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How to Keep Track of the Team's Work?

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Scrumie Team

March 9, 2020

Undraw team goals

One would say that with the dozens of software tools for managing teamwork on the market, it has to be easy to track the team's work. Well, not really. Even though there are always fresh startups emerging and launching new solutions every day, companies still struggle to map out their teams' work done.

There is, unfortunately, no right answer which software tool and method are the best ones. Every enterprise has its own needs, processes, business models and varies in the number of offices, employees, contractors, active projects and other factors. What one company finds practical, other companies don't. In this article, we will focus on three methods and give examples of tools, which many enterprises have introduced in their teams to track the work done.

Daily Face-to-Face Stand-up Meetings

One of the most popular methods that dozens of companies practise, especially in the IT sector, are daily face-to-face stand-up meetings. These in-person updates have become incredibly popular because they create one of the essential parts of the well-known scrum framework. During the daily stand-ups, all team members briefly inform the teammates about their work progress. The stand-ups meetings have a strict agenda and are strictly time-boxed. The reasons for these rules is to keep the stand-ups brisk but relevant, and without going much into detail. Every teammate usually answers a few questions, such as:

 

  1. What did I work on yesterday?
  2. what am I planning to do today?
  3. Are there any impediments in my work?

 

Here are the pros and cons of the daily F2F stand-up meetings:

 

Pros:

  • All team members are in sync every day.
  • F2F updates contribute to team spirit and bonding.
  • They also promote transparency in a team.

Cons:

  • These updates take too much time (if you look at it from the week perspective + how many people attend the stand-ups).
  • Break your working days - it's just another meeting that interrupts your workflow.
  • There is no written evidence about the updates.

Tools: For F2F meetings nothing special is needed, for remote teams: Hangouts, Zoom, Teams, Whereby, Skype, Slack, Standups

 

Asynchronous Virtual Updates

Virtual updates are similar to F2F stand-up meetings with the exception that they are written and asynchronous. This method has become popular recently due to the increasing number of remote employees. If you have teammates working remotely from different parts of the world, it would be unnecessarily complicated to arrange a regular stand-up meeting (too early/late for some teammates, waiting around for people to connect, unstable internet connection). Therefore the better option is to do the updates independently.

Team members usually fill out their virtual stand-ups at the end of the working day. The updates consist of information about the work progress, plans for the following days and impediments. In the virtual stand-ups, team members can either briefly inform their colleagues or can write a comprehensive message with links to documents, task, tickets, or anything important to provide more detailed updates.

 

Here are the pros and cons of the asynchronous virtual updates:

Pros:

  • You save dozens of hours on meetings.
  • Team members fill out their updates when they have time.
  • You have written evidence of the updates.

Cons:

  • An entire team needs the discipline to fill out the updates (there is sometimes some control needed from a manager/lead).
  • They don't promote team spirit as much as F2F meetings.
  • There is a risk of lacking transparency in the team if the updates are not shared among the teammates.

Tools: Scrumie, Range, Basecamp, Standuply

 

Tasks, Assignments (tickets) in Software Tools

Many software tools (project management, collaboration, and similar solutions), usually enable you to assign tasks or tickets to your team members. In this way, you can track how many assignments your team members have managed to complete. You can also ask them to attach a short note to understand better how they have solved the task. Some of the tools make it possible to track how much time your teammates have spent on a specific task. This functionality, along with an option to set your hourly rates help you determine the ROI (return on investment) of your projects.

 

Here are the pros and cons of the asynchronous virtual updates:

Pros:

  • Save time on face-to-face stand-up meetings.
  • Clear status visibility (completed, in progress, blocked)
  • The possibility of tracking accurate time spent on a task/ticket

Cons: 

  • No comprehensive overview of the work done - it's split up into several tasks or tickets.
  • Manger/team lead needs to check out hundreds of tasks which takes much time.
  • Assigned tasks/tickets might not be visible to other teammates that could lead to increased non-transparency in the team.

Tools: Trello, Jira, Monday, Mavenlink, Teamwork

 

There are, of course, more ways how you can map out what your team has completed and plans to do. These examples were the common ones used nowadays. There are also a couple of their modifications. Instead of having daily F2F stand-ups meetings you can hold weekly sync-up meetings, or instead of online written stand-ups, some companies reach out for video stand-ups and the like. It's absolutely up to you and your team what you choose to implement. As we can see from the article, there are always some pros and cons (see the article about virtual and F2F update meetings).

And what's your experience? How do you map out your team's work?

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