The members of our development team are some of our most highly sought-after resources, so we closely guard the time available to them. While we don’t make our development schedule publicly available, we thought you might find the process we use to determine their projects kind of interesting.
Here’s how we decide what our development team works on. We started a new system this year that has worked well for us, called the Weekly Sprint. It goes like this:
Each week we use the Weekly Sprint to provide a process which will allow us to rapidly develop projects and concepts in a manner that keeps the team fully informed and unified. The development team’s focus each week is divided into two priorities:
Our desire is to focus on Quadrant 2 items, but Quadrant 1 items will always take priority.
Each Weekly Sprint has three components: The Warmup, the Sprint, and The Cooldown.
The team leader will bring 10 projects to each Weekly Sprint meeting. The strong bias for the projects selected will favor our customers, the print buyers.
A brief explanation of each project is presented. After all projects are presented each person will have the opportunity to ask one question about any project they wish. The one-question limit will be strictly enforced to ensure the meeting moves along at a brisk pace.
After the presentation and question/answer period each person gets three voting tokens to vote for their favorite project. The tokens can be placed in any combination desired, including all three tokens on one project, or individual tokens on individual projects.
After the voting is done the top three vote-getting projects will be determined to be the primary focus of the week’s development efforts. (Projects 4-10 will be waiting in the wings in priority order should the top three projects get completed in any given week.) The development team will work only on these items (and the Quadrant 1 items, as the team leader makes them available). Items outside of the focus of the Weekly Sprint will be ignored (unless approved by management).
At the end of each week the development team will review their progress of the sprint for all teammates.
Any incomplete items from the previous week are carried over (unless they are determined to no longer be in the scope of our development efforts and are intentionally dropped for future consideration). If any of the previous week’s items were one of the top three winners from the last week they are automatically placed on the week’s schedule.
And that’s it! That’s how our development team approaches their projects each week. We’ve found this process keeps everyone focused and accountable, and allows us to move rapidly on the projects we undertake.
Bonus info: Here’s how we very visibly keep the Weekly Sprint items at the front of everyone’s mind. We hang all the items on a “clothes line” in the priority order, which allows us to easily reshuffle any existing items based on the established priority. (We’ve blurred out the actual items to allow us to keep our company secrets … secret.)
Perhaps you’ll find you’ll be able to adapt this concept to your team’s project list too. Do you find this approach helpful? Let us know in the comments.