Problems coordinating your project? Try a short daily stand-up meeting.

This article is very back-to-basics, but I think many people would still benefit from applying it. So here goes!

I was chatting to someone recently who’s involved in a project with lots of different departments within her company, including marketing, IT, finance, and third-party vendors. She said that it’s proving difficult to keep everyone coordinated with the status of the project, and with what needs to happen next. She’s also having problems making sure that all the different parts of the project will be ready by the time they are needed. This has been even more difficult during the summer holiday season, when many people are away from the office.

So what can be done to improve things?

First, of course, there are the standard project management techniques such as a Gantt Chart showing when each part of the project needs to be completed. This could even just be a list that gets pinned to the wall, or put on a website or wiki page so that everyone can see it. (If you’re interested in wikis, I’ve had great success with Atlassian Confluence wiki software.)

But one of the best ways I’ve found to communicate project status is to have a short meeting each day, at the same time every day, with everyone involved in the project. In agile software development these meetings are called Stand Up meetings (or “standups”), because often the participants are all standing up. The idea with this is that nobody really likes standing up, so it keeps people brief and to the point!

The meeting should last no more than around 15 minutes.

Make sure that each person gives an update that includes:

  1. What they did yesterday
  2. What they will do today
  3. Any problems that they have faced that could affect their work (often these are called “blockers”, since they are blocking a task from being completed).

Lots has been written on how standup meetings should work, but it’s really not difficult, so if you’re having problems coordinating a project, give it a go!