Blog

Sit down for your stand-up meeting with Geekbot

Screen cap of a Geekbot Slack meeting screen.

When running projects, we’ve found that conducting regular internal check-ins is a smart way to ensure everyone on the 4Site team is updated and work is moving along as expected. One way to do this is to hold short update meetings, commonly referred to as “stand-up” meetings, where people schedule time to meet briefly (as in, people stand for the quick meeting).

The downside to these stand-up meetings is the need to organize, schedule and make sure people attend. Plus, people end up hearing updates that they may not need. In the effort to be more efficient, time gets wasted.

Here’s how 4Site made our update meetings more efficient using a great Slack tool called Geekbot.

As the team’s project manager, I was having 30-minute daily check-ins with my whole production team. Some team members were working on the same projects while others were not. Initially we liked the collaboration it provided to listen to what each person was working on and it allowed a chance for other folks to offer suggestions to a complex problem.

Over time it became boring and a waste of time for everyone to hear what everyone else was working on, and we were often getting into the weeds instead of staying on topic and identifying the critical work that had to be done. I considered the idea of doing a 10-minute 1-1 check-in with each team member, but that didn’t seem like an ideal use of my time as the sole project manager.

So, what’s a PM to do?

I previously wrote about how at 4Site, we ensure our clients’ projects are successful using a project management tool called Redbooth. In conjuction with Redbooth, we use a communications tool called Slack, which we find to be a great way to share documents, status and to discuss issues. We’ve added a Geekbot to our Slack channel to help us be more efficient. Geekbot describes itself as  “the first ever Slackbot assistant that helps you set up real asynchronous stand up meetings inside slack.”

Last year we started using Slack for instant messaging each other and once we got over the initial entertainment of giphy’s and slackbots, we found that it was extremely helpful to foster real-time collaboration. There are a lot of integrations for Slack and we quickly adopted Geekbot.

We created a daily stand-up Geekbot, and each day at 10:00am all members of my production team were prompted to answer five questions:

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What are your priorities for today?
  3. Do you have any blockers?
  4. Are you taking time off today?
  5. Are you taking time off tomorrow?

Team members can tag colleagues who were blocking them from getting their work done and call out specific risks that I may need to follow-up on with the client. It also served as a good reminder for any planned time off.

There is a similar version of this stand-up that I send to our leadership team to ensure each person is on-task with their business development and marketing activities.

Another Geekbot we created is called Voice of the Team. Other people may call this a project post-mortem or post-implementation review.

Here we ask:

  1. Are you proud of the finished project? If yes, what made it great? If no, what was wrong or missing?
  2. What did you find difficult/challenging about this project?
  3. How would you do things differently next time to avoid this frustration?
  4. Which of our methods or processes worked particularly well?
  5. Which of our methods or processes were difficult or frustrating to use?
  6. Any suggestions on how these challenges can be addressed?
  7. Did you discover/use any new tools/tweaks/ideas that can be replicated elsewhere?
  8. What was the most gratifying or professionally satisfying part of the project?

We do something similar to get client feedback, but with the Voice of the Team I am mostly concerned with how my team felt about the work we did. I summarize the results and present them at our biweekly staff meeting.

There is definitely a need for in-person meetings and our company is not lacking in those, but Geekbot has reduced the amount of unnecessary in-person meeting time we have and has also allowed me to review team member status at a time that is convenient for me. It also allows colleagues the opportunity to see a red flag if they are blocking another person’s work or if they need to be prepared for a teammate taking time off when they may need to collaborate together.

I highly recommend adding Geekbot into your project management workflow.