At Pristine, the team I am leading has a gargantuan task at hand. We are creating a custom Learning Management System (LMS) in addition with a completely overhauled new website for the international audience. This entire process of planning and detailing the products feature-wise has taken roughly 2 months, but it is well worth it.
We started off by looking at our current system (which we are using for our Indian audience), and by taking a look at some of the well known e-learning websites out there. Sites such as Coursera, Lore, Sakia Learning Management System, etc. Then we added the e-commerce bit by taking a look at some of the well known e-commerce cart solutions such as Magento, Zencart, Bakesale, OS Commerce, etc.
What we did post that was match the implementation time lines with the developmental costs and the incremental benefits. Using this decision making framework, we zeroed in on features which we thought would be beneficial in the first release.
Now that we know what has to be implemented, we are on an immediate project roll-out. The problem is that with a growing team and no real set of protocols and team rules, things did go a bit awry and haphazard. The first thing I did was involve one of my friends, Amish (who has 10+ years of development experience in structured environments) and ask his advise on how to manage releases, bugs, change requests, versions, collisions, code reviews, etc.
Pat came his reply, install Bugzilla + SVN. So over a period of 2 weeks, we set about putting this environment in place. It took us that much time since we were working on tight deadlines and also trying our hands out with SVN and Bugzilla. Today, finally our bug monitoring tool is up and running and we are completely tracking the development using the same. Some ways in which we are utilizing this –
- Planning for future features which we are thinking of right now
- Having a daily to-do list for the development team
- Assigning clear cut jobs and daily worksheets for the team
- Finding out which team player has to currently bear the brunt of the load, and getting the other team members to share that load
Although, a lot of my time has now been shifted from running around in lines of code to working more and more on Bugzilla, but I think this is one awesome tool that any start-up needs to setup.