Project Management in the times of COVID-19

Project Management in the times of COVID-19

Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic as notified by World Health Organization has had a significant impact on businesses the world over. More and more countries are being impacted every day with significant loss of life and business.

It is disheartening to know that over 198,753 cases (till 18th March) have been reported globally by worldometer.

Corona Virus(Source: worldometers.info)

Governments are unanimously sealing their borders, curtailing international travel and shutting down all avenues of possible public gathering from malls, food courts, health clubs etc.

There seems to be 40% physical lockdown across cities with local bodies asking their citizens to stay indoors and avoid outside contact as much as possible.

Needless to say, health and safety comes first and this time at the cost of business too.

It has become increasingly difficult to conduct and deliver business as usual. More so in the case of manufacturing, production, automobile facilities etc.

As they say, the show must go on!

Savvy companies usually have a good disaster recovery and management plan. And large scale tech giants have already kicked them in to ensure employee safety as well as continuous service delivery.

Customers too are humans and they understand the impact but then preventing and negating the adverse impact is also of prime concern.

Here is how Orangescrum has been proactive in minimizing the COVID-19 impact for its customers.

And at the same time helped its customers to run and deliver efficient services for their customers.

Work from Home – Work Remotely

Smart and the default go-to step in crisis management. Prevention is the best cure!

All global giants such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google etc. have advised their employees to work from home.

Work from home sounds very easy & comfortable. And it is indeed, if supported by a robust remote project management & collaboration software.

Other than a comfortable and quiet space within the confines of your home, you need a SaaS enabled collaboration platform that

  • Brings your team together
  • Allows for seamless communication
  • Centralizes all communication channels
  • Enables real-time collaboration
  • Keeps your work, team & data together

On the face of it, these 5 points seem pretty straight forward.

Think deeper and you understand the daily challenges you face in achieving exactly these 5 things!

Just, count the hours of your work day spent on

  • organizing your tasks
  • communicating with stakeholders
  • collaborating with the team
  • sharing all updates in a meaningful manner with the entire project team

Now add the fact that, now you aren’t on the same office as your team! And your problems quadruple.

So let us now take a look at the key steps you can take to kill any customer anxiety & deliver your projects successfully.

1. Communicate your Plan

Share your remote work plans with your customers upfront. Let them know the specifics.

Leave no room for confusion and share clear details in terms of interactions points, timings, key personnel info etc.

In case there is a change of SPOC or the way they used to log/report issues – explain how they can still do that effortlessly. Notify of changes to the support model if any.

On the other hand, if all is well and the changes would not be visible to them, drop a note stating – “We are running business as usual & are available more than ever”!

2. Set the expectations right – Clarity around Support SLAs

Desperate times require desperate measures. Make sure all your customers are aware of any changes to change in your support SLAs (both response and resolution).

Understand that, if your service weren’t that critical, your customers wouldn’t be paying you for support and maintenance services.

“Hence, be transparent & provide clear instructions on how issues will continue to be received, resolved & responded to.”

It is possible that your customers are dependent on your services to deliver their own services to their customers.

Do not promise what you cannot deliver and keep ample scope to manage any untoward change of events.

3. Put a proper Communication plan in place

Ideally, all projects have one right from the beginning. However, given the current circumstances you may need to increase or decrease the number of interactions you have with your customers.

If the current reporting and meeting schedule gets it done, then fine. If not, chalk out a new plan and share it with all stakeholders.

“Define for how long the new plan will be in effect and the changes it entails. Specifically around change of key personnel, contact numbers, email ids and time zone differences if applicable.”

4. Centralize all Communications

Your clients will thank you for this! Explain them the need to centralize all communications to a single or an all in one integrated platform.

It is possible that your clients are more active and prefer channels like Skype, Whatsapp, hangouts, emails etc. So, it is best to on-board them all to your central collaboration platform.

“A robust project management platform offers enough features in terms of specific user role management, alerts, notifications, in-app chats, gdrive & slack integrations and email replies, post comments etc.”

The basics that keep all your client interactions on one platform.

The benefit is there will be reduced dependency, information exchange will be streamlined plus anyone can step up to take additional responsibility if the situation demands so. No blind spots!

5. Stick to the delivery schedule

This sounds like too much. But understand that your delivery schedule is a vital document to stick to in such circumstances.

What about changes? Yes, there can be changes.

But the key is to review, revise, agree & deliver!

The moment you enter into a crisis management phase, the smart thing is to perform a thorough impact analysis.

Identify the impediments that will delay or entirely obstruct your project delivery.

And step2, list down your mitigation actions on how you intend to still meet the delivery schedule or the minimum delay that the client needs to accommodate.

Once ready, share it with the client and other stakeholders. Ask for their suggestions & finally their approvals.

Publish the finalized plan to all the stakeholders. And all of this can be achieved by bringing your customers on an all in one project management software.

Bringing it all together!

See, we all have used multiple project management & remote team collaboration tools to simplify and excel in our professional lives. The key is we often ignore the value it adds in terms of maintaining a perfect work-life balance.

Given the COVID-19 outbreak, the central objective is to stay safe, stay indoors and yet deliver projects successfully.

To that effect –

  • Use collaboration tools to share updates and critical info in real time
  • Stay active on your chosen platform and respond to customer queries as quickly as possible
  • Share work progress & status updates using the email notification capabilities of the tool
  • On-board clients, thus they can be part of the real action and anxiety if any is pre-emptively addressed
  • Progress is visible and highly transparent to your clients. Thus you build further trust and confidence
  • Less distractions by the customers as they know you are on top of your tasks
  • Lastly, be patient with your clients & try to listen to the unspoken

These were some of the very simple acts we had deployed to ensure total business continuity and manage customer relationships successfully during these unusual circumstances.

And lastly sharing some quick yet good updates w.r.t the COVID -19 received at the time of writing this blog

  • USA administers CORONA vaccine to its first participant
  • 103 year old Chinese woman makes a full recovery in Wuhan, China
  • Apple reopens all its 42 stores in China
  • Doctors in India have successfully treater COVID-19 with a combination of drugs and shared it globally
  • Researchers at Erasmus Medical Centre claim to have found an antibody against corona virus

So, not all is bad.

Keep calm, collaborate remotely, maintain constant customer connect, use digital platforms to the fullest, keep your teams engaged and deliver projects as planned!

Join us in negating the impact of COVID-19 to your business. Signup NOW!

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