I’m always working to improve and perfect the application development process at SmartLogic. I strive to save time (read: money) and keep stress levels low for both developers and clients. We do this by simplifying the process whenever possible while instituting enough of a system so that everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing and where the project stands.
A few weeks into a recent project, it became clear that neither we nor our client were being frank about where we stood. I got the sense that things were slipping through the cracks and that people weren’t being blunt and straightforward about their feelings. We’d go through an entire iteration meeting and leave with the sense that concerns were left unsaid. So I decided we needed to do something simple to change that: start taking “project temperatures.”
What is a project temperature?
We keep it simple: at the end of every project’s weekly iteration meeting, we ask everyone to rate how they feel about the project on a scale of 1-10 and explain why they feel that way. We don’t “track” project temperatures on a month-to-month basis, we just use this as a stupid simple tool to get people to communicate how they feel. This makes us talk about not just what’s going on with a project, but how everyone involved feels about what’s going on. While we’ve used project temperatures for application development, this can work for any relationship and any project.
Why is taking the project temperature important?
There are 7 main ways that taking project temperatures can help your application development process:
1. Save time and cut to the chase
Everyone is busy and has too many things to worry about nowadays. In business I like to just cut to the chase and be efficient. Project temperatures save time by helping people get straight to the point. No need to beat around the bush.
2. Clear the air
When we started taking project temperatures, many subtle issues were brought to light, and each side could work through the issues. For example, to solve our developers’ discontent with the direction of a certain feature on one project, we did some user testing to get outsiders’ views, so decisions could be based on more than just gut feelings and assumptions. For a client’s concerns about budget and timing, talking in the open allowed us to set expectations for the future and adjust the pace and feature inclusions as necessary.
3. Eliminate surprises
Taking a project temperature helps eliminate surprises. We’re asking for an honest assessment every week. That way, we won’t get 3 months (or even 1 month) into the application development project and find that either our client or our developers are miserable. That’s when vendors, clients, and employees get fired. Project temperatures help us make frequent and minor course corrections as opposed to large jarring changes that are the result of unpleasant surprises.
4. Solve problems quickly
When a problem arises when we take project temperatures, we talk about how we can fix it so we’re not still talking about it next week. We’re all smart people. But we can’t solve a problem we don’t know about.
5. Help us be grownups
Some people will sweep concerns under the rug because they’re concerned about hurting feelings. But if there’s an issue, it’s going to come crawling out from under that rug eventually. You can tell us now, or tell us later. We’re all grownups. Our feelings won’t get hurt. Even though we may all have different concerns and goals, we’re all rooting for each other’s success. Project temperatures encourage honesty even though staying silent might be the “nice” and easy thing to do in the moment.
6. Figure out what’s going right
We’ve talked a lot about issues and concerns in this post, but most of the time, people are happy with how the project is going and project temperatures are high. We still take time to talk about why those temperatures are high, so we can continue the right practices and build on our successes.
7. Grow individually and as a company
Constant, weekly feedback on communication, process, and development helps each person involved in the meeting grow. We all learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. SmartLogic as a company improves because we’re constantly tweaking and incorporating feedback to find the best process. Our client and their product improve because they’re getting more honest feedback. Win-win.
Do you have a similar method for your business processes? Comment and let us know—and give project temperatures a try.
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