The Importance of Daily Briefings

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Even as a small company, we face our share of communication challenges. Not a week goes by without someone uttering, "we need to communicate better." Communication struggles cause a myriad of problems - project misdirection, irritations, management involvement.

Production makes up the bulk of our staff - programmers, user interface specialists, sysadmins, developers, html authors. Then there is project management and sales. In order to function properly, there must be frequent and unfiltered communications between them all.

It is a bit of an onion problem. Each layer you peal back reveals another. Is is environment? The open office plan limits that. Is it disposition? There can often be a lack of empathy across tech and non-tech lines. Is it individual personalities. Some people are approachable, some standoffish. Some assertive, others passive.

We recently initiated a daily briefing meeting. Scheduled for 15 minutes each morning, each project manager is present as is the production manager and all three partners. It is a daily accounting of what each production resource completed yesterday and what is teed-up for the day.

The document that drives the briefing is a Google Spreadsheet. Only tasks that are ready for production work are allowed on the spreadsheet. Over time, however there has been some accumulation of detritus - things not quite ready but deemed important, items parked as reminders, dependencies, etc.

Prior to the morning meeting, each project manager can prioritize up to two tasks for each production resource. During the meeting we synthesize these into a single priority list for each.

So far, the results have been positive. Project managers are happy with the daily touch and the ability to voice client concerns through to management. Production is happy with the prioritization direction. Partners are able to identify "bleeds" and address them before they spiral too far off track/over budget.

The biggest challenge is keeping it brief. There are lots of detail-oriented people involved and it is hard not to dig into the soup. Nonetheless, it has been helpful. Of course it continues to evolve, but the Daily Briefing is here to stay at Imaginary - to the benefit of all.

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