the earlier days
Back when we were still working at the office, it was easy to just walk over and ask a question to our team member. As a Scrum Master, I can spot when someone was asking the team to work on something we didn’t plan and do something about it right away. This is the “protecting the team” part.
I was tempted to say that we didn’t need other communication tools as long as we were co-located.
That’s not quite true though. There are many other times, I have to admit, when having the chat & videoconferencing tool proved to be useful and necessary. Think about all those times when it was just impossible to find a meeting room available that fits the size of number of participants, that had a projector/monitor, and at a time when everyone was available. You’re probably nodding to that. Thank goodness for videoconferencing tools when that happens.
Don’t forget all those jokes the team sends to each other over chat, it just doesn’t have the same effect if spoken out loud 🙂
Applications are changing at a fast pace, one new feature appears after another… which in our field is actually normal (Not mentioning all the bugs increasing as well).
I used Slack in previous companies but I don’t think the features were that advanced or all features enabled by the companies at that time. What I liked was the integration with Jira where a notification is sent directly to Slack when an issue was modified. When you want QA to be notified that a user story was Ready for Testing by changing the issue status, then this was a good way to go about it. It saved the Dev from doing twice the work, which was chatting with QA to say that the story was ready and then changing the story status. I definitely preferred this over email notification. Some of you might have just disabled Jira email notification. I totally get you.
It was also nice having different themes to choose from, some were more “eye-friendly” than others. Another good thing about Slack was that I could easily install it on my phone without requiring all the vpn software that Teams can require. You’re probably thinking why I would need that since Slack is installed on my pc. Well, I’ve found myself checking for messages on my phone and able to answer questions while waiting for an appointment, or taking the train. So I got a head start!
A few things I hope is now available in Slack is videoconferencing capabilities and allowing to add people in a normal conversation and not just in a channel, that was a bummer for me.
webex, google meet
In the past, I used Cisco Webex and Google Meet for videoconferencing capabilities. They worked fine, we were able to share our screens and heard each other pretty well but at that time there was no whiteboard, no breakout rooms, so nothing more special to say. One downside I found at that time was that as the host, I was the only one to open the meeting. This is quite cumbersome if I was unable to open the meeting.
I am now working everyday with Teams. I initially cringed based on past experience but it turns out Microsoft has been improving it.
With Teams, I can start a chat with a few people and easily add people to the chat while specifying if you want to share the previous chat history. Not a big deal you say? Well, we had a situation where we were trying to figure out why a deployment didn’t work. We only had a few people initially in the call. As we progressed in our investigation we realized we needed other people in to join our conversation. At that point, we opened a video call (with a simple click) so we can understand each other faster and better. Adding people to the video call was easy as well. I really appreciated this with Teams, it was a feature I wanted when I was working with other applications in the past. (By the way, I don’t work for Teams nor is an affiliate in case you were wondering).
As a Scrum Master of multiple teams where many applications depend on ours, I have to talk with many different people. They have many questions, and I don’t always have the answer on the spot. A neat feature I found that helped me on this is the “Save message”. This easily saved the conversation that I knew I needed to get back to. The other option is also to pin the chat, but there is a limitation of 15 chats.
Each Teams meeting is unique. Initially I thought this wasn’t practical but when I realized that sometimes I didn’t need to be in that meeting and anyone can just start the meeting, I changed my mind. The Daily Scrum can be started without me (I was in an urgent meeting) and the daily went on as it should. Remember, the Scrum Master isn’t actually mandatory there.
I had a team building activity and finally got to try out the Breakout session. This is niiiiiiice!! It worked really well. Let me know if you want me to do a blog of the activity I did.
I haven’t used much the whiteboard feature of Teams since I find Mural to be quite effective, more on that another time.
What about you, what is your favorite chat/video tool?