3 steps to make your team more productive

No matter how good your team is, if you fail to communicate your dependencies, you fail your work. Discover three easy steps that will make your team more productive.

Step 1 – Understand your communication channels

The key to more effectively teamwork is to make sure you know what you need to communicate to whom. You can document this in a very simple picture of your teams and your dependencies, confirm it with everyone involved and make it available.

  1. Start with your own team and team members in the middle, this is your core team
  2. Then draw all teams (or members) that you are depending on to complete your work around your team, document the dependency and draw an arrow from the team to your team.
  3. Then draw all teams (or members) that are depending on you to  complete their work  around your team, document the dependency and draw an arrow from your team to the team.
  4. Then understand for each dependency where conflicts would be resolved, if you would not be able to resolve them, and mark this with an arrow towards that team as well. These are the escalation lines.

An example of a drawing of a core (development) team who has dependencies on two parties (Marketing and Operations), with one escalation path (Release board) is shown below.

Although this is a relatively simple project structure, there are already 3 teams with 3 interaction points that need to be managed effectively, the next steps will show you how you can do this.

Use placker to simply create one board for each touchpoint and keep track of all items that are relevant for the touchpoint. Also if other teams using different tools, placker can be used instead of separate excel lists, powerpoints or e-mails. If you are already using Excel, you can import your Excel in Placker to get started.

Step 2 – Understands eachothers dependencies

Now that the teams and interaction points are clear, make the overview of the dependencies for each touchpoint. You should have a plan with activities and deliverables (input/output) that you can use to highlight what is needed from each team from your perspective. (the other teams should do the same). Some guidelines to make a good dependency overview:

  1. Make your dependencies very specific. Document what action/deliverable is needed, when it is needed and who is responsible for the dependency.
  2. Document any decisions, assumptions or risks that are relevant. You will need to validate and track them together with your dependencies. For example if you assume work is executed remotely or if it was decided to use a certain template for your documents.
  3. Make sure that your dependencies are specific in your own planning as well, assigned to the person that is responsible of managing that dependency in your team.

Make sure to sit down (can be remotely) to walk through the dependencies and confirm them between your teams. You want to invest time upfront to ensure everyone is on the same track to avoid any misalignment further down the path. Also confirm the escalation channels between your teams in order to make them clear when they are needed.

Use placker to copy items from your plan board to your touchpoint board to collect your dependencies. Add contingency between boards by changing attributes or use ‘mirror mode’ to automatically synchronize items.

Step 3 – Getting your team more productive

Now you get started and things start to move. You  will discover that activities take longer or shorter than expected. Unexpected things will popup that need additional action in order not to impact the original plan. How do you avoid getting lost and how do you stay productive? Three guidelines to ensure you keep track of your dependencies and to make your team more productive:

  1. Keep track of the current state of your agreements in one place, available to everyone. Avoid having multiple copies or versions of the planning or action lists floating around.
  2. Have regular (standup) meetings between you teams to run through the status of the items. Only discuss what needs attention and document changes immediately.
  3. Communicate changes if they are made in order to ensure all teams are on the same track.

Use placker to keep track of the planning and dependencies on each touchpoint, available to everyone. Use filters and sorting to highlight items that require attention and to understand the impact of changes. Document changes between the boards when agreed to communicate changes.