Project Management

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Topics: Teams
What else to consider when working on College Projects?
These last several years, I've been working on different projects, including software development, civic, volunteering, and academic projects. I understood that before starting working at any project, it is necessary to consider some ground rules. Nevertheless, this article is written for college projects and by having in mind undergrad and grad students who need additional clarifications on how to start working with their assigned groups in any project. Some of the following tips are generic and can be adaptable for any industry when implementing projects and working with groups.

- When you first meet with your group members, invest some minutes for a personal introduction. Then you should exchange personal contacts with each other, which include your mobile number and email.

- Talk about why that respective class is important for you. Is there any reason why you chose that class? What do you want to achieve at the end of that class? What expectations should be met at the end of the project implementation? It could be anything (e.g., an A, the best project in the class), but make sure to communicate your expectations to your group members. When you know each other's aspirations, then it will be created an atmosphere of inclusion.

- Define communication channels. Ask each other, what apps do you prefer or use to communicate. Regardless of what all of you decide, make sure to include everyone on that communication channel. In my latest college projects, I used WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.

- Define the tools (technologies) you prefer to use. This point depends on the nature of the project. E.g., if you need to code, then communicate which programming language you think is adequate to use for that project (if in case you can choose). Or what kind of IDE to use, or which cloud-based Git hosting service to use. Moreover, all the projects at the end of the day require a reporting submission and presentation. So, it needs to be defined which collaborative tool to use. I've been using Google Drive (Docs and Slides) and Office 365. For task tracking, we have used Trello.

- Write a group agreement/contract. It is crucial to define how to work effectively in your respective groups. Therefore, having a group agreement would ease and increase your work and group performance. When you create your group agreement, you should consider defining the following points. How you are going to communicate with each other, meeting attendance, quality, and quantity of the work, and most importantly, what will happen if in case you do not comply and respect the defined rules. To give you an idea, see one example of my previous group agreement(contract), you can also check these templates from the Carnegie Mellon University.

- Define the roles in your group. It is essential every time you work in a project to define who will do what. By assigning roles in your group, everyone can know each other's responsibilities and what to expect. Furthermore, that approach will enable effective communication and better overall group performance.

- Meet on the same day and at the same time and place. Make sure to set up a series of meeting events on your calendar and invite every group member. It is up to your project, and the group needs to define how often you want to meet. Nevertheless, make sure to respect and attend those meetings, as it will help you understand the project's progress and any emerging impediments.

- Have an agenda. Defining an agenda before the meeting helps your group members understand the purposes(objectives) of that meeting. Moreover, it reduces the possibilities of wasting time, ensures that important topics are going to be covered, encourages participation and preparation. If you are interested to know more about the agenda, check Robert's Rules for Setting an Agenda of C. Alan Jennings.

- Make sure to take meeting minutes. Every time you meet with your group, you should write meeting minutes, because that way you can document what was said and done at that meeting. If you want to know more about this topic, check Meeting Minutes According to Robert's Rule of C. Alan Jennings.

- Establish a documenting "process" for yourself. If you want to avoid any future complications, then you should consider documenting. Why? You will never know what will happen while working on the project. Regardless of what happens, when you record all the tasks and interactions with your groupmates, you have a timeline and reference point that you can use in the future if necessary.

PS. Check the original article:

I did write that article considering my experience, but I was wondering if there's any other point that I need to consider? Thanks!

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