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Project Management During a Pandemic

Posted by
Lincoln Hayes
on
June 2, 2020

During these unprecedented times, a project manager needs to develop some specific skills to face a new dimensional challenge to the role: working and managing projects remotely.

Thanks to our partnership with CyberCX (Diamond Cyber Security), we at Interfuze had the opportunity to work together alongside their team to assist Australian National University (ANU) and AUCloud to deploy a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure so that over 20,000 students can have immediate remote access to over 80 core study applications. 

You can read through more information on this accelerated roll-out for ANU to support their students during the COVID-19 pandemic at:

In this post, we’re going to share our perspective on how you manage projects successfully during a pandemic, looking at the principles of team cultures and personal capabilities and the digital tools required to support all the stages of a managed project. 

With CyberX and AUCloud, we managed the rollout of the AUCloud Based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and a Requirement and Design stream for an On-Premise solution. This involved 10 team members spread across Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney and Perth. 


Here are some of the practices we observed that helped the team stay focused, connected and informed:


Communicate more

In a remote team environment, you can’t walk over to your colleague to discuss a solution there and then. You also can’t huddle around a workstation to learn or delegate. Frequent communications in a consistent format is key. We opted for a daily standup at the same time, everyday, keeping it short and on track as well as keeping everything centralised for transparency and visibility to all stakeholders.


Remove distractions

Distractions of working from home can be abundant. My experience would suggest work in the quiet hours before the rest of the family becomes active, eliminate clutter that will divert your attention and establish house work rules that everyone can honour and agree to.

Keep information flowing 

As a project manager, keep information flowing down to the team - via team IM or in spoken word during your stand ups or video conferencing meetings. Doing this helps set a culture of openness for other team members to ask questions, share small and big achievements. 


Be flexible and open to doing things differently 

There might be new development everyday that impacts you and your team, the work and the ability to work. The same goes for your clients. If there was a time for you and your team to be flexible, open-minded, creative with your problem solving and pivot quickly, it’s now. 


Recharge Often

Adjusting to a new routine while trying to contribute to and manage projects can be overwhelming even for the most seasoned professional. Working from home with different time zones can also mean being available almost 24/7 which can lead to team exhaustion and burnout. Encouraging teams with praise, positive words and what we all think is a funny dad-joke helps, along with leading by example with good work from home practices. 

Digital Tools

Digital tools exist to not only help make most of the above practices happen more successfully but also implement our project management requirements. 

We used a variety of Microsoft online tools and social media channels to be able to deliver the following:

  1. The “5 Minute Mobilisation”, we used MS Teams to rapidly mobilise the team and create a shared multi-organisation collaboration workspace.
  2. MS Team channels created for focus conversations to Subject Matter Expertise (SME) groupings.
  3. Creation of specific “Blockers” channel to quickly be alerted to items that are stopping the team progressing.
  4. MS Planner used to manage task lists, labels, buckets and schedules.
  5. Wiki and Sharepoint utilised for Project Documentation repository and co-authoring.
  6. Utilisation of multiple communication channels - on-campus digital signage COVID-19 Response Web Updates, Facebook, LinkedIn and ANU Campus broadcasts - to raise solution awareness to students and faculty members.
  7. Custom Office 365 Questionnaire and Solution Feedback Forms for remotely interviewing ANU stakeholders.
  8. MS Teams Whiteboards to remotely engage the functional areas individually for feedback and validation, and for targeted collaboration sessions.


900 hours of work managed over 6 weeks remotely helped make this project a success and, importantly, for tens of thousands of ANU’s students to be able to study effectively and productively in remote settings.


Interested to find out more about remote project management? Get in touch and I’d be happy to help.

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