Pulse meetings have become a natural part of the work in many companies; a group of people meet for 10-15 minutes standing in front of a pulse board (whiteboard) to discuss the current situation and what needs to be done during the day. At a pulse meeting, a dynamic is created in the teams which, with the help of the visual information on the pulse board, creates a common understanding of the current situation and how the team should proceed.
Pulse meetings have proven to be superior to traditional meetings, thanks to the visual information on the pulse board and that they are conducted every day. But how is a pulse meeting conducted when one or more participants work remotely?
We need digital technology to conduct pulse meetings remotely, and the equipment must help us achieve the same effect as in a regular pulse meeting; create an effective dialogue in the team.
This is how the Cyber Pulse Board works, which we at Parmatur have tried out.
In the pulse room, we use a combination of a large digital touch screen and a PC with MS Teams for the video meeting. On the touch screen, we upload the goals and plans that create an overview during the pulse meeting. Digital post-its and magnets are also generated there. In MS Teams, we add documents such as activity plans, decision log and problem logs that everyone writes in.
Participants working remotely use a PC with an app that can synchronize with the content on the touch screen. They also use MS Teams to see the other participants and to write in the documents.
Cyber Pulse Meetings in a Pulse Room
A central part of making a pulse meeting work is to visualize essential and updated information. In Parmatur Pulse, we have developed methods and layouts for plans and pulse boards that are needed when working with strategy and development. These methods are based on a combination of a predetermined structure and the flexibility that comes with a whiteboard. It is easy to add information and create a way of working adapted to the situation.
There are many IT systems that handle tasks digitally. They are often based on a kanban window, or as we call it an activity window. But the overview and flexibility disappear in these solutions. These systems will be tools for a traditional bureaucratic division of labor rather than the agile approach we strive for, which strengthens dialogue and problem-solving ability in the teams. Our view is that there is a risk of focusing on tools and process rather than individuals and the interaction we want to achieve.
We recommend FlatFrog Boards that work with touch screens (“digital whiteboards”) with InGlass technology. One such touch screen is the 55 inch Samsung Flip. There are screens up to 90 inches with InGlass technology from different manufacturers. To be able to run FlatFrog Boards, you need a Windows 10 computer with an HDMI connector. FlatFrog Board is downloaded from FlatFrog’s website. Note that a license is required to run the program after a trial period.
The FlatFrog Board creates a digital Cyber Pulse Board where you can upload documents and use digital magnets and post-its. Documents in jpg-format are uploaded and placed in a convenient place on the screen. The documents can be scaled up and down without any problems.
On the Cyber Pulse Board, we use red, yellow and green symbols in the same way as red, yellow and green magnets are used on a pulse board. Post-its are also digital. You can write on these digital notes and you can move them in the same way as real ones on a whiteboard.
In the picture above, we have uploaded two documents (project goals and synchronization plan) for a project. There are also templates for risk plan and activity window. There are two post-its on the risk plan with current risks. The synchronization plan contains green and yellow magnets that show completed and ongoing sub-results. The activity window contains post-its that shows the flow of work in progress.
You can add more pages on the Cyber Pulse Board, which is an advantage over a regular pulse board. One way to use this is to place project goals, synchronization plan and risks on separate pages so that they can be easily enlarged.
In Pulse, the participants write in activity plans, problem log and decision log during the pulse meetings. These are then placed on the pulse board. At digital pulse meetings, we share the documents via, for example, MS Teams.
The project manager can have his own team in MS Teams, or be part of a team for the whole site. Each project has a channel. In the Files tab, activity plans, risk plan, resource plan, decision log and problem log are added. All project participants are invited as members so they can write in the documents. During a digital pulse meeting, several people can write in a document at the same time. In this way, a Cyber Pulse meeting can become self-documenting in the same way as a regular pulse meeting.
Participate in Cyber Pulse Meetings on Distance
The digital Cyber Pulse Board is used in the pulse room. Those who work remotely connect via app.flatfrog.com in their browser.
People who participate remotely should divide their screen into three windows. In the first window, they have MS Teams and the documents they work with, such as an activity plan. In window number two, they have app.flatfrog.com that shows the touch screen from the pulse room. And in the third window there is the video meeting.
Cyber Pulse Meetings Between Two Pulse Rooms
In the same way that you can connect a digital touch screen in a pulse room with participants working remotely, it is also possible to link several digital touch screens in different pulse rooms. It is thus possible to have development offices on many locations and link them together via Cyber Pulse meetings.
Conduct a Cyber Pulse Meeting
A Cyber Pulse meeting follows the same agenda as a regular pulse meeting. Pulse meetings in projects are held daily, with the exception of critical periods when pulse meetings may need to be held several times a day.
Before the meeting, the project manager starts the touch screen and his project. Once the project has been uploaded, a meeting identity will appear on the screen. This is handed out by the project manager via MS Teams to the participants a few minutes before the meeting starts.
The project manager also starts up a video meeting and makes sure that everyone can connect.
1. What is done?
The project manager lets one participant at a time tell what activities they have completed since the last meeting.
The participants tell the team what has been done and at the same time move the post-its from In Progress to Done. If the person is in the pulse room, the digital note is moved on the touch screen. If the person is sitting at a PC, the note is moved via app.flatfrog.com. The changes made on the touch screen are reflected to those who participate via app.flatfrog.com and vice versa.
2. Any problems?
The project manager asks what problems have been encountered.
Those who have encountered problems put these as red notes in the Inbox. They can do this via the touch screen or via the app on a PC. The project manager can choose to document these problems directly in the problem log in MS Teams, or wait until after the pulse meeting.
For each problem, the project team have a short discussion about what activities are needed to deal with the problem. These activities are written on red notes and placed in To Do. The activities are also documented in an activity plan. This should be done immediately.
3. What is the next step?
This is a preparation for the last step where everyone chooses activities to work on until the next pulse meeting.
The team discusses which activities should be selected from the activity plans. Selected activities are written on digital post-its and moved to To Do. The digital notes can be generated on the touch screen or at a PC via the app.
4. Who will do what?
The project manager lets the participants choose activities from To Do to work with until the next pulse meeting.
The participants in the pulse room write their name with the pen that belongs to the touch screen and move the note they have selected to In Progress. Those who work remotely move the note on their PC and put their name there by dragging the slider or writing their name.
After a Cyber Pulse Meeting
After the Cyber Pulse meeting, the project manager saves the content on the Cyber Pulse board. Either in the same file as before, or under a new name (for example project name + date). The project manager also documents new problems in the problem log and decisions in the decision log, if this has not already been done during the meeting.
Digital pulse meetings with the help of digital technology involve some extra work. To minimize extra cost, the projects should establish their way of working with routines that make the meetings as efficient as possible. For example, can starting a Cyber Pulse meeting take a lot of time if the routines are unclear and the participant unprepared.
Finally, I would like to remind you of the agile principles that state that we value individuals and interaction before tools and processes. The tools and routines we use in Cyber Pulse meetings will help people in their work and strengthen the collaboration within the team.