The love and hate relationship between developers and project management tools

The love and hate relationship between developers and project management tools
The love and hate relationship between developers and project management tools

Throughout the years, I've worked with all sorts of tooling to keep track of progress and issues within a team.

I've used simple tools like Trello boards, Github issues and post-its. I've also used more extensive tools like JIRA, ClickUp, custom software and many more.

Spoiler alert: As a developer, I am 100% biased, and I haven't much to say about extensive tools like JIRA.Tools like JIRA get a lot of hate. That's because developers mainly don't like having their work parcelled out so precisely. But let's get this out of the way. Tools like JIRA are not for them. It's for stakeholders, managers and people who have to report progress and who are responsible for budgets.

I will not be bashing on Project-Management tools in this post, but I will address what I like about simple tools.

Open source projects

When you accept that PM tools exist for people responsible for budgets, what happens when the budget is a non-issue?

post-its on a wall
post-its on a wall

Open source teams can grow enormous, where people worldwide work on the same project. At the same time, people from all over the world can bring issues to the table which need attention.

Those projects seem to manage fine without a mastodont of an application.

The way GitHub manages issues is one of those ways I like as a developer. It's easy; Somebody can use it to discuss things, you can address and tag people, and it keeps track of your codebase throughout discussions.

A Kanban board is the only thing I missed for it to be perfect. That's where the simplicity of Trello was lord and master. Trello was and still is, easy to configure and fully customizable to anyone's needs.

GitHub recently introduced GitHub Planning.

Create issues, break them into tasks, track relationships, add custom fields, and have conversations. Visualize large projects as spreadsheets or boards, and automate everything with code.

That's everything and more of what I'm looking for in a tool. It's simple, elegant and close to the codebase. Best of all, you don't need a half-baked integration that only works if you make your commit history bloated.

Developer vs Project Manager

headbutting buffalo's
headbutting buffalo's

We established that extensive tools are made for Project Managers. However, GitHub is a platform created for developers, and they have made a platform that comes developer-first.

It does that by building its solution around the code and not the other way around. The code is the heart of the project, and issues, features and planning come on top of that.

In my opinion, the end user of the system is the developer. They are the people that work with it the most and rely on history for context surrounding a codebase. Unfortunately, they are also the people hating on tooling like JIRA. It is worth listening to those people.

Conclusion

I'm not saying tools like JIRA are redundant because they are not. However, as a developer, I'm convinced that if they rethink their flow and build it developer-first, they will have a better product. And as a result, project managers would also have an easier time.