Why we have this process / Goals
It's often very hard to prioritize bugfixing against building major new features, so we need separate categories within each we have a different way of prioritizing. Additionally there is a risk of one impotant category (i.e. refactoring/upgrading) never getting time. The industry best practices therefore is to timebox the work that the people in the team spend on these categories every week.
When to do this process
The PM ensures he provides work to the development team that roughly matches the timeboxes below. The head of development decides on the most valuable Technical improvements and ensures there are always enough tickets Ready for that (he aligns informally with Head of Product on general priorities)
Timeboxing for Marketplace development team
Development work is roughly timeboxed (within month) like this:
- 15% max- temporarily 25% (due to high bug load)
- Technical improvements (i.e. Refactoring/upgrading/performance/maintainability/scale-ability) - 10% max
- Business blockers & quick wins - 20% max
- Roadmap / strategic items - remainder,
55% (no max) -temporarily 45% (no max)
- Bugfixing: A bug is only a bug if: The system works different than specified in a design/JIRA ticket/etc, OR an error/crash is shown OR data a user entered is lost OR a the system is clearly suggesting that it will do something but it's not doing it (I.e. the location search function does not returns items in that location). When in doubt it's up to the PM to decide if it's a bug.
- Blockers: Bugs that blocks the ability to get projects posted, staffed, paid and done will always take precedence even if the bug timebox has already been filled
- Technical improvements. Few words are more dreaded by product managers than being told by engineering: “No more new features! We need to stop and rewrite! Our code base is a mess, it can’t keep up with the number of users, it’s a house of cards, we can no longer maintain it or keep it running!” If you are currently in this situation, the truth is that your company may not survive. Product management takes 20% of the team’s capacity right off the top and gives this to engineering to spend as they see fit. They might use it to rewrite, re-architect, or re-factor problematic parts of the code base and performance improvements. This category also includes upgrading (and adopting new verions of) underlying tools/frameworks (i.e. search engine)
- Business blockers (a.k.a. improvements / quick wins) : Small things we want to change in the platform that are not do not fall in any of the other categories (circa < 3d dev work) . Prioritized based on cost savings/more profit.
- Roadmap / strategic items. These are the items that make our product more valuable to users and therefor our company more profitable. These items come from the Discovery and Design process and are designed, prototyped, user tested, estimated and prioritized weeks before development starts. Includes research tasks to support strategic items.