Interview with Dustin Kassman (Project.net)
Interview notes by Brian Rurik
Dustin is the engineering manager for project.net. Project.net is a software company that offers open-source as well as server-based project management software. The company was started in early 2000 and is a subsidiary of ICS. Project.net employs 10 engineers distributed around the world.
The project.net software has three main components, the schedule, the wiki, and the blog. The schedule element is very similar to all other project management software packages. It manages the tasks, deliverables, timeline, and resource for a project. The wiki is an open area for project goals and definitions to be established and communicated. Because everyone on the project has access to the wiki, it can be written and modified as needed to best suit the needs of the project team and stakeholders. The blog is used to post progress updates and challenges. Progress is posted by the team members working on the tasks assigned. This allows the project manager to quickly assess the progress on each task and how each team member is contributing.
Project.net relies on online forums with the open source users and direct client contact with paying clients to receive customer feedback on their product. The customers’ needs are written into customer stories. These stories are used to define updates or improvements to their software. Developments to the software are done in 4 week sprints. The first three weeks are spent coding the next round of updates. The final week is spent debugging and getting the update ready for release. The content produced in each sprint is determined by the user stories created from customer feedback.
During the development sprint, the team uses the Project.net software to communicate progress and issues that arise. Daily conferences are held using Skype. This open dialogue allows larger issues to be resolved more quickly. Also, by using their own product to aid in the projects and team communication, Project.net is able to more easily identify useful improvements without direct customer input.