Project Management 2.0: How to Effectively Manage Projects in Today’s Digital Age

Nov 15, 2018
Post Masthead

Outsourcing has become the norm. Many companies have seen the value in outsourcing resources on a per-project basis, specifically cutting labor costs.

As a result, freelance work opportunities in the U.S., Canada, and Europe have grown significantly. In fact, the United States comes in third place in the world of freelancing.

More and more professionals today are discovering the hidden benefits of working independently and starting their own ventures. This independent work lifestyle allows them to achieve more work-life balance and flexibility, drastically outweighing the traditional 9-5 work life.

Freelance opportunities range from sales to software development, web design, consulting, and even business writing.

According to the University of Oxford Internet Institute Online Labor Index, freelancers' go-to platforms include Fiverr, Freelance, and Upwork.

How the Work Place Has Changed

We all know the workplace has changed. But how has this change impacted how we manage projects and work with project teams?

As a result of this shift in the labor market, managing teams have shifted into a different paradigm—one that requires a special skill: virtual team management.

Read on to learn more about project management 2.0 in today’s digital and virtual age.

The Importance of Project Planning and Strategy

Before we get into more detail about the workplace has changed, let’s first discuss the importance of project planning and strategy, particularly related to recruiting and managing project resources.

There are a few factors that go into project planning, such as budgets, timelines and schedules, tasks, and managing expectations with clients—to name a few.

Resource allocation is another critical piece, and yet is one of the biggest challenges for project managers today.

Developing a Project Plan

Here is what your project plan should look like:

1. Determine project goals and mission objectives.

You can’t very well manage a project if you don’t understand the WHY behind it. Take the time to grasp the key project objectives and scope. Then, work on setting goals.

A good rule of thumb is to follow S.M.A.R.T goals, ensuring that goals are Clear, Measurable, Attainable, Timely, and Relevant.

Documenting goals is not only crucial for you as the project manager, but also for working with in-house as well as remote team members.

2. Identify risks.

Once you understand why you are doing a project, and have documented, structured goals, now you can get into the project management nitty-gritty, such as risk management.

Although many areas can pose risks to a project, a lack of resources is one of the biggest. This brings us to the next step in our project plan…

3. Identify Available Resources.

Before managing a project, it’s important to asses available resources, including people, property, and equipment (PP&E) and budgets. By identifying available resources for a project, you can then begin the resource allocation process as well as putting together your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Resource Allocation

Let’s zoom in on resource allocation for a moment.

Whenever I begin working with a new client or team, I like to take some time to understand their needs fully, how their businesses operate, and try to forecast the strengths and weaknesses that may be at play.

One of the questions I like to ask is, “What do you have for available resources that could potentially work with our team on this project, or even future projects?”

In my experience, nine times out of 10, most businesses don’t have a documented list of resources. However, resource availability and allocation is an incredibly crucial part of building a project plan.

Therefore, take the time to make a list (or spreadsheet) of all the resources you have used in the past. If it has been some time since you last worked with them, reach out to them to get a feel for their availability, current pay rate, geographical location and time zone, and contact information.

Then, you can add this information to your spreadsheet and begin building a resource database. Yes, this exercise might require some time and effort up front, but it can save you and your team a ton of time when aligning resources for future projects.

Acquire and Develop the Project Team

Once you have a database or list of available resources for your project, the next step is to build an official staffing management plan, or resource management plan.

A thorough and well-rounded staffing management plan includes the following key pieces of information:

  • Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS), which essentially mimics an organizational chart
  • Staff acquisition procedures
  • Resource calendars
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Staff release plan
  • Training needs
  • Performance plans and rewards
  • Compliance and safety (as needed)
  • Project team tool

Once you have a well-planned and documented resource management plan, now you can move on to the execution phase of your project.

Execution: Direct and Manage the Work

Once you have developed the project team, now it’s time to execute. This is the phase in which the project manager assigns the team members their tasks according to the WBS. The project manager’s primary role during this phase is to direct and manage the project work, and monitor and control all work activities according to deadlines, milestones, and budgets.

The steps during this phase include the following:

  • Assign and perform activities to accomplish project objectives and deliverables
  • Utilize resources, tools, equipment, and necessary materials to help complete work
  • Generate work performance data (cost, schedule, technical and quality status, and the number of change requests, if necessary)
  • Manage risks and risk response activities

Project Closing: Collect and Document Lessons Learned

After the project has been completed and delivered, and the client is happy, don’t just close out the project and move on to the next. Although this might be tempting, it’s important to take some time to review what worked and what didn’t during the project.

Depending on experience and methodology, some project managers refer to this process as “post-mortem” or “retrospection.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s important to meet with your project team to collect and document lessons learned. This is especially important if you worked with a brand new team.

Project managers should also ask project teams for feedback on his or her performance. Project managers can ask team members the following questions:

  1. Was the PM helpful and willing?
  2. Were project instructions clear and concise? Did team members understand the project?
  3. Was it easy for team members to communicate with the PM?
  4. Was the PM too lax or too micromanaging?

Asking project team members for feedback not only shows them that you value their opinions, but it also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own project management style and improve where necessary.

Manage Projects the RIGHT Way with Rindle

All in all, yes, the project management dynamic has changed considerably over the last decade. Today’s work environments don’t typically involve working in a cubicle or even in an office anymore. Although this allows for greater flexibility for project team members, it can be a challenge for project managers.

As a result, it is more important than ever for project managers to plan and develop a resource management plan in order to recruit the right resources for the team, and to also be a truly effective leader, regardless of geographical location, time zone, or culture.

In addition to recruiting qualified and quality resources for a project, it’s also important to adopt a resource that helps make managing projects and enhancing team collaboration easy. Rindle is a project management tool that does just that.

Rindle is easy to use, adopt, and implement, and can be used anywhere and at any time. It is designed with team collaboration features, such as comment threads, messages, and email updates to enhance and streamline communication, keeping team members all on the same page within one tool.

Kick your project management into high gear by giving Rindle a try today.