An early PM with only 22 people at a small B2B SaaS firm. For more than a year, we’ve been running profitably and developing gradually and sustainably.
We have a reputation for being a talented group of developers and designers who work hard and efficiently.
We’re beginning to have more projects and lines of work, so I need to start keeping track of our progress! We’ve never really kept track of how many hours various tasks have taken.
How do I facilitate the changeover of my team of five developers and three designers from our haphazard/just get things done manner of working to a more organized process? I don’t want to kill our ability to be nimble by living and dying by some metric.
We use JIRA with flexible deadlines. There are no estimations and flexible timelines. Unless you construct or design similar things repeatedly, estimates for design and development are woefully off practically every single time. Nevertheless, I don’t think you can really have estimations if you are developing a new product.
This essay from Basecamp is fantastic. Show Progress | Shape Up
Developing or designing a new feature involves a lot of unknowns at first; you don’t know what will happen or how long it will take until you have completed perhaps half of the effort.
Track jobs using JIRA or comparable software, then use that information to make your procedures better.
@MarcoSilva, Thank you so much. Really appreciate for the article. Will go through at ease later.
What spurs the requirement to begin monitoring progress?
Normally, the company’s key objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to determine how well a product is progressing. not how long someone works on a task for.
Process, in my opinion, standardizes communication between various business units so that less time is wasted doing so. For instance, if the designers are receiving requests for designs via slack, email, and carrier pigeon, they might want a process that requires all requests to be made via a specific channel and in a specific way, reducing the need for them to search everywhere and the likelihood that they will miss these requests.
Against what do you measure product development progress?
In my experience, the amount of work completed and the amount still to be done is determined by comparing progress to a set of work. While agile techniques recognize that you may have a notion of a short-term step or a few steps, work emerges and requirements change, doing that necessitates knowing how much work is left to be done. Instead of tracking progress, you show it frequently by demonstrating or even shipping your product to customers, obtaining their input, and then using that information to choose what to accomplish next.
Without understanding the details of your issue, I would advise that the cycle time and throughput of work items are the ideal process metrics to use. These are the most generally applicable, though you might want to group work items into other kinds or use a few different cycle times depending on specific process phases. Open (known) problems and escaping defects are among the greatest product metrics. It can be easier to determine whether you’re incorporating quality into your product if you are aware of how many known faults you have and how many defects were found outside of your development process.
Growth is usually always the most important factor at a business of that size. You’re doing it wrong if you’re shipping a lot of code but your income isn’t changing.
Investigate this if getting things done results in a lot of rework and lower revenue.
There are several ways to measure product development progress. Here are some common methods:
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs are measurable values that indicate the progress of a product development project. Examples of KPIs include the number of features implemented, the number of bugs fixed, and the time it takes to complete a specific task.
- Milestones: Milestones are specific points in time during a product development project that represent progress. Examples of milestones include the completion of a specific feature or module, the completion of a testing phase, and the release of a new version of the product.
- Agile methodology: Agile is a project management methodology that emphasizes continuous improvement, flexibility, and collaboration. In an agile development process, progress is measured through regular meetings, such as daily stand-ups, and by tracking the completion of specific tasks or stories.
- Burn-down charts: A burn-down chart is a graphical representation of the work remaining versus time. It is commonly used in agile development to track progress and identify potential issues early.
- User feedback: User feedback is an important measure of product development progress, as it can provide valuable insight into the usability and effectiveness of the product. Collecting and analyzing user feedback can help identify areas for improvement and guide future development efforts.
Hence, the best way to measure product development progress will depend on the specific project and the goals of the development team. It’s important to choose a method that aligns with the project’s objectives and provides meaningful insights into progress and areas for improvement.
Have you attempted sprint planning? I believe that sprint plans that can adjust to active fires are the best. Although you don’t have to live and die by your timetable, it’s a good idea to have one as a benchmark.
Although the “Get shit done” mentality is undoubtedly a good one, I find that it’s not one that works well over the long haul because individuals tend to burn out very quickly. Regularity, routines, and patterns are what make people thrive. There is a trade-off to be made in this situation, but managing trade-offs well is really what PM-ing is all about.
Process is evil. It is sometimes necessary, but it is evil to avoid if possible.
This is a bit cheesy, but think about the process the same way as you do product development:
- Think long and hard (lol) about why do you need the process, what outcomes are you trying to achieve with it, what’s the point of it?
- Do as little as possible to achieve the outcome. better even - do something tiny that takes you towards it and review the impact it has.
Is your company using agile?
My team (PM, Business Analyst, and Devs) had daily standups and sprint planning/backlog grooming/retros every 3 weeks. Our stack was Aha! and Azure.
Azure gives you really good tracking and burn down reports. One area where my team could’ve improved is being in sync on our release schedule.
As a new PM at a small B2B SaaS startup, it’s important to start tracking progress to ensure that your team can continue to grow sustainably. Here are some steps you can take to begin tracking progress:
- Define project goals and KPIs: Start by defining clear project goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure progress. For example, if you’re working on a new feature, you might set a goal to release it within a certain timeframe and measure progress by the number of bugs found during testing.
- Use project management tools: There are many project management tools available that can help you track progress, assign tasks, and collaborate with your team. Some popular options include Asana, Trello, and Jira. Choose a tool that fits the needs of your team and start using it consistently.
- Estimate project timelines: Work with your team to estimate how long different tasks will take to complete. This can help you create realistic timelines and identify potential bottlenecks or issues early on.
- Track time spent on tasks: Start tracking the time your team spends on different tasks using a time-tracking tool. This can help you identify which tasks are taking longer than expected and make adjustments as needed.
- Review progress regularly: Schedule regular check-ins with your team to review progress, identify any roadblocks, and adjust timelines as needed. This can help you stay on track and ensure that everyone is aligned on the project goals.
Remember that tracking progress is not just about hitting deadlines, but also about ensuring that your team is working efficiently and sustainably. By using these steps, you can start to establish a culture of continuous improvement and help your team achieve its goals over the long term.
Transitioning from a scrappy, just-get-shit-done mode of working to a more structured process can be challenging, but it’s important for ensuring sustainable growth and scalability. Here are some tips to help you make the transition without sacrificing agility:
- Involve the team: Before implementing any new processes or tools, involve your team in the decision-making process. Ask for their input and feedback on what’s working well and what needs to be improved. This will help ensure that everyone is on board with the changes and invested in making them successful.
- Start small: Don’t try to overhaul everything at once. Start with one or two small changes and gradually build from there. For example, you might start by implementing a project management tool to help track tasks and progress, or introducing a regular team meeting to discuss project status and roadblocks.
- Set clear expectations: Communicate clearly with your team about what you expect from them in terms of processes and workflows. Be transparent about the reasoning behind any changes and explain how they will benefit the team and the company as a whole.
- Focus on outcomes, not metrics: While metrics can be useful for tracking progress, they can also be a distraction if they become the sole focus. Instead, focus on the outcomes you want to achieve and use metrics as a tool to help you measure progress towards those outcomes.
- Encourage experimentation: Just because you’re implementing more structure doesn’t mean you can’t still be nimble and innovative. Encourage your team to experiment with new ideas and approaches, and be open to trying new things yourself.
Remember that transitioning to a more structured process is a journey, not a destination. Be patient, stay flexible, and be willing to adapt as you go. With time and effort, you can help your team achieve sustainable growth while maintaining the agility and creativity that makes them great.
Wake up and be a good co-worker. Don’t destroy burden people with having to go through a glorified middle man.
Hey guys, very interesting insights, comments, suggestions and inputs, I really appreciate it! A big thanks to all of you.
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