Thursday, 25 October 2012

Managing from the Mountaintop - Software Selection and Implementation

Sorry I've been a bit lackadaisical but no worries, everything is copacetic. It's just a bit difficult maintaining this and prepping for a trek and managing my project while occasionally making efforts to maintain my relationship as well.

Anyway, apart from building Shelving and wardrobes and working on the house and all that shit, lets go back 3 weeks to when I returned to work from the team holiday. We had an ongoing problem in that there was a distinct lack of visibility between the folks on the development floor and TPTB. I was doing daily reporting to TPTB but, nonetheless, the inevitable BS that gets in the way of declaring work DONE was not being communicated effectively.

I've run into this sort of problem before - how do I bridge the gap between the project plan and people working day-to-day without boggng them down in endless and profitless reporting cycles? I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of how and why I selected my solution because, honestly, I've been through this any number of times over the years. Suffice it to say that I have wanted to use Jira by Atlassian for ~3 years but have been thwarted by the sort of projects that I tend to work on (global enterprise). So my options have been to buy software for this purpose that then needs to be approved for installation and management on corporate infrastructure (a project in itself), or use an on-demand service based outside fo the corporate infrastructure (which always gives security the willies).

Fortunately my programme manager at the site had previous experience with Atlassian products from his previous project - managing ~50 people so when I happened to be wearing my Angry Nerds shirt to the office one day, we very naturally got into the conversation about using it on our project.

And that's it - within minutes we were up and running. I signed up for the JIRA OnDemand evaluation for <10 users and had set up our issues board and started populating it. I'd called the entire team in to be onsite for the day and we did a monster all-singing, all-dancing project re-planning session. The post-it notes were flying all over the shop!

Next all I had to do was to translate the post-its to the Jira board, creating issues, assigning them as appropriate, including estimates and breaking them out into the sprints.

As the week progressed we learned to use things like commenting and including things like @joe.bloggs in order to make sure that the right people are aware of problems, how to create subtasks and dependencies, etc. The team responded really positively and then started coming up with ideas and requests of their own and so we then got Confluence OnDemand so that we could set up a Team Calendars and a Project Wiki so that we're now working collaboratively on our documentation. Hallelujah! Goodbye knowledge silos!

It's not perfect. There are definitely improvements that I'd like to see (although to be fair I'm still learnign how to use the toolset and may just not have figured out how to do everything I want yet) but it certainly beats the pants off of working from project plans that are always out of date almost as soon as they're updated.

And then it dawned on me. I now had a web interface to my project. I could use this when I'm working remotely...

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