As a project manager, you are going to be busy in tons of meetings each week (especially if it is a big project). Basically you will have all these meetings just to coordinate and manage your EPC project or other project. In this article, we will look at what do you do if you have an issue which is too big for the normal meetings, and efficiently manage The Daily Huddle.
I can give you an idea based on my experience in a recent project. In this specific project we had a massive issue in our technical meetings and even in the management meetings. To give full attention to the issue (which included having an unstable system which was already partially in operation) we formed a small task force with specific people to follow on this case. With that measure, the normal progress, weekly, safety, management, client and so on went on without this topic dominating the bulk of the other meetings. In fact, this topic stayed out of most meetings which freed up the rest of the team to focus on their action-items. Not only did this save time, but it ended up creating more time for the problem to be solved because 1) my key people weren’t stuck in meetings discussing the issue over and over again and 2) other people who weren’t included in the task force didn’t have to hear about this challenge that didn’t concern them.
Since this issue was critical in terms of stable operation, we had to come up with immediate measures and a final solution. To have the software programmers and the network specialists working on the issue, we could not have too many meetings because then they couldn’t get their work done. In fact, having one meeting a week made them moan! However, we did need to have daily updates on what was going on, what was pending, what was completed to keep the management and the client happy, and to keep the relevant people within the loop on this project.
An additional challenge was that the system supplier and the software people, the test bed and the operational site were all at different locations. That’s right. Another one of the geographically distant teams to add into the mix! To get everyone together for a 90-minute meeting was usually a half-day effort for everyone in the task force. Because of the ticking clock in this project (in all projects for that matter), we had to come up with something faster and more efficient to keep everyone directly and indirectly involved updated.
We have implemented and used the following to solve the above-mentioned issue:
- We setup a WhatsApp Group. For those of you who don’t know what WhatsApp is, it is a group where everyone can message the whole team. If you don’t know what whatsapp is there is also viber and numerous other smart-phone apps that you and your team can use. It was used to inform everyone daily on the new developments, movements, client feedback and other relevant information. It was really practical for keeping all the stakeholders and key people up-to-date.
- I already mentioned that we had a weekly meeting to the dismay of the programmers. We did that to see each other face-to-face and plan the week ahead. Never underestimate the power of a face-to-face meeting. However, don’t plan so many that work isn’t being completed! If the situation called for it, we would include the client to provide an update and get approval to install a SW update on their system.
- If we included the client in our weekly meeting, we would first hold an internal meeting with only the task force one hour prior to prepare. Only after we were all aligned did we call the client in.
- The key measurement was the daily huddle. In the nineties or even in the first year of the new millennium, we used a telecom platform with a fixed number and a pin code to call for a conference meeting. Nowadays, with Skype, zoom and many other online platforms, the daily huddle can be done easily via computer or mobile phone and with video. The daily huddle is actually a term from SCRUM, an agile method for software development. However, it can be applied to EPC project management as well. The way we did it was as follows:
At the end of the day, usually at 5pm, we called in on Skype to update on the daily progress, discuss the issues which surfaced during the day and agreed on the actions for the next day. We spent roughly between 10 to 15 minutes discussing this online depending on the issues and their severity. Since we had WhatsApp in place, we knew most of the issues already, so it was more a clarification and decision-making round for the next action items.
For me as the task force leader, it was a good solution because I was perfectly informed on a daily basis and I could take immediate action if necessary.
As a conclusion I can say that these solutions have been working great for our problems, challenges and daily huddle, and the methodology was used several times in that project to solve other issues. Please feel free to adopt this method from us, or to add in the comment section below what you do in such situations!