Just over a year ago, Waddell Group CEO Tom Waddell interviewed Jonathan Flachman, Principal Consultant at Projenics, about the lessons learned while doing remote project management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now as we approach Q4 of 2021, we’re reflecting on their conversation by revisiting the 4 key trends that the two industry experts uncovered while comparing them to the state of project management today.
Waddell and Flachman discussed the widespread adoption of project management tools, the importance of fast and frictionless tools, the prioritization of effective communication, and the ways remote teams have adapted while lacking the interpersonal connection found in the office. We’ve found that these shifts still hold true today, and will continue to impact project management methodology throughout 2022.
Project Management Tools Are Commodities, Not Luxuries
A historical downfall of project management tools and integrations is that they’re only effective if successfully implemented on a company-wide basis. It doesn’t matter how good a tool is, companies won’t get their money’s worth if only a few teams or individuals use it. As a result, tools were seen as a luxury, and companies struggled with getting widespread adoption across all their teams. Project management has seen a large shift since the pandemic, however, and as employees spent more time on their computers, they became more available and responsive. This necessitated companies adopting project management and team communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams that were deemed wasteful or unnecessary before the pandemic. Now, there’s a much better reception across the project management space because employees are more likely to check their messages and project boards.
Frictionless Tools Are a Priority
At the beginning of the interview, Tom mentioned that the industry has shifted from “management by walking around” to remote management without the interpersonal connection and responsiveness that sitting next to your team in the office provides. Because of this, frictionless tools that are easy to use have stepped in as the next best option. Every click counts during a fast-paced workday, so project management tools are optimizing to make it easier than ever for employees to accomplish their tasks. The fewer clicks a tool offers for employees to video call or contact a coworker, the higher its value, and the pandemic has reinforced this.
Communication Is Key
While the office depends on tools to conduct business, communication is key, and even more so in a remote environment. One of the most difficult aspects of remote work is having the discipline to communicate lots of information frequently and efficiently. Because of this, Flachman has an interesting insight: “If you think you’re communicating enough, you’re probably communicating half enough.” This emphasizes the importance of communication in a remote project management environment as there’s an increased risk of misunderstanding on both the sending and receiving end. Collaboration and alignment are baked into project management, so effective team communication has been prioritized during the pandemic.
Post-Pandemic Teams Require Nurturing
The side conversations and team lunches in the office during a pre-pandemic workday were more important than some might’ve believed before the onset of COVID-19. Flachman and Waddell agreed that physical proximity is an important step in building team chemistry, and teams that were working together before COVID-19 generally performed better than teams that were formed after the pandemic. To counteract this effect, Flachman recommends finding artificial ways to create camaraderie like afternoon team happy hours. Any way to generate nonwork talk between team members will pay off in the long term, although it may seem like a short-term waste of resources.
Will These Project Manager Trends Continue into 2022?
Although Waddell and Flachman’s discussion focused on trends arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems likely that these trends will continue into 2022, even as teams transition back into the office from remote work. Companies are still investing in tools that make communication and project management easier and more efficient. Teams are adopting these tools and will continue to use them as they grow accustomed to them. We’re also seeing remote teams aligning at a quicker pace than 18 months ago. Ultimately, society was caught off guard by the pandemic and was forced to adapt quickly. Now, there’s a widespread realization that some of the changes to project management are beneficial to the entire organization, regardless of the external climate, and we expect to see companies enter 2022 stronger as a result.
If you’re interested in staying at the cutting edge of medical device project management but don’t know where to start, Waddell Group is here to help. Reach out to us and tell us about your situation. Our experienced project managers have managed teams of all sizes, revived failing medical device development projects, saved struggling facilities, and created outstanding results throughout the pandemic. We’re continually improving our process to offer the best service possible for 2022.