How Yma Learns - Sow the Seeds

Julia Pirson
January 27, 2023

Yma had a busy year in 2022. We saw growth of the team, new projects, evaluations, facilitation work and our existing interactions continued apace. As we finished old projects and started new ones, we naturally carried over some of the things we had learnt into the new work. We became aware that while the main learning was retained, some of the smaller pieces of learning were being lost in the noise of a busy and agile office.

Introducing more project management processes and project reviews have already had an  impact on how we scope our projects, understanding how much time a project will  take, and how long we spend on engagement, so we thought we would share our  process with you in case it is of value in your organisation too.

This article is the first in a series of 3, delving into how Yma organises project work, collects learning, and then reviews it to grow our knowledge base as an organisation.

Chapter 1 – Sow the seeds for learning

Projects usually start with some kind of agreement between the customer and Yma. These often begin as casual conversations and evolve to a point where Yma is commissioned to produce a piece of work on a subject. At this scoping stage, Yma produces a Project Initiation Document which outlines what we are expecting to deliver, the scope of the project, expected timelines and customer details. This document acts as a guide to both Yma and our customer during the work to make sure we stay on target. Other documents we produce at this stage include a Gantt chart of the expected progress and a Risk Register.

While a project is running, the Yma team keeps a dedicated project management record. This contains all the information the team needs to run the project smoothly. Projects of different sizes/customers have differing governance needs, but in general, we would create the following:

Action log - to store, assign, and record actions for the project. Ideally one action is a single task, making the action log a real time indication of where the project is now and the priority for our next steps.

Learning Log – this is a place to store any learning items which crop up. For us this ranges from challenges engaging busy clinicians, to solving technical compatibility issues, personal learning points, and ideas for how we could try and do things next time.

Decisions Log – this log is a place to store a record of decisions taken in the project. This allows us to review the rationale behind the choices if needs be in the future. It can also be used as a change log if that is a requirement.

Engagement Record – nothing is worse than forgetting someone’s name. This record enables us to keep a note of who is involved in the project and in what capacity, and to make sure all the relevant people receive the information they need.

Risks and Issues Log – this is a place where we store information about any unforeseen risks to, or issues with the project. It develops our ability to predict risk more accurately in future projects and put mitigations in place earlier where necessary.  

Time - Team members keep a record of the number of hours they spend on a project. We all use different methods for recording this, some prefer paper and pen, I personally use Excel, and others use their calendars. There is no right or wrong method, the right method is the one you will actually use.

The next article in this series will look into how we prepare to "wash up" a project when it has been completed, using the information gathered during the work itself.

We are a young organisation, and we don’t always do things perfectly. If you have any suggestions, comments or would like to see the tools we use in more detail, please get in touch on Yma@dymani.cymru

 

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