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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Project Blogging

John Udell takes a quick look at how to re-configure Radio Userland and MovableType for project blogging.  John's original thoughts about project blogging are also worth a look.

While Microsoft Project has become ubiquitous in corporate IT, it is more and more designed to make pretty Gant charts for upper management
and is falling behind other tools in the actual management of collaborative software projects.  I just found an RSS add-on for Joel's excellent FogBUGZ system (a feature already in Jira, and recently added to Source Forge).  It seems that it would be fairly easy to implement an RSS output template for BugZilla

This stuff is doable now, the only question is how much time you're willing to invest to customize tools in order to implement features that are sure to be common place in development tool suites in the near future. 

The other question is "what are your project management tools
designed for?" - managing source code, managing project resources, managing requirement, enabling team communication, or drawing pretty pictures.

[From AMATEUR HOUR: the "me" in media]

MS-Project is the de facto place for planning the project time line based on tasks, resources and effort (display it as Gnat chart or otherwise), however the effort of keeping it in sync with actual versus budget quickly becomes a fulltime job for any moderately complex project. And even then it only displays reported actuals (on maybe a weekly or monthly schedule). Ms-project Gnat charts are useful in making a case for resources (bodies/money) during the early project stages, and b) measuring progress/lateness for upper management.

A major failure of MS-Project is tracking versioning of requirements and detailing of tasks in useful manner. (Or is this buried in it somewhere? Should I RTFM?)

What tool(s) would allow tracking requirements, decomposing requirements into tasks, estimating effort of tasks, assigning of tasks, tracking (degree) of task competition. Also useful would be the ablity to automating the summation or snapshot of current requirements into a document (as opposed to decomposing a document into requirements/tasks), and report current task completion into MS-Project, for offline (and upline) reporting. Those needs reflect my needs to track requirements to tacks to code, and reduce administrative efforts.

Weblogs as a tool of team communication should be a no brainier. At minimum a repository of current and past project documents, via the browser, not the file system. The bigger question is how informal it is. Is everyone on the team allowed to post their silly ass brain farts or only the safe (clean and polite) person. And do you allow your boss to see it and risk the unvarnished truth being known, or keep only the official version of the truth on display.

I've always kept personal (Lotus Notes/Domino based) logs, if only to document and store my own unvarnished truths. And I've built a few Notes based Task tracking tools, mostly for myself, keeping things straight (or hopefully less curved?)

Further thinking: The Project Management tool set is very different and separate from a code/junit testing/ant build/editing tool set. The PM tool set is orientated on Requirements up the food chain to project and company resource/performance and (indeed) RoI (Return on Investment) issues. A Coder may only care about Requirements down the food chain to quality code (Requirements fulfilled Reliably: RfR?). But both and task effort estimation and actuals are the minimum responsibility and accountability of that coder. That trickle up is needed to keep estimates and actuals honest. The Requirements/Task tool is the common starting point for both.

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