Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rolling Your Own Team Roles

Roles are a huge part of work life.  They come under more than a few headings, including: 
  • Security roles (mainly for networks and key cards)
  • Process roles (e.g. specified by ITIL, Scrum, Lean or Prince2)
  • And especially, general business roles
Examples of common roles include:

Unfortunately, however, there is no real standard for defining roles.  And the many processes that specify roles typically leave the details up to the reader.  

Even methodologies like Scrum and Prince2 that rely heavily on very specific business roles don’t say much about how to implement and organize them.

Unlike other tools, MetaTeam makes a focus of using business roles as a scaffolding for more effective team organization. 

MetaTeam gives you a way to manage the information, assignments and interrelationships that help make roles valuable. And rather than adding overhead, we think MetaTeam does all that with a light touch.

How does MetaTeam pull this off?  And how can you?

Read on for screenshots and a PDF cheat sheet!

What is a role?

Let's define a role as a specific function carried out by a person within a team.  

There are formal roles, semi-formal roles and informal roles.  Some roles map to job description, some don’t.  Others are defined by the wider organization, but many aren’t. 

In short, there’s a lot of diversity to roles. And the differences are good. Formal and informal roles and responsibilities roll up into a complete understanding of how work gets done.

What goes into specifying a role?

Defining a role means giving a practical, and hopefully complete, description of it. 

As your team makes progress its roles will typically include more and more information.  This is a good thing.  When team members add more information to their roles it helps them do better work and the team keep better records.  

Here are the basic elements of a good role definition, as we see it. Obviously opinions will vary to some degree, but we think this is a good starting point.

The must haves: 
  • Name
  • A detailed description
  • The dates (a start date anyway)
  • Assignees, if any

The part you fill in over time: 
  • Responsibilities, 
  • RACI levels and %s to show how responsibility is shared across roles
  • Todos (a.k.a. goals) and tasks
  • Skill requirements
  • An understanding of hours of work required and/or number of individuals
  • Collaborative information in the form of discussion, lists, files, etc.

Ok, put it together for me! 

Creating a new role is straightforward.  Log into MetaTeam and select the team you want to work in on your My Teams page. Then click the Roles button in the top nav.

The Roles tab opens with a list of all your teams roles.

MetaTeam creates three default roles for every team: Admin, Leader and Sponsor.  You can delete or rename any of these.

Before you do, however, the Admin role is exactly what it sounds like: it grants members the ability to manage all items created in the team.  (Essentially the same power as the team creator has).  So you may not want to delete Admin.

In any case, to create a new role, click the Add link at the bottom left.  (The Add link is the plus icon).

When the New Role form opens you only see fields for name and description.  But check the "Show more" checkbox at the bottom and you will begin to see how much more MetaTeam has to offer.

But this add form is far from including everything you can do with roles and responsibilities in MetaTeam.

To give you a fuller sense, we created a simple roles and responsibilities cheat-sheet (.pdf) highlighting where all the role definition information goes.

In the PDF's screenshot you can see that we are looking at a well-setup team. If you are starting from scratch you may want to create the example Intranet Team in your account.

Also, if your team happens to use a different term like "function", rather than "role", you can easily change the word MetaTeam uses.

After you you have created your roles, you can switch over to the matrix views to assign members and responsibilities.

Quick and easy!  And now you're off and rolling towards more organized team roles.

After looking at the roles cheat-sheet, I think you will agree, MetaTeam is an outstanding way to define roles and responsibilities.

Once you have sketched out your team's roles you have all the tools to create an effective organizational structure.

Take a look at what MetaTeam offers and let us know what you think!

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