Is Your Agile Communications Toolkit Up to Snuff?

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By Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina

A lot of things change when moving from traditional project management frameworks to agile ones. But what doesn't change (or shouldn't!) is how much and how often teams communicate. 

Agile frameworks don't actually require daily stand-ups or regular retrospectives. But you should consider adding some new trade tools and a few other staples to your project management toolkit if you’ll be working in an agile context. You may find that they quickly become essential to keeping communication flowing through your team—and your project on track.

Here's a short list of tools I've used on all of my projects.  

Sync-ups/Planning Meetings: This helps me start a project off right by making sure the product owner and execution team are on the same page. We set expectations, talk requirements and the direction for deliverables in areas such as UX, design, marketing.  

Daily Stand-Ups: Quick check-ins with the entire team help gauge project health and bring roadblocks to the forefront sooner rather than later. This is also where we address scope creep, taking note of good ideas that need more exploration before being included in the backlog.

Retrospectives: After each sprint and after each project, a retro helps the team ensure processes are working— and decide if we want to carry over those processes to the next iteration.

Wiki: These often get a bad rap but can act as an excellent centralized location for real-time documentation editing and sharing. In my experience, it can serve as a digital asset management (DAM) system for sharing web copy and design assets. While not a perfect DAM solution, it will do in a pinch.

Instant Messaging: Whether collocated or remote, teams sometimes need quick answers to questions—and a meeting can be overkill as a way to get answers. The challenge with instant messaging, though, is to make sure teams are on the same page about how and when to use an IM tool.

Email: This tool still reigns supreme when it comes to quickly keeping a lot of people in the loop about what's going on. Even if it's an email directing people to a wiki, it's still one of the best tools for mass communication. But maybe not for decision-making!

What tools am I missing? And do you find any of the tools mentioned particularly good or bad for certain kinds of communications? Share your thoughts below.

Posted by Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina on: March 24, 2016 12:30 PM | Permalink

Comments (7)

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Network:583



Wiki and instant messaging are very much required. Wiki gives the central location to get everything team needs. Sometimes a collaboration tool with messaging capability works well for team.

Network:427



Thanks for commenting Pravin! I'd have to agree with you! On my most recent projects, our team wiki held all our project info from plans to contracts to action items to assets. We used Slack for our IM tool but recognized while it's good for quick answers, it should not be the only place for communicating critical information.

Network:205



Good one Taralyn.

You have a point in saying about moving from traditional to Agile that "what doesn't change (or shouldn't!) is how much and how often teams communicate."

At the time, it is worth noting that Agile methods, regardless of which ones, emphasize passionately the need for constant communication and feedback. Traditional project management, obviously recognizes the importance of communication, but maybe to a lesser extent compared to Agile's almost fanatic advocacy of continuous communication and feedback.

Network:493



Well written. One of the things which I do is encourage my team to talk more over phone especially when the IM exchange goes beyond 3 or 4.

Network:427



@Prabhaker - I think another thing that helps drive "innate" and "fanatic" advocacy is that agile makes a very specific space for Agile Coaches. People dedicated to "continuous communication and feedback."

Here's a slideshare image that depicts in mindmap fashion what an Agile Coach does - https://image-store.slidesharecdn.com/3030eb4e-dc0f-4780-b8f5-d813c50f6fcf-large.png

Network:205



@Taralyn. Thanks for sharing the mindmap. Having an Agile Coach is a great thing. At the same time, the objective is to internalize the principles and make external guidance/coaching redundant.

Network:294



The idea of the wiki can be interchangeable with other types of collaborative tools and the efforts of working out loud

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