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I'm faced with the duty of managing a small design and web agency's (3 full stack developers, 3 designers, 1 help desk, sales people...) technical department. The company is selling quite well (it has a lot of work) but is very badly organized right now. At present time they have a certain amount of projects that exceeded deadlines and don't have a clear picture of all tasks which need to be accomplished to close these projects and the time they will require: they have long lists of to-dos and client requests inside e-mails, which are approximately represented on a Google calendar (no tracking software except for that).

First thing I'm doing is trying to give an order to things by installing a software to be able to:

1) have a centralized repository for the tasks (with their execution time estimates) and possibility to assign them to people and for people to see their progress

2) allow people to update progress without requiring a person to manually move stuff on a calendar

I choose Atlassian Jira for the purpose because I am also using it for my freelance job. I'm absolutely no expert at it but I find it useful for keeping things sorted. I use a Scrum board for my tasks and plan things into Sprints.

Now my questions are:

  • does it make sense to have an agile approach and use tools like gantt charts at the same time (to have a longer period perspective)? If applicable how can it be achieved in Jira (any strongly suggested plugin)?
  • do you have strong alternative software suggestion for the job?

This one is related to my other question here.

  • These really should be split up into seperate questions – Lyndon White Nov 22 '14 at 1:51
  • @Oxinabox You're right. I refactored it to other questions here and here. – mettjus Nov 23 '14 at 1:08
  • Good Job. Welcome to PM.SE – Lyndon White Nov 23 '14 at 1:33
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You're starting in a quite common environment. 6 people in production, no quality assurance people, several concurrent projects. And, let me guess, you've got ASAP requests pretty much every day.

Here's what you should do first:

  1. Sort out your development (new features) and suport (bugs, changes) projects.
  2. Now separate your production team across development and support projects. This will depend on your average workload. Let's say you will get 4 people on development and 2 on support.
  3. Do not reallocate people back and forth for at least one month. If support got more tasks than expected, let it take more time. If support people have not worked with this project before, have them sort it out. It's painful. It's worth the results.
  4. Rotate development - support people every month.

Let's see what you got:

  • Support team shields the development team, dealing with unpredictable requests.
  • Development team deals with known scope, which you can measure and plan.

Now it's time to set up some processes:

  1. Set up Kanban for your support team. Get a board (Jira or physical one) and launch daily meetings.
  2. Set up Scrum for your development team. Migrate project tasks into backlog items, plan releases, plan first sprint, launch it and launch daily meetings.

In Scrum, you can plan with hour estimates and the releases this way:

  • We have 30 tasks in this project, which are estimated in 300 hours total.
  • As we see, we close about 100 hours worth of tasks during our 1 week sprint.
  • Adding one sprint as a reserve, we plan to release this project in 4 sprints.

Make sure you handle retrospective meetings after each sprint, so you improve your process as you go.

And yes, do not waste your (and others) time on Gannt charts. This tool only works to present your management a nice picture, which has nothing to do with the reality.

  • Do you know any good books that specifically talk about this scenario? – Phil Jan 8 '15 at 14:29
  • @Phil Goldratt's "Goal" novel makes good points on the production process bottlenecks. – Vadim Tikanov Jan 8 '15 at 15:20

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