is, it provides a lot of power to be able to generate reports and graphs to report on your projects. To be honest, once you get the hang of it you wish that MQL provided more functionality so you can generate more metrics straight from MQL. Pretty cool stuff.
  • The concept of having a Wiki per card that you can modify is very cool. Once you realize that you also define templates for the Wiki’s for each card, you start to get even more bang for your buck.
  • The concepts of Trees and setting up Aggregate properties took a little playing to fully grasp. This might be something that Thoughtworks could generate a FAQ as I’m sure I’m not the only one that had questions. Once you understood the how and why to generate trees and how to create aggregate properties, the benefits of using these structures were unquestioned.
  • The ability to create grids or lists from any types of Cards and customize the appearance is awesome. Took a while to grasp just how powerful this is. Once you understand, you can virtually do anything you want.

Pet Peeves

  • I really wish I could hide the All, History, and Murmurs tabs. For some projects where we are all co-located, these tabs are not used and they just clutter up the screen.
  • I hate how my tabs are in alphabetical sequence (for the most part) and I can’t change the order. Seems like a minor thing, but the experience would be so much better if I could do this.
  •  The visualization of the Trees need some attention. This is a great idea for a visualization, but real estate quickly becomes an issue. Options to expand cards horizontally instead of vertically would help greatly. It quickly becomes cumbersome when you have 20+ cards. 

Summary

It will take a bit longer to get the hang of using Mingle as compared to TargetProcess or Rally. But this is time well spent. I will have a real dilemma to choose an Agile Project Management tool for my next project. If you haven’t used Mingle and especially if your project is more flow-based than iteration-based, I’d highly recommend looking into it.

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