Some organizations have been facing day-to-day challenges in project management during this COVID19 pandemic.
Especially when they forced to adopt remote work culture without any preliminary arrangements. Of course, the reasons are obvious.
And the situation could be worse if the organization is dealing with large projects, portfolios, or programs that include multiple teams.
However, Orangescrum has been happily practicing remotely for over 10 years. So, we cab say remote working culture was in our DNA way before the starring of this COVID pandemic.
With the right tool and following the right method, the organization can conquer the obstacles.
According to Global Workplace Analytics’ analysis of “2018 American Community Service (ACS) data, 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) currently, work-at-home half-time or more and regular work-at-home has grown 173% since 2005”.
Still, the ongoing crisis has brought many reality checks.
As it magnifies all those small issues and inefficiencies that we usually tolerate in our daily work:
- it can help recognize and understand what could be done better
- and it could provide the nudge we need to start solving them
- paving the way for tomorrow’s better
- more efficient project management strategy
It helps to understand and recognize what could be be done better
Remote project management issues… are no different from usual PM issues
Amidst this madly uncertain context, there are, at least, some familiar faces: your PPM problems.
Even if your team is now geographically spread, most of the issues you will encounter are the same old pain points you have been experiencing before.
Because guess what, even in the office, project managers, PMO, or program managers just can’t be on top of everything, all the time (unless they’ve got superpowers or something, and if so, doesn’t ever let them go).
Sure, you now have a physical barrier, but the issues will remain the same, you just have to learn how to manage them remotely.
The Enterprise Project Management Ethics
From our viewpoint, there are 3 keys to successful enterprise project management especially in the pandemic situation:
- Clear communication & collaboration
- Data centralization
- Efficient monitoring
Clear Communication & Collaboration
Without regular status meetings, without seeing colleagues every day in the office, the chance to ask or answer questions or to “just check in” doesn’t present itself as easily.
This is the opportunity to try and use other means of communication.
However, don’t compensate by sending 10,000 emails a day. This would defeat the purpose, and just frustrate your teams. The idea is to build virtual teams that feel connected and stay in touch regularly.
At Orangescrum, we have significantly reduced the number of internal emails. For simple questions, that do not require extensive answers, we use our chat. There is no point in sending an email if you can get an immediate response.
We are not very fond of incessant phone calls either, as the chat allows our colleagues to manage their time and respond at their own pace.
For regular meetings, use a simple video conferencing tool like Zoom, Skype, or even Google Hangouts (which is free). It recreates the atmosphere of the conference room, facilitates communication, and maintains the connection between team members that can easily feel isolated.
With constant communication, as a Project Manager, you’ll easily be able to identify and solve issues, which will enable you to meet your deadlines and deliver on time.
One of the biggest problems that our clients face is missing or unreliable data. Each team works on a different Excel sheet, so the primary need is to be able to collect and synchronize all these data.
With the current lockdown context, organizations have no other option than to centralize the information (communication, worksheets, reports, documents)
Without a centralized information system, there can no longer be proper project management.
The solution here is pretty simple: a Project & Portfolio Management tool.
The Project Manager should be able to log in and immediately see everything that is happening in real-time, and to track the progress of each project to ensure that everything goes as planned.
You could, of course, use collaboration tools like Google Drive, but if you don’t adopt organizational processes at the company level, you’ll still waste time looking for documents in the maze of individual project folders.
Keeping everything in a shared location ensures all team members know what they’re responsible for and what they need to work on.
No one can claim they haven’t seen task assignments or didn’t know something was due.
Just like with data centralization, the context forces us to monitor project status more closely. Most companies can’t afford extra costs, delays or missing resources that would translate into massive ROI loss throughout the year.
Even within a conducive economic context, a one-day delay could spell the loss of thousands of dollars.
More than ever, monitoring is key to efficient project management. With a good data centralization tool, you should be able to achieve efficient reporting.
Your monitoring and centralizing systems should be synchronized so that you get real-time information, enabling you to take immediate action when necessary.
Define your KPIs, build monitoring dashboards and make sure you can visualize them in real-time.
For instance, in Sciforma, each project can be tracked using a Health Score which gives each Project Manager, PMO Manager or stakeholder an idea of where the project stands at a specific time.
Make sure to set notifications and warnings for potential issues or risks.
A solution that sounded like a nice-to-have yesterday could actually be a life-saver for your company in 2020.
Don’t get this the wrong way: this implies that your team has the right technical equipment (computer, Internet connection, remote access to company software), that the work CAN be done remotely, and that the scope of work and responsibilities are clearly defined (for both team members and managers).
I am sure you will have a list of your own. But the ones listed above are the simplest of issues if attended to strategically can make a marked difference to your business.
It’s all about being proactive and taking a holistic view of your current practices, processes, operations vis. a vis. the market leader of your segment.
The whole game plan is about the end-to-end alignment across your departments and last-mile integration.
You cannot have different practices for different teams unless the business warrants it.
Other than that you will do just fine!