After listening to the interesting interview from Mark Phillips by Tim Keirnan, I wanted to jot down a few points which I think are important to us as teamaton.

  • Project managers are not only there to distribute tasks. They should understand the customer and his or her needs. Afterwards he has to define goals for the project, and translate these goals for the different groups involved in the project (designer, developer, tester). Only after that has happened, can he transfer these goals into tasks.
  • Most of the difficulties (80%) occur because they are weaved into the project from the very beginning. There needs to be a clear vision (definition is crucial) – otherwise there will be friction and competing visions.
  • Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. That rarely happens in our team. Our difficulties arise from not making estimates and not having a fixed point for completion.
  • Multitasking is not a good idea. One should concentrate on one project, instead of trying to push two, three or even more forward. If you have more than one project to work on, try to separate them (don’t switch during a day or even a week).
  • Projects should be prioritized. So when time is getting scarce you know which projects can be halted to free capacities.

After that I looked at theTheory of Constraints and the five focusing steps:

  1. Identify the Constraint:  We are now working more with Kanban, and are sure to see at which stage work is piling up.
  2. Decide How to Exploit the Constraint: We try to distribute the work according to the load. We try to let the developers focus on programming, because they are usually the bottle neck, and give their other tasks to someone else.
  3. Subordinate Everything Else to the Above Decision: We can be more effective in this step by defining precise priorities.
  4. Elevate the Constraint: We are thinking, for instance, about hiring a student software developer.
  5. If the Constraint Has Been Broken, Go Back to Step  1: We haven’t reached that step, but will keep that in mind – trying to better the performance of our projects.