COVID-19 has brought unprecedented disruption to just about every aspect of our lives. While some companies are shutting their doors, the rest of us are lucky enough to have projects that are still progressing or new projects arising as we respond to changing needs. While the work we do largely remains the same, the ways in which we do the work have changed. Virus-related constraints are changing the way we can legally, and ethically, work. Physical distancing and visitor limits need to be considered. Our teams are more disturbed while working from home. Business travel is a thing of the past, at least for now. We need to plan and work differently to deal with these challenges. This blog post will help you continue to manage successful projects in a COVID-19 world.
RULE 1: PREPARE FOR WORKING FROM HOME
Planning is key for all successful projects and you should consider working from home as a new project for your organisation. It is possible to work seamlessly from home, but you need to put the basics in place for a successful transition. You’ve probably been working with many of the tools you need that’s already with Microsoft Cloud and Office 365. Microsoft Teams is invaluable to keep in contact with everyone in your organisation. If you haven’t already, prioritise plans to roll-out these platforms across your entire organisation.
RULE 2: ALLOW FLEXIBLE WORKING ARRANGEMENTS
It’s not just that people are working from home, but they are working through a pandemic. These are unprecedented times which need an unprecedented way of working. Staff may be the sole income earner in their household. They may also be home-schooling children. It’s hard to find time to get to the store to buy essentials, especially during limited trading hours.
Being flexible is good for business; the alternative is team members taking an unrealistic amount of carers leave which slows delivery. Therefore, you need to allow flexibility for team members in when and how they work. At Sensei we support team members who need to go to the shops mid-morning to purchase the essentials that a household with small children needs. We have team members who need to look after small children, especially where the spouse is an essential worker and cannot share the load. Staff can still deliver, and will deliver more productively, if you let them work how and when they can. Be flexible and allow people to find their unique way of working during this time.
RULE 3: REMEMBER THAT FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS APPLIES TO TOOLS TOO
We put a lot of effort into making sure that everyone uses a consistent set of tools. That consistency is what PMO’s are all about, right? However now is not the time to force everyone into a tool if the team has found their own way to work. Focus on outcomes over output.
Living through the pandemic is a stressful time. If your staff have found their own way to deliver, it is best not to push them back into line and add extra stress to their lives. Rather focus your efforts into helping them and bringing their data together. O365 (now Microsoft 365) helps integrate multiple sources bringing you the consistency and the reporting you need without stifling the innovation of your staff.
RULE 4: ADJUST WORK PLANS AND TIMELINES
While the scope may be the same, based on the above considerations, you may need to adjust work plans and timelines. Further, working remotely may be a challenge for some. Others may have found they are more productive without the distractions of the office. Consider the nature of virtual work when creating estimates and plans – you may need to add more or less time depending on how your staff are finding remote work.
RULE 5: RESEQUENCE WORK TO REMOVE IDLE TIME
If your staff are working shifted hours, to deal with children at home or in remote schooling, sequencing is more important than ever. You need to sequence work so that other employees aren’t blocked by an incomplete piece of work by someone who isn’t online at the moment.
With virus-related constraints, we can’t get everyone in a room working together. The order in which work is done has suddenly become even more important. If you still have people working on site, you need to consider the sequence in which they are working to optimise productivity. Sequencing work is an essential process as it ensures the work is completed to an agreed standard before another (possibly remote) party continues it. Work that is ready may now need an additional planning stage to remodel your resources.
RULE 6: CAPACITY MODEL YOUR SPACE TO ADHERE TO PHYSICAL DISTANCING
Once you have planned and sequenced the work, you need to consider the physical space where it will be completed. While in the past you may have focused on the capacity of individual resources, you now need to also model the capacity of a site. In order to prevent transmission of COVID-19, we can only have one person every 2-meters squared. You may find yourself unsure of how to deal with this constraint, or what it practically means for your location.
Figuring out how to fill your site with resources can be difficult, and you may find that Excel is not sufficient to handle this task. Project Online can be used to capacity model your space. Within Empower PPM you can add a location as a resource and plan your work in sequence to fit within the capacity of the locations.
RULE 7: GIVE VENDORS ACCESS TO YOUR SYSTEMS
There is no reason why everything has to stop just because people are at home. If you haven’t already set up external access to your systems for vendors now is the time to do so. It is simple to give your vendors access to your systems using Microsoft Teams. By setting up private channels, you can restrict what they can see, and you don’t even need to buy them a license! Enabling everyone to work remotely has never been easier. We have shared some tips & tricks on how to use Microsoft Teams in an expert webinar series here.
While some organisations are still working on site, there are rules in place which restrict the number of visitors in an enclosed space. As a result, some businesses are not currently allowing contractors and vendors on site. This doesn’t have to slow you down. You just need to find a way of working together. We find many clients who are running agile projects with us move very easily into Microsoft Planner. Agile is the Sensei way and we can help you transition to online projects using the Microsoft Cloud. Get in touch with us today to find out how!
Stay connected with Sensei
Follow us on LinkedIn for a steady flow of fresh, engaging and insightful content on upcoming webinars, new release blog posts and thought leadership all within the project, portfolio & work management space.