Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Welcome.doc (Project Management)

Every now and then a new person will join the project. It maybe because somebody got sick or will go on a holiday, because a specialist is hired for a specific task or because we want to speed up things. What ever the reason the same questions are asked over and over again:
  • What database do we use and where is it?
  • What servers are do we use?
  • What does the develop / test / production environment look like?
  • Do we use SourceSafe?
  • What version of Visual Studio do we use?
  • Etc. etc
Its my experience, that the first time someone joins the project is the perfect moment to write a "Welcome.doc" - document. Next time somebody joins the project you are more then prepared. I always ask the new person to write them down which I then review.

A typicle "Welcome.doc" document for me looks like this:

Brief introduction (1 page)

  • Vision: it is mission ciritical and why?
  • Basic description of the functionality;
  • Logical position of the application;
  • Main technologies used;

Meet the application (Chapter 1)

  • Size and complexity;
  • Basic architecture;

Meet the users (Chapter 2)

  • Grapphical context diagram (users versus elementary use cases);
  • Main usescases and a brief description;

Logical System Description (Chapter 3)

  • Logical parts;
  • Logical main process (value chain);

How we develop (Chapter 4)

  • Tooling;
  • Enviroment;
  • Known shortages;
  • Proces (preperation, execution, finilization);

How we test (Chapter 5)

  • Tooling;
  • Enviroment;
  • Known shortages;
  • Proces (preperation, execution, finilization);

How we release (Chapter 6)

  • Tooling;
  • Enviroment;
  • Known shortages;
  • Proces (preperation, execution, finilization);

Daily activities (Chapter 7)

Many projects come with daily activities. This might be to check a log file, build server or to check a dashboard.

First Aid for Production Problems (Chapter 8)

If you join the team its just a matter of time before somebody runs into your office to ask you for your help with something that is thought of a high priority production problem. This chapter describes the basic checks.

Plan to get up and running (Chapter 9)

This chapter describes what to do after reading the "welcome.doc" - document to get you up and running as fast as possible. This might be to make a few "fake" changes and go throught different applications layers, the test procedure and release procedure.

Settings and Locations (Chapter 10)

This chapter describes the main settings (for example a flag in a config file to set debug on or off) and the locations of the main parts like the dashboard, the intranet, certain folders on the network where tooling can be found.

Relevant documents and applications (Chapter 11)

Any other, more in depth, documentation about the current system or referenced applications should be referenced here.

Frequently Asked Questions (Chapter 12)

Frequently asked questions and their answers of course, about this document can be listed in this chapter.

Happy Welcoming!

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