Throughout 2020, the rise of remote working created unexpected challenges for businesses, particularly with regards to project management practices.
Rapid changes have altered how workforces use technology to communicate, collaborate and mobilise when delivering projects – but how can leaders ensure these changes maximise productivity?
While many businesses have accelerated their uptake of communication platforms and other digital tools, almost 70% of project leaders still believe Covid has impacted their ability to produce deliverables.
The proliferation of disparate technologies is leading businesses to reassess how they coordinate teams across more channels than ever before.
Simply stocking up on the latest apps doesn’t future proof operations, so let’s take a closer look at what’s prompting these business decisions, how they impact project outcomes, and why tools of the past are valuable for overcoming today’s challenges.
Does more really mean merrier?
Most often, businesses acquire their digital tools organically as needs arise within specific projects.
As challenges present themselves, teams will frequently look for the ‘shiniest’ tool that appears especially suited to handling them, but this causes businesses to onboard a vast array of communication and collaboration technologies for niche use cases.
Further down the line, project teams encounter friction when it comes to integrating these tools and maintaining their functionality alongside one another. I call this point in a business’s digital adoption the second wave, where the previously specialised tools no longer work as optimally as intended.
In this scenario, leaders need to revisit their technological toolbox with a more formalised strategy. To take reporting as one critical example, all project teams must provide visibility on progress to give their business a holistic view of performance metrics, timelines, and resource allocation.
If the tools used to track these aren’t compatible across a company, then it causes delays – and in a world where access to real-time insights is paramount for decision making, project leaders need streamlined means of reporting and communication.
Why boosting efficiency results in greater productivity
When handling projects from multiple teams and stakeholders, business leaders will need to consider the value of various operations, but ultimately make an executive decision on which tools will meet the requirements for all.
Although creating a comprehensive system involves careful analysis and compromise, placing someone in a position to determine this is crucial for minimising confusion and unnecessary distractions.
In the UK, 67% of workers lose as much as 2.5 hours each week due to difficult-to-use digital tools. Moreover, with the growing number of communication apps available to businesses, people face distractions at work every 10 minutes.
The drastic impact this has on productivity has turned communication tools into weapons of mass distraction and prevents teams from prioritising for success.
Through streamlining the number of digital tools used and leveraging intuitive, accessible technologies, business leaders can reduce this disruption, improve productivity, and smooth workflows.
Taking things back to basics
To expedite decision making and produce project deliverables on schedule, project teams must refine their digital toolkit to be efficient and user-friendly.
From live dashboards to modernised Gantt charts, simplified but effective solutions can provide the answer to automated, real-time project updates and keeping stakeholders aware of progress.
In my team’s work with the architecture firm Mallol Arquitectos, a Scoro client, we helped consolidate information from all systems in one place to greatly boost chances of project success.
Previously, the firm would pull this information from six different data pools, sometimes taking an entire day to produce updates with numerous tools. Following our progress together, Mallol Arquitectos was able to provide its CEO with a one-click report instead of using multiple digital touchpoints.
In my experience, the most requested feature from project-based businesses is a Gantt chart, which has the appealing advantage of calendar-based information combined with both task and event data on one timeline.
While the Gantt chart itself is a well-established tool, modernising this with real-time update capabilities has made it as invaluable as it has ever been for project leaders to visualise, track, and adapt their tasks.
The demands of project management have changed dynamically in a now digital-first business world, but the need to facilitate real-time decision making remains vital.
As opposed to seeking out the latest, niche technology to resolve challenges, project leaders should adopt the power of one mentality.
This means finding the best, comprehensive tool that delivers on their teams’ requirements, as well as streamlining existing processes to boost efficiency. In doing so, businesses will discover the means of ensuring effective project deliverables and maximising productivity.
Simon Chapman is head of Solution Engineering at Scoro.