Introducing: Project Health Checks

Introducing: Project Health Checks

GForge Next has everything that teams need to plan, execute, and document their work. You can start with simple features like kanban and source control, add workflow steps, code reviews and wiki articles, even integrate your build process and Zoom meetings.

But embracing all of these features and flexibilities can eventually make anyone feel a little lost:

On the one hand, we want all of these features. We need them. OTOH, we can’t (or really, really don’t want to) pay for training or plugins, or spend hours in Stack Overflow, to get the best use out of the tools we’re already paying for.

What we really need is a tool that tells us how we’re doing as we use it. Automatically. One that grows with our usage, making recommendations that apply to our process. Most importantly, one that doesn’t get in the way of actual productivity.

That’s why, starting in version 23.0, we’re rolling out a new item in Project Admin Reports called Project Health Checks. This new report will be run automatically against each active project in GForge Next, and provide insight, metrics and advice on features you may want to use, configuration options that need tweaking, or processes that may not be working for you. All of these Checks are designed to help you spend less time on your tools and more time getting things done.

Data + Analytics = Advice

Because GForge Next is a single service (with a single API and database), we can take a comprehensive view of each project – from users and roles, to releases, tasks and sprints, to the code changes, and even the configuration of access controls, workflow and integration settings – and look for patterns across all types of related data.

Report Format

The Project Health Check is run automatically once a month, and all project admins are notified when results are available. Each report is organized into Categories, Checks, and Results:

In the screen shot above, “Commits” is the Category. Other Categories include Tasks, Sprints/Releases, Backlog, and Project Configuration, and more are planned for later this year.

Within each Category are a number of Checks, each of which looks for a single kind of pattern, warning, or possible improvement.

Each Check can yield one or more Results, depending on how many Users, Trackers, or other related data appears in your Project.

You can collapse and expand Categories and Checks. Collapsed sections will show summary counts of the Results that are hidden, like the colored boxes at the top of the report.

Result Types

Checks fall into these categories:

  • Green boxes are OK/Success results, which shows that your project is performing well in this area.
  • Yellow boxes are Warning results. These don’t necessarily indicate a problem, but a trend that’s going the wrong way, or an easy opportunity for improvement.
  • Red boxes are Failed results. These results may point to a problem with your process, or a measurement that is way outside recommended boundaries.

Navigation and Customization

For the Warning and Failure Results, clicking on the result will take you to a blog post, wiki article or video with details about the issue, why it might affect you, and how to fix it.

Our Health Checks make some assumptions about projects and teams in general, and not all of these assumptions will apply to your situation. If there are Checks or Results that don’t make sense, you can turn them off completely, and exclude them from totals and future Health Check reports. Disabled Checks can be re-enabled at the bottom of the report.

What’s Next?

As we start running Health Checks for SaaS customers, GForge staff will be contacting project admins directly to offer personalized walkthroughs of the data, discuss fixes, process improvements, or GForge Next features that might help, and get feedback on wording, content, and future Checks to be implemented. SaaS users can also use the “Get Support” button anytime to request help with this new feature.

On the Importance of the Team

This week, our City School District handed down an unpopular decision – to close a charter-type middle school. I have a friend whose son attends the school, and they both spent a lot of time and energy trying to change the School Board’s minds about the closure. I was very impressed with their effort but in the end, I’m not sure if anyone was really listening.

After hearing the news that the school would be closed, the thing my friend lamented first and foremost was not the uncertain prospect of another school, or a different level of challenge for her son. It was the loss of the community the school had become.

The opposite could be said of my old job with the State. I was in charge of a group of developers (among other things), and gave it as much thought and effort as I had. We delivered a lot of great things, on many tight timelines, and I often felt it was the best place for me to contribute to the world. But after eight years, I realized that the community around me was never going to be as good as I thought it needed to be. Over a long weekend, I made up my mind to leave. I was gone about a month later.

I could write many other examples from my personal experience or that of my close friends. Examples where someone sticks it out in a tough situation, or leaves an easy, high-paying job for something more difficult and less rewarding. The theme that emerges in each case is the same.

Your team is the most important asset you have.

That’s right – your disruptive product, synergistic partnerships, business model, funding stream, delivery process and technical wizardry are all secondary in importance to your team. That huge idea you’re out there making noise about? It’s very probable that someone else is already doing it, too. With more funding, six months ahead of you, and with a much trendier technology stack. Or a better corporate partner. GForge is a good example of some of these disadvantages – tools like Github and Jira are much better known and flashier-looking.

So how do you compete? If you have all that buzzword-y stuff I listed above and a bunch of superstar strangers delivering it, you simply aren’t set up to get where you want to go. No, you need to get the best (nicest, most dedicated and OF COURSE talented) people you can find, fit them together carefully, give them space and boundaries.

All of the other goals you have – making good decisions, making up for bad ones, staying late to do it right, knocking it out of the park for a big customer – all of these things flow from the team.

Fix your team. Make sure everyone belongs, and make sure they know it.

This is exactly what Tony’s been doing since he took over at GForge. It’s definitely working for us:

  • We delivered more new features in the six-month 6.2 cycle than in the previous two years.
  • Everyone on the team contributes to planning, new development, and support.
  • We all know who to lean on for Unix-y OS stuff, versus Javascript-y stuff, versus REST/SOAP/API kinda stuff.
  • All code is reviewed. Everything else (documents, mockups, plans, ideas) is at least shared out as we’re working on it.

This is the best overall team I’ve ever been part of, and that is Really Saying Something. We are definitely our biggest asset, and we are doing great things every day together. Those disadvantages I mentioned before? We’re adding more features on a weekly basis, and gaining new customers every month.

I’ll write more about our roadmap another time, soon.  Until then, let’s hear about your team. Changes, successes, problems? Leave a comment!

v6.1.0 Demo and Roadmap Planning Webinar Available

Over the past couple of weeks we had a series of three webinars where people and organizations interested GForge Advanced Server could see v6.1.0 in action and to discuss our development roadmap.  We want to thank the dozens of customers that joined one of the webinars and worked with us to make sure our development priorities are in line with their expectations.  Over the next week we will be taking the features discussed and turning them into defined released. Once that roadmap planning is done we’ll be sharing those dates and features here on our blog.  In the meantime, we wanted to share a recording of one of the webinars so that anybody that missed it could join the conversation.  As always, you feedback is welcome here in the comments or via email at