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The SharpCloud Blog

The SharpCloud team share their insights into visual roadmapping, dynamic presentations and the project planning process

Meet SharpCloud for Workshops Pathfinder, Sarah Parry, from Chaucer Consulting

"With SharpCloud, your curiosity is instantly switched on. By default, you decide which bit of information you want to dig into, how you want to view the data, or where you want to go you within the story."

- Sarah Parry, Knowledge Manager, Chaucer

Sarah Parry

Sarah discusses how using SharpCloud for knowledge capture workshops is digitising the project retrospective process at Chaucer, making it more efficient.

A project retrospective is an interactive meeting in which project team members review a completed project and learn from both the successes and failures, so the team and organisation can improve how they work going forward and incorporate the successes and improvements in future iterations or projects.

Business Problem to be solved

Knowledge capture workshops have always been carried out face to face and via the phone, with the team working together on a project or assignment, to look back at what went well, what they would do differently, and lessons learnt along the way. This involved lots of post it notes on the wall, writing up these notes, creating an action log and embedding the lessons learnt, going forward. A lot of work was involved in creating the report and getting it back to the team, which was both time consuming and 20th century. Even then, it was hard to get traction with the team – people went back to their day job and forgot about what had been discussed.

A colleague suggested using SharpCloud for the knowledge capture workshops, which was an immediate easy switch from post it notes to 'items' in a story.

How SharpCloud is solving the problem

With SharpCloud, the workshop can be run remotely with attendees in the room or dialling in remotely. We have a virtual whiteboard so everyone can get involved no matter their location or time zone. This alone has a time and cost saving as no unnecessary travel is required and workshops are easier to schedule.

When setting up the workshop, I can invite participants to the SharpCloud story in advance, so they can start to think about the workshop topic and more importantly, what they want to say about the project and their conclusions. The presentation I have built into the story explains the workshop process to help participants get ready and plan for it. This is a much more efficient use of their time, and mine, on the day. This presentation also doubles as a great demo for our consultants to show clients how they can use SharpCloud for workshops too.

Workshops are now run with 50 plus ideas and lessons learnt, captured and categorised, and actions logged to be completed by whom and when, all within SharpCloud. Working with 'Forms' in SharpCloud means people can add their items (ideas) to the story easily and quickly at the workshop. Once in SharpCloud, the ideas, lessons and actions can be presented in various views and shared with all those involved – wherever they happen to be.

The story contains pre-set views which can display a set of ideas within a particular category, with specific attributes given to them. That sort of detail cannot be achieved as efficiently with post it notes. The workshop process has become less about 'can you read what’s on the post it notes', and more about the value added conversation. The flexibility of the workshop template allows the team to work in whichever way they prefer...either initial brainstorming to get loads of ideas generated, topic by topic, or idea by idea.

It's a quick win with SharpCloud – you do the workshop and it’s instantly done - the output of the workshop is the story. All the information, ideas and feedback are captured and there are no laborious reports to write up afterwards. Users can view and comment on workshop stories instantly, with no delay or manual processing impeding the ongoing creative process.

We can continue to use the story after the workshop to communicate, track the actions and follow up with the necessary individuals. It's a great way to collaborate around an ongoing project, and we can revisit the story regularly to add more lessons learnt. We’ve seen people interact with the story 5-10 days after the workshop, as fresh thoughts occur to them. Context and meaning is retained and can be further developed through relationships which associate items and reflect the inter-dependence of ideas and tasks.

Going Forward

We are now using SharpCloud for Enterprise and migrating our current stories into an Enterprise pack. This will allow us to look across all the stories (workshop outcomes) and have not just individual lessons learnt, from individual projects, but enable us to view the common problems and themes coming out across multiple projects and within different teams. This gives us greater insight across the portfolio of projects and enables us to make the necessary interventions, such as provide training or change teams, to ensure the success of future projects. 

The value of this use case has been enhanced by SharpCloud. When people undertake these kind of retrospectives, it’s the insight that comes out of them which is very valuable to the team and the client. Using SharpCloud for workshops is improving transparency across the business.

What makes SharpCloud unique?

  1. Forms – specifically for workshops, Forms are such a quick and easy way to submit an idea. Working with Forms in SharpCloud means people can add their items (ideas) to the story easily, quickly and remotely if necessary. It's hard to run workshops via the phone, so Forms has really improved the process.
  2. External resources – items can be augmented with supporting information, reference links, related documents and so forth. Being able to connect or link out to other resources is a huge advantage. 
  3. Viewing the data in so many different ways eg. timeline, actions open and complete, relationships etc, brings the data to life versus Excel spreadsheets. Actions can be viewed in multiple dimensions.
  4. Visualisation is engaging and instant. I really like the visual aspect.
  5. Drill down for more detailed information and resources where needed.

Benefits  

The workshop can be run virtually which means we can do more of them and more quickly, and with a geographically dispersed team, location or distance is no longer a barrier. Equally everyone can still participate and contribute to the story after the workshop has ended. SharpCloud has helped to bridge the distance, saving time and money. 

It's still always good to have people in the room, and SharpCloud on a touch screen is great, interactive and perfect for getting people to participate more and remain interested and engaged throughout the process.

You can skip through a powerpoint presentation without engaging your brain, whereas with SharpCloud your curiosity is instantly switched on. You can adapt as you go through the story and change direction easily if you want to see a different view. By default, with SharpCloud you decide where you want to go, how you want to view the data, which bit of information you want to dig into. It switches your brain on. 


 Headline consulting partner, Chaucer specialise in digital transformation and programme management, delivering technology and data driven change. With expertise spanning consulting, life sciences and digital, Chaucer can help you to use SharpCloud to plan, visualise and implement strategic change in your organisation. 

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