Meeting Notes/2016-01-06 TPG Q3 Planning


Questions about TPG work tracking[edit]

What do we need TPG work tracking to do?[edit]


  1. Help us determine our top priority tasks each day
  2. Improve our efficiency by reducing context switching and task fondling
  3. Make us more effective by weeding out low-priority work
  4. Show our stakeholders our value (for annual planning, quarterly planning, individual performance, strategy)

DStrine: Don't need help with daily priorities, maybe week to month.

Kevin, DStrine: Don't see 1-3 as broken enough to need group attention (kevin, Strine: could be improved, but not top item). Kevin: not finding it broken, not the right time to overhaul. Would overhaul for Q4.

Grace: The time we spend each week reviewing existing items that we don't change (aka task fondling) is productive time, not wasted, and it's five seconds per item, not 30.

Item 4 is useful.

What should our work processes by for Q3?[edit]

  • how do we accomplish each of the goals above?
  • Scrum, Kanban, other?

Our current process is: Two Phabricator boards (team-practices and team-practices-this-week); weekly triage (30 min); weekly review/planning (~30 min); monthly retro (1 hr).

What needs improvement?[edit]

Max: TPG board is a context switch from embedded team work. Kevin: and nothing pushes me to look at the TPG work (agreement from others) Max: so I show up Thursday [at review meeting] and think, oh yeah.

Joel: Epics column drives me crazy. Max: it doesn't go anywhere, it just sits there. Joel: we don't use it to identify progress toward goals and figure out, "we need to do X this week to get Y done this quarter"

David: What exactly do we need to do in Phabricator (and wiki and meetings) now in order to make Phlogiston work?

Work Breakdown[edit]

How should we do work breakdown, from goals/milestones to Phab tasks?

  1. Break out lots of Phab tasks immediately
  2. Create an outline in Etherpad or a Wiki page as we conceive it and review it, and once that's fairly stable, convert it into Phab tasks?
    1. Alternate: Create the outline in the Description field of the parent Phab task

Can we use approach 1 when asking others to review work breakdown? That would mean asking them to wade through Phab. Grace: on the board. Joel: board is not hierarchical. david: do walkthroughs of stories. Kevin: that works for flat list of stories, but not hierarchies.

Several people: Doesn't matter that much, each work breakdown is different so do whatever is relevant.

However, consensus on key principles:

  1. Once in Phab, keep in Phab. Don't move back and forth between text outlines and Phab tasks, only move from text outlines to Phab tasks
  2. Once Phab tasks are created, remove or disable the corresponding parts of the outline so they can't get out of sync.

Burnups vs Burndowns[edit]

can we use burndowns instead of burnups?

Discussed in depth; adherents to Burndowns were willing to accept Burnups instead.

Should we Point TPG Work?[edit]

Max: why do we need to point in order to get the data we need in Phlogiston?

TODO: Joel to answer.

Can we use t-shirt sizes? Yes, although there are technical issues in Phabricator and Phlogiston so we might need to use placeholder numbers.

Should we do daily standup?[edit]

No, we don't meet conditions of Scrum (in particular, 100% commitment) well enough for that to be valuable.

What should we do to wrap up Q2 work?[edit]


  1. document for Quarterly Review
  2. Review Q2 milestones and close some of them?
  3. Re-frame standing Goals and Milestones for continuity
  4. figure out how to show continuity for Quarterly Goals, in concert with ongoing projects

Did not discuss.

What are TPG's permanent goals? Straw wolf:[edit]

  1. develop/codify/refine Best Practices
  2. help teams do Best Practices directly
  3. help teams do Best Practices indirectly
  4. coordinate, self-evaluate, maintain TPG

Did not discuss.

What are TPG's FY2016Q3 full Goals/Milestones?[edit]

We have "Quarterly Goals", but we are doing a lot of other work, such as continuing to work embedded with teams. Should we have a list of that?

TODO: Grace is creating a task for everybody in TPG to update the FY2016Q3 standing goals with a list of committed and anticipated work in Q3.

Next Steps[edit]

1) make a list of standing goals

2) Make a backlog for all Q3 work where appropriate, i.e., stuff that is a project but not for continuous work. (probably for 100% of quarterly goals, and a fraction of "standing goals"

3) David and Grace to determine a more accurate label for "standing goals" DONE! Grace and David decided on "Essential Functions". We have updated this on the main TPG page.

4) Joel to document this meeting, what we agreed, what we are doing, and open issues to still be resolved ASAP.

Related Concepts[edit]

Milestone Board aka X Board aka Super-MPL[edit]

Mockup of Milestones Board


  • How can this be reframed to remove the quarterly bias and instead show sequence of variable-length milestones?
  • Which technology should this be implemented in?
  • Scale items on board relative to size (by points/count/hours/% of FTE)
  • Should, or how could, there be a catchall bucket to show all the smaller tasks in each bucket?
    • Query Phab at end of quarter and add it manually? How can we track during quarter?
  • How to integrate Maintenance Fraction for TPG? (as pilot of doing MF for non-Engineering teams