The purpose of this page is to capture notes about task and project management and planning.
- Lean Management
- Personal Experience
- Tools for Work/Career Tasks and Projects
- Tools for Personal Tasks/To-Do Lists
“Lean management is an approach to running an organisation that supports the concept of continuous improvement. It is an ongoing effort to improve products, services, or processes, which require “incremental” improvement over time in order to increase efficiency and quality.
Lean management uses methods for eliminating factors that waste time, effort or money. This is accomplished by analysing a business process and then revising it or cutting out any steps that do not create value for customers.
Lean management principles include:
- Defining value from the standpoint of the end customer
- Identifying each step in a business process and eliminating those steps that do not create value
- Making the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence
- Repeating the first three steps on a continuous basis until all waste has been eliminated.”
“The general view is that Scrum is the best Agile method for building a product and development projects”
The idea of Scrum is dividing the team into smaller groups, splitting the time at the team’s disposal into sprints, segmenting the workload into tasks of a do-able size, ordered by their difficulty level, and then committing the team to complete them by the end of the sprint. Each sprint is reviewed to optimise the process and product.
“When it comes to projects that include production and product support you will be advised to turn to Kanban”
Kanban concentrates on visualisation of workflow and limiting work in progress. Optimising the process comes from measuring the lead time, how much time a task spent on the board, and analysing the cumulative flow diagram and the cycle time, how much time it actually took to work on it. The Kanban board is a visual representation of the work stream, where each work item is represented by a card.
The crucial difference between running the Scrum and Kanban board is the pull order, with Kanban being more flexible in allowing choice of what item to choose.
|Fixed Timeboxes||No Timeboxes|
|Tasks & Estimates||No Task Estimates|
|Track Velocity||Track Flow|
|Scrum Master Owns Process||Team Owns Process|
|Sprint to Deliverable Increment||Minimal Marketable Features|
|Bookended by Fixed Sprint Planning andSpring Demo & Review Meeting||Focus on Queues, Work In Progress, and Cycle Time to Delivery|
|Cadence of Increments||Cadence of Flow|
“Scrumban a solution favoured by the service industry, and is a great project management tool for teams that deal with product development and its maintenance together.”
The thrust of Scrumban appears to be applying Kanban principles (limit Work In Progress on the backlog, visualise workflow) to Scrum (use analytics, fixed time).
“Fundamentally, Scrumban is a management framework that emerges when teams employ Scrum as their chosen way of working and use the Kanban Method as a lens through which to view, understand and continuously improve how they work.”
“Scrumban is distinct from Scrum in the way it emphasises certain principles and practices that are substantially different from Scrum’s traditional foundation. Among these are:
- recognising the important role of organisational management (self-organization remains an objective, but within the context of specific boundaries)
- allowing for specialised teams and functions
- applying explicit policies around ways of working
- applying the laws of flow and queuing theory
- deliberate economic prioritisation
Scrumban is distinct from the Kanban Method in that it:
- prescribes an underlying software development process framework (Scrum) as its core
- is organised around teams
- recognises the value of time-boxed iterations when appropriate
- formalises continuous improvement techniques within specific ceremonies”
In practice, the development process I’ve used in my teams seems to be closer to Kanban but with flavours of all. It’s key features were:
- Queues of Backlog, In Progress, Done
- Card based visualisation with Jira tasks on a board
- Brutal prioritisation of the Backlog by the Clients
- Estimate tasks and apply due dates
- Order board by due date and then priority to help people visualise what is happening and when
- Breakdown tasks
- ‘Work In Progress’ limit
- Assign tasks but ‘plenty of who is going to do it’ discussion
- Weekly turnover cycle – not so much a Sprint but we (IT + Clients) like to always try and release SOMETHING every week.
- Include ALL tasks : new products, new features, fixes, requests, must-do infrastructure upgrades, testing and other maintenance
- Lack of a Gannt chart plugin but would have been useful.
I am not a fan of assigning people multiple unrelated tasks to work on unless it’s clear that they will need to switch been them, e.g. to wait for something. And I don’t like assigning multiple tasks unless it’s clear that a developer is going to run out of work within a week. This is essentially to limit Work In Progress and keep people focused, in an environment where they are also getting pinged constantly from multiple sources (email, tickets, IM, phone) with support/requests.
It’s recommended to apply a Work In Progress limit to the backlog. In practice, I did this by closing out old unprioritised Jiras. Anything older than 1 year was a no brainer. But there is also no point maintaining a massive backlog that would, barring a large injection of resource, not get done in the current year. With continuous dialogue with the client, if something was important, it would crop up again if it had dropped off the queue prematurely. Better to have a queue that is right-sized for the current budget.
The 2 best web-based FREE Kanban card-based task tracking tools appear to be Kanbanchi and Trello. These also other project-based planning, with the possible addition of Gannt charts. Omnifocus looks good for Apple only setups.
For me, I’m trialling Kanbanchi for its integration with Google Drive and Calendar.