Tanya here, Website Project Manager at Wrike. I work closely with developers on delivering digital marketing features. Our website unit is made up of several agile teams, all of them working with the same tools, but covering different areas.
In this post, I would like to discuss how our cross-functional development teams came together to create and deliver a custom content management system for our website. I won’t be going in too much detail but I’d like to share a few numbers for context. A project usually has nearly six hundred development tasks. Tasks for five teams that work in different styles, locations, and with their own internal processes.
How would you approach a large cross-functional project like this? I’ve used Wrike to make managing this possible and believe me when I say.... cross-team collaboration is easy if you know the hacks below 👇
Step 1: Organize the backlog
For any project, there are a lot of requests, expectations, and ideas coming from stakeholders. To not get overwhelmed with the number of tasks and communications coming from various channels I start with collecting all the inputs in one place, sorted by type, and capture a clear picture of what the exact to-do’s are, who the main stakeholders are and what is expected to be done. At this point, I can also see the amount of work and the effort required, as well as the statuses of different stories using a custom workflow.
When I’m creating a task, my goal is to keep it short and clear. All the additional details can be discussed and added later into the task. I suggest, starting with the Definition of Done, and attach the reference links, e.g. design.
Step 2: Prioritize & assign
The full list of tasks is not enough to start working on a project. We need to prioritize, and assign them to team members who are responsible for delivering the tasks. For both of these, we use custom fields.
As per prioritization, instead of just using numbers like 1,2,3, we extend them with a description so that all team members can understand the importance in a clear way. We use categories like:
- Blocker. Something to be worked on as soon as possible as it blocks work completely.
- Critical. Something that doesn’t block work, but covers a huge area and will have a significant impact.
- Important. Tasks that will still bring great value but are less impactful.
- Good to have. For all the great ideas we’d like to work on but are lower down the immediate priority list.
- Can live without. This category is for ideas we’d like to keep track of, but do not have significant impact.
The task assignment is quite easy with Wrike, we just pick and assign tasks to the right people. But we like to take a different approach, making high-level planning before tasks go to final teams and allowing teams to process tasks in their way of work such as using their own spaces and dashboards. That’s why we created a specific custom field with teams’ names. This way, team members can go to the relevant folder and easily sort their tasks in two clicks.
Step 3: Planning? Take two.
At this point we have tasks, they are assigned and prioritized, but there is one thing still missing – deadlines. We have bi-weekly meetings to discuss stories, going from blockers to the “can live without” tasks, and put them into two buckets – quarter planning and monthly tracks. We use due dates and cross-tagging to divide the tasks. That’s what I call this part “Planning? Take two” - referring to long-term and short-term tasks and projects. Such grouping allows us to easily find and focus on tasks that matter in each period of time.
The process allows five different teams to have one source of truth. The backlog folder is the place to go for all questions regarding timing, priorities, and future plans. It is an easy and effective way to build the work process of the whole unit.
Please don’t hesitate to ask your questions or share your thoughts in the comments below.
Tanya Pupkova Wrike Team member Learn about Wrike’s killer features and best practices with our Online Training Webinars