For the last couple of years PIU have been using a visual management board to communicate project/workshop progression to one another and any visitors to our office. It has been changed, revised and updated many times, particularly recently.
What does our visual management board include?
A visual management (VM) board is a useful way to represent work that is being done by a team. The standard process for our projects, workshops and training is on the board on the left hand side. Each project/workshop or training session is then represented by a pin that we move along the process when each stage is completed. This allows the whole team to know at what stage each project is e.g. scoping, planning, event or review and what actions the team needs to take, in order to progress the work. We have found this extremely helpful, particularly recently as the dynamic of the unit has changed. We do not all work full-time and a proportion of the team is often out running workshops or events so the board allows everyone to know the status of any of our work when team catch-ups are difficult. We use the whiteboard on the right hand side to record any actions that team members are required to do, supplies that the team needs and record any achievements throughout the year. There is also a section on this whiteboard that encourages the team to discuss any concerns they may have e.g. around a specific project.
What are the key benefits?
- Improved communication between team members
- Shared understanding of work progression
- Consistent communication of work progression outside of PIU
- Helps ensure we follow our standard process
- Ability to recognise and raise problems and concerns
15min ‘board meeting’
We try every day to have a 15min meeting around the board. During this meeting we go through all the current and potential projects/workshops, updating one another on any changes. We then go through each stage of the whiteboard to discuss and update one another on new and existing actions/concerns. We have found that the VM board gives greater structure to this meeting and useful prompt for discussion points.
What have we learnt?
Use Colour - Each team member has their own colour, in which the projects/workshops and actions they are responsible for are written in. I find this particularly helpful as it allows me to scan the board when I come into the office to see if there are any new tasks I need to do. We also use colours to represent the status of a project e.g green - no concerns, amber - some concerns or risks to the project, red - very concerned, project is at risk.
Dividing the board - Clearly dividing the board into useful topics for the team makes the information easier to identify and allows greater structure to team meetings.
Display only what is useful - There is no point including something on the VM board that is not useful or of interest to the team as it will only take up time and space. We have therefore found it important to continuously revise what our VW board includes in order to make sure that we are not missing any important topics or including information that is of no use.
Involve everyone- It is extremely important that the whole team feels empowered to use and update the board. At each 15min meeting we take it in turns to either lead or scribe for the meeting this helps to ensure it does not become just one person's territory.
If you would like to come and have a look at the PIU VM board or discuss how you might use one in your own work areas just get in touch!