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Project management / team organizing

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As the company I am working at gets bigger and has more products out there, we find us at the point where we need to have a more structured and organized way to get projects finished. We use a scrum-based system to manage our new developments which works fairly well, but there are some points where we still have room for improvement. How do you organize the development team(s)?

A major point we struggle with is (unplanned & urgent) maintenance of existing products. Since our developers work on more than one product this drains manpower from a project in development in favor of an urgent fix. How do you plan for that without having the developers idling around because nothing needs fixing right now?

Also we sometime find that one project gets almost blocked, because the guy that is supposed to deliver some feature or asset is occupied in another project right now. Of course, in the long run hiring more people would be a solution for this. but what to do now?

On a side note: how do you integrate new guys into your team and how do you reckon the productivity impact of a new guy, because he or she needs to find his way around the existing products as well as new guys drain some of the productivity of the team because they need guidance and (hopefully) have a lot of questions they want answered.

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Overall, your situation comes down to "growing pains." So remember that there's a bright side to this; your company is doing well enough that there is demand for your services.

1. Your process. I think a great resource for you would be the IGDA Production SIG. I recommend you join and get on the mailing list. There are conversations about this stuff every week.

2. Maintenance. You have to plan slop into your projects, because stuff always happens to mess up the schedule. If you've been underestimating your schedules, you have to stop that. You should probably reassess your schedules of your current projects and come up with plans to give yourselves more breathing room. Tell your clients some features have to be cut because those schedules aren't going to work. They won't be happy, but keep in mind that features aren't the heart of a game -- gameplay is.

3. Blockages are due to poor planning. Reassess your current projects. And reassess your manpower.

4. Integrating new hires goes more smoothly if you are more choosy about who you hire. Be very choosy.

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On a side note: how do you integrate new guys into your team and how do you reckon the productivity impact of a new guy, because he or she needs to find his way around the existing products as well as new guys drain some of the productivity of the team because they need guidance and (hopefully) have a lot of questions they want answered.


I'm a senior dev and see myself somewhat as a coach. I try to handle this by doing a bit of paired-programming (I let them drive). It's a way for me to assess the other persons abilities and to help them get familiar with the development environment and projects. I then give them a task to complete which isn't too big and won't have drastic consequences if they screw it up. It's letting the bird out of the nest and having faith that they'll thrive. I then stay close by in case there are any questions or problems. Unfortunately, I don't have any say in the hiring process so I have to work with whatever I get and make the best of it.

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