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Trust as well as open and honest communication is key to any project’s success. That is a simple idea which is hard to disagree with. But when someone starts talking about transparency in projects, it’s often considered to be such a vague substance far from exact sciences, that the topic doesn’t get due attention.

“Project transparency: definition

By transparency in project management, we understand the culture where all the information is visible and easily accessible, and communication among the stakeholders is open and honest.”

At NeuroSYS we think it’s important not only to talk about transparency in project management but strive to achieve it. And to make this conversation more practical, we want to share some specific methods and tools we use for making our projects more transparent.

1. Solid client onboarding

As a rule of thumb, the best projects come out as a result of a trustworthy partnership with a client. That’s why we take all the measures to help the client become a part of the team from day zero. And ensuring project transparency here is a key.

We secure smooth cooperation by building and strengthening the bond within the team from the very beginning. Our onboarding is engaging, honest and personal (we always try to meet in person and introduce the whole dedicated team offline whenever possible; if not – cameras during our conversations are always on).

We don’t impose our rules during onboarding. Instead, we offer to set up the way of cooperation, that would be convenient for both sides.

The onboarding aims to make it clear: what is expected from every party and how they can participate; how to track the progress of the project; what unforeseen circumstances there can be and how to deal with them; etc. None of the questions or possible scenarios should stay undiscussed after onboarding.

Last but not least, it’s also crucial to define during onboarding who will be the main person responsible for communication and making decisions from the client’s side. Having communication flow defined and under control will ensure that nothing gets lost or stays out of attention.

2. Enhancing software transparency

Let’s be realists: no matter how attached you are to the software projects you’re working on, one day you’ll most probably transfer it to someone else. And the least what you want to happen is your code becoming a black box or mysterious inscriptions of some ancient tribe in the hands of a newly joined IT team or a team member.

To make sure that the software we create is easy to take over, we accompany it with clear and informative documentation, as well as generous wiki descriptions. Sorry, but there is no other way out of it. Simply:

We practice the habit of taking care of the documentation for many years now and as a result, the code we create can be easily taken over at any moment.

3. Being always true and loyal to agile

Transparency is one of the main pillars of agility, and agile frameworks are packed with procedures and habits that will help you improve it.

Following agile ceremonies and making sure that all the stakeholders attend them regularly is a great way to make a project glass-clear. Sprint planning makes it explicit what is expected from the team, when and why. Daily meetings help to keep everyone up-to-date and react fast if something goes wrong. And retros can be a great source of lessons learnt for the whole organisation, not only the team involved.

4. Using tools for improving transparency in a project

There are plenty of tools and instruments on the market that can help you visualize information better, make communication more efficient, and thus improve the transparency of your project.

But in our humble opinion, it’s not so important what exact tool (or set of tools) you use. What matters is that people don’t get lost among too many tools and that they feel comfortable using them. We also appreciate the possibility to integrate tools between each other and apply customizations for creating one centralized flow of information.

Here are some of the tools we are using:

YouTrack by JetBrains: it’s an issue tracker for developers with a broad range of functionalities, allowing teams to visualise the agile board, organize user stories, do the planning, time tracking, reporting, and track bugs. Our clients get full access to all the information in YouTrack, so it easier for them to follow the status of the project and be involved.

Mattermost / Slack

These are the tools that great for communication overall. Our teams use dedicated channels there which are also integrated with the YouTrack, so they can get notifications when something happens that requires their attention (f.e.: a pull request is merged, or pull requests waiting for review, etc.).

Confluence

Confluence is another team collaboration tool that allows to upload, manage, share the project related documentation and work on it together. We like it for its wiki section and the whole documentary format, that helps us to keep the most important information about a project in one place.

A more detailed overview of IT project management tools you can find here.

5. Transparent culture

Trust and transparency depend on the culture inside the company, or how people feel about sharing information or asking. And we believe there are also specific things you can do to improve it:

Flat organisational structure
Between our CEO and a junior, there are just a few steps in the management hierarchy. This means that everyone feels comfortable to approach the CEO or other higher-ranked colleagues regarding any matter, This makes communication less entangled. Also, it helps people of any position to influence the company decisions more easily.

No shaming for making mistakes
People tend to hide some information if they believe they can be punished or criticised for it. That’s why it’s important to reassure them in the opposite. Here agility helps again. Thanks to short sprints, it’s impossible to make a mistake that is hard to fix. People aren’t afraid to make mistakes and are more eager to communicate openly.

* * *

We can keep talking on this topic longer, but these were the main points for today. Hope you enjoyed the reading and got something useful for yourself this time. For more updates – stay tuned by following us on LinkedIn and Facebook.!

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