As a small software company in Rocklin, California, we routinely evaluate various project management technologies to improve our productivity and efficiency. Unfortunately, after a few weeks or at most a few months of trials, we end up abandoning them.
We have tried Basecamp and Slack for team communication, monday.com (previously known as Dapulse) like project boards, and countless TODO list tools. We also explored weekly sprints, daily standups, etc. as techniques to move people and projects in the right direction. We have adopted many tools and techniques with great enthusiasm, but eventually, they all fall apart. But why?
I don’t want to blame the tools or techniques for our failure to take advantage of them. Perhaps, our adoption of these tools or procedures were not perfect, or we lack the discipline needed to make them work. Both of these explanations are a realistic possibility. Many of these tools are pricy and probably best suited for teams that are geographically distributed. We need something more hands-on, physical! So, we are always exploring for something that feels right for our team.
Recently, we decided to switch to a simple post-it note board. Keeping track of tasks using post-it notes is nothing new. However, we have a few in-house tweaks that make it a bit unique.
Each post-it note points to a single task. Each task has a 0–9 priority score as follows:
- 0 — a non-priority task that is good to get done for the ecosystem
- 1–3 a task that makes one to three stakeholder(s) happy
- 4–6 are reserved for future use
- 7 — complete this and become a hero
- 8 — complete this and become a superhero
- 9 — complete this and save the day!
Also, since post-it notes come in many colors, we use colors to indicate different projects or different types of projects.
Using this post-it based physical board, we can manage our tasks with great ease and comfort. Each team member self-assigns the task that can be completed within the current week.
They put their magnetic piece on the post-it note, so everyone knows who is working on it. Sometimes multiple people are working on a single task.
When a task is done, it is marked as done on the post-it note by the tasker.
A supervisor removes the completed tasks from the board. For every completed software development tasks, there is often a new QA task. The QA team members handle these QA tasks in the same manner as everyone else.
One more thing. Since handwriting is a dying art, we decided that it is often hard to decipher team member’s scribbles. So we use a Google slides-based print template to print the post-it notes to make things more readable and neat! But, legible handwriting is always welcome.
Let me know what you think of our simple team/task/people management solution or what works for your team in the comments section!