I didn’t realise how quickly my work life would deteriorate after taking on the Bugmaster role. We’re currently trying out a new process – Kanban, which involves:

  • Visualising the workflow
  • Limiting Work In Progress
  • Measuring & improving Lead time
  • Learning & adapting the process

So when a Jira subteam comes onto bugfixing for an iteration, they use the GreenHopper taskboard to visualise the wallboard:


The idea is that they take from the ‘Awaiting Development’ queue (which is currently limited to 10 issues), and flow the issue across the board. They know exactly what needs to be done, what the team is working on and what has been completed. So they can focus on getting work done, without being overwhelmed with demand. The burden of selecting which issues to fix shifts from the bugfix developer to the Bugmaster. With a new subteam every 2 weeks, I have to keep the ‘Awaiting Development’ hopper filled with issues appropriate to the current subteam on rotation. With over 1600 issues to choose from, this is a daunting experience.

My first attempt at filling the hopper was by performing Issue Nav searches on labels that were applied to triaged issues. As the days passed, I started collecting post-it notes on my monitor of bugs which I was interested in adding to the queue once there was room. It promptly became a mess. I stole a whiteboard and started tracking 3 queues (Non UI / CSS / Javascript):


As issues were created / updated in jira.atlassian.com, I would assess whether the issue needed fixing in the short term, and put it up on the whiteboard in the appropriate queue. This started to grow, and I split it up into more queues. I also started getting overwhelmed with keeping focus on the various work to improvement the bugfix process & triaging / following up bug reports so I started a personal kanban board on the same whiteboard:


This was working well for awhile, when I noticed that some queues needed more space than others. It was time for a refactor. Another thing that started to get to me was having to write up the issue keys / summary on post-it notes, so I came up with a way to print post-it notes from my desk using Spartez‘s Agile Scrum Cards Print plugin for Jira.


As the queue sizes start to increase, I’m going to have to start applying limits to these queues. Having the board visible allows people to come up and discuss the scheduling of issues, what should go next by answering the question, “What is the next most important bug that needs fixing?” and more importantly, what should be removed from the queue if we add anything new.

With the addition of the personal Kanban board, I’m able to remain more focused in what I’m doing, while still keeping track of what I need to get done. Sanity! It’s been a month or so of being the Bugmaster, I’m sure my whiteboard will continue to adapt in the future.

Getting my work life in order