VCS Commit emails are good!
I am currently working on a small project with one or two other people. We don't sit in the same office (or, right now, on the same continent or in the same timezone).
Every time something is committed into our version control system (Subversion), everyone on the team gets an email. This lists:
- The files which have been changed (or added or deleted)
- The commit log message, i.e. written by the programmer, explaining what the commit represents
- A "diff" of all the files which have been changed
I read all these emails, and it's really great to get a feeling for what's going on in the project. It's one extra communication medium, on top of the normal email, IM, telephone, wiki, task lists, and so on.
I don't know how this would work in a larger team, but for our small team it works perfectly.
My father once told me a story about a boss of some company he had worked at, who read all the faxes which went out and came in to his company. He said that was the only real way to actually find out what was going on in the company. Reading commit logs is similar!
I know a lot of times people omit information because they assume you already know, or they just forget. When I look back at communication failures on projects I've worked on, a number of them wouldn't have occured if a similar system had been in place.