There’s no question that the way we did things last year cannot be the status quo way we do things this year. Or maybe even next year. Who knows how long this will go on and what long lasting effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our behaviors and business practices for the long term. That doesn’t mean we still can’t practice excellence and lead very successful projects either from the home or office or somewhere else… like the beach… as long as the person on the next towel over is 6 feet or more away from us.
I’ve compiled a list of 5 ways we can use best practices even better to successfully manage our projects and teams to excellence in project performance and deliver well for our now somewhat more uneasy and anxious clients in this climate of uncertainty. Let’s examine these five ways…
Communicate well and often. Communication is Job One for the project manager. And as many of us are working remotely and virtually we need to be better than ever at communicating effectively and efficiently. We need to be better listeners than ever before. That goes for everyone on both sides of the project and up and down the list of project team members and stakeholders. It’s “all in” when we are battling this type of bump in the road on projects as we are all going through unprecedented times. Remote work and remote project management is not for everyone and there are going to be project managers and project team members out there “learning as they go” on communication and how to work on remote projects. Communication will be the key to success.
Delegate tasks properly. When the landscape of a normal project has to change like this in times like this, it is extremely critical that the project manager be a very effective delegator of project assignments. You can’t just “assign” and move on. Knowing what you’re assigning and understanding and playing on everyone’s greatest areas of strengths will be a critical success ingredient. You can’t just toss out assignments as this is uncharted territory for many of us. And you must always followup with team members after assigning tasks. Always followup before it’s too late and deadlines become affected.
Know scope will change. Your project customer is going through the same issues you are and that your organization is going through. Lack of access to physical resources, and uncertainty of the workforce, uncertainty of the organizations real needs today, tomorrow and next month. Needs are changing – no one expected the coronavirus to affect the workforce like this and organizations like this or for this long. The project you are leading was probably conceived before the virus was even an issue… many big projects are planned out before the end of the previous fiscal year so that budgeting can be in place at the right time. Given all of that, be prepared to manage a project where the scope may be changing and requirements – especially some of the specific details – are going to change.
Anticipate the risks. Along with scope likely changing to some degree during the project, there can undoubtedly be other risks in this crazy virus-plagued world. Vendors may not be available to meet supply demands for project or final solution needs on a moment’s notice. Or they might not be in business at all or have the workforce ready to produce for your project needs. You may not have access to your entire team for the whole project or even the customer’s full team or subject matter experts (SMEs). The risks we must plan for right now on projects may be far different than the risks we are used to planning for under more normal circumstances. Anticipate a broader range – think outside the box during risk planning… you are going to realize issues on your projects that you never saw coming.
Be prepared to fully take the project reins. You have senior management and you have your team and you have your stakeholders. Under normal conditions you have these individuals down the hall in their offices or you know how to get in touch with them 24/7. They may or may not be readily available. What does that mean for you as the project lead? You may be making tough project decisions with no one available to bounce ideas off of and no time to delay those decisions till they are available. This not for the faint of heart, but project management never has been.
Summary / call for input
The coronavirus has drastically changed lives, buying behaviors, safety precautions and life priorities. No doubt about it. So, it seems logical that it would change the way we operate our businesses, interact with clients and manage our projects. When we are affected this much, it’s unavoidable that the way we manage and interact and lead projects would also change.
How about our readers? Have you been working remotely? How have you managed to remain effective and lead teams professionally and productively during this pandemic? Please share your thoughts and strategies.