How to survive a major development

My blog activity has been low for a longer period (quite an understatement) due to a massive work load since we (read Datscha) had a major release on the 20th of may. Not just a release or upgrade, we're talking about a complete new platform.

Anyone being through such a technical project know the scale of it. Below is a screenshot from the Property Analysis module, where the user is able to calculate the value of a commercial property using a cashflow model. (If you're interested in testing our service, just drop me a line.)














The release has been a great success, both technically and from a user perspective. Being the Product Manager through such a project is for sure mental roller coster. One of the most challenging aspects, in the later stage of the project, is to keep track of bugs and enhancements that are needed to be done prior to release.

Too many MS Excel spreadsheets
Like in the property industry there seems to be too many Excel spreadsheets Jira_150px.gifalso in the IT industry. To use Excel to track bugs works fine in a smaller project, but it will quickly be cumbersome in a larger project. Instead use a 'Bug and Issues tracking software'. Over there years have tried a handful an no one comes even close to Jira from the Australian company Atlassian. Through it's simplicity and well designed interface it's almost fun (?) to work with.

Screenshots save time
Snag-IT_100px.gifOne great feature in Jira is the possibility to easy attach a screenshot to an 'issue', which indeed helps the developers to understand how the, for example, enhancement is supposed to work. So the next step is to have a solution to easily take screenshots and to add a note or highlight a specific part. A great solution for this is SnagIT from TechSmith.

The simplicity to take a screenshot of a smaller part of the screen, add a note and put in an issue has saved us hundreds of hours of communication. In other words, a better product in a shorter time.