Project management for hackers

Here is a story of a senior front-end developer. He works as a consultant for differents clients like startups, medium and big companies. As an open-source evangelist he tries to help people to find great tools to do the right job.

Of course he has the “hacker attitude” because it’s how he learned how to work in this industry.

Just to remember, being a hacker means to have this kind of mindset:

• World is full of problems waiting to be solved.
• No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
• Boredom and drudgery are evil.
• Freedom is good.
• Attitude is no substitute for competence.

Extract from “How to Become a Hacker” — Eric Steven Raymond

He works with his client on a shiny new website. Of course, he mounts a staging environmnent and he has a backlog for all his tasks because he knows how the agile workflow works. During the day, he pings on slack his developer friends to have some quick feedback.

At the end of the project, he asks to his client if everything is ok…
He almost had a heart attack.

I have some reviews for the website, I sent you a word file by email.
— A typical client, living with the dinosaurs

How to solve the reviews problem?

How can I open this file on macOS?

Remember, No problem should ever have been solved twice. If a client sends some reviews by email, the workflow looks like:

1. Client — Identify problems
2. Client — Save a huge file with his Christmas wishlist
3. Client — Write an email to the developer
4. Client — Send an email to the developer
5. Developer — Read the email
6. Developer — Download the file
7. Developer — Read the file
8. Developer — Work on the issues

If the client wants to update his wishlist, it’s a drudgery. He needs to repeat this entire boring workflow. Furthermore everybody knows the nightmare of emails with attachement. At the end, we didn’t talk about qualified issues or tracking achivements…

The other point is about email — aka the information fridge

Sending one file to another person has a limited value. The informations are not shared.

Hackers come from a community that’s built upon sharing knowledge. With one quick search on Google they are able to accomplish something because they benefit from billions of collective hours invested in documentation and tutorial writing.

What happens in our case if the big boss of the company wants to send some reviews for the website? Maybe he is going to duplicate existing issues or worse, ask for a contrary task.

Reassure me, you do not manage your projects on excel?
— A developer coming from the future

According to Wikipedia, Excel is a spreadsheet software to perform arithmetic, mathematical and statistical operations. It looks very complicated to deal with the 2 valuable points here: time & achivements.


Trello to the rescue

We need a better workflow for deploying a quality website.

1. Client — Identitfy a problem
2. Client — Send the issue to the developer
3. Developer — Work on the issue

In the agile world this place is named a product backlog. You can ask to yourself “Do I need a product backlog process?
The answer is Yes.

Without product backlog, the results are inactionable feedback, double-work creation, visibility goes down and focus is eventually lost. It all adds up to a demoralizing experience.

Have you signed up to Trello? If not, do it right away.

Don’t worry, Building a process is really easy.
Product Backlog Template on Trello

As a hacker you can copy this Product Backlog Template on Trello.

There are 5 columns:

1. BACKLOG: All new issues land here.
2. TODO: What we have plan to do.
3. DOING: Team members drag issues into here from the todo column.
4. DONE: When taks are done, don’t hesitate to closing issues from your backlog — you can always re-open them.
5. ICEBOX: “Freeze” issues if you have no immediate plans to tackle them.

This solution works, but we still have a problem about issues curation & qualification. Of course our front-end developer already have push some issues templates on GitHub but you know, GitHub is only for nerds.


Curation & AUTOMATION

Hackers build products and businesses that could be hacked by others. Theirs products allow users to communicate and interact with others systems.

If you work in a big company, you have noticed that everyone wants to be involved on new website projects. What if we can have a tool for handling coworkers / customer requests, with a submit ticket button at the bottom of all our pages? Maybe we can use a service like Typeform to collect data.

Can we build a pipeline of questions to make our senior front-end developer happy? Reviews like “Change the footer”, “Add lorem ipsum because I don’t have the content” or “The logo is too small” aren’t identifying any problem.

Launch typeform for submitting customer service tickets

You have to find your own questions but now we have qualified data. Do we share it with our front-end developer by email? I think it’s not a great idea because we can’t see if your tickets Freeze in the icebox, or what is done or not.

Let’s build something smart:

1. We can use typeform to collect & curate data.
2. Zapier for automation and platforms connection.
3. Trello to visualize the work.

Trello card automation with typeform

Problems solved

✅ 1 project management tool
✅ 1 Automation pipeline
✅ Shared visibility in real time
✅ Identification of actors & actions
✅ Notifications on new feedback

But wait! I have a boring job, I like receiving email notifications

There is an email notification for all entries if you want.

But wait! What happens if I delete all my cards?

Humm, You have a data backup on typeform.

But wait! What if my big boss wants an Excel for his bullsh$t backwards scheduling?

It’s your lucky day, there is an export button for that.

Thanks for reading! If you have feedback or suggestions, you can find me here:

I Hope this motivates you to start hacking your next project. Just drop me a message if you have any questions — I would be glad to help you!