This article is a collaboration with Aida Grau Ibora, Marketing Manager at Brave Zebra.
At Brave Zebra, we strongly believe in transparency and direct communication internally and with our clients. We are a full remote outsourcing team, so we know that good communication between remote teams is vital for trust and establishing a good work rhythm.
As a project manager, you will often have to find and collaborate with external teams, and it is not always easy to evaluate and foresee which ones will generate a smooth and productive workflow.
So, we will share with you these 5 key good practices that we find essential to achieve successful collaboration between two different teams:
1. Establishing a foundation of trust and alignment in the project
When starting a project, the first crucial step is to ensure that everyone understands the reasons behind each action to be taken and how the processes will be carried out. This is crucial to generate a high level of trust among teams, not only regarding the project’s vision but also in terms of the pipeline and organizational systems.
Most important things to establish:
- How communication will take place.
- How frequently teams will meet.
- Why Agile methodology is being used, and why we can’t plan everything sequentially.
- The frequency of sprints should also be discussed.
- Official materials and the level of production openness.
The process is iterative and flexible, adapting to different stages. It’s better to make decisions and allow the project to evolve instead of strictly following a detailed plan. Explain the actions and their implementation based on feedback. Trust-building events between the teams are essential for collaboration.
This first step is crucial for consensus and a successful project where both teams feel comfortable and in control. Alignment involves not only sharing the product or game vision but also establishing the way both teams will work together.
2. Continuous folder with deliverables
We make sure that at the end of each sprint, customers can see the value that has been added to the project. This is delivered as a folder including all the work done during the sprint.
Depending on the nature of the project, these deliveries can consist of functional builds, detailed documents, artistic images, or other relevant elements. This open window to the customer allows them to provide their feedback and evaluation on the production quality and work done overall.
After this delivery, a sprint-end feedback call will be conducted to ensure that all concerns and comments are properly addressed.
3. Conducting end-of-sprint feedback calls
At this point, we’ve already laid the groundwork for communication and delivered the work completed during the first sprint, so now we’ll focus on analyzing and sharing those progress updates with the client. The end-of-sprint calls are organized into the following steps:
3.1 Evaluate the completed work
Highlight everything we have achieved so far. Despite sharing the work plan on the board, we aim to showcase the goals, closed user stories, and completed tasks on the screen. These achievements are the outcome of our diligent efforts and are visible in the shared folder.
3.2 Identifying new needs
It’s crucial to note any new needs or problems encountered during the sprint. For instance, we had intended to finalize character designs, but we’ve discovered additional requirements or issues. Analyzing completed tasks allows us to draw conclusions about the sprint’s progress and lessons learned. Perhaps we found the need to establish a specific pipeline or observed how defining the style unblocks tasks in another stage.
3.3 Assessing the current status of the project
We gather new information from testing or internal needs, such as the need for a new tool or unexpected project changes. For example, after evaluating the sprint’s value, we identify that combat is adequate, but progression needs improvement. We assess the project’s state before presenting the next sprint, sharing objectives and user stories with the client. No tasks are assigned yet, but the client can see the goals for the next period.
3.4 Next sprint presentation
It’s vital for the client to understand our actions and the progress made on the HacknPlan board. They can now see the next steps based on the conclusions from this sprint. The client gives feedback on the delivered version, and we adjust the next sprint accordingly. With contextual understanding, our meetings are efficient. Iterations are guided by shared insights and principles, promoting a unified vision of the project’s progress.
4. Providing access to the project execution board
You should have access to the project execution board for real-time updates. At Brave Zebra we use HacknPlan to view ongoing tasks. Real-time dashboard tracks and controls projects, visualizes objectives and tasks, monitors task progress, identifies completed and incomplete tasks, and updates during sprints.
The dashboard offers real-time access to project execution, displaying task development and project progress instantly. It provides an up-to-date view of sprint progress, aiding informed decisions and goal achievement. It’s a vital tool for efficient goal attainment.
5. Direct Communication
5.1 Everyday communication
There are other needs besides sprint feedback. Doubts about technology, analysis, or other non-production-related needs may arise. Undefined aspects, like collaboration on sound capture, are also addressed separately through chat discussions.
For communications, we prefer Discord chats or calls, following two rules: simplicity and one topic per communication.
Remote meetings are challenging due to the need for direct information. To avoid exhaustion, calls are kept short, simple, and focused on one topic. Unrelated questions are noted for scheduling another call to discuss them.
5.2 Invite responsible parties to a private channel
It may be necessary, at some point, to involve project leaders or specialists in areas like art and programming, so the producer interacts with the client while others will serve as listeners. This helps the development team focus on development. Additional experts may be added for critical points, but conversation channels are minimized for essential concentration.
In today’s fast-paced and interconnected business landscape, remote outsourcing teams have become an indispensable part of project management. By adopting these best practices, project managers can navigate the complexities of remote collaboration with confidence, ensuring that every endeavor is met with efficiency, innovation, and mutual understanding.