We are a relatively small (less than 20 employees) software development house with about half a dozen mainline products as well as any number of consulting projects going on. We have some very big name clients in several countries and therefore need to ensure work is completed on time and efficiently.
While there are normal enhancement projects and major installation projects going on, there are also a number of items that come up for customers wanting changes or where something doesn't go quite as planned. These can disrupt the programmers day and disturb the development of future enhancements or otherwise frustrate the project timelines.
We have a web based system for clients to record requests and log bugs. This is monitored by our support staff and an email is fired off to developers where necessary.
All this means that as more emails come in, the developer has to judge the urgency of the email and either drop everything to perform that task, or note that this is another item that he has to do in the future. While they are very good at what they do, I was concerned for several reasons.
- I don't have a view on what a developer is doing at any time, or what he has done
- I don't have any way to tell what the workload of a particular developer is. This means I don't know to spread the load between developers when one is overloaded and another is just doing some normal housework
- Programmers can easily forget tasks
- It doesn't assist in any process to development
- I can't plan to ensure enough resources are available.
- I could go on, but you get the idea...
Generally though, it makes the whole development area invisible to me as the manager.
I knew that I needed to install a development process, but I knew immediately, I needed a tool to give me the visibility on what's being worked on work to correctly design a development process. I had used Jira before so the decision was an easy one for me. Setting it up was easy and done in minutes, but I wanted a number of changes to the permission and notification schemes, then it was a matter if creating some projects. Done.
It worked well and I installed a testing project so that people can try out the system without disturbing real work.
Its been installed now for about a week but the uptake has not been immediate. I'll have to do a demo on Monday to show everyone how it works, assure them that its not going to take over their day with mundane admin tasks, and finally show them a few neat wow bits. After that I'll be enforcing the use of it for the next month.
If, after that trial, no-one is convinced, then I'll take it away, but I'll need to know what to replace it with if that is the case. There seems to be a few main problems with installing this work request system that I'll have to overcome. These include:
- It seems like more work for no reason. While it may take a minute or less to create a new Jira issue, there are huge benefits for the user, the company, and the client - get over it.
- Its a way for the boss to monitor my work so he can breathe down my neck. In fact, its a way to STOP the boss breathing down your neck as he can see what's going on instead of bugging you every half hour. As for monitoring, your not that interesting that I want to spend all my time "monitoring" what you are doing "right now", I'm a lot busier than that but a quick glance to review workloads will tell me if you have too much work and need help.
- I get lots of little emails from lots of people wanting me to do things that only take a minute or two, why should I have to put all these into Jira?. By putting these into Jira, these little jobs will not only show you how much time they take up, but you will never, ever forget to do them. I have set up an email for each project in Jira, simply forward to the email to that address and it'll create your Jira issue instantly.
- I'm a senior developer, surely "I" don't have to do this. Yes, sadly I'm afraid that you do.
I'm sure that once everyone is using it and the advantages are being seen, then it'll resolve any arguments. To be fair, no argument have been forthcoming, but I can sense what's not being said at times. They are a great bunch or people that I enjoy working with, I just think I can make life easier for them with this tool. I'll let you know how it goes.