Today I’m going to answer a question from Benjamin, the founder of a virtual reality startup. His question is…

How can I organize the development tasks and the to-do list?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Benjamin already has a developer and a freelancer working on developing his project.

He is currently managing all the to-dos on a Google [Sheet] spreadsheet, and he’d like to improve the process and have a better overview of the tasks under development.

So first, let’s start with a basic recommendation: the project management methodology most suitable for startups is Agile Scrum.

Agile Scrum is the way to go

There’s tons of great, very detailed content on the Web that cover this methodology, but I’m going to give you a glimpse of how it works.

It’s all based on continuous improvement and it’s basically focused on what we call a sprint period.

Let me illustrate.

How to manage to-dos

The way we tend to manage a to-do list without Agile Scrum is usually this way.

We have:

  • To-dos
  • In progress, and
  • Done

You might also have extra columns like “To review.”

Agile sprint structure

The principle of Scrum is to split the main to-do list in many different to-do lists, one to-do list per sprint period.

Then all your to-dos are grouped and planned according to what you want to accomplish at the end of each sprint.

Agile Scrum principles

  • Sprint of two weeks
  • Gather ideas in a backlog
  • Sprint planning session
  • Demo session
  • Retrospective meeting
  • Daily Scrum meeting

1. Sprint of two weeks

To get started, define a sprint period of one or two weeks.

Before starting a sprint, it’s key that you define a clear global goal for the sprint. Adding a specific functionality or improving something. This will be the theme of the upcoming week, so it needs to be motivating.

And that’s where the backlog principle comes into place.

2. Gather ideas in a backlog

A backlog is where you put all your ideas, the things you want to develop. Then according to the global theme of each sprint, you’ll select which tasks you want to put in the upcoming sprint.

3. Sprint planning session

You’ll define these during the sprint planning session, usually held right before the beginning of the next sprint.

4. Demo session

At the end of each sprint, a meeting with the client or the founder of the company and the development team should be scheduled. If it’s not possible, ask the team in charge of the project to screencast the app’s demo and to comment how it works while recording it.

It’s always a good idea to record the demonstration so that everyone can come back to it later.

5. Retrospective meeting

Then you also have a retrospective meeting where you’ll list everything that went wrong or that requires improvement. With this in mind, you can then select the focus of the upcoming sprint.

6. Daily scrum meeting

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Are there any impediments in your way?

And finally, the daily Scrum meeting.

The daily Scrum meeting is part of the methodology. And even though I’ve seen many teams making it work with only two or three meetings a week, I recommend you do it on a daily basis.

The reasoning behind it is very simple. Every person in the team needs to answer three questions: “What did you do yesterday?,” “What will you do today?,” and “Are there any impediments in your way?”.

Obviously, the best way to do this is in person, but that’s only an option for those who share a working space. But it can still be done online through meetings or simple chats.

You can definitely automate a simple notification or a chatbot in the chat tool of your choice to ask these three questions everyday.

These key questions keep the entire team informed on who does what. It also lets the project manager keep track of how things are going and if everything is moving forward as it should. And finally, it also enables everyone within the team to help each other.

So that’s it for the theoretical aspect of it. Let’s now talk about how to implement it and how to find the right tool for you.

Here is my advice…

Keep it simple

  • Use the least amount of tools possible
  • Define the process before defining the tool

Indeed, the process is much more important than the tools.

Obviously, using a specific tool can help you understand how to shape your own process. But you’ll have to go through a long and painful learning curve for the methodology and the tool at the same time.

Instead, I usually recommend applying these principles before using a specific tool. You can play around with Agile Scrum using simple Post-its or a Google spreadsheet.

How should you move forward?

Then when you get used to the Agile methodology and are more serious about organizing your development this way, you should use one of these tools…

Tools

The truth is there are hundreds of tools to organize development. However the most commonly used one, is definitely Jira.

I used Jira myself for more than a decade, and it’s the leader in the industry.

But again, the tool is not as important as the process.

Down the road, you might even find other ways of connecting project management and development work by linking the development environment to the project tool, syncing developers’ comments and processes.

So if you want me to get deeper in this principle, just let me know and I’ll create a separate video for it.

Conclusion

And now, to conclude and answer Benjamin’s question, the first step is to gather all your to-dos in one single place. Then, structure them into sprints of two weeks or so, and follow the Agile meeting agenda to take the most out of this amazing methodology.

Then, test a few software to find the one that fits you, Jira being the most evolutive of all.

Now if like Benjamin, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on myctofriend.co/ask.

I will do my best to answer your question by video or redirect you to any existing content that will answer it.

I publish a new video every week, so subscribe now and learn how to be better at tech management and build your startup successfully.

Also be sure to go through our other content here at myctofriend.co to learn more from real startup growth experiences.

I’ll be waiting for your questions, and I look forward to seeing you in other videos. Cheers.