Topics

moderated Improving my workflow


 

Hi All,

As I mentioned before I went on vacation, I'm thinking of ways to improve my workflow. That is, I've been thinking about how I decide what to work on and how to track all the feature requests and bug reports that come in, without constantly distracting me. Right now, there's the Trello board, but it's inconsistently updated. And there's beta's archives, which are a trove of suggestions and requests. Also, the requests and bug reports that come into support. And finally, there are the personal requests sitting in my inbox, from Enterprise users and others.

Here's what I've come up with. Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.

  • Beta's archives become the source of truth and I deprecate the Trello board.
  • I rely on a series of hashtags to organize and prioritize feature requests and bug reports.
  • Every N days or so, I go through beta's archives and assign hashtags/merge threads as appropriate.
  • If there's a request or bug report in my inbox or sent to support, I will post a new message to beta with that.

Here are the potential hashtags (all would be Use By Mods Only):

  • Categories: #bug, #messages, #members, #features, #calendar, #photos, #files, #chat, #database, #wiki, #profiles, #search
  • Implementation effort estimate: #quick, #medium, #hard, #exhard
  • Status: #done

I would also like a way to prioritize things, but I haven't figured that part out yet.

Thoughts/suggestions appreciated.

Thanks, Mark


 

Mark,

  • If there's a request or bug report in my inbox or sent to support, I will post a new message to beta with that.
Presumably a "sanitized" version, avoiding any private information that might have been conveyed in the original.
 

Here are the potential hashtags (all would be Use By Mods Only):
  • Categories: #bug, #messages, #members, #features, #calendar, #photos, #files, #chat, #database, #wiki, #profiles, #search
Existing usage of those hashtags would be grandfathered in, possibly after review?
 
  • Implementation effort estimate: #quick, #medium, #hard, #exhard
  • Status: #done

I would also like a way to prioritize things, but I haven't figured that part out yet.

The "effort" tags get you half-way to a standard Impact/Effort priority matrix. With another set to identify the "Impact" of the item you can segregate Quick Wins (high impact, low effort), Major Projects (high impact, high effort), Fill Ins (low impact, low effort) and Thankless Tasks (low impact, high effort).


I've also used three-factor schemes which add Breadth (how many users are affected). Instead of labeling the quadrants of a 2D priority chart these schemes used a numeric score on each factor, and computed priority as the product of the factors. For example:


Breadth:
Impact:



Ease:
5 Everyone 5 Critical -- Can't use the product
5 Trivial    -- edit and test.
4 Most Users 4 Large    -- Substantially lowers product value 4 Easy       -- think, edit and test.
3 Many Users 3 Moderate -- Major annoyance
3 Moderate   -- substantial new code
2 Few Users 2 Minor    -- Easy workaround

2 Hard       -- research and/or experiments
1 Only me 1 Hardly   -- Barely notice

1 Impossible -- no idea how

Naturally all of these rankings are subjective, and multiplying the scores is an imperfect way to combine them, so you have to take the results with a suitably large grain of salt rather than strictly pull tasks by priority.


Shal


 

Mark, it sounds like a database would fit better than messages with hashtags. It could have description, category, effort, status, date(s), and priority columns. However, if you really want messages, how about if the relevant ones get copied to a subgroup for easy reference, to separate them out from irrelevant discussion.

(That's actually an interesting idea: the ability to set up a moderated subgroup where a moderator can choose messages from the main or other subgroup that get copied into that moderated subgroup. For example, the main group could be unmoderated and general discussion, but whenever a moderator sees a particularly important or interesting message, the moderator could choose to copy that message into a specific subgroup, and people interested only in those messages could just look at that subgroup without having to wade through the main group. I have no idea if this would be useful to anyone, just something I thought of while suggesting the above.)

JohnF


 

Mark,

I wrote:


The "effort" tags get you half-way to a standard Impact/Effort priority matrix. With another set to identify the "Impact" of the item you can segregate Quick Wins (high impact, low effort), Major Projects (high impact, high effort), Fill Ins (low impact, low effort) and Thankless Tasks (low impact, high effort).

Of course, being able to filter for that (cf: msg #17726) requires being able to do some Boolean algebra on the hashtags. For example, Quick Wins = "(#Quick OR #Medium) AND (#Large OR #Moderate)" -- assuming you defined four hashtags for Impact, such as #Large, #Moderate, #Minor, and #Hardly.

So, I still think it makes sense to give users that functionality (not just owners/mods) but my suggested UI is out the window.

Shal


Steph Mathews
 

My only suggestion would be maybe have a support team in place to help you with the support address.  A team of people to represent your service.  Plus, it would lesson your load some, and, they would be working for you when you are on vacation as well.

 

Have a blessed day! Steph

 

From: Mark Fletcher
Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 5:55 PM
To: main@beta.groups.io
Subject: [beta] Improving my workflow

 

Hi All,

As I mentioned before I went on vacation, I'm thinking of ways to improve my workflow. That is, I've been thinking about how I decide what to work on and how to track all the feature requests and bug reports that come in, without constantly distracting me. Right now, there's the Trello board, but it's inconsistently updated. And there's beta's archives, which are a trove of suggestions and requests. Also, the requests and bug reports that come into support. And finally, there are the personal requests sitting in my inbox, from Enterprise users and others.

Here's what I've come up with. Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.

  • Beta's archives become the source of truth and I deprecate the Trello board.
  • I rely on a series of hashtags to organize and prioritize feature requests and bug reports.
  • Every N days or so, I go through beta's archives and assign hashtags/merge threads as appropriate.
  • If there's a request or bug report in my inbox or sent to support, I will post a new message to beta with that.

Here are the potential hashtags (all would be Use By Mods Only):

  • Categories: #bug, #messages, #members, #features, #calendar, #photos, #files, #chat, #database, #wiki, #profiles, #search
  • Implementation effort estimate: #quick, #medium, #hard, #exhard
  • Status: #done

I would also like a way to prioritize things, but I haven't figured that part out yet.

Thoughts/suggestions appreciated.

Thanks, Mark

 


 

JohnF,

That's actually an interesting idea: the ability to set up a moderated
subgroup where a moderator can choose messages from the main or other
subgroup that get copied into that moderated subgroup.
Being able to move (or copy) messages between the primary group and subgroups is something I've seen requested before. I support that idea generally.

However for the purpose at hand I think it suffers from trying to use a rigid classification system for items that may well overlap categories. That's not unworkable (the labels on Trello for example), but I think Mark's idea of using hashtags to identify the categories will prove more useful.

Shal


 

On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 5:59 PM, Shal Farley <shals2nd@...> wrote:

Of course, being able to filter for that (cf: msg #17726) requires being able to do some Boolean algebra on the hashtags. For example, Quick Wins = "(#Quick OR #Medium) AND (#Large OR #Moderate)" -- assuming you defined four hashtags for Impact, such as #Large, #Moderate, #Minor, and #Hardly.

So, I still think it makes sense to give users that functionality (not just owners/mods) but my suggested UI is out the window.

Assume that I'll be adding hashtags to the filter as part of this. Maybe not this complicated initially, but eventually.

Thanks,
Mark 


 

Mark,

Assume that I'll be adding hashtags to the filter as part of this.
Maybe not this complicated initially, but eventually.
Great!

If you were to create your workflow hashtags with some prefixes that would disambiguate them from the existing tags created by users. I'm thinking of something like the Calendar events' tags all being #cal-xxxx.

Maybe grouped. Something like #cat-xxxxx for the categories, #eff-xxxxx for effort, etc. That would have the further benefit of guiding auto-completion, were that a part how you enter them in the filter UI.

Shal


Tom Vail
 

Mark,

As a "one-man show" (and a well-done show I might add), you have members tugging at you from all directions because to them their suggestion is the most important one out there.  We all know that is not true, but from the "users" point of view, there is also the question of "Did Mark read this, what does he think, and is he going to do something about it?"  And then the question is "When, and where does it fall on the list?"

The use of a lot of different hashtags will require a lot of searching and sorting, both for you and the user.  I think your time would be better spent with a simple system, allowing more time to do the real work.

So from a "user support" position, which I did for many years, I would suggest a "simple" to-do list and a couple of additional hashtags.

To-do list:  Create a Wiki page with your to-do list which is in priority order of what you are working on.  Sort of like the list you likely have on your desk.  The list would include the area it effects, maybe comments on the complexity of the task, and the original message number. It would include both current projects and the wishlist. So an example might look like this:

Current projects:
#photos - name list confessing when assigning owner to photos (17900) - simple fix, should have done by 8/15/18
Rewrite File management interface (marks project) - massive project, hope to complete by end of year

Wishlist (Items I will get to as time allows, in priority order):
Add 3 new widgets to the message board
Remove the Hashtag tab if hashtags are disabled.
Add font size the message editing box

The format needs a little work, but you get the idea.

New hashtags:  Add just a couple of new tags to show the status of the request, such as:
#WikiToDoList - means it is on the above Wiki to-do list and users can go there to see the status
#MarkRead - means Mark read it, and will respond when/if needed

Don't need to get real detailed, but just let folks they are being heard, and provide a simple way to see where potential projects are on the list.

None of this would include things like the email fire you just put out.  There is no need to do more then you did, just tell people there is a problem you are working on, and then when it is fixed.

Tom's 2 cents worth,

Peace,
Tom


Chris Jones
 

On Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 03:42 PM, Tom Vail wrote:
As a "one-man show" (and a well-done show I might add), you have members tugging at you from all directions because to them their suggestion is the most important one out there.  We all know that is not true, but from the "users" point of view, there is also the question of "Did Mark read this, what does he think, and is he going to do something about it?"  And then the question is "When, and where does it fall on the list?"
Well put if I may say so. In a way there are two interelated problems; firstly Mark has to manage his workflow, which really is a matter internal to him and Groups.io, and secondly he wants to keep us informed. For him to be able to concentrate on the first, so it would be preferable if the second problem absorbs as little of his time as is possible, consistent with keeping us sufficiently informed to keep us happy.

The "wiki" page suggestion, although likely to be comprehensive, might be unduly time - consuming. Mark putting #hashtags on beta threads (as per his initial post in this thread) would seem to be the quickest and easiest way of flagging up how things are progressing, or not as the case may be.

He suggested (inter alia) a "Status" #Done. I would suggest others, starting with #Sorry_No for the rejects and perhaps including #1_Week, #1_Month or similar, right up to "#Done". Whatever method of keeping us notified he chooses, it really ought to involve the expenditure of as little of his time as possible so that he can concentrate on the job in hand rather than telling everyone about the job in hand.

I appreciate everything he does, but don't envy him one bit.

Chris


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


Andre Polykanine <andre@...>
 

Hi Mark,
I just don't know how you organize your code, but why not to use some
issue tracking system/repository hosting like github, Gitlab or a
separate issue tracking solution like Trac? I'm pretty sure this way
you won't lose anything and you'll be able to track your progress.


--
With best regards from Ukraine,
Andre
Skype: menelion_elensule
Twitter (English only): @AndrePolykanine

------------ Original message ------------
From: Mark Fletcher <markf@corp.groups.io>
To: main@beta.groups.io
Date created: , 1:55:33 AM
Subject: [beta] Improving my workflow


Hi All,
As I mentioned before I went on vacation, I'm thinking of ways to improve my workflow. That is, I've been thinking about how I decide what to work on and how to track all the feature requests and bug reports that come in, without constantly distracting me. Right now, there's the Trello board, but it's inconsistently updated. And there's beta's archives, which are a trove of suggestions and requests. Also, the requests and bug reports that come into support. And finally, there are the personal requests sitting in my inbox, from Enterprise users and others.
Here's what I've come up with. Please let me know what you think or if you have any suggestions.
Beta's archives become the source of truth and I deprecate the Trello board.I rely on a series of hashtags to organize and prioritize feature requests and bug reports.Every N days or so, I go through beta's archives and assign hashtags/merge threads as appropriate.If there's a request or bug report in my inbox or sent to support, I will post a new message to beta with that.
Here are the potential hashtags (all would be Use By Mods Only):
Categories: #bug, #messages, #members, #features, #calendar, #photos, #files, #chat, #database, #wiki, #profiles, #searchImplementation effort estimate: #quick, #medium, #hard, #exhardStatus: #done
I would also like a way to prioritize things, but I haven't figured that part out yet.
Thoughts/suggestions appreciated.
Thanks, Mark


 

In the course of commenting on another topic I had occasion to review the list of hashtags for beta. Here are my notes;

I think #feature, #featurerequest, #newfeaturesuggestion, #request, #suggestion, #suggestions, and #wishlist might be redundant - all topics in beta now are supposed to be a suggestion.

Which also means that #bug, #bugs, #defects, #question, #questions, #semibug, #semi-bugs, #tech-support, #tinybug and #weirdness are probably obsolete.

Shal
And by the way, "bump" for your goal in this topic.


CW Bill Rouse
 

Mark,

It may be as simple as working on ways to increase revenue resulting in hiring some help. Additional help would give you the bandwidth to answer most of your questions. Also, I bet that you could put together a volunteer advisory committee, rather than leaving it open to anyone (like me) to give you input and redirect your priorities..

Revenue:
I think that I was a accidental part of you potentially increasing revenue when I indirectly suggested support on the Yahoo transfer for a revenue subscription. I am sure that there are other ways, and you probably know what can be done.

Advisory Committee:
That is probably the easy part.

I hope that my suggestions are not too forward as I am basically a newbie.

Good luck.

Bill


 

In reviewing this topic, here is the question that arises for me, out of Tom's post in this thread:
from the "users" point of view, there is also the question of "Did Mark read this, what does he think, and is he going to do something about it?"  And then the question is "When, and where does it fall on the list?"
I know that if this post goes through, then Mark has read it, because the topic has timed out to moderated status. :) So I want to say that the question still remains (for me) whether Mark has seen/noticed/"internally processed" various suggestions of mine - e.g., currently, re use of the "created" field in the banned list and the issues with the multiple entries in the "past" list - or whether I should repeat them yet again. I will hold off for now, but in the future, if issues deeply related to (but somewhat separate from) a current Topic arise, I'm still not sure whether I should start a separate thread or assume that if I include them in the current thread, they will get attention too. I hope that this conversation about Mark's work flow, although on moderated status at this point, will continue, because I don't think the policies for us users making suggestions are totally clear yet. 

--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author, especially the fishy ones.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together. - Desmond Tutu


dave w
 

On Sun, Mar 17, 2019 at 03:04 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
Which also means that #bug, #bugs, #defects, #question, #questions, #semibug, #semi-bugs, #tech-support, #tinybug and #weirdness are probably obsolete.
Mark you are feeling pressure we do not see.

Shal- all plurality is an offense! As is not using paragraphs! (Not you, others ;-) ).
We will be happy with your decisions. Practicality means try what ideas come forward. Nothing is perfect and 'team-based' compliance stuff (as alluded to above)  often drove me nuts.
Regards davew


 

davew,


Shal- all plurality is an offense!

I've no idea what you're trying to tell me.

We will be happy with your decisions.

You must be back to Mark again, I don't make decisions in beta.

Nothing is perfect and 'team-based' compliance stuff (as alluded to above)  often drove me nuts.

Again, no clue.
I see the mistake I made, I forgot to start my prior message with the salutation "Mark,". The lists of hashtags I wrote were intended solely for Mark's benefit, in support of his OP goal of cleaning up the hashtag usage in beta. They were not intended as instructions for other beta members.

Shal


dave w
 

On Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 12:52 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
Shal
Sorry for the misguiding confusion Shal. You just quoted items.
I wasn't criticising you personally at all- just commenting that 'suggestion' and 'suggestions' (plural) are not required ever.
sorry again.
d