I am part of a new and small agency/consultancy and we are having decent success and growing pretty steadily. Within the past month we have doubled our team and now have a lot of pressure for everyone to know exactly what is going on in different areas of the process. And we are having growing pains trying to figure out the best way to manage everything. Specifically related to hours/budgets/time.
To give a specific example, one of the roles we’ve added recently is a product owner (aka more friendly way of saying project manager) and now her job is to make sure we are within budget and on track. So as a developer this is obviously causing significant friction for me. A lot of checking in with me to see how much i’ve done, how far i am, is there anything i can do quicker/easier or cut altogether.
One example process that we have recently had implemented is a weekly meeting on monday where the product owner team has allocated time for each developer per project. i.e. You have 10 hours on project A, 3 hours on project B and 15 hours on project C. And then we as developers are asked if those numbers ‘feel right’ to us. And we’re able to say they’re not and have the hours shuffled around but its very hard to grok my effort in terms of hours in the future like that. I can understand how the management team needs this information but I’m also struggling on if this data is at all accurate and on that note is this just an exercise in futility. I really don’t like this process, but understand I can’t really make a change in how we do things unless I have a better idea. Which is where I’m at now – stuck. I really want my fellow developers to focus on the quality of their code more than the time frame in which it is finished. However I do know both of these need to be a concern, I just want quality to be the prime factor. How do you reconcile the two? As an agency/consultancy we have to work within our client’s budget and can’t always get a client that says “here’s a blank check. I trust you’ll do the best work possible and you’re worth it.”
So I’m curious how thoughtbot, and others on the forum are welcome to discuss as well of course, manages their process. We use pivotal tracker and assign points to user stories, but seems to always end up degrading into ‘how long do you think this will take?’ in terms of real time blocks instead of relative effort. Would love to hear about how you track hours spent on a task or on a project as a whole. How product owners maintain visibility on it all as well as the eternal question of ‘how does one make everyone happy?’ If that doesn’t give you much direction on the discussion, I’ll add a few specific questions below.
- How do you manage the trade off between making it under budget and making it in a sustainable and correct way?
- How do you reconcile the conflicting goals of product planning management and development? (cheaper vs better)
- What are some good methods/processes to track hours but not add an overbearing pressure of hour constraints to developers?
- How do you plan for the next week of effort allocation?
- How do you keep a growing team from developing cliques that end up feeling like an ‘us vs them’ mentality?
- How can you limit friction and distress for developers?
Look forward to hearing everyone’s ideas
p.s. im not sure if the learn category is best for this but i didn’t see a better category.