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Project Management for Team

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mauamolat

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Feb 3, 2020
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Hi everyone!

I manage a WordPress web development projects & I have a team that I delegate tasks for in my business. Just a few queries here I'd like to know if you were on my shoes:

1. What is the best way to assign or distribute tasks or projects to your team/assistants for web development, Support & Administrative tasks?

2. Should I assign each and everyone a specific task? or just based on their availability of workload?

3. How do you guys manage your projects and delegation to your team for your business? If I may ask.

Thanks for the help further!
 

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Jon L

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I run a custom software company. We have three devs, a part time designer and a QA guy, plus me. So, its not a lot of people, but there is workload to distribute.

I use Jira. For simple tasks, I'll just post a description of what needs to be done (move this button from here to there, make this calculation do this instead of that).

For medium difficulty tasks, I'll include a screen-capture video where I discuss the high level purpose of the task "The client is unhappy about how the system does X. They are having to press to many mouse buttons to accomplish their task. I've laid out a different work flow with them. here's what I did and why I did it and what you need to do." Most of the time, this level of detail is sufficient for this type of task. The result I get back is what I was looking for.

For difficult tasks, I'll discuss the task with the team member that is going to be doing the task. Usually, I don't have my head wrapped completely around it prior to talking with them. I'll go over the high level description, talk about the business purpose for what we're trying to accomplish. I'll describe what I think needs to happen, and then solicit input. We'll go back and forth on it, sometimes over the course of days before we nail down a solution. At that point, I'll create a mockup of what needs to be done, but the developer is so well versed in it that he will probably be able to do the whole thing without that. I find that the mockup and technical description is important though because it captures all the stuff we talked about. Its our final chance to review things prior to the task kicking off. Usually, we'll find a few things we didn't overtly discuss that we disagree on. Usually my dev is right, and I'm wrong, but sometimes its the other way around.

Jira is highly configurable, so you can set up workflows however you want them. They have a new version of their system that's a lot more flexible. You can change things on the fly much more easily (adding, removing columns in the workflow, etc).

I have Jira set up with the following columns where I can drag and drop individual tasks into:
1) Backlog (items not yet approved to be done, but stuff we should consider for the future)
2) Approved (Devs can pick from these what they want to do. When we have a lot of things to do, items at the top of the list need to be worked on first)
3) In Progress
4) QA
5) Re-opened (for tasks that failed QA)
6) Done
7) Billed

As far as who gets which assignment, certain guys are good at certain things. Anything transaction related (accounting, inventory, complex calculations or workflow etc) goes to my lead dev. Other stuff can get distributed between the other two. Changes to existing code are given first to the dev that originally wrote it.
 
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mauamolat

mauamolat

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 3, 2020
32
15
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Philippines
Pretty much What I'm doing to my team but I assign it to them individually and not via a system they are able to choose what to do. I'm assuming your using a kanban system if that's the case.

Anyways, another thing. How do you reach out to your team in a timely manner? Do you have a schedule for it or anytime when needed? Because running my business is kinda hard to focus on my own stuff. I manage everything about Marketing, Sales & Support plus Projects and just delegate a few tasks for the team if I am already loaded. My other question is, should we delegate the whole project to each member or just a few milestones of a project? What is the best approach for you?
 

Jon L

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Pretty much What I'm doing to my team but I assign it to them individually and not via a system they are able to choose what to do. I'm assuming your using a kanban system if that's the case.

Anyways, another thing. How do you reach out to your team in a timely manner? Do you have a schedule for it or anytime when needed? Because running my business is kinda hard to focus on my own stuff. I manage everything about Marketing, Sales & Support plus Projects and just delegate a few tasks for the team if I am already loaded. My other question is, should we delegate the whole project to each member or just a few milestones of a project? What is the best approach for you?
Yes, I use a Kanban board (Jira), and highly, highly recommend that you use one. Its a lot easier to track progress on stuff than doing it manually. You can use it however you want ... if you want to assign certain tasks to people, there's an easy way to do that in most systems.

Scheduling time is hard. I don't have a system for it that I feel great about. We've tried daily meetings at a particular time, but things always come up. I do meet almost daily with my lead dev, though. We usually play those meetings by ear.

I have tried bringing in a project manager to manage a complete project. That failed. Miserably. The kind of person I need to have to manage a project is me, or someone better than me. That's expensive to hire.

If you do designate a team member to run a project entirely by themself, I'd suggest that you give things to them slowly ... give them a small project, stay involved in it. Then give them another project, back off a little, but still know what's going on. Slowly, you can trust them more. Eventually, you can let them report to you what they're doing. ... I'm certainly not at that spot yet, though.
 
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mauamolat

mauamolat

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 3, 2020
32
15
18
Philippines
Yes, I use a Kanban board (Jira), and highly, highly recommend that you use one. Its a lot easier to track progress on stuff than doing it manually. You can use it however you want ... if you want to assign certain tasks to people, there's an easy way to do that in most systems.

Scheduling time is hard. I don't have a system for it that I feel great about. We've tried daily meetings at a particular time, but things always come up. I do meet almost daily with my lead dev, though. We usually play those meetings by ear.

I have tried bringing in a project manager to manage a complete project. That failed. Miserably. The kind of person I need to have to manage a project is me, or someone better than me. That's expensive to hire.

If you do designate a team member to run a project entirely by themself, I'd suggest that you give things to them slowly ... give them a small project, stay involved in it. Then give them another project, back off a little, but still know what's going on. Slowly, you can trust them more. Eventually, you can let them report to you what they're doing. ... I'm certainly not at that spot yet, though.
Yes, I have started doing the idea. Slowly but surely. And you're right about managing the project, the feeling is mutual. I feel that all the time. I can't seem to trust somebody else than myself to manage my projects at its best as I know majority of the employees do not care about the company due to a ton of my encounters throughout my slow-lane jobs before as a leader/managerial position. But I've read a few books that wanted me to deal & become better with delegation. I'd like to accomplish a better system for the operation so I can spend my time for better oppotunities for my business but I just can't work on it because I'm always consumed by managing my team or projects
 

Jon L

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Aug 22, 2015
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Yes, I have started doing the idea. Slowly but surely. And you're right about managing the project, the feeling is mutual. I feel that all the time. I can't seem to trust somebody else than myself to manage my projects at its best as I know majority of the employees do not care about the company due to a ton of my encounters throughout my slow-lane jobs before as a leader/managerial position. But I've read a few books that wanted me to deal & become better with delegation. I'd like to accomplish a better system for the operation so I can spend my time for better oppotunities for my business but I just can't work on it because I'm always consumed by managing my team or projects
I think its partly the difference between owner and employee, but I also think its a difference in quality of employee, too. I know people at companies I've worked for that are better than I am at project management. They would be able to do my work here just fine. But, I wouldn't be able to afford them, either. Which means I'm not charging enough for what I do...
 
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mauamolat

mauamolat

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That's the thing. We have to survive this stage while we don't yet get the top of our goal as we cannot afford atm the people we need to work for us. Anyways, thanks for the, Man! I appreciate your thoughts. Be well
 

Mac

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I would look into reading the book Scrum: The Art of Getting Twice The Work Done In Half The Time - it gives a larger scope of what Jon L. is talking about above, but what he laid out for you is basically what it goes over... just more in-depth.
 

Rabby

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1. Assign them to the people who are most efficient at them, or let them self-select tasks that they are best suited for. I think the best teams have a somewhat diverse skillset and preferences, even if you do have "full stack" developers.

We use clubhouse.io, which implements kanban and related strategies (many tools will let you view tasks as a kanban, roadmap, etc). That works fine depending on how you use it.

One problem we ran into is that our lead developer understands the project in-depth at the technical level, while I am at the conceptual level. Implementation details are outside my experience. So, with a very technical person pruning the project tree, we ended up with too much fine detail in one card... in other words, tasks were so well defined that the act of defining them was like a duplicate of programming them. We've since backed off from that, and are defining tasks, features, etc in a more sane way. That has resulted in less than 1000s of tasks in the backlog, thankfully.

I tried hiring a 3rd party firm to do project management and it was not what we needed at all. They had their own method which did not work for the team we were building. We parted as friends.

What I've come to realize is that you don't have to hire "yourself." If you're growing your team, the thing to do is to talk with some team members and collect a list of things that are taking their time and energy, but which are not their core competencies or most valuable contributions.

We've done that a few times to grow our team. For example, at one point I had one guy (poor Mr. G... I'm so sorry) doing devops, back end, front end, and even some wireframes. My contributions were limited to wireframes and business analysis (talking to customers, gathering requirements, etc.). What worked at that time was to find out what the biggest detractors from Mr. G's most-productive-time were. Turns out, we needed a front end developer, someone doing design and wireframes, and someone on QA. Now we have those, and the team is stabilized, so on to the next iteration.

Most recently, I've started recruiting for a product owner. That role was very hard for me to define. I felt like it was what we needed, but writing a job description that did not look like it would overwhelm a normal person was hard. Then I remembered the above... talk to the team and find the things that are taking us away from what we need to do, or that we need more of.

What we came up with for the role was this:

Own product decisions​
- make informed, defensible decisions about product scope, directions, and features.​
- qualify user feedback, bug reports, and feature requests to determine whether they are correct and add value to the product.​
Own the development backlog​
- set priorities and assign members of the development team.​
- understand development workloads and team capacity.​
Own requirement gathering​
- document requirements, details, and benefits to the user of proposed features or changes.​
Own validation testing​
- verify that the features delivered meet the requirements for which they were developed.​

By hiring someone with these skills, we can take an additional burden off of Mr. G, me, our front end developer, and our QA tester, all of who are jumping into these tasks as needed, but who can not fully focus on these 4 things.

I don't consider myself an experienced manager, certainly not an experienced "project manager" in the professional sense, but I think if you can reduce the burden on your team and hire for the right things, and understand what each team member is best at, you're at least on your way to good management.
 
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mauamolat

mauamolat

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 3, 2020
32
15
18
Philippines
I would look into reading the book Scrum: The Art of Getting Twice The Work Done In Half The Time - it gives a larger scope of what Jon L. is talking about above, but what he laid out for you is basically what it goes over... just more in-depth.
Will definitely look into this after TFM. Thanks a lot Man!
 

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OP
mauamolat

mauamolat

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 3, 2020
32
15
18
Philippines
1. Assign them to the people who are most efficient at them, or let them self-select tasks that they are best suited for. I think the best teams have a somewhat diverse skillset and preferences, even if you do have "full stack" developers.

We use clubhouse.io, which implements kanban and related strategies (many tools will let you view tasks as a kanban, roadmap, etc). That works fine depending on how you use it.

One problem we ran into is that our lead developer understands the project in-depth at the technical level, while I am at the conceptual level. Implementation details are outside my experience. So, with a very technical person pruning the project tree, we ended up with too much fine detail in one card... in other words, tasks were so well defined that the act of defining them was like a duplicate of programming them. We've since backed off from that, and are defining tasks, features, etc in a more sane way. That has resulted in less than 1000s of tasks in the backlog, thankfully.

I tried hiring a 3rd party firm to do project management and it was not what we needed at all. They had their own method which did not work for the team we were building. We parted as friends.

What I've come to realize is that you don't have to hire "yourself." If you're growing your team, the thing to do is to talk with some team members and collect a list of things that are taking their time and energy, but which are not their core competencies or most valuable contributions.

We've done that a few times to grow our team. For example, at one point I had one guy (poor Mr. G... I'm so sorry) doing devops, back end, front end, and even some wireframes. My contributions were limited to wireframes and business analysis (talking to customers, gathering requirements, etc.). What worked at that time was to find out what the biggest detractors from Mr. G's most-productive-time were. Turns out, we needed a front end developer, someone doing design and wireframes, and someone on QA. Now we have those, and the team is stabilized, so on to the next iteration.

Most recently, I've started recruiting for a product owner. That role was very hard for me to define. I felt like it was what we needed, but writing a job description that did not look like it would overwhelm a normal person was hard. Then I remembered the above... talk to the team and find the things that are taking us away from what we need to do, or that we need more of.

What we came up with for the role was this:

Own product decisions​
- make informed, defensible decisions about product scope, directions, and features.​
- qualify user feedback, bug reports, and feature requests to determine whether they are correct and add value to the product.​
Own the development backlog​
- set priorities and assign members of the development team.​
- understand development workloads and team capacity.​
Own requirement gathering​
- document requirements, details, and benefits to the user of proposed features or changes.​
Own validation testing​
- verify that the features delivered meet the requirements for which they were developed.​

By hiring someone with these skills, we can take an additional burden off of Mr. G, me, our front end developer, and our QA tester, all of who are jumping into these tasks as needed, but who can not fully focus on these 4 things.

I don't consider myself an experienced manager, certainly not an experienced "project manager" in the professional sense, but I think if you can reduce the burden on your team and hire for the right things, and understand what each team member is best at, you're at least on your way to good management.
Thank you very much for the neat advice and guidance of course. I will keep and execute all these today. Much appreciated!!!
 

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