Over the course of my career, I have noticed that I tend to gravitate to doing the same kind of things: setting strategic direction, meeting with teammates, and engaging with clients. By now, you have probably deduced that details are not something I am drawn to. My friend (at least I hope he is my friend) Jeff Dunn and I, have talked at great length over the years about how I use seagull management to fly in, crap all over the place and fly out. Maybe I have an unidentified case of ADD. Jeff has made a living at our last two companies cleaning up after me.
Enough of my rambling. I better get back on track. Early in my career, my ADD was an inhibitor to me in that it took me longer than 5% of the duration of a project to get it across the line.
When Jeff and I were at Cybertek developing a major release together, he suggested a “Today” meeting to help us get through a defect resolution phase. I pushed back, partially because I thought our teammates would revolt. What I didn’t ever tell Jeff was that I didn’t want to get into the details. Needless to say, I briefly put my ADD on the back burner, and we pushed through. Over the years, I have picked up a couple of other tricks, that when applied to a project, will tell you what you need to do to get through the other 5%.
Here they are:
- Daily Team Meetings – No, I didn’t name these after myself, but it is pretty straight forward. The agenda is pretty basic. What did you complete yesterday? What are you going to complete today? What issues do you have? Surprisingly, developers sitting right next to each other will often rarely talk to each other. Talking about where issues exist results in teammates offering advice and help. Peer pressure is a great encouragement for teammates to resolve issues.
- Project/Program Management Daily Meetings – I get more protests about this one. Surprising, but this is critical. Critical issues that sit more than a few hours go from difficult to impossible to resolve, often resulting in hysteria. The naysayers come out of the wood work, confirming what they have been saying all along. Get together and talk. It is amazing what you overcome as a team. At the project management level, a quick meeting everyday as you close in on a Go-Live date will ensure concise communication. However, most program directors believe they don’t need to communicate more. Boy, are they wrong. My most successful projects were ones where the client program manager and I met on a daily basis. The relationships developed during those daily meetings were critical when it hit the fan.
- Make ’em talk – As mentioned earlier, developers often don’t talk to each other so to talking to a QA tester never happens. If a defect is fixed, tested, and returned as a “rework” defect, you have a problem. The developer fixed what he thought was the problem, but he was wrong in the eyes of the tester. Get the developer and the tester in the same room to actually talk about what the defect actually is and how to reproduce it.
- Reproduce – Developers can’t fix what they can’t see. Have business analysts work with testers to reproduce the issue in the development environment. Pretty straight forward, right.
- Do Defects – Invariably, there will be some piece of functionality that got missed or wasn’t completely developed. Enter defects for any change requests or anything missed. This will ensure that it is tracked and addressed.
This went a lot longer than I wanted, but it is a good start. These actions will greatly enhance your chances of success.
Thanks for coming in today.