Early this week, we have changed how Mozilla Hispano contributors organize their work. Until now we’ve been organizing work using a mixture of email (lots of emails), meetings (long long meetings) and a custom wiki approach with task and semantic-mediawiki.
Despite this has allowed us to do amazing things and accomplish great things at the Spanish community, it has been proved that there were some issues:
- People hate emails. Specially when they have dozens of them every day and they have to read all to get an idea about what’s going on or what’s needed to be done. Some people don’t even read them and other people from the community got frustrated because they felt ignored. A lot of great ideas were forgotten in a sea of emails.
- Time is finite, and volunteers can’t spend hours during their weekend to attend a lot of long meetings. The balance between more and shorter meetings or less and longer ones is complicated because it doesn’t fit everyone.
- Wiki as a task board is hard. Hard for people to use and hard for developers to implement all functions and notifications you expect.
So after discussion on our last Work Week in Peru and a lot of hours looking for good tool, we decided to give Teambox a try. We are using the open sourced version 3 on github, because the next version is only available using their site, it’s not free and they are not going to liberate it.
Awesome open source story here: Because version 3 is no longer maintained by Teambox Co., we did a research and found there were a lot of people who forked the version 3 on github, so we contacted all of them and a Czech University, who did some major modifications in the past, was happy to see our interest on this and our proposal to do a community fork. So they are going to continue the development in a community way. You can find this community fork on github and it’s where we are reporting bugs and suggestions, we hope to encourage a couple of Mozilla Hispano devs who know Ruby on Rails to join this project and help (you are invited to help too).
Going back to our implementation of this tool, I would say that it has being very successful, in 4 days we have more then 140 tasks created and we are moving from our shared spreadsheet to track new contributors to tasks, so it would be easier to assign, notify and track progress of each individual contributor inside the mentors team.
Another great thing about this is that we don’t have to exchange 20 emails to do things, the person in charge will create tasks and assign to people with due dates. Everyone know what’s pending, when they have to do stuff or ping others for help using the great @mention feature inside comments. Less talking, more working.
It’s also great to track contributions and recognizing people’s work, because for each task you can specify how many time you have devoted to do it and other people can see your hard work. I personally love time tracking feature to get a full overview of our work and it’s great to know who has more or less work when assigning new tasks.
We want to introduce new contributors to this workflow as soon as possible on their on-boarding process, so they will know how we organize the work in the community they want to contribute to from the beginning. I did a short screencast (in Spanish) on how we use the tool so people can start using it right away.
This can be considered a pilot program, and let’s see how it goes, specially having in mind we have to coordinate the Firefox OS launch in three Spanish speaking countries in less than two months.
I’ll keep you posted with more news about this initiative