Colleagues, who is responsible for what? How to establish communication to complete projects on time without unnecessary irritation

Colleagues, who is responsible for what? How to establish communication to complete projects on time without unnecessary irritation

What’s more annoying: being redirected from one colleague to another and still not receiving information, or when business requirements are constantly changing? My text is dedicated to working on a project in a corporation, or rather, to solving its main difficulty — communication.

In the article, I share my experience of how I built processes in the company, provide a change agent checklist, 5 effective tools and document templates. And I will also talk about the results: how the systematic construction of communication made business processes more efficient.

My name is Maria Boldyreva – I am a project manager at the IT company Outlines Tech. I have been in the profession for 3.5 years, now I am developing fintech areas of corporations. A total of 6 years in team management.

The paradox of the revolving door

When I started working on projects in the corporation, in my ideal picture of the world, everything looked as if everything had been fixed here for a long time, there was a competency matrix for any question, a responsible page in Confluence. The startups I developed before this were full of wild primitive chaos with developers occasionally running past the flashy ones.

From the point of view of resources and completeness of the team, everything has really become many times better than in the startup. Analysts did not fight over one bowl of rice. Instead, I faced another problem: communication. No, not even like that: COMMUNICATION.

At meetings, team members could spend an hour figuring out who and where to escalate, who is responsible for what, and in what time frame the problem can be solved. When I myself needed to find out details or ask questions, I encountered a phenomenon I called the revolving door paradox.

Sometimes it seemed to me that I was stuck at the entrance to the office building, the door was spinning me, periodically hitting me on the face and hands, and I could not get out. This was expressed in the fact that I was sent around to various specialists who did not have an answer to my question. Often the chain closed and I returned to the outgoing employee.

Then I thought for the first time about the need for changes, at least the introduction of a communications matrix, and, of course, I went to clarify the existence of one. I will not say that it was not there at all: in some teams it was there, in some it was not, in some cases the address book with the structure of the unit helped. Already later, discussing a new position in the community, I came to the conclusion that in the huge structure of self-government, it happens spontaneously and needs a systematic approach. A separate pain and surprise for me was the desire for local copies of documents and reports: entities multiplied, causing problems with versioning, data began to diverge and forced me to organize new meetings.

In total, I highlight 5 symptoms that indicate the need for change:

  1. Duration of approvals

  2. Frequently changing business requirements

  3. Disrupted delivery deadlines

  4. Lack of clearly defined areas of responsibility

  5. Lack of a single channel of communication

Change agent checklist

If there are symptoms, then you need a plan on how to implement changes. I follow a checklist that I have compiled based on my experience:

0. Stock up on patience
Changes do not happen quickly: the process takes a sprint, two, or can last a whole quarter.

1. Explore your team/department’s value delivery process
This is especially true if you see multiple teams at different levels of maturity.

2. Prepare artifacts and regulations to help you improve your current delivery process

3. Make changes from top to bottom
I know a good case from a colleague, when the company tried to transfer employees to use the new corporate chat. At the same time, the managers continued to write on WhatsApp. Such use is absolutely useless. It is the same as sailing on a yacht and requiring subordinates to use a bus for sea travel.

Gru is the boss from whom change must come

4. Describe the change implementation process with milestones, tools and methods, then validate it with a manual

5. Act iteratively
Any attempts at forceful introduction will not give the desired result (see point 0).
It is difficult to jump from zero to a perfect result. Most likely, there will be mistakes, somewhere you will understand the excess or lack of tools. After each iteration, it is useful to conduct a retro with teams or independently.

7 difficulties of a change agent

Due to the specifics of working with a large number of very different teams, it was not possible to cure the pain at once. My original plan of flat plates and using project spaces in Confluence fell apart when faced with the resulting hierarchical structure and human habits.

To summarize, I faced 7 difficulties. I think all agents of change meet with them:

  1. The human factor of resistance to change
    I once again realized how much what we are used to means to us: the longer the current form exists, the harder it is to sell changes. This applies not only to communication, but to any change.

  2. Lack of uniform AS IS in different teams

  3. Lack of a consistent source of information for all participants of the supply

  4. Frequent change of those responsible

  5. Lack of systematic documentation process

  6. Absence of meeting regulations

  7. Lack of meeting facilitator

What tools helped to improve communication

Implementation took place in several stages. The first versions were matrices for my own use, in which I recorded those responsible for the project or direction and briefly described the area of ​​responsibility.

After going through several iterations of working with the matrix, I changed my approach and began to use the method of progressive jipeg: I sketched with large strokes those responsible for products or streams and, as necessary, detailed the areas with which I worked most often.

There were almost no problems with the map of escalations, since the responsible persons recorded by the jipeg method were the ones to whom issues had to be escalated most often.

Implementation need trigger

Tool

Possible problems during implementation

Protracted meetings without facilitation

“Resetting” participants after the meeting

Follow up/agenda

Resistance to change

Incorrect management of artifacts

Lack of transparency in those responsible

Lack of a single channel of communication for all participants in the process

Long specification of requirements

Matrix of communications

Non-transparency of company processes, lack of interaction regulations between departments

Long process of coordination

An open feedback loop with management

Map of escalations

Lack of administrative resources

Potential conflict of interest between participants in the supply of value

Absence of requirements freeze

Poor quality collection of business requirements

The composition of the supply differs from the stakeholder’s initial order

Template for gathering business requirements

Lack of sufficient level of qualification of the stakeholder

The absence of an analytical department in the company

Lack of time/willingness among stakeholders to get involved in the process of forming business requirements

Lack of priorities in business areas or conflict of interests in a group of stakeholders of the same level

Lack of transparency in the supply process for the stakeholder

A drop in the level of management of customer expectations

Special conditions of TEO

Initial stages of implementation of changes

Release/development digest

Reluctance of process participants to study artifacts and be in a single infofield

Artifacts can be used to pressure the team

Depending on the complexity of the project, the help of a technical writer or analyst may be required.

I’ll leave it here links to document templates I use at work. Go ahead and keep it for yourself.

Results of the work

What is the easiest way to measure the effectiveness of communications? Of course, the efficiency of the business processes they permeate. For the most part, it was possible to influence the production metrics of the team.

Communications must be clearly regulated. If the artifacts and order of interaction between teams/employees/stakeholders are not approved by management, the process will not work.

In the end, I would like to note that the implementation process was not without adventures, because as we found out above, people do not like new things and create new habits with a creak. However, my persistence, the help of management and a few conscious colleagues took IT and business communications to a new level.

And how do you introduce changes in the company? It is interesting to learn about different experiences and life hacks.

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