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Getting the Message Out

Regardless of how you decide to manage your issues (top-ten lists, assigning tickets out to individual developers, brute-force spreadsheets, and so on), everyone needs to know how you're going to communicate what the issues are and what progress is being made. You need to deliver information that's simple to understand and difficult to ignore. I got in the habit of sending daily email messages to the product development team, summarizing the top-ten lists and ticket progress.

Another important aspect to communicate is the upcoming releases. We had a number of small production releases each week, and a large release every couple of months. The development staff found it helpful to know the upcoming key dates. On a whiteboard central to all the product development team locations, we kept a calendar showing the next two months. On the calendar, we posted key dates such as initial release candidates, code freeze, customer user-acceptance testing (UAT) windows, and release dates. At a glance, a developer would know not only what the issues were, but when they needed to be completed.

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