It seems nowadays everyone is following the Scrum methodology. One of the tenets of Scrum is openness. The whole point of burndown charts and daily stand ups is to make the development more open. Scrum won’t magically fix all the weak links in your development methodology, but it will help you identify them quickly and accurately.
One of the most recognisable aspects of Scrum are the daily stand up meetings. In my experience though, I found them to be of limited value. But in my most recent project, even though we weren’t really following Scrum, we had a variation of the standups that I found tremendously useful. We called these “The Weekly Show and Tell”. It combined the best parts of Scrum standups with the quality control of peer reviews.
We had a small team of 4 developers and a Business analyst sequestered in a seperate room. We also had access to a projector and an empty wall to project onto. Basically, the show and tells were quick 10 minute screencasts/presentations of the work each team member has been doing for the week. The team member would hook the projector cable to their machine and demo the bits they had working so far. Since the audience was mostly developers, part of the demo could even be in visual studio. This allowed every team member to not only hear about the work in progress, but also see it with their own eyes and as we know, a picture is worth a thousand words. It also allowed each of the team members to make suggestions about features, code, architecture etc.
On the whole, I found this system to be very useful and productive and much more in line with the spirit of openness. Having a regular visual presentation of different aspects of the system builds a lot of familiarity with the whole system. It also allows everyone to solicit and provide more pertinent and high quality feedback. Like the Scrum stand up meetings, the users and execs were welcome to come to the Show and Tells to get an idea of how the project was progressing. Looking at the features on screen, even in their partly finished state, gave them a lot more confidence about the project and understand any challenges we might be facing. Some of these things would be very hard to communicate in stand ups or through status reports.
So, my suggestion is to try the weekly Show and Tells in your next project and let me know how it works out for you.