DevSummit07:Software Project Management Mind Meld

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Facilitated by Jeremy Wallace, Fund for the City of New York

Participants will exchange practical skills and techniques that they can immediately apply to the management of nonprofit development projects.

Project management processes – from project initiation to project planning, project execution, monitoring and control, to project closure – will named and assessed for their relevance to reality, and development project survivors share their stories and experiences. We will inventory resources and best practices for project management within a nonprofit software context and map out existing project management resources for developing nonprofit technology, ranging from tools to templates to trainings.

Notes from the workshop. editor's note: I'm putting this up and may circle back to improve formatting later. I grouped comments by theme, and would love help drawing out the conclusions


what we manage when we project manage:

  • code/data
  • people (in house)
  • client resources
  • vendors

what are the tools we know and sometimes love?

Bug trackers and the like

  • RT: request tracker
  • Jira
  • Track has time tracker as well as tracking
  • Bugzilla
  • Issue-Tracker; http://sourceforge.net/projects/issue-tracker/ ; steve b: we use this largely because our sysadmin Dustin Mitchell is part of the (open source) developer team; has strong features if less than transparent UI
  • Mantis
  • Issue View
  • Email-> web page
  • kayako
  • Mantis

General project management tools

  • Net Office
  • BaseCamp story telling PM. make list from stuff written there.
  • Backpack checklists
  • Active Collab
  • MS project
  • dot project
  • OmniPlan
  • Excel
  • my manager


Time tracking

  • PhpTimeTracker
  • Daylight
  • markosoft = time tracker
  • pen and paper for larger projects
  • home grown billing system
  • yahoo widget: timer, stop/start
  • sundial for the mac start/stop


Collaborative disucssion and editing

  • wiki - confluence
  • vanilla forms
  • Google documents, spreadsheets, calendar
  • Gobby multiple editing.(OB is server version); no undo,


Some general comments:

  • no one is entirely happy with issue tracking software. May do the job; hard to get "tha client" to use it
  • range of experience with formal project management tools like BC.
  • have to take into account people who are managing projects who have roles other than project manager


Comments about how to have a reasonable PIPELINE for PRORJECT RESOURCES, TASKS

  • vision for work for next few months while finishing current code
  • impossible to estimate projects because clients are crazy
  • Important to explain PM role to clients

that's your first job.

  • expectation management: what you are going to expect and what's liable to happen.
  • small np s need quick turnaround because turnover is really deadly.
  • time lines? problem is that delays may screw up commitments to other projects.
  • illustrate impact of clien delays on timeline
  • don't charge them in $, charge in prorities.
  • penalty if a month, and a new proejct if 3 months
  • "we are waiting on materials for this proejct. If we don't get it, we have to move on to other projects"

Comments about dealing with scope changes

  • some of us use change orders
  • if point of contact changes, then its a scope change to the project.
  • education process. don't know how process works.
  • clients often can't conceptualize until its done.
  • high touch projects: hard to give them what they want on np project.
  • give range of prices, give a discount if targets met.

Requirements specifications

  • let client people ask for everything they want, distill in down.
  • signatures: show something to client, get signoff.inspired reflectiveness on the signer.
  • refuse to do something that's undefined. give them a RFP. 8 hrs of work.
  • requirements gathering first?
  • send someone into office and just watch people work. you will learn things that otherwise client staff won't remember to say.
  • we have process oriented minds but not everyone else does.
  • functionality versus workflow.
  • doesn't always work, they may not tell you full picture.
  • make people feel comfortable.


Differentiating client staff

  • ED can't be the point of contact...
  • but you need ED buy in. to make sure the people who are assigned are committed as far time.
  • ED wants to be single point of contact. if so, have someone else.
  • let ED see things over extranet.
  • kickoff call. includes ED. meet 1/2 way through and before the launch.

Agile

  • agile:what it means: iterative builds. adjust prices and phases. adjust prices based on how each phase goes.
  • use more informal version of this.
  • agile works because users recognize don't always know what they want.
  • switch from fixed price, and use agile programming.
  • define scope and features, then use agile for how we built it


Comments about the developer side of managing projects

  • Our teams may be in different places, different teams,working on multiple simultanous projects.

live by instant messaging...pick up phone as soon as there is any sense of confusion.

  • strict about meetings 2x a week at the same time. everyone says what they are working on.
  • set 30 minutes for weekly check in.
  • each person: what they are working on, what deliverables look like, and what help they need.
  • free conference call .com set time limit on the call, so make the proejcts end.
  • remote desktop onto wiki to look at same doc at the same time.
  • how to create a space for brainstorming.


Outcomes from this sharing session:

  • add annotations, urls to tools lists
  • do you want to share contracts? paste into to the wiki.also client intake processes, whatever.

Ed note: this is mediawiki which does not seemed to have uploaded documents. Maybe aspiration can create some additional space.

Note from Jeremy: I'd like to get these documents up on Consultant Commons, or some other more publicly noticable spot. When I get back to the office, I'll look for a good spot there to post our documents to and then update this page.