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Tag: Trello

(A)synchronous project updates within organisations

As a consultant, I find that there are, broadly speaking, three types of teams and organisations when it comes to project updates:

  1. Synchronous updates (only)
  2. Aynchronous updates (only)
  3. Asynchronous and synchronous updates

The purpose of this post is to explain why the third of these is by far the better option.

1. Synchronous updates (only)

The most popular (the default, even!) are those only doing synchronous project updates. This means that the team, group, or other unit of organisation finds out the whole picture of what’s going on in the weekly team meeting.

Advantages: every project update can come with full context and, if someone doesn’t understand, or has a question, this can be addressed immediately. If the project team is meeting face-to-face or via video then facial expressions and body language can convey additional information.

Disadvantages: if the project team is only receiving updates on the day of the meeting, then the information they have can be up to six days out of date at any given time. Also, anyone who misses the meeting has to rely on the notes.

2. Asynchronous updates (only)

Other teams, groups, or other units of organisation only do asynchronous project updates. This means that meetings are rare, and the main way to find out what’s going on is to check the place where updates are made.

Advantages: anyone with the necessary permissions can get involved, which is why this approach is common to Open Source Software projects. What you see is what you get, and combined code repositories and issue trackers (e.g. GitHub) provide a decent workflow to get things done.

Disadvantages: with the human element removed, it’s difficult for the full context (including relative importance) of an update to be conveyed, and for serendipitous links to be made between projects.

3. Asynchronous and synchronous updates

The best teams I’ve come across do a combination of asynchronous and synchronous project updates. They meet regularly face-to-face or by video and provide updates in a dedicated space between meetings.

Advantages: everyone on the project gets full context around an update, either in the dedicated space or by asking a question about it in the meeting. There is now more time in meetings for forward planning and innovation.

Disadvantages: none that I can think of!


N.B. Workplace chat solutions such as Slack are great for many things. Given the potentially low signal/noise ratio, project updates are not necessarily one of them. Instead, I recommend using a dedicated space — e.g. Trello or Nextcloud Deck.


This post is Day 64 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Setting an Agile School Rhythm [DMLcentral]

My latest post for DMLcentral is up. I’ve been thinking about agile workflows and team productivity a lot recently and, in this post, I attempt to apply it to (formal) education environment. Give it a read and see if you think it works!

Click here to read

Thanks again to Bryan Mathers for the great header image!

Note: I’ve closed comments here to encourage you to reply on the original post.

Claim your Advanced Kanban badge!

Advanced KanbanThe Kanban 101 badge proved so popular I’ve decided to follow it up with an Advanced Kanban badge! This posts explains how to earn it. I’m using Trello mainly because it’s awesome.

Criteria

  • Add a ‘Work In Progress’ (WIP) limit to the ‘Doing’ list
  • Define and use labels effectively
  • Add attachments and due dates to cards
  • Collaborate with others

Here’s how to achieve these criteria.

Add WIP limit

Work in Progress (WIP)

Simple. Just edit the title of your list to indicate the maximum number of cards that is allowed in it at any given time. The default is three, but you might experiment to see if this is the right number.

Use labels

Labels

It’s up to you how you use labels. The benefit of using them is that they give an at-a-glance indication on the kind of work you’re doing. The above list is what I’ve settled on for individual projects. These are different when I’m working with others; it’s a negotiation and they may change over time.

Add attachments / due dates

Attachment

Within each card there’s an option to add an attachment. You can upload direct from your computer, paste a link, or transfer from cloud services. If you upload an image it will by default become the ‘cover’ of your card. You can disable/change this if necessary.

Due date

Due dates are important to ensure cards keep moving from left to right on your Kanban board. If you can no longer assign a date you might want a list entitled ‘Stalled’. Assign a due date by going into the card.

Collaborate

Collaborators

Unless you’ve set up an organisation, you need to manually add collaborators to a board via the ‘Menu’. Once they’ve been given access you can add them to cards by clicking on ‘Members’. Their icon will then show up in the bottom-right of the card.

Conclusion

This is a fun exercise that leads to a badge. It also, hopefully, nudges you to use Kanban more effectively. If there’s enough interest I may even create a Kanban Ninja badge!

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