Some backdrop about my team, just so that you can make your answers relevant ->
We are a Web Application development team, with Team strength being 5 members.

What are 10 simple things we can do to improve our process ?

These "things" could be tools , these could be basic fundamentals that a newbie project lead does wrong, could be observations you have made through all your years of experience etc.

  • 2
    What kind of problem you're trying to solve? Actually the question seems very general for me and it hardly answerable without context (note: I don't count 5 people in web app development team as enough of a context). It would be a good idea to rephrase the question in a way it addresses a real problem. Commented Jul 15, 2011 at 11:22

3 Answers 3

  1. Define your processes. Organizations, projects, and teams with weak capabilities usually begin with a lack of definition. Define where a process begins, ends, inputs, outputs, the rules that govern it, where to find which piece of information about the process and in the process, roles including quantity and required skills, and tools.
  2. Document #1. Writing it down makes it real, enables everyone to know and understand it, and serves as intellectual capital.
  3. While doing #1 and #2, look for redundant processes, steps within a process that seem wasteful, similar outputs produced by two different processes that could be combined, and outputs no one is using anymore. Update #1 and #2 accordingly.
  4. Define roles. Organizations, projects, and teams with weak capabilities often times have ill defined roles -- lack of boundaries, lack of accountability and properly placed authority. A good structure to help define the role is BART: boundary, accountability, responsibility, and task.
  5. Document #4.
  6. Create a high performing team. This is a process and takes time. All new teams, no matter the brilliance of the individuals, are low performing, immature, and dysfunctional. It takes time with active interventions to build a cohesive team and a sense of collective success/failure.
  7. Assess the skills and strengths of the individuals on the team. Based on people's strengths, align them to the roles you defined in #4 to the degree possible.
  8. While the ultimate goal was likely given to you, let the team develop its own objectives and way to get there, keeping in mind #6.
  9. Celebrate successes early and often.
  10. Repeat steps 1 through 9.
  • This is a good advice for a team with competent PM. If this is the case of the fresh team with no PM role (yet) I would suggest a softer aproach, such as Meade proposed. Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 8:21
  1. Communicate with your team - get away from your computers, go outside and talk about issues, risks, what needs to be done today to meet the schedule down the road
  2. Communicate with your client - find out what is happening in their business that could affect the project, their careers that could affect yours and keep setting those expectations of what will be delivered and when
  3. Communicate with 3rd party vendors - ensure that those groups supporting your efforts are up to date with any changes and ready to support you as needed - this includes employment and consulting agencies
  4. Establish your near future plan - what needs to be done today and this week
  5. Establish your long term objectives/goals - what you driving towards and what are the big steps to get you and your team there
  6. Create a Risk list - what could potentially happen, what could be the impact and at what point in the project is the risk most likely to occur? and how will you handle it
  7. Have a beer at the end of every milestone and ensure the team is properly recognized and rewarded
  8. Social Bonding - Create social glue early on to help your team handle the tough situations at work. Have various outings and other activities that are entirely non work related to help your team communicate, enjoy each others' company, and allow for healthy conflict.

9 and 10 - buffer

  • Nice. Now, can you also add "how" to do each step, with examples? ;-)
    – Rafa
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 10:20

I would suggest you do 1 thing :): get your team together so you, as a team, define what you need to do better. Ultimately you are the ones responsible for your own success and the ones who have the ability to drive to it. It's hard to give you 10 things without knowing what you do and how (well) you do it.

To do this I'd suggest you get your team together for a brainstorming/working session (if you can do it off-site it's great because you get away from "operational" distractions) - do some preparation so there is a structure to the session and set clear objectives on what you want out of it so there is an output you can work with afterwards. I'd suggest the following:

  1. Define the value of your process to the business (define your process by breaking it down in key areas and qualify the value each brings to the organization).
  2. Map people to roles and responsibilities throughout your process (i.e. show who's bringing value where and how your team is organized to deliver).
  3. Do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on your process and team. When doing so, try to look at it also from your customers perspective (if you can get feedback from them it's even better).

By doing the above you will be able to identify areas where you are good and those where you could/need to make improvements (for example: a part of the process where you feel you are weak as a team, a part of the process that is redundant or not clearly useful, some overlapping roles in your team, unclear responsibilities, etc.). Then make sure you take it forward: pick a couple of priority areas (you don't have to do it all at once) and agree as a team to work on it. Make continuous improvement a habit of your team management (for example you could have a monthly session to follow-up and identify new things to improve). By adopting this approach as a team you empower people to drive their own improvements and it's far more motivating for them if they take an active part in defining them.

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