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What project management best practices have you seen across the industry, and what advice would you have
which approach to choose?
Project management is a topic most people have strong opinions on, and I’m no exception.
Before we jump in, here’s a personal story about why it’s sometimes hard to put a finger
how important project management approaches are.
Skype went all-in
Scrum, moving all teams to this methodology over a few quarters.
Teams rotated Scrum Master roles, agile coaches dropped in to give feedback
the teams, and Microsoft – which had just acquired Skype – was interested in taking inspiration from the speedup in delivery.
But there are other things that might have a greater impact
outcomes, such as focus, leadership approaches, how people work even without a process, and so
I segregated the companies based
whether tech was at their core, and their funding model.
As a counterpoint, an engineering leader at a public tech company with stable growth shared that their organization heavily relies
JIRA, using it as a knowledge engine.
While there are teams where requirements change a lot,
these teams it’s typically the engineers who run the projects, and can deal with them.
When teams can iterate together and change their processes
their own terms, satisfaction and productivity go up.
Typically used methodology: as each team can choose how they work, the methodologies used per engineering team can vary, even
a project basis.
Many teams go with an RFC-like planning process, iterate
building, and ship all within a few weeks.
Other teams use more Kanban-like processes, where they work
the highest priority items.
Many teams work
main branches, get quick feedback from CI/CD systems and can immediately share functionality which they are working
with other team members.
For organizations with a factory worker attitude, this approach will bias towards more heavyweight project management approaches that leave little room for interpretation,
Each team of 5-15 people has a clear vision and mission, and the skills and autonomy to execute
The mission could be “Build a world-class booking experience for seniors” for a product team
a hospitality product, or “Empower teams to integrate rating experiences with close to zero effort” for a product platform team.
Product-focused teams are typically composed of cross-functional team members like backend, frontend and/or mobile engineers, with product managers, data scientists and designers often also
Product Managers ensure that the team keeps working
the right thing.
Each team will vary, but I’ve found great success in rotating the project lead role among engineers, helping everyone
the team grow their leadership muscle.
Scrum got in the way of shipping
a daily basis.
The whole idea of Scrum revolves around Sprints, of committing to tasks at the beginning of the sprint, working
these during the sprint, and demoing what we did at the end.
The process felt unnatural and like it had been forced
a fast-moving web team.
We just cared about knowing what we’re working
now, and what it was we’d get done next.
CI/CD, feature flags and experimentation tooling allowed us to have faster feedback cycles than relying
a Product Owner.
This is why 30-40% of engineering often works
platform teams and is why Uber invested heavily in platform teams.
With first-class infrastructure and platforms ready to use, teams can focus
their core work goals, over figuring out how to set up infrastructure, or how to make a service compliant.
All members of the team were very clear
what we were building.
The phrase ‘durable excellence’ is from the article Staying
the path to high performing teams by Will Larson.
Scrum helps rein in the stakeholders and educates them
software development processes, while giving the engineering team breathing room to execute.