The New Road Ahead for Remote Project Delivery

Sachin Shetty, Delivery Manager, Bristlecone Labs

In the age of social distancing and remote operations, it has become extremely difficult for organizations to sustain efficiency and productivity. It’s not surprising then that revenue generation has become a key challenge for organizations across industries.

Given the current scenario, the looming threat of economic fluctuations is haunting nations and businesses on a global scale. Most organizations are counting on cutting-edge technology-enabled products and solutions to drive cost savings and improve everyday business processes through automation. In fact, organizations are keen on implementing and leveraging the power of automation to sail through the current crisis – but are unsure how to proceed.

Traditionally, implementing solutions or deploying new technologies meant significant onsite stakeholder presence. Workshops were conducted in person with all stakeholders participating. Physical proximity, with relevant stakeholders always present at the project site, ensured that coordination was never an issue.

COVID-19 has enforced remote operations, which not long ago had been a foreign concept to many business leaders. Stakeholders are spread across geographies and with the current travel restraints, the idea of managing and executing projects is causing project managers to lose sleep.

The key challenges for project managers implementing any solution include:

  • Poor Project Coordination
  • Lack of Ownership
  • Inability to Set Appropriate Expectations
  • Misunderstandings
  • Inadequate Information
  • Missed Requirements
  • Prioritization Difficulty
  • Low Audience Participation
  • Unavailability
  • Lengthy Call Duration
  • Lack of Attentiveness
  • Negative Impact on Timelines
  • Additional Documentation Requirements
  • Additional Collaboration Requirements
  • Reduced Daily Interaction

Other challenges like time zone differences, change management, connecting with various audiences and poor internet bandwidth could also negatively impact overall project delivery.

So, how do we overcome these challenges?

Create Teams with Well-Defined Roles and Responsibilities
Under these circumstances, the pre-planning phase plays a critical role in setting the project up for success. Establish a single point of contact to coordinate between various parties. Clearly define roles and responsibilities, core and extended teams for better coordination and decision-making, and plan workshops in advance. The core team should be a small group consisting of the relevant stakeholders who have business knowledge and decision-making authority. The extended team should include other members who play some part in the project but not necessarily on a full-time basis. This reduces dependency and coordination efforts.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Adequate buffers should be planned for the creation of pre-reads, presentations and questions to be addressed before the workshops. This gives the core team ample time to prepare prior to conducting the workshops. Questionnaires should be prepared in advance to capture as-is and to-be processes. There should also be a greater emphasis on using meetings to drive decisions and ensure alignment, while completing all the necessary prework prior to each meeting.

Communicate Openly and Honestly
Strong communication is essential during these unprecedented times. Risks and concerns must be voiced early so the right actions can be taken before issues impact overall project delivery.

Leverage Change Management and Technology
Have the change management team create videos that mimic what everyday life will look like for a business user following go-live. Share short training videos to lay the foundation for training and testing. Prerecorded demo videos help build confidence, clear any doubts and provide a better guide for users, while video conferencing gives the personal touch users need. COVID-19 has caused the temporary demise of the physical meeting, so it’s key to make the best use of communication and collaboration technologies. I expect many organizations will actually emerge from this crisis with a greater willingness to rely on technology-based delivery.

We could not predict today’s socially distanced business operations, but with a solid plan of action for remote delivery, we can navigate coronavirus-related project delivery complications with purpose and structure, while mitigating any challenges along the way.

Bristlecone’s capabilities include a 100% remote project delivery model. We were offering 100% remote, onsite and hybrid delivery models long before COVID-19. We’ll continue to offer them long after. With the right team, the right expertise and the right plan, anything’s possible.