19 Feb Project plan for project planning in 2021 – Getting things done during and post-COVID-19
If there is one thing we’ve learnt (at the height of a pandemic), it is that with the right communication plan and tools, teams can stay on track to deliver projects. In this article we look at communication methods that have enabled us to do just that.
As we navigate through another year in the workplace ‘unusual’, the need to change will still be hulking at our side. Not only can we expect it to influence the way we conduct business and interact with clients and stakeholders, but also the way in which we interact within our own organisations.
The world of Project Management is no exception to this need for change. To conquer new and future challenges, we need to equip ourselves with the best tools available while applying proven Project Management strategies to reach our goals amid social distancing and remote meetings.
A certainty is the shift of focus within organisations from physical interaction and spaces towards virtualised environments. Cloud based communication and workflow management have become essential, but managing it has proven to be an invaluable skill within the workforce.
A plethora of cloud-based and hosted communications platforms have come to the fore in this time of remote meetings. Some teething issues have narrowed the field to a few trusted options with features and benefits to each. Here are a few examples of proven platforms:
- Microsoft Teams (Best for larger organisations)
- Zoom (Best for Small Businesses and Consumers)
- GoToMeeting (Best for SMB’s with Standalone Needs)
Naturally, with social distancing guidelines and personal fears surrounding in-person gatherings, the above tools have proven invaluable in ensuring the continuation of productivity without endangering the health of colleagues. With the many options and varied features available, finding the right one that enables your projects to run smoothly will take some homework in matching your needs to available services. Investing a bit of time and research upfront can help with significant implementation frustrations later on in the year.
With physical workspaces, one-on-one meetings and boardrooms being sidelined along with the trusted project board, having a central location to track project objectives, budget management and generate reports has become increasingly difficult without the use of online collaboration tools and project orientated solutions.
The top performers that have continued to prove effective over their contemporaries are outlined by Project-Management.com as the following:
- Wrike (Widely used and award-winning as a field leader)
- Monday.com (Proven to easily facilitate remote project delivery with easy onboarding)
- AceProject (Versatile and flexible for anything from individual projects to organisation-wide undertaking, and cloud based for easy access regardless of infrastructure)
Your skills and abilities as a Project Manager to dismantle goals at all levels into smaller tasks can be tracked and applied to creating a comprehensive and concise Project Management Communication Plan. The aim of having a Communication Plan is to define the methods and processes by which your stakeholders will be kept up to date with important information pertinent to them, while minimising unnecessary communication where possible.
Your Project Communication Plan should identify the following:
- What is the goal of your Communication Plan?
- Who are your stakeholders?
- What are their roles?
- What types of feedback should they receive?
- How regularly do they want to receive feedback?
- What is your most effective Communication Method?
- Identify the most effective methods as well as the appropriate frequencies / intervals to engage with specific stakeholders
- Test these methods by running delivery dipsticks to ensure that the comms pieces were successfully communicated/delivered and that the key messaging was understood as well
- How will you protect sensitive information?
As with all projects, changes are inevitable, and projects evolve or are subject to scope creep. Your Communication Plan will need to evolve alongside it. It is when changes are implemented that your Communication Plan is relied most heavily on.
An effective Communication Plan that is executed well is proven to motivate team members, keep all stakeholders aware of deadlines and assures all involved that they are not isolated in their tasks and that there is continued overall momentum on the project at hand.
In talking about Social Responsibilities after COVID-19, Dr. Karen M. Thompson, a Senior Academic and member of the Environment and Threats Strategic Research Group at Bournemouth University states:
“Possibly the only certainties at present are that no-one knows what the world will be like after COVID-19 nor when ‘after’ will be. The present disaster has already brought unprecedented economic and social impacts to many parts of the world and it is not yet clear how Project Management will adapt once the recovery and rebuilding phase begins. It seems likely there will be many projects and high demand for project professionals that may exceed supply.”
Reference: Insights Report – Project Management After Covid-19
(www.pmworldjournal.com Vol. IX, Issue V – May 2020)
It would seem self-evident that the coming need for a revitalisation of industry and economy will call on Project Professionals and their tools to tip the scales back in favour of progress. Change has been thrust upon us and Project Management will need to continue to adapt to keep our organisations on track.
Only time will tell how the new normal will shape the way we conduct business, and the changes that will help see us through to the other side.