There’s been a recent push for green technology. In June 2022, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act in an effort to decarbonize buildings by accelerating domestic production of green technology, like heat pumps and insulation. Heat pumps have been around for a long time, but, despite greater efficiency, adoption has been slow especially in underserved communities that would benefit most. In response, Code for Boston has partnered with Urban League to launch the Urban League Heat Pump Accelerator.
The Urban League Heat Pump Accelerator is aiming to ship a web application by October that would support the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts to use in the field when approaching households that may benefit the most from a heat pump installation. This support would be in the form of guided surveys, mapping support, and easier access to public records of the neighborhoods.
After officially launching in August, the Urban League Heat Pump Accelerator hit the ground running at full speed. In order to avoid straining the project and derailing its success, we were diligent in preparing to handle the challenges that large and fast teams can bring. These are steps we took in preparation for our project launch:
- Defining Partner Goals. In setting up the project, we spent time with the partner to define their needs and fully understand their goals. This enabled us to develop milestones to help us reach the desired outcome of our web application. It also allowed us to structure the team into subgroups, each with a specific goal they needed to achieve by each milestone. For example, our team has two major components: the data analysis and the web app. While the individual groups have differing milestones, they are both working toward a common predetermined goal.
- Volunteer Onboarding. An important part of preparing new volunteers for the launch of the project is making sure everyone is on the same page. This means preparing onboarding documentation that makes it easy for new volunteers to understand the project and begin contributing immediately. Components that are included in this are a background about the space the project is operating within, the tech stack that the project will be using, and the goals of the project. Additionally, in asynchronous projects it becomes useful to describe the workflow and the standard practices so everyone understands the expectations of collaboration.
- Defining communication systems. Following the preparation of the project prior to launch, we believe that setting up systems for communication during the first meeting is important. With large teams, finding people who are either experienced in a component of a project or an individual who is a strong communicator helps to make sure you can guide all the facets of the project and stay in the loop. They can also take ownership of individual roadmaps to achieve the milestones and the overarching project goals.
Having this communication allows for any project managers to take a step back and understand the bigger picture. This opens the door for project managers to facilitate cross collaboration and communication between different teams and to minimize divergence from the central goal of the project across the different teams.
Preparation and communication is key for big teams and fast projects! When doing so, consider the following:
Have alignment on the project goals and the intended outcomes with the project’s partner or key stakeholders to set milestones for the project
Prepare digestible onboarding documentation so new volunteers can join seamlessly
Have clear lines of communication
Find leaders within teams who have experience or are good communicators
Keep an eye on cross collaboration to minimize divergence across teams within a project