Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mingle- ThoughtWorks hotness?

Wow, the high priced consultants @ ThoughtWorks have broken into commercial product development. This is going to be interesting.

Mingle is apparently an agile project management tool. We've looked at VersionOne and Rally in that space (not to mention Team Foundation Server), but we're actually using Trac, which is hard to beat for the svn integration and price. I wonder how how much this pup is going to cost?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Communication Cost

Just caught this great post from Lisa Haneberg that echoes some ideas I have had in the past, like a running clock that shows the running total cost of a meeting as it "progresses".

Top level costs: the cost of time for people to receive (hear, read) the communication and the cost for creating/delivering communication. If you send an email to your entire team of 50 people. And if the email takes 3 minutes to read, and 15 minutes for you to write - the top level costs are of people's salaries for the 3 minutes and your 15 minutes. Plus the costs of the email server time and space, etc... But the time is the largest cost. You may think this is a small amount, but multiply this times 100s of emails we deal with each day, and the costs add up.

If you book a two hour meeting with 15 people - the top level costs are huge.

But that's the just start of the costs. There are two other important types of costs...

I have thought about this in terms of meetings quite a bit. I've had lots of extremely expensive meetings to sit through. Meetings where our tax dollars were being consumed at unhealthy rates. Now, there are the people where having them in a meeting is actually more productive than having them cause damage through their other work, but it's hardly the optimal solution. However, applying this thought to email and phone calls is interesting.

Think before you send...I've been doing the whole "Inbox Zero" thing. It's really great that I don't have a huge unprocessed morass of email to look at it. I do have to get better about keeping up with my todo lists though. It's still easier for me to forget those because I don't have a blinking light telling me to look at them every time a new one shows up. Maybe it's not as fun to look at, because, unlike email, I already kind of know what is on my todo lists.

Jeffrey Veen and Merlin Mann were talking about how Google is a no phone call culture to some degree, everything is email, IM, with a definite preference for the asynchronous communication. Not sure how much of that is introvert culture and how much is efficiency, but it sounded like they were positively bombarded with email information there.

Maybe there is a real economic benefit to parsimonious communication, learning to be clear concise and brief saves money. Maybe this should apply to bloggers as well, I know there are people out there struggling to keep up with their feeds...on that note, I'll be signing off.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Treat Contractors Well (please)

I like this post from Scott Berkun. (of the Art of PM book)

One habits many managers have is to dump the boring, unpleasant work of their team onto contract workers. The thinking is that full timers deserve the best treatment and contractors are mercenaries: they deserve whatever they get since they won’t be around long.

It’s a mistake - good managers finds a way to treat everyone well. And there are some reasons contractors deserve special attention

I don't think it applies 100% to government contracting, but it does make a lot of sense. Please treat my team well government overlords!