Friday, 13 June 2014

A template for the team weekly roundup

While working in a previous position, I noticed that although the team discussed a lot, the right things were always coming up. That team supported live television services so it was important that engineers were up to date on outstanding problems, workarounds and changes. I found that even when engineers sit next to each others, there was no guarantee that they would exchange the right information that each of them needed. So I initiated a round up meeting that would occur on a Friday to solve this issue.

The focus on the weekly round up was not to review everything that happened in the week, but to determine where problems were and communicate activity to the team. Action points were captured out of the meeting and assigned later. Minutes were sent out that day. Always write some kind minutes for review meetings otherwise decisions and knowledge are lost. The meeting is limited to 30 minutes. 

Weekly Roundup Template

  • Changes: Any failed changes or changes that took longer than one hour to complete? (In that environment, most well written changes could be performed in less than an hour. Any longer and there was probably something wrong).
  • Incidents: Any repeated incidents?
  • Projects
    • What's been done this week
    • What's the next step
  • The Good - What went well
  • The Bad - What should we be doing better
  • Any Other Business - anything else people want to discuss

How this helped:
  • The team had greater awareness important activity.
  • Engineers had the opportunity to review problems as a team - engineers have differing levels of expertise and experience. Putting problems to the team enabled all strengths to be applied.
  • Better identification of problems - There are numerous occasions where engineer adopted a practice of successfully working around a problem, however it still cost a significant amount of time to do this. Specifically discussing repeated incidents helped bring underlying problems to light.
  • Improvement for team morale - It's frustrating to be firefighting much of the week only to know that next week will be the same. Being able to raise problems and track progress of solutions helped to improve morale.

Not everybody was a fan of the meeting. But I found that in those cases it reflected the engineer's approach to teamwork, rather than the meeting itself. It was especially useful to newer engineers as they learned much about things that were going on that wouldn't normally be discussed with them due to their experience. Overall, it turned out to be a very useful 30 minutes out of the week.