Project management - Discussion

There were no comments other than below regarding my proposal, so that the conclusion is that everyone agrees on the points below. Thus we will proccedd as proposed.

1. Introduction

To keep the pace in developing a new wiki(product) the community decided to implement a project manager (PM). The PM shall coordinating the task teams. The actual appointed project manager is WolfMarbach.

2. Defining the role

As the currently appointed PM I see the role in

  • Helping to structure the project content to ensure an efficient outcome
  • Supporting and tracking communication of the task teams, especially between the teams
  • Keeping an eye on the overall improvement and matching agreed timeframes
  • Pointing on issues, which have to be solved urgently by the community
  • Giving support in maintaining the road map for the development of the new brand (excluding release development)

3. About me

If you want to learn more about me please go to Xing. As with Facebook you have to sign in first to be able to view the page. Or have a look at my user page.

4. My view

After one week the development process of this new project and the current activity is quite promising. Thus there is a chance to make it a real success.But we will need a lot more effort and structure. When I started to experiment with TWiki I found it amazing how unstructured the website was (better still is). It is good to have a wiki, where you can create content freely, but you need to find a structure to find information (as all the consultants and wiki specialists in companies know). I asked several people and everybody found it annoying to find anything in the support web. Thus TWiki developed as many other TWikis over time and nobody seemed to have the time to overhaul it completely (which means time and therefore money).

When presenting another wiki or better knowledge management and collaboration system (KSS) I see it as essential to develop a good infrastructure and even more important a competitive product. From my experience in sales and marketing it is essential that the product and the website is designed to the clients and potential clients (these are all people having the same problem to solve and see a wiki or a KSS as an appropriate problem solving solution) needs. This is also important to achieve money from sponsors, advertisers and so on by the new association. I ask the community to bear that in mind when discussing any subjects. For example a good brand name is essential and when we choose a name it is hopefully not QuickyWiki or BallaBalla (even when it is the name of a Pacific god of hope wink ).

5. First proposal

  • Create web as a workspace for project management and all task teams (e.g. this TrackingWeb)

  • Exclude broader community (especially guest), when not actively involved in one of the task groups. This is important due to competition and to motivate people to participate in a group (ALLOWWEBVIEW is set to MaintainGroup)

  • Use the CommunityWeb to inform all members about the activities of each group to attract them to become a member and to keep community informed in a more general way - e.g. charta, goals, members, but not power requirements, server issues (These should be the current team topics and the blog area).

  • Implement a forum in the webiste (like phpbb3 or similar) like all the other big wiki or linux websites have with support, news, FAQ etc. I see this as essential to cure the wild wikiying syndrome. This does not mean that the topics are not used for diskussions. I think many/some of you agree that there were lots of different topics in the codev web, which were created then never used again and after some years created with a new name again.

  • Use a template/form system for task teams to structure content within this web (please propose fieldnames).

  • Document all team discussions in this web - we should create templates for groups so that content is presented in the same layout (just for group meetings, main task team page etc)

  • Implement the ActiontrackerPlugin to pursue actions (although it is not my favourite) or use something similar like the bug tracking system (please propose)

  • Fortnightly report on overall progress with a summary to the community (either by PM or press officer)

  • To work efficiently in this web create a TWikiGroups for each task team (or let me do it). This enables us to structure and communicate (e.g. WebNotify) more efficiently.

  • The PM will be active in this web only (exception info to community). Thus tasks and teams to track must be put in here.

Please add you comments below an we will discuss it until Thursday, the 6th of November (18:00 GMT). Then I will work on the structure an an information rule by Sunday, the 9th 23:00 GMT. We may call a meeting at #nextwiki on the 5th at 18:00 GMT, if there are too many different views.

Please be aware that I am in New Zealand (GMT+13) - that means I am usually available between 19:00 and 07:00 GMT.

6. Your proposals


As this stage, I'm not sure the top priority is building formal PM framework for project as it's not clear that we could get all Task teams to buy into one. For that matter, it could be difficult to design framework that's a fit for all teams' work.

  • I think we have to achieve exactly that. everybody has to buy in a framework. no exceptions - Wolf

In short term, it seems that the main need is simply tracking whether critical tasks for entire project are moving forward. However, as things are currently structured (with no exec board or IGT empowered) there is limited authority to address breakdowns except to sound alarm. That is inherent weakness I'm afraid...
  • So it is even more important until an exec board is in place - Wolf

In terms of tracking the various task teams' progress, the best option I see at present is either to directly track those teams ourselves and/or have liaison within teams to keep PM team informed.

  • We should use this web to collaborate on these matters - Wolf

So, I think the most useful contribution of PM team at this point would be to identify critical path actions across all teams and communicate with teams about anticipated timeframe for those actions. At this stage, this could probably be managed using a simple table within a single topic.

-- LynnwoodBrown 03.11.2008 (via email)

As one of the Release Coders, I desperately want someone that is outside the worker-group who can keep us / me on track. While doing technical work, it is easy to get distracted by work that needs to be done, but isn't actually progressing the current release, or worse, to spend time looking around to figure out what is the next most important task todo.

My experience both Professionally, and (for example) the Cairo release, having someone to simply ask questions like do we need to do this now, or are you just playing because you need a break? go a very long way to maintaining momentum. This extends not only to developers, but the release manager (when he's distracted by a bug that really really annoys him), the documentors and casual testers who just want to know where to play next.

The other joy, is that having a PM that we're not familiar with, is that we all learn something. I like to learn from other people's tricks.

  • Sorry, there are no tricks to learn from and I cannot conjure rabbits from hats. But I will try though - Wolf

-- SvenDowideit - 04 Nov 2008 - 05:44

First I have removed the ALLOWTOPICCHANGE. This is a wiki and we do not put ALLOWTOPICCHANGE unless absolutely necessary.

I cannot support the PM role as described here.

I cannot support yet another web just for one person to track things. I am totally confused now where I find what information. Please remove this web again so we can focus on developing few mutually exclusive webs.

During the Monday meeting when this PM proposal came up there was no proposal what that role was and we got less than 2 minutes to decide. I cannot accept this chaotic way to work and decide things.

When I setup a vote about a simple thing like a release numbering scheme I give people 2 days to discuss and decide and then another 2 days for the second part. Thing move a little too fast here and the result is one bad decision after the other.

The PM role we can use is for someone to try and get the overview of which team does what and make sure to coordinate the work between them.

That is not the role I see above. I see someone who will introduce all sorts of non-wiki measures like phpBB, locked down topics, and pages moving around from day to day so noone can fine anything.

Sorry but I am close to run away from this project screeming.

-- KennethLavrsen - 07 Nov 2008 - 14:06

I agree that this web should go, the content incorporated in other webs (Community mainly, since this is a community-related thing).

What I remember from the meeting, is that there sure was a desire for a project manager. We voted on it, Wolf was chosen. His role was not defined, but it was expected he would further define that, based on the discussion on the channel and other input from the community. I think what we needed most, was someone to keep an eye on overall progress and tasks that are important but are not done.

I don't think we should go overboard with project management, this is an open source project with volunteers, which is entirely different from a company where the boss/manager can order people around.

Kenneth, 'I am close to run away from this project screeming'. Threats like that you should not make too often, they loose power after the second time. If you can't take a bit of chaos, please do run. Things need to settle down, that may take some time.

-- KoenMartens - 07 Nov 2008 - 16:22

I really don't want to see any more strong language here. Kenneth, those of us who know you understand that you kick the house down when there is something you don't like, but Wolf is relatively new to the community and deserves all the help and support we can give him. Wolf, apologies for not commenting more constructively here earlier; I didn't see your deadline, and have been busy elsewhere.

Before I say more I have to make something clear. NextWiki is a project dedicated to creating something for the benefit of mankind through volunteer efforts. It isn't a company, it doesn't have competitors; there are just other projects out there doing similar things. All it aspires to do is be the best at what it does, something we measure by adoption. We are not trying to sell more NextWikis than anyone else. If there is a better tool for the job out there, then we're not going to try and lie, cheat, or otherwise try to fool people into using ours (unlike some projects). If we can't be successful while being totally open about what we do, we don't (IMHO) deserve to be successful.

I understand and agree that some sort of structure is needed to help support PM. We have the task team definitions and Tasks web, and I had hoped that light-touch automation could be provided on top of that, without radical re-engineering. I'm also a strong believer (as are most people on the project) in openness. If that means showing our crown jewels to the world, so be it (except in very limited cases; security, legal etc). As such I'm really not convinced by the idea of a separate tracking web, especially not one locked down from public view. It would risk ending up as a secret PM silo, and I would like to think we have left that sort of thinking behind.

I also share the view that introducing a new forum is not a good idea. Not because I have anything against phpBB - on the contrary, use the best tool for the job - but because I just don't think such forums are a good idea. If we fragment discussion over too many places, we get more and more dependent on people knowing where to look, which is bad. I would rather use the wiki and focus on the growing culture of refactoring threaded discussions.

On the other side, I like your ideas of consistent reporting, and of high visibility of actions. Makes good sense to me.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 07 Nov 2008 - 17:01

I've been very busy since a couple of days and I'm seeing a lot of new things here. Some good, other not that good... sorry on the delay to comment, but I think that the time slot of 2 days to decide something like this is too narrow. For feature proposals we wait 14 days to give people enough time to evaluate things.

  • I don't agree with the new web cause I'm also on the team of confused people.
  • As Kenneth said, the PM role was defined/voted too fast and I'm not clear about what it would be
  • I agree that it would be nice to have someone (or better: a task team) to coordinate/help/synchronize/keep on track the task teams
  • I strongly disagree with Exclude broader community cause then we'll have a Core Team (I don't want this to happen)
    • I agree with Crawford: we have no competitors. At least I don't have, since my interest in NextWiki is to make it better cause I like it
    • I don't think that locked content motivates someone to participate.
    • According to the proposal, we'd have two different places to put information. I don't think it's good, cause it is more work and probably the feedback to the community would be not so up-to-date
  • Something that was told to me when I was introduced to TWiki is that it facilitates work in groups and collaborative projects. What should the users think if the collaborative project of developing this tool does not use it? If there is a problem, we should correct it wink
  • And also, as already stated, we are not a company. If we are going to have someone to order people to do things, then we'll not attract many contributors (probably we'll scare them and keep them away). I say it considering my own experience: if TWiki used this proposal when I started to work on it, probably I would not be here today (Standalone architecture was my under graduation conclusion job. But merge it into trunk, enhance it, add unit tests, etc is not and I'm doing it and planning more things cause I like and have fun)

(sorry if I used some strong word, but I'm not a native English writer. Consider my comments in the most objective way)

-- GilmarSantosJr

Please find my comments here: ProjectManagerProposalDiscussion

I am sorry for my strong language. But that is how I am. Take it or leave it. I have been like this for 43 years. It is not likely to change.

Everything I said was basically repeated by Crawford and by Gilmar so except for the language we said the same thing.

I am who I am.

And on the 'I am close to run away from this project screeming'. That is the EXACT feeling I had when I wrote it.

It was not a threat. It was an expression of emotion. I feel stress and discomfort by the chaos at the moment.

-- KennethLavrsen - 07 Nov 2008 - 22:50
Topic revision: r14 - 08 Nov 2008, GilmarSantosJr
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