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Principles of Project Management Flow Part 1 and 2

Principles of Project Management Flow Part 1 and 2

Bad project management makes everything _10x worse_. Good project management makes everything _10x better_. This talk shows how anyone can go from bad to good by understanding a few core principles and following a simple structure.

Relevant to anyone who works in a team. It can be summarised as “How to Jira without losing your mind.”

## Part 1: Principles

What drives good (and bad) project management, and how do we reason about visibility? We cover principles around these questions:

1. How and what to track? 🔎
2. Todo lists. Yay 🙌🏼 or Nay 👎🏼
3. Unambiguous Priority. What does that mean?
4. The thin and important line between busywork and prep work
5. What to communicate, what to avoid

## Part 2: Practical Considerations

Principles only take us so far; we still must deal with Jira.

We will make sense of Epics, User Stories, Labels, Swimlanes, etc.

1. What if you already have a project that’s messed up?
2. What if you’re starting from scratch?

Swanand Pagnis

May 18, 2023
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  1. Swanand Pagnis • CTO at CoLearn (Surge 3, 2020) •

    Track record of working on things before they became cool (or hot): • AI, ML (RE/MAX, 4 years) 🏠 • Fintech (Deserve, 1 year) 💳 • Last Mile (DispatchTrack, 5 years) 🚚 • 15+ years of all flavors of remote teams
  2. • Writing a long-form blog post 🖊 • Hiring 5

    members for your team 👯 • Fundraising 💰 • Writing a novel 📖 • Getting a Ph.D. 👩🏫
  3. • Retarget users on WhatsApp 📣 • Craft a Trial

    + Paid events schedule 📆 • Increase Retention by X% 📈 • Mute bad words in uploaded videos 📹 • E-receipts system for PoS customers 🧾
  4. • Work is complex, with many to-dos • Different things

    take different times • Multiple people need to do things in parallel
  5. • Work is complex, with many to-dos • Different things

    take different times • Multiple people need to do things in parallel • Multiple people need to do things sequentially
  6. • What are you working on? • When will this

    be done? • Where are we with this?
  7. You have too many things to do, yet you struggle

    to pick one and roll with it.
  8. You were working on something, but something else came up,

    and it has now occupied your headspace.
  9. Two Problems • Single list, so less freedom, more restrictive

    structure. • Tasks have only two states: pending and done
  10. Why? • 🧠 Offload your brain • 📚 Batch your

    work • 🤝 Collaborate on tasks • 🔮 One look update • 👓 Clarity, looking ahead, and retrospective • 📥 Capture incoming work better • 👀 A second set of eyes
  11. Six Principles • 1⃣ Track all the work. All. Document

    every single task that needs to be done. 🌟 • This is important — your brain needs to develop belief in this system, and that can only happen if everything gets captured as a habit. • My favorite question about Jira boards is...
  12. Six Principles • 1⃣ Track all the work. All. Document

    every single task that needs to be done. 🌟 • This is important — your brain needs to develop belief in this system, and that can only happen if everything gets captured as a habit. • Is the Jira board an accurate representation of all work?
  13. Six Principles • 2⃣ Start with 4 simple lists •

    To Do ☑ • Doing 🧗 • Review 🕵 • Done 🏆
  14. Six Principles • 3⃣ Work Right to Left, Top to

    Bottom • Right to left: • Always finish ongoing work first • Prioritize reviewing and unblocking • Top to bottom: Priority order
  15. Six Principles • 4⃣ Divide the work into tasks of

    1 or 2 days max • Anything larger: Split into smaller chunks • Engage in some upfront thinking • This helps with estimates and timelines
  16. Six Principles • 5⃣ Why > What >> How •

    Start cards with "why" to provide context • Otherwise, we run the risk of becoming "JIRA card pushers"
  17. Six Principles • 6⃣ Describe the finish line, not the

    route. • "Done" is essential. What do we mean by done? • There is a lovely term called "acceptance criteria." Use it well. • Don't write "how to do this" on the card.
  18. Six Principles 1. Track all the work. All. 2. Start

    with four lists: Todo, Doing, Review, and Done. 3. Work from Right to Left, Top to Bottom. 4. Divide work into 1 or 2-day chunks 5. Focus on Why and Context. 6. Describe the finish line, not the route.
  19. Tools of the Trade • Subtasks • Tasks • User

    Stories • Epics • Projects • Sprints • Statuses • Labels • Swimlanes
  20. Task • Work that needs to be tracked • Typically

    not user-facing • No more than a few days, 1 to 2 is best
  21. Task • Work that needs to be tracked • Typically

    not user-facing • No more than a few days, 1 to 2 is best
  22. Subtask • Work that doesn't need to be independently tracked

    • At the discretion of the task owner(s) • No more than 1 day
  23. Six Principles 1. Track all the work. All. 2. Start

    with four lists: Todo, Doing, Review, and Done. 3. Work from Right to Left, Top to Bottom. 4. Divide work into 1 or 2-day chunks 5. Focus on Why and Context. 6. Describe the finish line, not the route.
  24. 🌟 User Story 🌟 • When in doubt about "Task"

    vs. "User Story," create a user story • They bring user-centric thinking into work
  25. As a student, I want to get a reminder before

    a class, so that I will not miss the class.
  26. As a student, I want to get a reminder before

    a class, so that I will not miss the class.
  27. Six Principles 1. Track all the work. All. 2. Start

    with four lists: Todo, Doing, Review, and Done. 3. Work from Right to Left, Top to Bottom. 4. Divide work into 1 or 2-day chunks 5. Focus on Why and Context. 6. Describe the finish line, not the route.
  28. Epic • Larger body of work • Needs multiple user

    stories • Should have a start and end date
  29. Epic • Larger body of work • Needs multiple user

    stories • Should have a start and end date
  30. 🌟 Sprint 🌟 • Represents Cadence • An excellent planning

    tool • Has a start and end date • 1 to 2 weeks
  31. If you already have a project • Capture all work

    that hasn't been captured • Create Epics with tentative date — categorize all your WIP finishable pieces of work into these • Have 3 upcoming sprints filled up with the work categorized above
  32. If starting from scratch • Capture all work that hasn't

    been captured. • Create Epics with tentative date — categorize all your WIP finishable pieces of work into these • Have 3 upcoming sprints filled up with the work categorized above
  33. Six Principles 1. Track all the work. All. 2. Start

    with four lists: Todo, Doing, Review, and Done. 3. Work from Right to Left, Top to Bottom. 4. Divide work into 1 or 2-day chunks 5. Focus on Why and Context. 6. Describe the finish line, not the route.
  34. Swimlanes are a review tool • Vertically group and divide

    the work. e.g. One swim lane per Product Manager • A tool for leadership — you must get good at swimlanes • Review board weekly through various swimlanes: by Assignee, by Epic, by Label
  35. • Think in terms of the Roadmap • Break it

    down into Epics • Break them down into User Stories
  36. • Think in terms of the Roadmap • Break it

    down into Epics • Break them down into User Stories • Use Sprints to drive cadence
  37. Everyday Operations • Optimize for left-to-right movement of cards •

    Too big a card won't move fast • Too many small cards overwhelm with volume • Priority must be visually clear • Keep the "TODO" column sorted by priority • Revisit the Backlog once a month
  38. Six Principles 1. Track all the work. All. 2. Start

    with four lists: Todo, Doing, Review, and Done. 3. Work from Right to Left, Top to Bottom. 4. Divide work into 1 or 2-day chunks 5. Focus on Why and Context. 6. Describe the finish line, not the route.