Between continuous technology innovation and an increasingly global marketplace, many companies are rethinking their business strategies. Add in changing workforce and supply chain dynamics, and project teams are also taking a fresh look at the supporting processes they use to engage stakeholders and maintain strong connections across multi-discipline groups.
Expectations around communications have changed in recent years. The demand for—and value of—information sharing has grown tremendously. Collaboration has become the foundation for work at every level in the organization. These are just some of the factors behind a shift toward a more omnichannel approach to project management. But what does that mean and how can you ensure your team is ready to tackle projects in this new environment?
Getting on board with the omnichannel movement doesn’t need to entail a lot of extra work or new technology, but it does require a fresh mindset and a few steps to prepare.
Recognize that communications happen anywhere, anytime. Most PMs are already accustomed to managing a steady stream of messages. Established procedures might focus only on a limited subset of communication pathways, however, even though your stakeholder base has probably grown into using additional platforms. By expanding current practices—such as enabling online chat and instant messaging functions to improve collaboration—the team can develop an omnichannel perspective that reflects new expectations around the timeliness of responses and the types of communications that are supported.
Enable communications that are more than words and numbers. The omnichannel evolution not only broadens the ways in which project teams share information, it also pulls together multiple communication and information types into a single conversation. More stakeholders today expect to share videos taken on the jobsite and photos of damaged equipment, for example. Consider technology platforms that support real-time video feeds, the upload of multiple media types, and the ability to share screens across desktop and mobile devices.
Create more types of project data. Do you hold team meetings via video, phone, or web conference? Record those gatherings and provide a replay link to enable participants to revisit key parts of the discussion. Remote workers and others who didn’t attend may also want to review what transpired. Options to download those files to a mobile device allow people to consume the information at their convenience, such as during their commute or while working out. They’re able to gain knowledge and stay connected, and your project team is in a better position to maintain engagement using all of the available touchpoints.
Look for additional ways to interact with stakeholders. Knowing that expectations are changing, consider reviewing existing processes to see if there are opportunities to do things in different ways. Everything from weekly project meetings to open house events could offer PMs new avenues for collaboration. Rather than simply pushing out videos from a gathering after the fact, live streaming the presentations offers the ability to connect with people who couldn’t attend in person but who still want to feel some level of participation in real time. Chat platforms offer a similarly interactive experience, with remote attendees able to ask questions and add to the discussion no matter where they happen to be located.
The omnichannel concept takes established collaboration practices and pushes the boundaries out to encompass the growing number of ways people communicate, share data, create plans, solve problems, and execute their task lists. Embracing the omnichannel movement means PMs and their project teams are not only aware of the different ways their partners connect with each other, they’re eager to leverage new channels to improve project performance and nurture stronger stakeholder relationships.
PMAlliance, Inc offers project management consulting, project management training and projec