Organize that Case Queue

Jeff
Chief Operating Officer
Sep
29
2011

Organize that Case Queue

Corresponding Blog Image

While preparing for the Drupalcamp Atlanta session that I will be presenting on Saturday with my colleague, Don VanDemark, it was necessary to take a step back and examine the step-by-step approach to tackling cases that we wanted to promote. Before I could get to the fun slides with photos of Smurfs and things, I took a look at the steps that might lead to the more consistent, predictable experience to which our team is always striving.

What I scratched out represents a series of steps with few new ideas or activities that aren't already being taken. However, team members don't always tackle the steps in the same order, and sometimes are skipping a few. With the steps, I also hope to stay out of any particular pet methodology, or rely on some magical software tool to solve the problems. Instead, the attempt is to acknowledge human thought as the most important part of the process, whatever system is being used. Stopping and thinking, at the right times, is the important part.

Below, in all of its text-heavy glory, is the series of steps that I mapped out. Layered on top came the slides and discussion planned for the presentation (in hopefully a format that is more fun to follow). I thought I would share the detailed view here to start a discussion. What does your case processing workflow look like? What holes can you poke in the flow outlined below?


Case Processing

Task Process

Ready to Begin?

  1. Are the requirements and priority of the task clear?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If not, post clarifying questions as a comment in the case and alert the client or project manager if needed.
  2. Do you have everything needed available to you to complete the task?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If not, clearly identify what you need to complete the task as a comment in the case and alert the client or project manager if needed.

State Your Intentions

  1. Signal that you are ready to begin work on the case. Edit the case to mark status as In Progress, enter your target date for completion and estimated hours.
  2. Append a note into the case description. Outline the specific steps you will take to complete the task. This should read like a checklist which sets unambiguous criteria against which the completed task can be evaluated by the client or project manager. Here is an example note for building a Recent Headlines block for a Homepage:
    TASK PLAN (9/3/11 - JD)
    -I will add a view block to the sidebar region of the homepage
    -The new view to be created will filter by content type News, Published=yes
    -Title and Published Date fields will be displayed in HTML list style
    -Titles will link to the nodes for each news item
    - Published Date will display inline, unlinked, after the title in “time ago” format
    -5 items will be displayed, sorted descending by published date
    -The view block’s title will be “News Updates”

Manage Scope

  1. Does the client need to review and approve the estimate or task plan?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, comment the case requesting the client to review. If the client approves, proceed.
    - If the client does not approve they should change status to Open and assign the case back to you, commenting any issues or questions in the case.
  2. Did any of the above steps result in a change of the original scope or task plan?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, return to the beginning of this process with the revised scope in consideration.

In Progress

  1. Begin work on the task.
  2. If working on a task longer than 2 hours, post an incremental case comment to notify client and project manager of items completed thus far and remaining steps to be completed. Log time incremental time spent in conjunction with the case comment.
  3. If the task is not complete before the end of your workday, post an incremental case comment to notify client and project manager of items completed thus far and remaining steps to be completed. Log time incremental time spent in conjunction with the case comment.
  4. When you are done with the task, review and confirm all items from the task plan were completed.
  5. Update the case with a comment on what was completed and an associated time entry.

Review

  1. Assign the case to the project lead, a peer or the project manager and set status to needs review.
  2. Reviewer should evaluate the work against the task plan noted in the case.
  3. Any issues or problems identified by the reviewer?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, the reviewer should change status to Open and assign the case back to you, commenting any issues or questions in the case. Return to the first step of the process above.
  4. Does the client need to review and approve completion? If yes, proceed. If no, mark the case completed.
  5. The client should evaluate the case against the original description and task plan.
    - If approved, client should change status to approved and comment approval.
    - If not approved, the client should change status to Open and assign the case back to you, commenting any issues or questions in the case. Return to the first step of the process above.
  6. Once marked approved by the client, the project manager or project lead will mark the case completed in the system.

Feature Process

Ready to Begin?

  1. Are the requirements and priority of the task clear?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If not, post clarifying questions as a comment in the case and alert the client or project manager if needed.
  2. Do you have everything needed available to you to estimate the task?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If not, clearly identify what you need as a comment in the case and alert the client or project manager if needed.

State Your Intentions

  1. Edit the case to mark as type Feature and check the Milestone flag, enter an estimated target date for completion.
  2. Do you know how the feature will be built?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If no, enter a case comment requesting a specific amount of research time and seek approval from the client or project manager to complete the research.
    - Once research is complete and you have a clear picture of the steps involved, proceed.
  3. Edit the description with a breakdown of the individual tasks that will be needed to complete the feature and associated time estimates. For example, here is a list of tasks for an Event Calendar
    TASKS (9/3/11 - JD)
    -Calendar Mockup
    -Create Event content type
    -Build Calendar view
    -Theme Calendar

Manage Scope

  1. Does the client need to review and approve the estimate or tasks?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, comment the case requesting the client to review. If the client approves, proceed.
    - If the client does not approve they should change status to Open and assign the case back to you, commenting any issues or questions in the case.
  2. Did any of the above steps result in a change of the original scope or task plan?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, return to the beginning of this process with the revised scope in consideration.

In Progress

  1. Enter each of the tasks as new cases, and associate them to the milestone case.
  2. Assign tasks to resources. The resources should then proceed with the task process above for each case.

Review

  1. When all tasks are complete, review the feature.
  2. Reviewer should evaluate the work against the task plan noted in the case.
  3. Any issues or problems identified with the feature?
    - If no, proceed.
    - If yes, comment existing cases or open new task cases to address any issues.
  4. Does the client need to review and approve completion?
    - If yes, proceed.
    - If no, mark the case completed.
  5. The client should evaluate the case against the original description and task plan.
    - If approved, client should change status to approved and comment approval.
    - If not approved, the client should change status to Open and assign the case back to you, commenting any issues or questions in the case. Return to the first step of the process above.
  6. Once marked approved by the client, the project manager or project lead will mark the case completed in the system.
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