Aka Jasper Nguyen. Senior Software Engineer @ Visa Innovation Center Singapore
Here is how I saved my team 2200 hours annually not to do it.
I got you! you are questioning in your mind where the number of 2200 hours came up. No worries, I will explain it now.
At the time I joined my team had 10 people. We ran a daily standup meeting every day. In the meeting, everyone would have their turn to talk about their tasks and their blockers. Sometimes, it turned out in the way that some people talking about a specific topic in detail, which only involves a group of people. Let say, generally, a person tried to give their update and explain it in 5 minutes. For 10 people, with side stories and activities, the meeting would last for 60 minutes long.
It happened every day back then. I felt unproductive and I thought we needed to change.
Talking is slow, typing is faster.
You heard it right. As a team of engineers, most of the time we spend with keyboard typing. Some of us might get troubling with communication sometimes. Therefore, doing a standup meeting via typing will boost the speed as everyone can type their updates with status and blockers at the same time, even in advance.
1. Partial Digital Daily Update
Actually, my previous team also had the same problem of wasting time. Our team standup meeting was long and sometimes it was unnecessary for some people to stay until the end just to listen to what they don’t really need to. Hence, we decided to create a Slack channel to let everyone to write down their updates in advance, before joining the real standup meeting.
A sample update that I used to write on the daily-update channel on Slack.
As you can see, there are 2 points of time in the update I wrote.
Yesterday is where I list down what I did yesterday.
Today is where I list down what I plan to do today.
We saved a lot of time by reducing the meeting time from 30 minutes down to 7 minutes on average, which is more than 4 times faster. Mostly, we spent the minutes to speak up our blockers and to move the notes, which stand for our JIRA tickets on our physical board.
As we still depended on the physical notes, it required us to gather around and move the notes to its correct status. Sometimes, the blockers took a lot of time at the meeting, too.
2. Digital Daily Update
As my team is not using notes to map with the JIRA tickets, we can easily eliminate the first cons of the previous solution. For the blockers, we include it to the update and then everyone could just discuss it in the channel instead. Moreover, as we seat next to each other, the one got blocked can just easily come to talk directly with the one they need. It helps to free others up.
A better version of my daily update now.
Similarly, we have Yesterday, Today parts to let people know about what I did and what I plan to do. Besides, if you look at my update a little longer, you will see a lot more information that could help others to navigate and understand better such as links and explanations. I also separated the meetings into another category named Meetings and mentioned the time of each meeting so that my teammates could easily know my plan through the day in case they wanted to find me.
We don’t have the standup meetings anymore. Everything is now logged down and we all can clearly go back and know what we did in the past. Does it sound helpful to you? It is super helpful to me when I want to know my achievements for a cycle of the performance review. It could be helpful for your resume later as well.
We are free to write the update whenever and wherever we want. This advantage enables us to work remotely without worrying about missing “important” team meetings.
We don’t have the standup meetings anymore. Right, we don’t have it anymore. It means we need other activities to get the team together.
More typing, less talking.
We have been using this fully digital daily update approach for more than 8 months and I can confidently tell you that it boosts our productivity significantly. Now, people spend 5 minutes to write down their updates, plus 5 more minutes to read others. Comparing with 60 minutes I mentioned at the beginning of the article, our team saves 83.3% of the time, which is 50 minutes per meeting per day. With 10 people in a team working 22 days a month, let’s do a simple math to see the number in a year.
50 mins x 10 people x 22 days x 12 months = 132,000 mins = 2,200 hours
I believe Slack is not the only tool that we can use for team communication. There are Microsoft Team, Rocket Chat, Zulip, and so many more out there. Like I say every time, it doesn’t matter which tool you use but how to use it.
I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoy sharing it. Give me a clap if you find it helpful and share it with your friends so that we will not waste the most valuable thing in this life, time.