Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Documentation

Hi guys!

I need a small word of advice. I've been involved in far too many projects where things go wrong and suddenly we have to find out who did what.
What I need is to know if you guys have a way of logging your activities. I've been trying to develop one way of doing it, but I haven't found anything. First of all, sometimes I can't stay up to date with the demand. People ask me too many things and keep me far too busy for me to remember to write it down.
Seconds... well, seconds, sometimes I just forget.

Is there a standard way of doing these things?

RP
Thursday, January 29, 2004

If the work can be viewed as files/documents then you can use a source control system to see who worked last on each file.  For source code, you can even use features such as the aptly-named "cvs blame" to NAME NAMES!  [Cue old Chinese guy from Seinfeld]

Oren
Thursday, January 29, 2004

For one, you need to keep a handle on what people ask of you to do. Write it on a piece of paper and organize it into a list of high priority items. Have your manager review what your impression of priority is as it can be different sometimes. Do this on a weekly basis. This can be done via email along with a weekly status of what you have been doing (just basic bullet points, nothing fancy). Make it known to the person in charge of your employment what you did and what you are planning on doing. If you are not doing the right things, they should be saying something.

m
Thursday, January 29, 2004


What m is describing is basically the core of Scrum, an agile methodology (like XP). Someone, hopefully someone sane with his/her eye on the business requirements, should be compiling a list of all items to be worked on and prioritizing. Scrum calls this a Product Backlog.

You should then try to work out an arrangement where together you pick enough stuff to work on for a week, or month, or whatever. Then deliver, rinse, and repeat.

anon
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Scrum sounds like fun, but the only point I would make is that at the end of the day, your relationship is with your manager and I wouldn't rely on team members to relay what you did to the manager.

m
Thursday, January 29, 2004


Absolutely. I was just commenting on the fact that it appears the poster is getting bombarded by requests from all sorts of sources. It has to be made clear that all requests for work have to go through one "product backlog" (doesn't matter what you call it) type list where they will be prioritized and implemented according to the business needs of the product.

anon
Thursday, January 29, 2004

There seem to be two threads going on here:
- Logging what was done
- Deciding what is to be done.
I think the OP was mostly asking the first question.

As far as keeping track of what has been done,  here is what I do:

- Keep a continuously running text log file.  I open this file when I log on in the morning and add a divider line and the date.  Ideally, everthing goes in this file.  If I work on a task, modify a source file, have a discussion, attend a meetng or make a phone call a note goes in the file.  There is still the problem of remembering to make entries in the file, but having one file open all the time simplifies the task a lot.  When I need to look up something a text search will let me find what I need.

- For source code there is a file header with a log.  Anytime the file is changed the date, name, and description of the change should be entered.

Neither will help the OP's problem of having too much to do, but having a simple procedure makes it easy to keep up with with the log entries.

mackinac
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I like that idea of keeping a text log. I have been just keeping things in my head and if I have an exceptionally busy week, I will jot a few notes. I just might give this a try and see how it works out.

Thanks!

m
Thursday, January 29, 2004

1. WRITE IT DOWN*

How do you expect to remember if you don't write it down? a) On a piece of paper, b) in a notebook, c) that you check on a regular basis.

2. THE ALLNETIC WORKING TIME TRACKER
http://www.allnetic.com/working-time-tracker/index.html

If you need to track your time, this is the best package I've seen. I used the 1.x freeware version, I have no experience with the 2.x version, but I hear it's good from people who used the beta.

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0670899240
Getting Things Done by David Allen, it's been recommended time and again by myself and others in this forum.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, January 29, 2004

My office recently set up a wiki, so everyone can read and update the same informal documentation.

See http://wiki.org/wiki.cgi?WhatIsWiki for info about wikis.

Julian
Friday, January 30, 2004

"ALLNETIC WORKING TIME TRACKER"

Under what should I book my time spent reading JoS?


Friday, January 30, 2004

"Research" of course.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, January 30, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home