Open Project Management - Daily Meetings

The idea of a daily meeting is not new and you'll find it in most of the agile methodologies. It's a simple and effective way of keeping the project on track. It's not about micro management but rather, keeping focussed and being proactive about issues that surface on a day-to-day basis.

The meeting can't be long, if it is, people will lose attention and the meeting will lose its impact. In Scrum (a popular agile methodology—http://www.controlchaos.com) they call it a "Stand Up" meeting and literally have it standing up to make sure it doesn't go on too long!

There are only three questions that need to be asked of each person on the team:

  1. What did you do yesterday?

  2. What are you going to do today?

  3. Is there anything impacting on you getting your work done?

There are also many other things that you will learn during this meeting that you may not normally be aware of. There are subtle things that surface. The first is often punctuality, getting people around a meeting table at the same time everyday is a challenge in itself but worth it. If people don't turn up on time, they let other team members down and usually it resolves itself. If not, the person who is continually late needs to be managed. If they refuse, then they shouldn't be on the team. Of course, it's not always that easy if they play a vital role but it's all the more reason to deal with it as soon as possible as it will only cause greater issues down the track.

By getting people to state what they have done, in front of everyone, they become accountable. If they say that they will complete task X today and the next day it's not done, for most people there's a sense of guilt. This is a good thing! Either the person underestimated the task, which provides the opportunity to adjust the plan, or they need help, which can also be addressed. Basically, by being open about these things, there's a transparency about what's happening. If one person is continually failing to do what they say they will do, it won't take long to find out, and then you can decide how to manage the situation. It's much better to find out the next day than wait a week and find out something is late, when steps could have been taken earlier.

Most of all, you'll find out all the little things that get in the way of moving forward. Like sample content, feedback on designs, refinement of features—anything that might slow down progress. Knowing this, means you'll be able to act and adjust the plan, if needed.

Daily meetings are one of the most effective ways of managing the development part of a project and are a must for any team.