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Fast-Moving Projects #5 – How to deal with the most serious cross-team collaboration challenge


Bogdan Górka - 17 September 2018 - 0 comments

The process used to visualize the flow of tasks on your Kanban board must specify what criteria need to be met for the task to be marked as done. But it’s not only about that. The status criteria must also be clear, e.g., ready for testing, ready for the receipt, etc. Everyone must be aware of what it means that their task is ready. That way, an internal contract is agreed upon within the team, helping to maintain the high quality of the tasks.

Here’s the troublesome disease teams suffer from

Management with the help of a Kanban board can help to identify and deal with the most severe cross-team collaboration challenge based on transferring the responsibility for a given task to the other team.

For example, a person in a multidisciplinary team who is responsible for business analysis, may not care whether the document prepared by them is understandable to the programmer who needs to produce a piece of code on its basis. From the point of view of the team member who accomplished the task of the “initial analysis”, their task is completed and now it’s someone else’s worry. It’s that kind of attitude: I’ve done my work and now head over to the gym. That type of indifference leads to delays and multiplication of reverse communication. In our example, the programmer will have to go back to the author of the analysis. Lack of care about the quality of their work and indifference towards those who take over the work leads to conflicts, delays, and impacts the team atmosphere negatively.

Work contracting workshop

To avoid or cure this disease, you need to organize a contracting workshop. During the workshop, people in your team who tend to pass the results of their work (e.g. analysts to programmers, or programmers to testers) should set the quality criteria for the readiness of tasks they deliver. Also, criteria for delegating tasks should be established between the interested parties. The team leader should moderate the discussion and finally write down these findings into the team’s standards of work. These arrangements together with the predetermined process of completing the tasks are a set of information needed to launch the Kanban board.

Example of Definition of Done (DoD) criteria in a standard process

Status = Criterion for the transition to the next status:

From New to To do – the task prepared for implementation.

From To do to In progress – we have the information to start working, the owner of the task is assigned.

From In progress to Paused – something blocks the task. The owner of the task will take on the next task and look for a way to remove the blocker.

From In progress to Done – the person implementing the task declares readiness to perform and fulfills the criteria for implementation of a given type of work.

From Done to Closed – the person who receives the task declares that they have received the result of the task and that it fulfilled the implementation criteria.

DoD criteria announcement

In more advanced teams, there may be several types of work and processes. In that case, the DoD criteria should be set by people who cooperate with each other and treated by them as an internal contract. Only after arranging the contract within the team, Jira can help in visualizing the current status of the work.

The final result

As a final result, each of team members performing their tasks will responsibly change their status only if they are fully convinced of meeting the criteria of transferring the results of their work to the next person. If the team member links to the task with documentation stored in Confluence (i.e., with written knowledge and arrangements), such transfer can take place without any form of contact (email, meeting, or phone). If you multiply that time to several hundred times a week, you will understand why Jira and Confluence bring real savings to organizations and increase the work comfort of the team.

What’s next?

If you have completed all the steps described so far in this article series, you are probably ready to start team workflow management using the Kanban table. But get ready for more – that’s only the first stage of your team’s mini-transformation.

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