As the novel coronavirus outbreak swept across the world, the work-from-home arrangement became the new norm for most businesses. Although some states have been slowly reopening, most enterprises are still on a remote set-up. For many, it’s a huge adjustment, given that they’ve been exclusively operating in an office, meeting each other face-to-face every day, pre-pandemic. For the above reasons, the project management techniques you choose have a greater impact on productivity than ever before.
Some experience problems in making each member of the team collaborate with colleagues. Many team members struggle with communication. Others struggle with simply getting things done. However, here’s the silver lining: you can overcome these challenges. You can survive these challenges like all the others before this pandemic. The key? Effective project management techniques. By mapping out strategies and identifying problems early on, you can make remote work less taxing and in fact productive.
The Importance of Project Management Techniques
Project management techniques are the systematic approach to leading a team with the goal of producing desirable results on a specific date and budget. Whether it is product development or marketing campaigns, projects run on limited resources and time, which is why a workflow made systematically is at the heart of business project management. When done right, you’ll be able to say that you delivered the job on time, and within budget.
Use the following tried-and-tested project management techniques in your operations:
This involves laying down the project plan. All of your team members must understand five things, namely client profile (who); resources (what); timeline and milestones (when); workflow, responsibilities, quality assurance (how); and the rationale (why). Make sure that all of your team members are present in your online meeting when you discuss this.
With a blueprint laid out, not only will you be able to organize work efficiently, but you’ll also be able to help members gain an appreciation of the importance of project management in organizations. Trusting the system, the team is more likely to be responsive and help projects succeed. In the grand scheme of things, this is how project management helps organizations improve their business performance and metrics.
2- Program evaluation and review technique (PERT)
In this approach, you need to carefully study the tasks involved, paying attention to the time needed for each assignment. The most popular tool for this technique is the Gantt chart.
Gantt Charts rely on Work Breakdown Structure or WBS to make tasks well defined and manageable.
Through this visual representation, you’ll be able to know what needs to be done and when. It will be far easier to monitor moving parts in a project. You will be able to easily spot when one component of the project isn’t progressing and then make necessary adjustments. Again, one of the benefits of good project management techniques is being able to identify and address issues before they drastically affect the entire endeavor.
Use an online Gantt chart; so you can easily share the key details as defined below with your remote team:
- Start date of the project
- A graphical view of all tasks in the project
- People working on each task
- Duration of tasks (including overlaps)
- Task dependency when one task’s start depends on the completion of another task
- The completion date of the project
3- Process-based technique
As the name suggests, the focus of this approach is on the process. In this framework, everything done in the project is treated as a process that should be managed and standardized. In the process of systematizing your project, your vision, mission, and core values should be evident.
In a nutshell, there are three steps to adopting this project management technique:
- Recording the process,
- Reviewing the performance of the process
- Reorganizing and analyzing the process to make the process better
Assign someone in your team for each step, then meet with your team online on a regular basis, to monitor the progress of standardizing processes.
4- Waterfall technique
The waterfall technique infers a trickle effect or the sequential manner of accomplishing tasks. It’s a very linear approach since the new phase of a project will only begin when the preceding stage has been completed.
Using this technique, your remote team should be familiar with the six steps below:
- Collect all the necessary information about the project.
- Establish the process by creating a list of tasks.
- Implementation. Adopt the design.
- Verification. Test the outputs.
- Deployment. Launch the product.
- Maintenance. Preserve the quality and, if necessary, modify processes according to what could have been done better in the project
5- Agile technique
The Agile method involves breaking a huge project down into smaller, more manageable tasks accomplished within–what experts call– “sprints.” The “scrum team”–a phrase coined after the popular rugby football huddle–would work aggressively on specific assignments in a short period, much like sprinting to the finish line.
While this planning and management technique employs a lot of strategies, perhaps one of the most important to highlight is the daily scrum meetings. These help you know what the progress is for each task and, at the same time, get renewed commitments from your team about their assignments. In short, it promotes accountability, which is one of the agile project management technique’s principles.
Each member of the team should be able to discuss the following in your online huddles:
- What did I complete yesterday that helped the team reach the goal?
- What do I plan to complete today to help the team reach the goal?
- What are the possible hurdles that could keep me from helping the team reach the goal?
6- Critical chain technique
In projects that are very sensitive to resources, this a very effective approach. As the name suggests, it focuses on the series of important events in a project, which naturally take the longest time (and the bulk of the resources) to complete the “critical chain.”
This time-consuming string of activities gives you an idea of how quickly you can accomplish the entire project. Yet, it’s also important to look back at the constraints of resources and place buffers, to determine a more realistic time frame of accomplishment.
You need to account for the downtime during online training or vacation leaves of your remote team members as well as the availability of tools or venues you’ll be using.
A lot of companies have been using this critical chain technique. Mazda, for one, credited the theory of constraints for its company turnaround years ago. With their success, it’s worth following this project management example.
7- Extreme technique
Deviating from the conventional approach, this strategy uses flexible planning. This means you can alter your project plan in the middle of implementation, as the situation demands, when resources, timelines, or even goals change.
In most cases, business leaders use this approach when the project they’re working on would make trial-and-error on the best strategic approach. For example, developing a new product in the market. For this reason, online collaboration tools are a must in this approach; so changes and updates can be cascaded immediately.
Although this extreme technique is less structured than the others, it still involves steps to follow to make it happen. This kind of project management benefits an organization in executing a project successfully when there is a lot of uncertainty in the project. This technique helps you:
- Visualize the output. Envision what you want to achieve.
- Come up with creative solutions. Brainstorm ways on how to attain your goal, then test it.
- Track your work. As you implement, take note of the methods you use; and modify strategies, when necessary.
- Share the knowledge. Building on tested methods, your team should document the process; so you can use it for similar, related projects.
It’s hard to collaborate on a project when everybody in the team is working remotely. Through these techniques, however, along with developing project management skills, you can make teamwork work and carry your endeavors to completion. In the end, you’ll be able to say the sweet words of victory: “Our team successfully delivered the project on time within the budget.”
This article on project management techniques was written by Kimberly Grimms for the Collaboration Corner with editorial changes by Dan Smilganic.