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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sending a weekly list of tasks for the team at the beginning of the week

As a part of project management, it is very important to ensure that the team has adequate knowledge of the tasks that are coming up in the near future. If you maintain an updated task schedule, then the task schedule will have an updated list of the tasks for each team member, and this should be easily accessible to the team members. It is important that the team members be given access to the schedule and task tracking tool with the required level of access rights. Them not having access to the tool would put a lot of pressure on the project manager to control the tool, and also be accessible whenever a team member needs access to the tool, either for viewing a certain detail, or for modifying a certain detail.
However, it is also a reality that in many cases, especially when you have a team that is not so mature, there is a resistance to accessing the tool (and this may be justified to some degree; I have seen many tools that combine a high amount of functionality into the UI of the tool with the assumption that it will be primarily accessed by the project manager and can be fairly cumbersome for a developer or tester to update). As a result, you end up with a situation where the team members has not really accessed the details of the upcoming tasks and there are delays (and this can be almost comical if it was not serious to the schedule - once when I asked a couple of team members about why they did not check the details of the schedule in the tool to review their upcoming tasks; they put the blame on me about having a horrible tool and why I did not inform them about the tasks in their name).
Based on all this information and after discussion with the team managers, there was felt the need to actually send out a communication of the tasks that are doing to coming to team members in the upcoming week. So, we worked on setting up a report (or rather, 2 reports) which tried to provide the following details:
- A large list of the upcoming tasks for the week across all the team members. This would list the tasks per day as well as the team member and the estimated days. This list was also printed and up on a large board next to the team's physical location where they could see the list at all times. We also encouraged the team members to actually run a line through a task that was completed, which was a good way of letting the team see that there were tasks that were getting done.
- In addition to this, the other report went at individual level. This report listed out the ongoing tasks for the person, the upcoming tasks for the week and the tasks that were also expected to be completed in the upcoming week. This report was more detailed, and there were enabled links in the report that would take them the team members (via the login process) to the section of the tool where they could update their tasks. This particular report was however tweaked to ensure that team members could log into the report site and do customization - one team member had typically broken up his task into 2 day chunks and he had set the report to come to him once in 2 days, ensuring that the report was very useful for him.

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