Why Email is ineffective for Agile communication
One of the principles behind the Agile Manifesto is using an efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team (the best way being a face-to-face conversation). The following points reveal why email is ineffective for productivity as well as a big source of frustration.
The average worker will receive 122 of those emails each day, of which less than half will contain relevant information. When people are bombarded with all of this superfluous information, they simply bulk delete or skim through, missing important information that is buried. The sheer number of messages we receive leads to the most important ones getting lost, deleted, or forgotten. In addition, people are easily frustrated when their workload becomes overwhelming. Just one email can prove highly distracting. Just consider all of the newsletters and blogs to which you’ve subscribed. Reading through a single one can consume an inordinate amount of time, distracting you from the task at hand. In fact, studies show that after reading an email it can take up to twenty-five minutes to refocus on the work you were originally doing.
The McKinsey Global Institute found that the average employee spends 13 hours a week checking, reading and responding to emails— eating up 28% of the work week. With less than half of emails deserving attention and many going unread, this is a lot of wasted time. On top of this, simply getting back to work after answering an email takes an average of 64 seconds. This enormously decreases productivity.
Not Made for Collaboration
Email was not designed to be a collaboration tool. From managing projects to troubleshooting a problem, neverending email threads become inefficient, confusing, and bad for productivity. With many collaboration and project management products available, email should never be the place you turn in order to stay on top of tasks and projects.
With email, there is little accountability. There no way of knowing if people have read an important update and anything can be chalked up to, “Oh, I didn’t get that email.”
Emails don’t support engagement
Email lacks the easy user experience of social commenting and as soon as more people join a conversation it becomes confusing (Email hardly ever stays on topic).
Email does not facilitate continuous feedback
People need feedback. Consistently. Top-down (as well as peer-to-peer) communication is essential for keeping this loop running effectively. But giving regular feedback via email takes a lot of work.
In comparison, modern communication channels like document solutions with embedded commenting systems encourage interactive conversations between peers, while push messages allow to give better feedback in less time. Plus it can be targeted and sent “on the go.”
Ineffective Content Repository
We’ve established why email is ineffective for collaboration but it is also a poor repository for company knowledge. Searching your inbox is always a headache. You rack your brain for a keyword or who sent the email or worse what date it was received. There is simply no way to remember all of that detail when your inbox is clogged up with hundreds of emails.
Secondly Email content is scattered and has no guardian. When people leave or get assigned into another position parts of the truth get lost.
Based on the above Email is ineffective for Agile communication. For an agile drive to succeed, it’s crucial to take a strategic approach using a solution that effectively connects teams in real time so they can collaborate, get answers and share information in an efficient and effective manner. Even more, we must ensure communication is unlocked to all levels of the organisation.
Personally I favour the Atlassian suite to structure project communication but you can use any collaboration platform that meets your needs.