Project teams can reap enormous benefits with the help of technology. From keeping e-mails flowing when they’re on the go to getting the latest status reports on a can’t-fail initiative, technology empowers people at every level to know more and to accomplish more. But if there isn’t a thoughtful approach behind your technology deployments—or if the number of systems is growing but the benefits aren’t—you may be experiencing some of the downsides of unfettered technology use.
Take an honest look at where, how, why, and when your team and your project’s stakeholders turn to technology. Have you fallen into one or both of these common technology traps? If you have, don’t worry. We’ve also included some tips to help you regain control of your technology resources.
Trap 1: Communications have lost that human touch
Between e-mails and chat applications, it’s easier than ever for project team members to share information, ask questions, raise concerns, and provide status updates in real time. However, it becomes a problem if project groups lose their unwillingness to get together in real time where people can see each other’s faces or at least hear other’s voices. While most communications happen seamlessly through e-mail, text, instant messenger, or chat, PMs should continue to put an emphasis on live discussions. That may mean voice or video conferencing, or in-person meetings when team members have an opportunity to be in the same place.
Live conversations don’t need to comprise the majority of your team’s communications, but be sure the convenience of technology doesn’t lead you to abandon them entirely. Reading other’s emotions and reacting in real time to queries, confusion, frustration, and concerns is an important component in maintaining the project team’s cohesion and each individual’s commitment to achieving good results. It also isn’t necessary to bring the entire group together to make a positive impact. Look for opportunities to hold live sub-group meetings if that’s all you can do. These occasional gatherings still give people a chance to build stronger connections and enhance their team dynamic.
If your group is reluctant to incorporate live meetings, it may be helpful to partner with a project management consulting firm with a background in facilitating productive and efficient project discussions. They’ll have the experience necessary to ensure your meetings stay on track, that disagreements are handled objectively and with an eye toward developing a workable resolution, and that important agenda items receive the focus they require.
Trap 2: Too much data, not enough insight
Technology has enabled companies to gather so much data that many teams are finding themselves overwhelmed by it. Not only is information coming in multiple times a day, such as new progress status reports and the latest spending forecasts, but most project groups also have vast repositories of data available to them with additional metrics and figures from past initiatives as well as industry benchmarking information. The problem is that there’s so much data out there, teams waste time trying to locate what they need. Many also struggle to turn that information into action.
Consider ways to trim down the amount data that’s pushed out to your group. Some project management consulting firms offer proprietary technology to help teams manage their project data more effectively. These powerful tools include filters that allow users to zero in on the information that interests them at the moment, along with search and sort capabilities that makes data analysis much more efficient. With the right information in front of them, your team will be in a position to quickly assess potential issues and opportunities and then act accordingly.