I worked in an agile environment where our team gave updates to our Team Lead every day at 8:45 am. Ours was a team consisting of 8 developers and over the days our team encountered issues like “I have sent email to such and such person and he/she hasn’t responded to me yet which stalls my development time” as matter of fact this wait happened within our own team members and the other member response would be, I was busy working on other request. I would simply call this scenario as Delayed Resource Response where one team member awaits response from the other developer or analyst which stalls his own development time.
Our Team Lead was the one, who insisted to record all the business requests and clarifications either via email or a chat system which is an accepted practice to communicate with clients and our team but sooner does he realized it isn’t going to work all the time. To illustrate further, Consider Developer A sends an email to Developer B asking for a clarification and he gets a response after 2 hours where Developer B is his own team member who sits across five cubicles from Developer A. The wait time for Developer A was 2 hours. In a team consisting of eight members working on a project with lot of dependencies, let’s assume each developer experiences this wait at least once in a week, which adds to 16 hours of development time being wasted and monthly it will be a whopping 64 hours of development time. It became a recurring issue in our team and we did see it hindered our development.
What fascinated me was how my Lead handled the situation? My Lead did a 180 degree turn from his stance and in one standup meeting he informed us not to rely upon email for clarifications anymore and to step into the developer or analyst cubicle and address them the concern directly. I still remember his words,” Just go to the Developer’s desk and ask your questions, I take my words back! And remember your development time is as important as others” which was a polite way of saying one should give equal importance to others development time like his own.
The outcome of this change was phenomenal and increased the member to member communication and augmented our development without waiting for responses. To keep in note, this change was done only for clarification type emails and for business requests we continued to keep them in email. To summarize, Emails are best ways to communicate within an organization but not always effective and we should be dynamically ready to adapt any sort of communication within an organization to help us serve better.
Disclaimer: Please don’t try to step in to a Developer’s cubicle if they are located offshore:P