moderated Re: Improving my workflow


Marv Waschke
 

Mark--
I designed and built help desk and problem management systems all the way from SMBs to Fortune 100 for a big chunk of my career. I've seen a lot of systems work and a lot that didn't. For small organizations, I haven't seen that complex systems help much. Problem management systems are mostly communications tools that ensure that issues and events are visible to right people and work queues are managed efficiently, which are seldom challenges in small groups. Even less for single person operations.

I have a strong impression that you already prioritize your work well and you already work with above average efficiency. I suspect that the greatest danger is that you might put in place a system that is so rigid or complex that you put more time than necessary into managing the issues and cannibalize the time you have to resolve them. Just keep that in mind.

The challenge i see is transforming the beta archive into a work queue. Your work queue can be maintained in lot of different ways, starting from a yellow pad and pen, a stack of cards in a cigar box, spread sheet, database, all the way to a specialized application. If you don't have to mess with distributing the queue, it all depends on personal preference. You could even keep it in your head if you have the right kind of mind.

I have a few suggestions:
  • Take a hint from Agile and organize sprints for yourself with specific goals and deadlines. (Trello helps with that, but it can be extra work to keep up trello.)
  • Age issues out. This is the biggest problem I see in what you outline. How will you avoid wasting time reviewing stuff in the archive that is no longer relevant? I've seen agile dev groups paralyzed by huge backlogs that are mostly irrelevant.
  • Firmly distinguish between urgency (stuff you have to do NOW) and importance (stuff that will kill you if you don't do it, but not a danger today) and distribute your effort between them. Your goal is to never allow the important to become urgent. (Everyone already knows this, but only the successful consistently avoid it.)

Best, Marv

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