Secret ingredients to quality software


Rules to Better Communication

7 Rules

  1. Communication - Do you know the best chat tools for your employees?

    There are many tools used to communicate and collaborate online. The most efficient platforms for chats and calls are:

    We think Yammer could soon be decommissioned to reduce confusion.

    In China:

  2. Communication - Do you know the options for remote meetings?

    The de facto approach of communicating via group emails and sharing files via a patchwork of different services is difficult, with the potential for missed messages and files.

    At SSW, we use Microsoft Teams for our company meetings and for our internal communication. Microsoft Teams is designed to provide an easier way for small groups of people to communicate and collaborate.

    Microsoft Teams' winning feature is its tight integration with Office services and Groups, which allows users to seamlessly and securely switch between editing documents, shared dashboards and planners, and group chat, video and voice calls. The simplicity of just setting up a Team and having access to all these shared services — without the need to spend hours configuring them is part of what Microsoft sees as Teams' selling point. Teams integration with email also allows messages sent to a designated Team address to be copied to a conversation in Teams.

    What are the options?

    Zoom – is the leader in modern enterprise video communication, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference room solution used around the world in board, conference, huddle, and training rooms, as well as executive offices and classrooms.

    Microsoft Teams – Microsoft Teams came along and boasted some of the features that Skype for Business offered – predominantly persistent chat, instant messaging, individual and group voice/video calls, and scheduled meetings.

    Skype – an instant messaging app that provides online text messages and video chat services. Users may transmit both text and video messages and may exchange digital documents such as images, text, and video.

    Skype for Business – a solid communication product boasting multiple modalities and the ability to easily switch between them, as well as share a variety of content forms (e.g., desktop, application, whiteboard, poll). skype chat

    Figure: Bad example - Numerous group chats with no group name and therefore no way of tracking previous chats/files

    Teams chat

    Figure: Good example - Figure showing all of the team members. This group chat can be used over and over for project discussions with all data in one place and integrated with SharePoint.

  3. Do you always call first before emailing?

    To prevent downtime while waiting for a response, when you are contact with your client or the topic in the email needs to be discussed immediately, you should always call first before emailing.

    Calling first can save valuable time versus waiting for someone to respond to your email, making you more productive. Calling first also saves time when discussing topics that are easier explained over the phone. (Do you seek clarification via the telephone first?)

    When you need to contact someone the steps you should take are:

    1. Ping them on Skype asking "Can I talk to you"
    2. Call them.
    3. If you do not get through, leave a voice message and send an email starting with “As per the voicemail I left for you…
    4. After talking with the person follow up with an email that begins with the words "As per our conversation"

    It is very unlikely a client will complain because you contact them too often but it is likely they will if you only ever email, so do not be afraid of calling first before emailing.

  4. Do you know how to share a file/folder in SharePoint?

    You often need to share links to a file or folder in SharePoint.

    You can select the folder (or file) and click on "Copy link" at the top bar to get the link:

    sharepoint cloud copy folder
    Figure: Getting URL from SharePoint top bar

    You can also right-click the folder/file to copy the link:

    sharepoint right click link
    Figure: Getting URL by right-clicking a file in SharePoint

    On previous versions, you can open the menu on ellipsis link and get it from there:

    sharepoint link
    Figure: Getting URL from SharePoint ellipsis menu

    Related Rule

  5. Do you know the importance of asking questions?

    A disproportionate amount of time is spent thinking about whether you got the right   answers  from the client (or in the software world "Did we get the right specs?"). However, asking the right questions is a very important part of this process.


    • The importance of questions
    • Curiosity based questions
    • Confirmation based questions
    • Asking questions is natural (by kids)
    • Tip 1: Choose the right time/avoid interrupting
    • Tip 2: Avoid waffling by asking v2 questions (avoid v1 questions + setup a backchannel)
    • Tip 3: Ask questions with added value
    • Tip 4: Ask open-ended questions (avoid yes/no questions)
    • Upselling - the side value of good questions
    • The Retro

    Tip: This video has timestamps and won't show here. The timestamps are only visible if you play this on the YouTube App or YouTube website.

  6. Do you know you should do a retrospective after an activity ends (a.k.a. Feedback)?

    Feedback is an important commodity to any professional who wants to improve their game.

    Notes you take during meetings, presentations, user group, etc., can serve you well as reminders of what happened during an activity. There will be things you like and things you do not.

    It is very important you write this down and discuss it with people in the room or with the presenter (if it was a presentation or user group). This will help everyone to understand what was good and what needs to improve.

    activity feedback
    Figure: Good Example - Danijel took notes during the FireBootCamp Gala Day presentation and sent them to Adam

  7. Do you know you should write notes when an activity is going?

    During meetings, there is a lot of communication between you and the client. It is very hard to keep the entire conversation in your head; hence it is very important you take notes. Notes must be short but descriptive enough so that you can remember what the conversation was all about and what tasks were created during the meeting. It is also very important that you use appropriate tools e.g. Microsoft OneNote, Trello, Microsoft Word, Notepad++ and avoid tools like Notepad.

    The best tool for taking notes will depend on what sort of activity you are doing. If you are making a straightforward document, OneNote will suffice. However, if the activity involves creating a lot of new tasks, it might be worth using Trello to take your notes. Trello allows for the creation of multiple lists (such as "To do", "In progress", and "Done") and has an easy drop and drag interface to reorganise work items as required. It also allows for comments on any item created, and you can tag people so they are associated with items. That way each new task can be created, organised and assigned immediately. You can invite team members and clients to the board so everyone is on the same page with regard to progress and outcomes.

    write notes bad
    Figure: Bad example – Notepad is not a good tool as it cannot recover your content in case of disaster

    write notes good
    Figure: Good example – Notes from the meeting with a client were written in OneNote

    trello for notetaking
    Figure: Good example – Notes from a conversation organising presenters for upcoming user groups. The sessions are listed in month order and the speakers have been tagged in their respective events.

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