27 Aug Hitting the Targets: Sales Beacon’s Remote Project Management
Our goals going into any organization are to keep everything on track and keep everyone happy and stress-free.
Teams using Sales Beacon’s virtual project management have consistently better results than other teams. Not bragging, just stating a fact. Clients keep coming back to us because they know they can hand off tough assignments to us and we’ll get them done.
How do we continually achieve success for our customers? By diligence, keen observation and the use of our proprietary tools which we apply to all our assignments.
Our goals going into any organization are to keep everything on track and keep everyone happy and stress-free. Pretty simple in theory, but how do we get there? What are the nuts and bolts, the strategies that we use to make it happen?
Don’t Deliver Weak Coffee!
We often liken a project to a hotel hosting a conference. You tell the hotel to make sure there is lots of good, strong, hot coffee ready to pour at all times. This is your most important request. The hotel is going to great lengths to give you linens, china, great displays and extra snacks but the coffee is late in arriving and lukewarm. It might even be decaf!
No matter how much you may appreciate all the time and effort this hotel is putting into staging your conference, you’re not going to be happy because they’ve done a poor job with the coffee, your most important item. This hotel wasn’t listening to you and solved the wrong problem! It diverted too much of its energy to things that didn’t matter to you, and failed to deliver on it’s promises on things that did matter. Would you go back to this hotel again?
Projects are like this too. If you don’t understand what is truly important to your stakeholders, you can deliver what you think is a success, only to miss the things important to them, especially with reduced scope or aggressive timelines.
Virtual Project Characteristics
If you don’t understand your stakeholders, you can deliver what you think is a success, only to miss the things important to them.
When beginning any virtual team project assignment, there are basic things every traditional project managers want to know:
- The scope of the project – What is the goal?
- Project timelines – How much time do you have?
- Project budget – How much capital and resources do you have to work with?
Once there’s a clear understanding of these questions, traditional project managers can start to formulate a strategy and start to execute.
But add virtual or cross-functional to this mix and it is a different ballgame that traditional PMs don’t plan for. There can be a ton of hoops to jump through, including shifting strategic priorities, time zones, team accountability and shuffling personnel to cope with.
In this ever-changing business environment, traditional project management is the kiss of death. To enter a situation so fraught with stress, egos and high expectations, we at Sales Beacon have had to create a new approach especially for a virtual environment.
Here are some of the snags that we need to plan for as remote project managers:
How to Overcome Virtual Challenges
Remote projects are typically in very large global companies. These multinational corporations employ people in different countries, who work in different time zones, who speak many languages.
- Be sure to find out if there’s a common language – and if it isn’t yours, find someone else to hand off the project to!
Many of the leaders of global project teams are business managers, not project managers. Yet they are tasked to run initiatives. We need to keep them on track and within their comfort zone. These leaders are not dedicated solely to the project, they have full work schedules already and may not see our job as worthy of their complete attention. Since they have full-time day jobs with never-ending to-do lists, this is understandable.
- One of our key tasks is to create compelling communications so that everyone buys into the project early and often. By using a RACI that focuses on “Why”, along with compelling succinct communications, virtual project managers can keep their initiative top of mind for stakeholders.
Staff work in different departments and have a tough time communicating with each other, even on basic big picture stuff like timelines, deliverables and scope. There are too many distractions for everybody. How can people stay focused on complicated tasks when they’re bombarded by unwanted emails, texts and meeting requests?
- Our job as virtual project managers is to keep track and remind everyone exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it.
The scope of the project can change drastically due to unforeseen circumstances like changes in the market and competitive shifts.
- Sometimes we need to scale a project deliverable down to what is most important to stakeholders. Delay the linens and deliver the coffee!
Timelines are rarely based on a realistic rollout date. Often executives pluck a date from thin air that will make them look like aggressive go-getters, which sets up unrealistic expectations and is an excellent prescription for failure. Projects are often underfunded for the same reason – the executive announces without full budget in place. It isn’t unusual for only 50% of the needed resources are budgeted for.
- We need a strong communications strategy to make sure that executives look like they are delivering what they promised, even if the finished product is months away. We can do this by using proof of concept strategies or by scaling the project deliverable down so that it looks like a “win”.
Big Data – the sheer volume of information coming in can be daunting at the best of times, now think about all that data coming at you during a big company project!
In this ever-changing business environment, traditional project management is the kiss of death.
- Make sure you include reporting in your plan and build in business analytics roles.
Corporate re-structuring – Fortune 500 companies can undergo major overhauls every six months, meaning projects are extremely fluid in terms of staffing, resources and short and long-term goals.
- A strong project repository that makes it easy for new leadership to understand the value add of the project – can make the difference between cancelation and continuation. We also do regular quarterly business reviews so that a departing stakeholder can easily communicate project value to his or her replacement.
Get in touch with Sales Beacon
Having trouble with a current or upcoming project at your company? Need another group to take a fresh look at a stale problem? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love a challenge and look forward to hearing from you.