We often have a sink full of mugs, that everyone swears they didn’t leave. It seems we don’t really enjoy washing up at Createful, well not that kind anyway… We recently ‘washed up’ our website refresh project with Anglo-Continental and found it to be a very useful approach for reflecting on our work.

As individuals we are always learning from our own experiences, but we feel it’s just as important to learn from our team experiences. When our project with Anglo-Continental was coming to an end, we had two ‘wash up’ meetings. One internally, to celebrate what went well and raise points we would have liked to improve. Once we had this reflective meeting, we scheduled another with the Anglo-Continental team, where we shared our thoughts and listened to theirs. Here are 5 reasons why we will carry on doing the washing up and why you should too!

1. To celebrate success

At Createful we are all about celebrating success, we even have monthly meetings just for it! Our wash up meetings are positive. They’re not used as a chance to ‘point fingers’ and tell everyone what they could have done better. Everyone involved in the project gets the chance to share what they think went well. This can be something they did themselves, a co-worker did or a choice the team took together.

The positives are the most important part of this meeting; recognising these allows them to be repeated. By involving everyone, each view of the project is represented. We document these points on a whiteboard for everyone to see and later expand on them. This is also a great way to get an insight into what our clients like about the way we work. They may raise points which internally we were unsure about; the only way to find out what the client is thinking, is to ask! Before our meeting with Anglo-Continental we sent over a ‘Project Completion Questionnaire’, so we had a rough idea of what they wanted to discuss.

2. To make plans for future projects

If we could do something better, we want to know. Once these positives have been acknowledged, it is good to see how they can be carried on in the future. For instance, if creating ‘milestones’ for the client and team works well, we will do it again! Documenting positives is useful for the ‘discovery’ stage of a new project. Reflecting on what worked well and making sure these actions are included in the future makes creating project plans much easier.

Risks are an aspect of every project plan. They need to be considered and defined; without reflecting on previous projects, it’s very hard to predict what could be a risk. These meetings can be the ideal time to discover problems we may face.

3. To gather suggestions

These meetings allow the team and our clients to have their say. Sometimes people don’t speak up, or maybe there is no chance for suggestions to be shared. This can mean great ideas are missed!

‘Wash up’ meetings are the perfect time to give everyone a chance to have their input and say how they think the way we work as a company could be improved. When working on the Anglo-Continental project we often sent over digital designs through email. When reflecting on this process, it was suggested that instead we should present designs in person when possible. This has worked really well; designs and prototypes can be explained well in person and the feedback given in these sessions is always useful. This small change has improved our customer service and client engagement.

4. To improve

We are always looking for ways to improve how we work as a team and with our clients. The great thing is, everyone can take something away from these meetings. The whole point is to reflect and then improve the way we work. We find using a whiteboard to write down and display the points discussed works well as it gives everyone a reference. These sessions have given us a chance to create new ideas, which are often referred to in similar projects.

At Createful, we are very open to suggestions, which allows us to try new methods and try working in different ways. We are lucky enough to have a culture where everyone’s opinion counts and if someone has a suggestion, it rarely gets dismissed! Apart from office bees, sorry Becky…

5. To help time management

Time management is a big part of all projects. Were the estimated times accurate? What have we learned that could improve time management in the future? There is a chance to share how accurate the estimated time of completion was, or to discuss why the project was overtime and ultimately how to avoid this in the future.

We use Harvest to track time; this tool is helpful to look back on and evaluate where time was spent. By doing this we can give our clients more accurately estimated times and even give clients an insight into which tasks our time is spent on. This also helps when using Float, which is project management tool used to map out the team’s time. I use this system to plan who will be working on what in the upcoming weeks. This is flexible, but looking back at how long similar tasks took, helps estimates and therefore builds a valuable project plan.

Whilst on the topic of time management… we try to set an agreed amount of time for these meetings. This avoids the discussion going on all day and gives us a timeframe to aim for. We want to make sure everything is covered and everyone has their say. The aim for these meetings is to learn, to form action points and better ways to work in the future. Each project is different and there is always something new to learn.

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