Support your teams with clever software

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Translated by Google Translate (original Dutch version)

The title of this contribution is about “supporting” a #team and not about “managing” it. My vision is that you have to let a team excel by supporting the communication in a team. This is especially important for teams that have to achieve a clear goal in a relatively short period of time. If such a team can also change before the goal is reached, then you probably understand why I am so passionate about #communication and recording it. As an example, I use a team  that has to submit a winning quote in a few weeks (often called a #bidteam), but there are of course other situations where communication within a team can be decisive for success.

Resume

For communication within a team it is important that communication is always stored with the subject. It does not matter whether the subject is a document, a task, a decision or something else. This is even more important if communication on the subject (for example: how was this risk communicated) is valuable in the future. A good example of this is communication within a bid team where such communication is also very important in the delivery phase. After some time communication (for example email) outside the context of the subject is almost worthless. Therefore we are looking for #incontext communication.

At least as important is that the way of communication is supported by the entire team. This means that the solution must be available for every conceivable platform and must also invite you to use it. The  contribution “7 secrets to effective teamwork …” therefore opens with a famous quote: “Happy teams are all alike; every unhappy team is unhappy in its own way”.

This contribution is divided into topics that are important to write a winning offer with a bid team, whereby the bid team may consist of internal or external employees.

  • Files
  • Tasks
  • Other information (registers)
    • Decisions
    • Risks
    • Assumptions
    • Issues
    • Dependencies
  • Ideas

Files

I make a distinction between files that form the request for the quotation (incoming) and files that we must provide as an answer to the quotation request (outgoing). There are more than enough solutions for sharing files and for creating and maintaining files simultaneously, such as Google Docs in combination with Google Drive or the combination of Microsoft Office with OneDrive. The solution for use within (bid) teams must of course support these options. But what if one of the employees within the team wants to communicate something about such a file, for example “@colleague: have you seen requirement 19, are we able to confirm this?”. E-mail is often used for such a question and the answer to it. The disadvantage of this is that the email is now in a different system than the document itself. How will we find this in the future and can other team members see this communication?

It is important that such communication is stored on the same platform as the original document so that all team members have this communication. Instead of sending an email, we write an update about this document. Of course we can still receive an email with a link to new updates.

Tasks

More than enough solutions are available for managing tasks in the form of project management software. However, if we use the best available solution for each area, there is little left for the communication than the trusted email. Here again the question of how you keep the relationship between that email communication and the task in the planning.

In most project management software, only the project manager can update the status of a task, resulting in many telephone calls and emails about progress. There is also something to be said for the owner himself being able to change the status of his assigned tasks, but then with a short description (update) added. If several people can change a status, it is of course important that somewhere within the system it is recorded by whom and when a status has been changed. This is also called “shared #responsibility and #auditing”.

Other information

In addition to documents and tasks, other important information is stored within most projects (registers). This includes decisions, risks, assumptions, problems and dependencies. This type of information also has specific properties, such as a status, an owner or a financial impact. It is precisely because of these properties that an Excel sheet with a number of columns where these properties can be noted is often used. Handy, but again the question: where do you record the communication about these matters. It is the communication about an assumption or a risk that can make the difference between a successful and profitable project or a less successful project (just Google to “failed projects”). Confucius (551-479 BC) already knew: “The road itself is your destination”.

I think it is now clear where this is going. Files, tasks and other important information all in one place and the communication about this always in context of the subject. Clear, fun to work with and accessible from any Internet browser, Windows App, Android and iOS.

Ideas

One more point of attention and that concerns responsibilities and mandate. In a bid team the final responsibility usually lies with the #accountmanager and the #bidmanager, so it is important that they also have complete control over issues such as tasks, risks and assumptions. On the other hand, you want to be able to pass on responsibilities to the owner of, for example, that risk. In the environment that we use at Excellent Bid, the owners (yes, it can be more than one) have the authority to adjust a status. Great, but then we must know for sure that we can always find out why a status has changed. It is therefore good practice to give a short update if someone changes the status. And you guessed it, of course within the context of the subject.

The creation of new tasks, risks, assumptions and other important topics is reserved for the person ultimately responsible. Of course you want to prevent emails from being sent by team members with the request to create a new assumption. Other team members must of course also be able to find this. That’s why they use a fourth table at Excellent Bid to which all team members can add topics. They can indicate whether it is a risk, an assumption, a dependence or something else. By voting, other team members can indicate that they agree with the request to create that subject (to bring it to the attention of the account manager). Finally, the bid manager will indicate that the subject has indeed been included and changed the type to included.

Finally

If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I have largely met my objective. I hope you have learned something from it and can apply it in the next project. I am always available to help you with this.

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