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Having a situation where sometimes the stakeholder asks me if something has been delivered, and I am finding it hard to keep track of all of my deliveries. I have completely forgotten many deliveries since it was delivered 4-5 months previously. This ends up making me stupid, and come across as somebody who is not very involved. I am concerned that this may affect my reputation and standing in the company.

What is the best way to get a grip of this?

  • 1
    As an aside, if a stakeholder is asking "When was my feature delivered?" rather than having direct visibility into the current state of the product, there's a probably an issue with your communications plan or the level of stakeholder engagement. That's a process issue, not a tooling problem. – Todd A. Jacobs Nov 23 '16 at 17:32
  • He just has forgotten. – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 22:01
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Tracking deliveries is an important task for a Project Manager.

You should simply start writing down when did you have which delivery and for each delivery what were the functionalities in those deliveries.

At beginning of the project when you get specification from the client, you should write those functionalities, estimate them and then plan the deliveries of every part. Once the delivery has gone to the client, just write a date and sort them depending on the date.

There are tools that can be used for this in case you are managing more projects and want to simplify and speed up the process. In my company we are using Atlassian Confluence and Jira for this purpose. In Jira you can see which functionalities go into which delivery and in Confluence we write manually the dates of the deliveries in the past and those that are planed (in the future).

  • What tools are there that are handy for this? – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 12:09
  • bobo2000 I have edited my answer, so that you can find it at the end. If you have found this answer useful please rate it so that I can come to the magical 50 reputation points :) – Vladimir Rodic Nov 23 '16 at 13:08
  • We use a spreadsheet. It lists every deliverable we have promised, the promised delivery date and the actual delivery date. We have an internal process that links the spreadsheet to the customer's acceptance artifact. – Mark C. Wallace Nov 23 '16 at 14:27
  • @MarkC.Wallace how does the spreadsheet look? – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 14:35
  • @VladimirRodic I am afraid that we use Trello. – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 14:35
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Collaboratively Design a Tracking Artifact

From a process point of view, all projects need an artifact to keep track of deliverables. The best way to design the right artifact is to work with your stakeholders to determine how they will collectively use the artifact and the information it contains.

The format and contents of the deliverables artifact is entirely up to you and your stakeholders. Some common themes include:

  • A spreadsheet or report to track deliverables. The contents can be as simple as "feature X was delivered on Y date", or as complicated as a chart with lead and cycle time data for every feature in the project.
  • A Sprint Review agenda, or a post-meeting summary listing what was reviewed with the stakeholders.
  • A column or archived list in your Kanban or Trello board containing all the cards that have been delivered per the Definition of Done.

There are certainly other ways to do this, too, but as you can see you're constrained only by your chosen tools and by your company's collective imaginations. Anything that is agreed upon with the stakeholders as sufficient for radiating information about the project's status should be good enough for covering yourself, while also helping the project focus on effective organizational communication.

  • I have a column called 'released' where I have all of my trello cards that have been completed. The problem is, there are too many of them now, and if I am put on the spot and asked if something has been done, I simply can't remember unless I go into that column and look for the card which can take a while. – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 22:11
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An alternative to pull-type notification is push-type notification. Whenever your team completes a feature, you could notify the stakeholders. This alleviates the need to remember things that were completed X months ago. Additionally, if the stakeholder then later asks anyway, at least at that point you have both forgotten, so you don't look as bad.

What sort of methodology (ie. Waterfall, iterative waterfall, Scrum, Kanban, etc.) are you using? If it's something iterative, it should be simple enough to send stakeholders a list of completed items at the end of each iteration. Scrum in particular has the Sprint Review meeting that is practically made for this.

  • Scrum , and I do that weekly, the problem arises when I get asked the question after 6 months and we have both forgotten. – bobo2000 Nov 23 '16 at 16:44
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Since I read in one of your comments that you use Trello, I can weigh in here. I manage a few teams working in Scrum and Kanban on small-ish projects, and I find Trello great for this, so I stick with it.

While, on the front, Trello's usability is super-simple and intuitive, don't think that it isn't a more powerful beast underneath. Any change to any card in Trello has a very thorough and in-depth history that can be accessed through their API. What it handles is a long list, but highlights that may help you include:

  • Dates and times cards are moved from one list/board to another
  • What tags are assigned to a card and when were they assigned
  • Who is assigned and when were they assigned
  • Etc. etc.

So, if your tasks were completed 6 months ago (and I guess there's some indicator e.g. the card is in the "completed" column, or archived), you can query this historical information from Trello and work backwards.

For my projects and teams, I've written a simple website that gathers this information on user stories, when they were added, who was assigned, when it was moved from the backlog, into progress, testing and complete and from that, generate the burndown, lead time and cycle time, and graph it all on the fly. So, while Trello is simple to use, it can be pretty powerful as well.

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