Culture

How to keep track of workload in an Agile manner

When you work on an Agile tech company like Shutl there are many things happening at the same time every week. Developers are constantly shipping new features and maintaining the company’s systems working to make clients happy. Sometimes this means adding features, sometimes this means fixing bugs that only manifest on remote corner cases and therefore escaped quality control, and sometimes this means getting woken up at 4am because hackers don’t respect office hours.

In the case of a company that is part of a huge multinational like eBay, all of the above have to be juggled with additional demands on your time and energy including coordinating with other engineering teams that work in other time zones, taking care of requests from other engineers that depend on the systems that you are responsible for (or viceversa), and sometimes improving the quality of legacy code.

How do we, as a company, keep track of all this?

The short answer can be expressed in haiku form:

Get a kanban board
Keep work in progress in check
Always remain agile

The long answer is explained in more detail on this animation1.The animation is actually a deck of slides in a PDF. We would rather prefer to spend our time writing good code. 😉 .

We have used a combination of tools in the past for our kanban boards2.Kanban is just the Japanese word for board, so the expression “kanban board” is sort of repetitive, but it has become so common in English-speaking communities that we are keeping it here. , including coloured post-its, but our current solution consists of just two online tools: Trello (originally created by Joel Spolsky’s company, Fog Creek Software) and Pivotal Tracker (created by the cool guys at Pivotal). The animation above is part of the on-boarding materials that we use at Shutl to introduce new engineers to our tools and our way of producing high-quality software so, if you like what you see there, feel free to give us a shout 3.The photo at the top depicts a bronze statue of a cheetah changing directions quickly in the Attadale Gardens (Strathcarron, UK). The image was taken by Carol Walker and is reproduced under CC-by.

References   [ + ]

1. The animation is actually a deck of slides in a PDF. We would rather prefer to spend our time writing good code. 😉
2. Kanban is just the Japanese word for board, so the expression “kanban board” is sort of repetitive, but it has become so common in English-speaking communities that we are keeping it here.
3. The photo at the top depicts a bronze statue of a cheetah changing directions quickly in the Attadale Gardens (Strathcarron, UK). The image was taken by Carol Walker and is reproduced under CC-by
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