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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Using GitHub for (almost) Everything

I've spent a lot of time in the past hunting around for the "best" product development "management" tools to use for my various entrepreneurial ventures, as well as the companies I advise, invest in, or otherwise work with.  When I talk about management tools, I'm specifically talking about tools that support:

  • product requirement docs (PRDs)
  • product roadmap and enhancement priority lists
  • bug tracking
  • task tracking
  • release and milestone tracking
  • code reviews
  • code versioning and release management
I've tried using separate tools for each part of this stack thinking that for instance, a specific tool for tracking tasks would be better than a tool that had task tracking as auxiliary feature, or that keeping a priority feature list in excel would be easier to manage and sort separate from code features.

However, in the last year or so, especially with the way we have the distributed team structured working on Blinkfire Analytics, I've come to the conclusion that GitHub is really all we need.   Now, all my data points come from teams of less than 10 people, so I don't know how this scales yet, and there are of course some documents that are perhaps better suited to be Google Docs, especially if they are simultaneously collaborative, but otherwise GitHub is doing just fine.

My general product management process is to enter features (designed or not), tasks, bugs, and questions for discussion as "Issues" in GitHub, and create labels such as these:

and then to tag each issue as appropriate.    Separately, we create "Milestones" that tie to major feature or PR releases, and list those as well.  For instance,  there might be a "Pen Blog Post on Follower Feature X" as a task tied to that release milestone, and that would be tagged as a "blog post".

Every change and comment goes out to a mailing list that all team members are subscribed to that keeps everyone in the loop.

We've still had a few times where a design doc was appropriately penned in Google Docs - but that's okay - because it's been easy to embed or link to within GitHub.  

Let's see how far we can take this and how many people we scale to before GitHub becomes a limitation.

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