Getting the complete picture in product development

We are a bunch of SDEs and We feel that we are not getting a complete picture of what is happening with the product development as a whole.

I am sure this is a very common problem across many teams.

If you go and express this to your manager the kind of answer you can expect to listen is “why do you think so? we have 2 weekly short stand-up status meetings and a long weekly update on product development. We are spending enough time to make sure every one knows what is happening” This is a perfect answer. But is this adequate??

So We started discussing about this problem and I came up with a solution and discussed it with a colleague of mine.

Solution 1. We should have a product mailing list and every one should make it a habit to forward all emails to this list so that there is some level of tracking of what is happening with the product. This can be a repository or a diary of activities and knowledge that go to one place. If anyone thinks they do not have a complete picture they can go here and study more.

I thought this will be a good solution to the problem. But the fact is we already have a common mailing list but we do not have the practice of forwarding many important emails to this mailing list. And also going through that many mails for finding the information-required needs a good system that allows tagging and searching. I am not sure if we have a system like that deployed yet. This thing is getting to be more expensive and time taking.

Solution 2. My colleague came up with a different idea that solves the same problem. Write important tasks/features on sticky notes and paste them on the board. Everyone on the team sticking all the notes on this common board gives a fair picture of what is going on with the team. After some refinement of the Idea it comes to. We will divide the board into 4 areas. 1. Tasks for current iteration 2. to-do tasks(Tasks for future iterations) 3. (Nice to Have Features)Things to do when bored. 4. completed tasks. This totally sounds like a practical solution. Of course there are limitations when the team is geographically spread, but it can be worked out. Having a triage meeting in the room is as simple as re arranging sticky notes. Any one who goes there and with a glance, can get the complete picture.
Traditionally this is what happens inside any team status meetings, triage meetings and with changing statuses in bug tracking tools but having a physical relevance like this sticky notes on a common board aids for clarity. I believe putting things/ideas on paper/board has a lot of effect on motivation too.

We decided to go with this approach. I am excited. I will post details of how it goes later.


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