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Heidi Waterhouse for LaunchDarkly

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#ToggleTalk: Workflows and Team Handoffs


This week, Toggle and I worked on mailing out stickers to our far-flung friends while we did ToggleTalk.
Plushie Toggle character presides over a sea of technology stickers

We picked the theme of this ToggleTalk because we knew about our BIG PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT on Thursday. I know that people making software always have some pain getting a task or story from one part of the organization to the next. We sometimes talk like DevOps is going to fix that, but it's not, really. Process isn't something we can fix with a tool, but a tool can help us build and use good process and see the problems when we have bad process.

LaunchDarkly was born as a developer tool, but as we get woven into more of the software development lifecycle, we're excited to give teams across the company the ability to control feature behavior. So for ToggleTalk, we asked our twitter people about their handoff experiences.


We asked how tasks get started, who is in charge of the lifecycle, how handoff works, and whether tasks get lost in the middle.


The themes that we saw confirmed our hunch that handoff is the place where there is the most trouble for a task.

I also got a DM comment that I will not embed that said,

"We are so bad at handoffs between teams that sometimes it is faster for me to learn their stack and do the work myself, rather than request it."

And then there's the problem of things dying in queue, or at least being indefinitely stalled:

Jennifer Davis (@sigje ) had a great thread about the difference between an automated workflow process and an actual handoff, and what the difference means.

Three different people identified "moving tasks from one team to another" or "managing stakeholders" as a part of what "management" does.

There is a popular misconception that "cross-team process" may be a managers problem, but I'd like to think there may be a better way. We want teams to get tasks/features that are well-scoped and have a good exit criteria, so no one has to spend much time on "what happens next". That's what a lot of pipeline/workflow software is trying to do. LaunchDarkly's new Feature Workflows doesn't drive the process, but it does support it. Now that you have the power to set expiration on flags, ingest metrics to change flag behavior, and delegate choices about flag behavior, we can slot into your processes even better.


Cross-team handoff is a hard, unsolved problem, but we can work on it with tools, processes, and goodwill. Not having to cycle back to a team to get them to activate something that has been approved will help, as will automating as much feature rollout as possible (with guardrails).

If you didn't get a chance to contribute to this week's ToggleTalk, feel free to comment here! Keep an eye out for next week, when we'll be talking about hiring!

If you're looking for more in-depth information on handoffs between teams and how to think about your whole workflow, process, I highly recommend Making Work Visible by Dominica DeGrandis.

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