Challenges Project Managers are Facing in The Current Climate
Without a doubt, a lot of things have changed in the last year. Everything from the way we exercise, to the way we socialise is different and as a result we have all had to speedily learn to adapt.
Most of us are working from home, be it in our kitchen or bedroom offices and although we have done a good job throughout this change, it certainly hasn’t been without its challenges.
Having spoken to numerous project managers over the past few months, it’s interesting to see how their roles have evolved in terms of their day to day activities. That being said, with IT teams often being dispersed (even in normal times), some would say that project managers are among some of the least affected with regards to the Covid-19 outbreak. It all depends on who you speak with and what is happening in their respective projects.
Some of the main challenges faced by project managers have been to do with organising and preparing for projects in this so-called ‘new norm’ that we’ve found ourselves in. Scheduling, reporting, budget control and onboarding are all areas that have changed dramatically as a result of this period and in turn have forced project managers to adapt to these challenges in order to succeed.
One major change that I have heard across the board for project managers is the change to their scheduling, which is a large part of any project management role.
A detailed project schedule is vital for any project, regardless of industry, so understandably a lot more thought has to go into it now that the majority of us are working from home.
A large part of a project schedule is the alignment of resources - (who, what, where and when). This allows everybody to know exactly what the schedule involves, and what needs to be done.
Gone are the days of shouting across the room to a colleague ahead of a meeting, so this schedule has to be detailed and done with the right tools so that everybody can view and update as they need.
Having this schedule done in advance is important in any circumstance, but particularly in the current times. You may have difficulty communicating with colleagues or clients if you haven’t already arranged a meeting and this can cause unnecessary delays to a project.
Project Management has always been a very functional type role that involves a lot of reporting and this hasn’t changed. What has changed however is that all direct reports a project manager might have are spread out across the country in their own little work bubble.
This means that reporting can be slightly more difficult because not everyone is going to be immediately available when you need them.
Best ways to deal with reporting issues as a project manager:
Due to the shift in working arrangements, reporting has to be done more often in some cases and done differently in others. A daily report at the end of each day via video chat (zoom, teams, hangouts) seems to be a common reporting trend amongst project managers these days.
Reporting may also be done on a task-completion basis depending on your timeframe. Some Project Managers prefer to get an update once significant progress has been made as opposed to a scheduled daily meeting.
Effective on-boarding as a Project Manager
For new employees, the normal process of onboarding and settling in to a new role has certainly been one of the biggest changes this year. While a lot of project managers are still hiring for positions, everyone’s approach to onboarding seems to be a little different.
Ideally a project manager will have a dedicated amount of one-to-ones time for a new team member, or at least have a meeting with him/her once a week to go over their work. This has now all gone virtual, and although the one-to-ones can still be done, many say that it is not quite the same as in person.
The social interactions, getting to know the new team member & going for lunch etc have also been affected by this and has proved somewhat challenging for project managers.
Budget Control - Project Management task
Although every company has dealt with the covid period differently, the one common fear amongst a lot of people is the uncertainty cast upon us. Be it uncertainty of the current market or uncertainty or the future, it just seems to be a strange time in general for us these days.
As a result, companies are being that bit more careful in terms of what they spend, and where they spend it. Project managers have seen revised project budgets and have had to be extra diligent as a result of this. For example, a company with 20 people working from home now may have increased expenses from their cloud services provider and have to make changes elsewhere.
Conclusion - IT Project Manager Challenges
Project Managers have certainly bumped into challenges over the past few months and it is fair to say that overall it hasn’t been a seamless transition by any means. Tools, work location, communication methods and processes have all changed but have been made very possible due to the technology available and hard work put in.
Some might even say that this period has just accelerated what was already in the process of happening in the world of technology and it’s interesting to hear each individual’s perspective. Project managers as a whole are versatile in nature and it’s no surprise to hear that after some initial teething issues, they have all been able to cope with this ‘new norm’ we have found ourselves in.
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