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Friday, July 2, 2010

Ship It! - 5.18 We're Never Done

How do you decide what to do? Use The List to break down the product into individual features. You’ll know your project is finished when all the features on The List are implemented and are working well together (of course, feature integration should be one of the tasks on The List!).

Feature list guidelines:
  • Break down any item with a time estimate of more than one week into subtasks. It’s okay to have a top-level task that takes weeks or months, but that estimate is just a guess unless you back it up with estimates for its subtasks.
  • Any item that takes less than one day is too small. If an item can be scheduled for a time period shorter than a day, that item is probably too low-level for The List.
  • A single customer example (or use case or scenario) can involve multiple features in The List. Don’t try to force an entire example into a low-level item in The List; break it into subtasks.
  • Add priorities to the items on The List, then stick with them. Don’t work on a priority-two item while there are priority-one items that are unfinished. But feel free to change those priorities as it becomes necessary.
  • Assign specific people to each feature on The List. You can do it on the fly (as one person finishes a task, they “sign up” for another), or you can assign them all up front, and then change them as necessary. It depends on how your team works best.
  • Be flexible. Use change to your advantage. Changing The List means that you’re improving and refining it, that you’re getting customer feedback, and that you’re matching The List with the real needs of your customers.
Tip 40: The list is a living document.  Change is life.

Don’t just remove an item from The List after it’s finished. Keep a copy of completed features (along with dates, priority, and assigned developer) to use as your audit trail. When you’re asked, “Why didn’t feature X go in?” or “What features did go in?” The List will give you the answers.

Tip 41: If it's not on The List, it's not part of the project.

Tip 42: Always give feedback fast

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