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How to manage this situation ?

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Agni
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We have a small team of 5 software developers and we are handling products A & B. Last month we were also handed over products C & D from another team which moved to doing something else. Suddenly we have double the work and same number of people. Though we are in the process of hiring it will take some time. Right now we have a huge number of issues and urgent projects and it's getting a bit messy. It seems every week we try a new strategy to tackle the situation but it's not working out. For a week we only worked on issues so that we could get them under a reasonable number but it didn't really work as more kept coming and output was not as great as we thought for various reasons. Now we're 1 week behind on project work and not that much better off on issues.

Was just wondering if anyone here has been through such situations and could share how they tackled it ? I'm not looking for a magic wand but it could be helpful to see if someone tried an interesting approach and it worked.

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pritaeas
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What you need is someone to separate the issue list, and be an intermediairy between development and the rest. You can only do so much, so you'll need to focus on the blocking issues first (major issues), and put all new features on hold. They can't expect you to do double work, so they will have to make a choice what/who comes first, and notify the clients about a delay.

Preferably you need an updated list each week, so you can work for a longer period without changes. If something really urgent comes up, you can include it, but other things will have to be postponed.

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Ketsuekiame
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Prioritise your workload. The teamlead/manager should be doing this. You will need to keep switching between projects and until you get enough workforce you will be stressed, but with effective prioritisation you can keep on track to deliver in most cases.

If there is simply just too much work to do for the deadlines then there's not much you can do. The only real option you have, other than emergency hiring contractors (very expensive) is to outsource it.

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jwenting
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What you need to do is first of all set some priorities. Dont' chase bug counts like a headless chicken as, as you found out, it won't work.

Which product is closest to a new release? Start getting that one in order, probably (unless you've a critical patch to make for one of the others to keep a major customer happy).

Once that's stable enough to ship, repeat for the next product, etc. etc.

Get to an overall more or less stable platform that way, THEN start worrying about getting rid of trivial and minor bugs.
You might even appoint one or two people whose sole task will be for a few weeks to sift through the mass of issues and filter out those that can be safely discarded or shifted to the backlog as "nice to haves"

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Agni
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Ok so I like these suggestions

Preferably you need an updated list each week, so you can work for a longer period without changes. If something really urgent comes up, you can include it, but other things will have to be postponed.

.

You might even appoint one or two people whose sole task will be for a few weeks to sift through the mass of issues and filter out those that can be safely discarded or shifted to the backlog as "nice to haves"

I guess they are some what related but instead of us guys going over all issues everyday some dedicated person to provide updated prioritized list will be better. Also it will stop us from jumping from 1 issue to another in an attempt to fix them all.

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Reverend Jim
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They can't expect you to do double work

That hasn't been my experience.

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BigPaw
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With not knowing any specifics, only you will know if these suggestions will help.

Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? Also, adaptivity (as opposed to adaptability, albeit subtle) is the word on the street for this time-cramped season of unpredictability for overly-structured businesses.

At the moment, it appears, you are fire fighting. A realistic "solution" would need a holistic approach, for example, an excessive amount of issues will typically be a result of poor research/analysis, or "quality control", from earlier in the chain. (before it reaches your department)

Your company owes it to its vitality and its workforce to get this right, flogging staff with too much work can also be a cheap and convenient way to downsize, intended or not.

I can't say more without knowing more about your processes.

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Agni
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We were infact using the 80/20 rule earlier but when we got these new products the issue list started growing pretty fast and we realised this rule will not be enough to handle this situation. It was down to 2 main reasons: 1. Our unfamiliarity with the new code base and 2. Not so great a job at testing by the earlier team. So we started trying different ways to bring the situation under control.

We're using a better prioritization process than earlier now and also have someone looking at the issue list, acting as a mediator and it's working better right now.

It does however made us realise that there are some critical testing components missing in our day to day process. Also our debugging tools are good but not that great. Which makes me want to ask what sort of tools/techniques do people use, but will probably start a new thread for that.

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

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