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We are changing how we manage low priority admin, support and development tasks. The plan is to have a 'Stack' of tasks, which anyone can pick up if/when they are light on work.

We would like a tool to make it easy to find tasks, check them out and work on them as well as creating and prioritising them. We could do this at a simple level using a custom sharepoint list, as we have that available, and it fits in pretty well with our environment but has anyone got any experience of using any third party tools for this?

It is somewhat similar to a standard ticketing system, so I guess we could look at things like Bugzilla, but I don't have any experience in such things (Our incident management system we use in hosue isn't really fit for the job). has anyone used one in this way? Or any other tool suggestions would be welcome.

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6 Answers

A spreadsheet - JS talks about it in this excellent piece: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000245.html

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Thanks for all the ideas. The issues are that this is going to be used by quite a few people, working in different offices, and quite often at home so the card/post it notes approach isn't going to work, otherwise that's what I would prefer - simple is usually best!

The actual tasks are fairly varied as well, some development type ones, for which we could try and do something integrated with development tools (We have been tooking at TFS), but mainly they are going to be sysadmin and support tasks, and quite a few I think will be documentation tasks.

I have knocked something up in Sharepoint now - coincidently someone had built a small internal Sharepoint 2010 environment for some proof of concept work that they have let me play with. Fairly basic list at the moment with a few simple workflows for check outs and completions. I'm going to do a demo/workshop to the various resource managers, see what they think and hopefully hack in any changes there and then.

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Are you physically in one space? I'd use index cards or post-it notes and a kanban approach.

There are a lot of ways to do this, but here's one: If you're using post-it notes, you take a whiteboard. Divide it up into these areas:

  1. good ideas - a big area; anybody can put up a task
  2. working - a small area (say, 5 notes in size); when somebody starts work on a task, they move it from good ideas to here
  3. blocked - another small area; when a task being worked can't be worked on because of some issue that needs resolving
  4. to review - also small; when the person working a task thinks it's ready, they put it here
  5. done this week - when the worker and the requester agree something is complete, it goes here

The important points to notice:

  • Only a task-doer can move something into "working", "on hold", or "to review";
  • The middle states are intentionally restricted in size. If they are full, they are full; no more goes in.
  • The post-it notes don't have to be complete descriptions. They're tokens for conversations.
  • If the task-requesters want more control over what gets done first, you can add a small area between 1 and 2 called "on deck". They can argue among themselves about what goes in there, and in which order.

I've used approaches like this for whole software projects, and it's great. Time pressure and chaos are minimized, and everybody can see the current state of things. When there are arguments about priority, I am not involved. Problems in task flow are made visible, sparking useful discussions.

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A simple solution could be to use Text/HTML files checked into source control at the root. Easy to find and update.

I typically run on a full Microsoft stack so I just use work items in TFS.

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You should probably adopt Scrum as your project management method, and choose software that facilitates the daily Scrum workflow.

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This question is not about a methodology, it is asking about tools. You are making an orthogonal point with no attempt to actually answer the question. –  Steve Haigh Apr 1 '11 at 16:02
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We use JIRA to track issues. I find it pretty useful and non-fussy. If you are planning to share it with non-IT-savvy then JIRA may not be your best option.

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Can't help but mention YouTrack. too :) –  9000 Mar 29 '11 at 12:29
    
non-IT savvy? Really? I find JIRA really confusing to work with, at least that's my experience with Zend Framework using JIRA. –  Htbaa Apr 1 '11 at 15:02
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