Tag Archives: scrum

3 Types of Meetings to Improve Your IT Project

Let’s be honest: IT projects have a terrible reputation when it comes to communication. Whether implementing software, installing hardware, or all of the little updates in between, the actual process of building and maintaining your stack tends to fill stakeholders with dread. Business users want it all, and they want it now … but it better be on time and on budget, no matter what the excuse.

What they don’t see, of course, are all the moving pieces behind the scenes. Technology is more important to the business than ever before. As a result, IT drives real, tangible value, but must also juggle a seemingly endless list of requests (and demands). From requirements gathering to prioritization, project management to implementation, IT teams are inundated with daily must-dos all to help with communication as businesses indicate they aren’t receiving communication.

IT needs communication to be more transparent to business colleagues.

Methodologies like agile have risen to meet this need; and by and large they are successful, empowering technology teams to work more effectively in the face of today’s rapid pace of change. But while newer systems like agile put helpful processes in place around how work gets done, the fundamental ideas behind it aren’t new at all. Whether you call it a scrum or a meeting, communication between key project constituents always has been, and continues to be, the biggest success factor for completing work on time and on budget.

Improve IT projectsWith that in mind, here are three types of meetings that are critical to IT projects and some best practices to keep communication flowing.

Daily: Conduct tiger team scrums.

No matter which methodology you follow or what you call them, quick check-ins with the core group on a daily basis will keep everyone on track. These working sessions should be highly collaborative and hands-on, working through your tracker in real time and gathering status checks from each involved party.

Daily meetings may sound tedious, but those 15 minutes per day will save endless hours down the road by keeping everyone in lockstep.

Weekly: Update business stakeholders.

One of the biggest frustrations that business users feel towards IT is a lack of info and transparency. Often, they hand in their requirements, and don’t hear from their technology counterparts until the project is “complete” – which it never is, because their expectations and understanding invariably change along the way.

Like daily scrums, weekly stakeholder meetings may sound like overkill. But when kept to 30 minutes, they allow IT to share updates and gain clarification, and the business to remain involved and make adjustments if and when necessary.

Monthly: Give executive overviews.

Whether your executive sponsor is in the C-suite or several levels down, it’s important to keep him or her in the loop. A well-updated executive armed with knowledge on your project can spread visibility and enthusiasm throughout the organization, which benefits everyone involved. Executive sponsors can be your biggest champion, or just the signature on the check. Keep your execs in the know to build the relationship and foster goodwill down the line, and across the business.

IT projects don’t have to be full of headaches and hassles. With the right communication to the right stakeholders, everyone can operate more efficiently … and IT will gain a better reputation.

How to Fix Your Scrum Meetings

If you’re in IT, you know that scrum meetings sometimes need assistance. Your team may be complaining that the daily standups are a waste of time.

Yet, you know these meetings are needed. Agile meetings help you and your teams understand the day’s collaboration, what needs to be accomplished to meet the “sprint” goal, and which roadblocks need to be removed. Managers and team members need daily input. It’s important to meet company objectives.

Don’t fret. It may just be that your meetings are getting stale and need a fresh or unique viewpoint to mix things up. Here are some easy fixes:

Remind Your Team of the Goal

It’s easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal you’re trying to reach and why it’s important through daily tasks. Take a step back. You may need to tell your team again why they’re working on individual projects. In fact, make that a monthly communication commitment. Sometimes in tackling all the small Sprints, people miss the impact or why the project even began.

Your team needs to feel connected to the goal and why they’re doing it. They need an individual sense of purpose as well as how they’re contributing to not just the project, but the company.

Just like Picard — Engage

It happens — there’s an employee who just wants to give the basics without interacting. He or she needs to be engaged, especially if you’re going to deliver this project on-time and on-budget. Your facilitator or scrum master isn’t making any progress either.

Make it interactive. If your team is merely going through the motions, they’re not invested. One easy way to solve this issue: Call on your quiet team member and ask for their thoughts.
Mix up the meeting leaders. Think of it as cross-training so your scrum master or project manager doesn’t have to always lead the meeting — even if they prepare for it and distribute notes. This will help with buy-in, too — an important aspect of change management.

Introduce Video to Collaborate

If everyone’s giving an update by phone, it might be time to change that. Face-to-face interaction is the best. You can tell who’s struggling and who’s not. Video is a great alternative, especially for the days your employees’ need to be off — like when there’s a sick kiddo or a house emergency. It’s perfect if your teams aren’t in the same building, city, or even state.
More than that, video and collaboration tools can help resolve issues. People can brainstorm and work through issues on the spot, together — whether it’s reviewing code, doing quality analysis, or just thinking about other tasks needed.

Celebrate and Reward Good Behavior

The people who deliver code and projects on time, are always prompt to the meeting, and complete every step along the way should be rewarded. By providing incentives for people to be there and do their part, you’ll hit your targets. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.

And once milestones are hit, celebrate! The longer the project is, the higher the need to have fun at specific milestones to thank team members. Thanking team members is the surest way to ensure they’re engaged in the project and your company.