As discussed in my earlier JavaWorld article Agility meets the waterfall, there are various practices in Agile world which can be used in traditional projects also.
One of the best practice I came to know is the practice of stand-ups in Scrum based Agile project. A stand-up is all about having a 10-20 minutes meeting with all the team members of a Scrum team. In this meeting each member talks about what he did in the last day, what he’s supposed to do today and if there any impediments in his working. No detailed discussions are allowed in this meeting . In case you require them, they can be taken offline with the concerned stake-holders. However in this meeting you can discuss the need of that offline discussion.
Now, this small meeting of 10 minutes is very effective for a waterfall based project. First of all, each team member gets to know what all is going on in her project.
The supervisor can track the item each person is working on. He can also track list of the issue on daily basis and can provide the solutions to the impediments his team-members have.
This idea is very novel as one of the basic cause of disaster in big IT projects is the lack of transparency. Sometimes nobody knows what’s going on. There is no effective way to track the issues on daily basis in a team of 50-100 people. People do meetings on monthly basis or fortnight basis but that doesn’t work. In each meeting you’ll find 50-100 unique issues. Solving them, tracking them and owning them in itself is an issue. By the time you go in next such meeting, you already have backlog of 50-100 new issues along with some unresolved items of last meeting. Issues keep on piling up and at one time, people stop counting them. That’s the time disaster start approaching a project. By the time, people come to know what’s going on and go in firefighting mode, sometime it’s too late.
The importance of standup is not limited only in software projects. It’s the way you may want to embed in the way of working at organization level. Regular meetings instead of big-bang approach is the mantra. Even though, as part of 30 minutes regular organization standup, you don’t find any issue, it’s good to know that there are no issues.