To state the very obvious, when resources are constrained, it is difficult to juggle competing priorities. At Magento Business Intelligence (and before that, RJMetrics), one thing that we always struggled with was how to tackle the small things—the things that really bugged our users (both our customers and our employees) but weren’t massive engineering challenges—while working on ambitious weeks-long projects. (For more on our project-based approach to development, check out this post that our head of engineering, Ben, wrote a while back.) Easy fixes and improvements were left untended to, while our developers were heads-down, solving the big problems and pushing the product in new directions.

This fall, while reviewing our backlog for the hundredth (millionth?) time, we struck upon an idea. What if we vetted and groomed a subset of tickets, and made them available to be picked up by our developers (and non-dev collaborators!) on two dedicated days every month? Participation wouldn’t be required, but if anyone was looking for a break from the day-to-day, there would be sanctioned time to shift focus from a project and knock out a few quick wins over the course of 48 hours.

So, we formalized the idea and launched it, without exceedingly high hopes for what either participation or results would look like. And you know what? We love it. It’s sort of like a tightly scoped, less caffeinated hackathon every month. The whole Magento BI team is getting into it, with bounties being placed on tickets of particular personal importance (e.g. I’ll buy lunch for whomever tackles this), and much fanfare over shipped features.

We just had our most recent 1,000 Heals Days in late February. What did we accomplish?

  • New, improved, and standardized email templates
  • The ability for admin users to pause integrations
  • Updated UI for the Metrics page
  • Smarter pie charts: if we can’t render a pie chart appropriately with your data, we’ll change it to a line chart and tell you why
  • New empty states for dashboards
  • Improvements to internal tools to make our customer success team happy

More to come! We’re sticking with this, so expect to see a flurry of incremental improvements every month.

  • Peter Marinari

    This is a wonderful idea (I love “1,000 heals”!) and a wonderful outcome! Often the most-visible quality of life change for the end user isn’t the biggest project for the Devs to tackle.