Project Managers: Finding Structure in an Unstructured Pandemic

So here we are, over a year later and we’re still spending most of the week sharing the dining room table, or as it’s been temporarily named “the work space”, with our significant others, siblings, roommates or even our children’s math class. The previous notion of working from home being a luxury has certainly come and gone and the imperfections within our already established processes have come to light. 

Today, entrepreneurs and businesses are forced to create new processes to ensure efficiency within their organization. And with a remote workforce, this is even more important. 

The solution? Solid project management.

How has it changed?

Remember those convenient morning huddles when the team crowded around a large conference room table discussing the daily todos? You can kiss those days goodbye.

They have been replaced with a dozen GUESS WHO-like faces crammed onto an 18-inch screen where nobody can manage to unmute themselves when called upon.

How about the child-like way you used to push your computer chair over to the neighboring cubicle to get a quick status update on an assignment that is rapidly approaching its deadline?

Now it’s a Slack message sent to the guy that’s been outside talking to his neighbor for 20 minutes about each other’s lawn care routines. 

Or my favorite, the casual discussions around the water bubbler that naturally tend to generate ideas and conversation about existing tasks. 

With no teammates in sight, people are left sipping Brita water at their desks and banging their heads against the metaphorical wall trying to solve problems on their own.

This is why a new age of project management has begun to take center stage. Business owners and leaders are leaning on both project managers and their processes to seamlessly transition away from yesterday’s ways of working. 

The New Age of Project Management

What might this “New Age of Project Management” entail, you ask? Making an investment. And we don’t mean just throwing more money at resources like spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. Rather, we mean investing in the exact value that project management provides: your people, your processes, and your business’ future.

In our experience, unfortunately, not every client sees the value of project management. They misunderstand or have a false assumption of what project management actually is, treating it like an administrative or virtual assistant position, a task coordinator, or even thinking, “Pfft… we don’t need a project manager; we can do it ourselves!”

Maybe you can, but this often ends up being a mistake.

So, let’s tackle some of these myths one by one, shall we?

Project Management Software – No matter what anyone says, YES, contributing additional budget to project management will pay off in the long run. Whether it be an influx of PM titles on the usual job boards, softwares and programs being purchased for the first time, or companies comping the cost of certification classes, as long as you and your team can commit to using it, and establish a process and discipline around its usage, project management software will be money well spent. 

Project Management Teams – In the past, many companies got by with having either one project manager or in some cases, zero project management teams. But when you have parents taking calls next to chaotic kids, or employees working from the comfort of their couch while watching “The Price Is Right”, it’s easy for assigned action items to get missed or overlooked. 

Implementing project management teams and processes to hold everyone accountable is a great way to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. After all, accountability is one of the core principles of execution. 

Also, an effective project manager should have the resources to assign and delegate accordingly to avoid an unbalance in workloads. 

Technology – Something that shouldn’t be a new development in 2021, but many teams are still operating with nothing but a colorful Excel spreadsheet. I get it, you consider yourself old school, but with the amount of innovative softwares and platforms out there, you’re doing yourself a disservice not adapting to the times. These platforms make it simple to track the progress of an entire project from start to finish. 

And guess what… you can even have them color coded just like Excel.

Training – Another extremely important aspect of project management. Project management tactics are constantly evolving and you want your employees to be on top of the tricks of the trade. This may seem like a waste of money, but you won’t be thinking that when they bring the cutting-edge money-saving ideas they learned to the table.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re spending all of this money just to get back to the same efficiency as when everyone was in the office.

Guess again. 

With better project management processes in place, you should ideally start seeing money coming back into the business. Here are some examples:

  • Higher-ups aren’t wasting hours tracking down projects
  • Client retention rate is up because work is done and on time
  • Labor-hours are being best utilized on lucrative projects
  • Softwares and platforms replace unnecessary admin work and keep everyone on the same page

So What Does This All Mean?

As many clients have told us, “investing in good project management is the best decision you can make for your business.” 

Having an employee or a team that has a full-picture view of what’s being worked on is a great way to stay on top of your projects and hold people accountable for their responsibilities. 

So, even though you’re probably still going to be pushing Cheerios out of your side of the “work space” for the foreseeable future, take this unstructured time to align your team up for success.