Tech Secrets Revealed – How Newstex Gets Things Done

tech processNewstex Vice President of Technology Chris Moyer revealed the tech secrets used to get things done in a fast-paced company that’s constantly developing and deploying new products “in weeks, not years.”

Chris explains that agility is essential, but “Newstex is a completely virtual company, with no physical offices. This means that process methodology is even more important, as you can’t simply walk over to someone’s desk if you break something and beg for mercy. Process is important to keep everyone on track and prevent flailing. However, it’s also important to prevent adding so much process that you don’t get anything done.

Newstex uses a version of the Agile process, Getting Things Done (GTD), which was pioneered by David Allen. Chris explains how the Newstex process works on a day-to-day basis as follows:

GTD requires you to maintain 3 queues; Today, Soon (or “Tomorrow”), and Someday. At the beginning of every day, you add items to your “Today” list; items which you want to accomplish within that day. At the end of the day, you review your list and cross off everything you completed, add in and cross off anything from any other queue you may have also completed, and anything that’s left on your Today list to one of the other two queues.

The “Soon” or “Tomorrow” queue is for items that need to be done soon. These are items that you can’t get done in the current day (or wont be able to start), but things that are high priority and need to be addressed soon. These are the items that you should pull from in the beginning of the day when choosing your list of tasks to complete.

The “Someday” queue is for items that you would like to get done, but aren’t high priority or mission critical. If you have extra time here or there, you can use these to fill in. The idea is that you don’t pick items up from this list unless it’s very convenient to do so; such as already working on a particular part of code and the change being very close to where you are working.

Of course, none of this can work successfully without three core components, which Chris lists as:

  • Using great tools (Newstex uses Chili Project)
  • Hiring “A” developers
  • Maintaining detailed and up-to-date documentation

You can click the following link to read Chris’ full description about how Newstex gets things done. He offers more details, a discussion about tools, and a description of the day-in-the-life of a Newstex developer.

Image: Philippe Ramakers

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