Full circle: or getting back into coding

After a couple of years being mostly a manager, I’ve been looking to be a bit more hands on than I’ve been in quite some time.

How did I get here?

In my previous job, I did so much coding that I burned out. I was sick of coding and wanted to do something different — like expanding my career into areas such as project management.

Since then, I’ve moulded my role into one where I mainly coordinate priorities for the tech team. Plus I’m a go-to person for questions, ideas, bug reports and other feedback. I keep the interruptions away from the developers, and help them to do as much development work as possible.

It mostly works. The team works on the important tasks, which are usually documented well. We do daily releases, so we’re on a very fast cycle — and we’re never far away from the next deployment. This means the platform gets regular updates.

The downside of such a rapid release cycle is that the bulk of our work consists of quick wins, and the really urgent stuff. This is evident when we estimate tickets, as most tasks now have estimates of 1 day or more.

The backlog, and how to add value

My role comes with a lot of admin. As a manager, that’s unavoidable, and I’m fine with it. But when you have a large backlog of work, it takes longer to prioritise that work — so the admin increases.

As someone who likes to complete things, it irks me to have a massive backlog of work. Some might say it doesn’t matter, as we’ll never reach the end of the list — and it’s more important to do the useful tasks than it is to clear the backlog. But a large backlog can become a burden. It can make you think twice about doing new things, as there’s already so much to do…

At the moment, I can add value by prioritising the important tasks first, steering good ideas into the development workflow at the appropriate times, writing clear briefs, answering questions, performing QA, communicating recent changes to the wider team, and so on.

The trouble is, too much of my time is spent messing about with tickets. That isn’t adding value.

Getting back to coding

Right now, I want to do more coding than I’ve done in quite a while. It’s convenient really, as it’s also where I think I can add the most value to the team.

I don’t plan to immerse myself in coding to the point that others have to do my job for me, as that would be detrimental to the team.

I simply want to help to tackle the backlog. And I’ve already helped a bit today.

Originally published at benbarden.wordpress.com on November 10, 2015.

Product Manager

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store