2021 is going to be a different year. With the COVID-19 pandemic locking up large parts of the world, it’s unlikely that we are going to go back to our normal ways of working any time soon.

With an ever-increasing focus on remote work, project management is undergoing a paradigm change, with multiple teams in multiple locations working on the same project. This has made using powerful software like PMO 365 essential because it allows you to have a bird’s-eye view and complete control over all areas of project management.

But other than that, what are some ways that you can adjust to 2021 and take your project management to the next level? Let’s find out!

A Project Management Office

Before moving onto the tips, let’s revise the basics and define a project management office (PMO).

A PMO is basically a department that coordinates all the project management efforts of a company. It can be external or internal to the company, and some of its main responsibilities include:

  • Setting the standards and best practices for project management across the company
  • Maintaining and getting those standards implemented
  • Guiding projects from beginning to completion — this includes defining the scope of a project as well as selecting those projects that align with the company’s business goals
  • Managing and allocating resources wisely based on data and priorities

PMOs can perform these functions in three capacities, which divides PMOs into three types — supportive, controlling, and directive. As you go from supportive to directive, the degree of authority of a PMO increases. 

While a supportive PMO only “guides” projects, offering guidelines and project management best practices, a directive PMO exercises a high level of control over the projects.

So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at some project management tips for 2021.

1. Implement a central virtual workspace. 

Remote working is on the rise and is likely going to stay for a while. You’re going to be collaborating with many teams, including stakeholders and the all-important external contractors in this age of gig-economy.

These teams might be located in different parts of the world (especially during the lockdown), which makes it easy for them to lose direction and context. In such circumstances, it’s extremely important that you deploy an online central workspace.

This workspace is going to allow these teams to collaborate effectively and provide them with the necessary context and direction needed to take the project forward.

2. Make AI your friend.     

There’s no need to get insecure about artificial intelligence — it’s not going to take away your job. Instead, AI will make you better at project management.

AI has allowed for basic, everyday tasks like scheduling to be automated, which is going to give you more time doing more meaningful tasks (that AI can’t perform yet).

For example, AI can provide you with performance insights and visualize data for you, both of which are extremely valuable when it comes to informed decision-making. Similarly, risk estimation is another benefit of AI, which can prevent unnecessary delays during your project.

3. Learn empathy. 

This might seem out of place here, but an emphasis on soft skills has been growing in recent years. 

After all, you’re not really dealing with projects — you’re dealing with people. And understanding their emotions and feelings is going to make project management smooth for you and your project a success.

One good idea is to have a daily 5-minute meeting with your team to understand their concerns and frustrations, and if you can, do something to alleviate them. Of course, leadership books and courses are another good option.

4. Use data to drive your decisions.

This is the age of data. We measure everything and anything that we can. So, it’s not the best idea to make decisions based on personal whims and hunches anymore — gone are those days. 

Today, it is essential that you use tools like Google Data Studio to collect and review data in as much depth as possible and then make decisions based on your analysis. This is another area where artificial intelligence can help you, so make sure you learn to leverage it for this purpose as well. Remember, it’s your friend!

5. Be flexible with your project management methodology. 

There are numerous project management methodologies out there and none will fit all your projects. This is why companies are now using hybrid approaches to project management. 

You’ll have to do a bit of experimentation to determine the best approach for a project, but here’s a basic guide.

Agile — because this is an iterative methodology, you should use this with projects where client feedback is a major part and you have different independent teams working on the same project.

Waterfall — this works best where client feedback isn’t a major part of the project, you know the project timeline well, and no unexpected changes are, well, expected. 

And of course, if a project doesn’t fall completely in either of these categories, you can combine the two methodologies to create an individualized, hybrid model that’s going to ensure your project unfolds smoothly!  

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].