"Remote" is the magic word! - How to successfully manage projects from home office in times of Corona.
One of the central tasks in project management is to make complexity manageable. Transparency, communication and rhythm help to achieve this. And just when a virus seems to drive complexity into immeasurable proportions, these three basic steps are essential.
On the one hand, it may almost be desirable to be able to work from home. On the other hand, there are a number of challenges to be mastered in this setting, especially in project management. What is the point of a project if all project members - whether on the customer or service provider side - can only work together online?
Trust is good - transparency, communication and rhythm are better!
Fundamental trust is certainly a prerequisite for any kind of cooperation, whether online or offline. In online communication, there are other challenges in addition to the technical ones, which are less or not at all relevant in real life:
- Different levels of experience of participants: Participants with a lot of online experience meet employees who rarely attend online meetings. Don't rely on the same level of experience in dealing with technology or online etiquette!
- Limited or intensified acoustics: Participants must rely primarily on acoustics that are different online than offline. Noises that are less significant in a meeting room can be quite disturbing, e.g. coughing. Unfortunately, conversations of the participants that you want to hear are often hampered by insufficient technology.
- Different expectations of the attendants: What is often annoying in offline meetings can lead to even more misunderstandings and frustration in the protection of the home office.
Meet these special challenges by creating security for collaboration through transparency, communication and rhythm. Regardless of whether you are dealing with classically managed projects or more agile project management, this triad does not mean a restriction in the scope of action, but rather meeting changes with a solid foundation on which to make decisions - even iterative ones.
What does that mean in detail - transparency, communication, rhythm?
Transparency helps in navigating the situation. To begin, break down the complexity. For an online meeting, as simple as it may sound, this means:
- Before each online meeting, create an agenda with clear times and responsibilities for each item.
- Keep the meeting on time so that the people involved can dial in and contribute according to the agenda. Appoint a time keeper, usually the moderator.
- Document resolutions and make them available to all participants in the minutes afterwards.
- Document tasks in a "List of Open Points", agree on target dates and responsible persons in the meeting for each task. Distribute the tasks to the appropriate persons responsible in the follow-up.
Communication helps to understand and involve people in the success of the project. Providing the right information at the right time to the right group of people not only promotes the commitment of those involved, but also avoids expensive adjustments at crucial points and prevents follow-up costs.
- Do not skimp on suitable technology to ensure stable acoustics. Take your time to evaluate which software is best suited for you depending on whether you want to invest in a complete collaboration platform such as MS TEAMS or whether slimmer online meeting platforms such as TeamViewer are sufficient.
- Establish rules of the game for communication and online etiquette:
- The moderator introduces all online participants at the beginning, including those who may be sitting in the room with him/her.
- Let the other participants finish speaking in the online meeting. Confusion Talking online is even worse than offline!
- Set participants to mute ("mute") their microphone when they are not speaking.
- Make sure everyone turns on their camera during the meeting.
- Discuss topics that only concern one person bilaterally, preferably over the phone afterwards.
- Optional: set up a WhatsApp group to support social interaction within the team.
Rhythm creates structure and thus security. Man is a creature of habit, as the saying goes. Change means more energy expenditure for our brain! If online meetings become a recurring routine, we perceive them as an anchor in the uncertain project business.
- Find a suitable rhythm for discussing the topics. If participants are increasingly absent from meetings, discuss the meeting schedule again. In agile settings, rely on daily calls.
- Do not sacrifice the credibility of the platform by badly planned agendas. Rhythm does not mean that everyone always has to come, only that the meeting takes place regularly. Invite only relevant people according to the agenda.
- Put topics on resubmission in your "List of Open Points". A look at project schedules helps to identify these recurring topics.
We wish you much success with our tips for your online meetings! Stay healthy!
If you have questions, we would love to help. We are happy to share our experience!