Here at dapulse, we actually use dapulse. A lot. To manage everything we work on. That means we really feel you when you request a new feature or share a new way you use the product. We can relate!
That’s why we wanted to tell you a bit more about how we use one of our newest features. Because seriously, it’s been absolutely life-changing, and we want everyone to benefit from it as much as we do.
There’s been some internal debate about what to call this feature, but “batch actions” seems to be the moniker that’s sticking. Lackluster name aside, the feature is truly powerful: there is now a checkbox next to every pulse. You can select multiple pulses and do things to them all at once. For example, check 20 pulses and archive them. Move them to a different group. Move them to a different board. Change their status to “done.” Delete them. Assign them to someone. Go totally wild!
We thought we’d walk you through a process that’s taken us awhile to iron out, and the solution that we’ve found is only possible thanks to batch actions.
The vast majority of our developers here at dapulse are focused on working on our product. And up until somewhat recently, our front-end web development needs were pretty modest. We didn’t update our website that frequently, and we created new landing pages for our marketing team on the fly.
The only “process” that existed was people informing our Front-End Developer Eli Babila what they needed, and whoever nagged the loudest was considered the highest priority. Hey, it worked OK at the time.
But as things have started to scale significantly over the past few months, so has the complexity of our web development needs. We’re doing a ton of new testing on our website, building new pages, and adding new content. In addition to that, our Marketing team has needed tons of new landing pages to help them with their marketing campaigns. And the number of bugs has skyrocketed accordingly.
It was a serious challenge to figure out how to handle this. Eli is only one person, and while we’re looking to expand the web development team, it wasn’t just a question of manpower. We needed a better process now.
A few other factors have made all of this really challenging:
- Almost everything is really urgent, which makes it quite difficult to prioritize one thing over another
- There are 8-10 of us deeply involved in the process. That’s a lot of key stakeholders, and it’s easy for any meeting or discussion to spiral out of control
- We’re all equally responsible for parts of the process, but it’s been very challenging to assign ownership over the process as a whole
Things we tried that failed:
We created a new board, “Homepage Iterations Planning,” where we mapped out all the different phases in the process. We then met once every two weeks with all the key stakeholders where everyone tried to plan what Eli would build in the following two-week iteration.
This was a good start, but this wasn’t adequate for a number of reasons:
- We work super quickly and must be flexible. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’ll need way in advance, and two weeks is a really long time to wait until you get it scheduled for the next iteration.
- We incorrectly gauged the scope of how complicated a task might be or how long it would take Eli to build, so his list frequently wasn’t realistic
- The iteration was frequently imbalanced, prioritizing one need (marketing landing pages, for example) at the cost of another (fixing bugs on the website)
That meant we were having long and horrendous meetings and still not completing the work we knew to be critical in each iteration. No bueno.
What finally worked:
We realized we’d underestimated the scope of this process. We needed more boards!
We created a new board for me (Content Writer) and Maayan (UI/UX designer) to own, where we listed out all the things we want to create and build for our website. This includes things as big as building brand-new pages and tasks as small as a simple A/B test.
We created another board for our Performance Marketing team to manage. There, they listed out all the banners and landing pages they need to have created.
Finally, we created a bugs and technical debt board for Eli to manage, where there’s a list of all the big and little things that need fixing.
Important! All of these boards have the same exact column structure.
So Maayan and I sat and prioritized the top 7 things, big and small, we wanted to happen for the website over the next iteration. We then sat with Eli and he estimated how much time it would take for him to complete each one.
The Marketing team did the same—they listed out the important things they knew they needed in the next iteration, and Eli estimated how much time it would take him.
Finally, Eli went through his bugs board and did the same thing—prioritized which bugs he’d fix next and estimated how long it would take him.
The gamechanger: We all met. In only 20 minutes (Twenty minutes! Hallelujah!) we were able to quickly go through everyone’s boards and aggregate all the tasks for the next iteration into the mommy board. How? Batch actions!
All the baby boards are essentially backlogs of things we want to accomplish, and when they’re ready to be built, we simply move them—all at once!—to the main board. We all truly delight and “ooh” and “ahh” every time we do it.
PS: In case you’re wondering what that “source board” column is… it’s a new “Tags” feature that we’re currently Beta testing internally. Stay tuned for its general release, coming soon to a dapulse near you!
We’ve only gone through this process once, so we may make some further improvements to our workflow, but we knew we’d found a winner when we experienced these very tangible benefits:
- Hours and hours and hours of tedious meetings were reduced to one single 20-minute session
- We’re a lot more confident about what we’re going to achieve and when; this sense of control creates peace and tranquility
- We all feel equally represented in the iteration, striking a good balance between being proactive and also leaving wiggle room for last minute changes
- We remembered that we actually like each other
Batch actions for the win!