We talked a little bit earlier about the various aspects of communication that go into making cooperation successful.
During every phase of the software product development project it is important to make sure that all teams and individuals participating in the project are on the same page and also stick to some basic rules of the game.
A few important rules:
- Do a proper Project Kick-Off for all teams and ensure that information sharing is always up to date on a pre-defined periodic basis(weekly, monthly, quarterly etc..).
- Stimulate development team members and encourage them to understand different cultures. This can be done in various ways such as providing books or other training material. We have a free example here! A great idea would be to create opportunities where employees from different countries explain ‘their culture’ to other team members.
- Assign clear ‘communication’ objectives to team members and to the managers at each location.
- Avoid all “Us vs. Them” mindset like the plague. As soon as you recognize those signals in yourself or with others: take a time-out and rethink! Try as best as possible to focus on the positive aspects while blurring out the negative. Having an open mind is key when working in multi-culturual set ups.
- Be enthusiatic about the project's sucess. View the challenges as tiny matters compared to your goal.
The founding principle behind all of the above mentioned 'rules' is: TRUST ONE ANOTHER.
And if ever you find yourself in a situation where you feel trust is lacking, ensure that you, along with your team, address it right away!
With the proper communication tools in hand, we're already halfway there in setting up good, timely communication and cooperation.
- Have quality conference call equipment in each location to enable teams and individuals to talk when needed
- Have standard email setup across teams and locations
- Use a project portal that provides for creating and storing all artifacts of the project
- Have team spaces on the portal to allow the teams to express and share their views
- Have messengers (Skype, Gtalk, Lync etc..) installed on each and every PC in conjunction with good quality earphones. Messengers are cheap and provide necessary sharing abilities (documents, whiteboard, faces,).
- Ensure that there is a common messenger across teams and locations. Ensure that everyone is signed in while at office on their respective messengers.
- Make Web Cams available for individuals to make ‘semi face-to-face’ meetings possible. This seemingly small device will help tremendously in communication because you can now see non-verbal communication too.
- Have good quality Video Conference Systems up and running in all locations.
The above-mentioned tools are primarily ‘office related’. There are of course some exceptions (e.g. a phone meeting from home because it is absolutely not possible to do it in office hours) but teams should aim to cooperate as much as possible during office hours.
What steps do you take to ensure a top-notch and efficient communication system at your organization?