How to implement projects more effectively


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1. Why email is actually obsolete
1.1 The reason email is so popular
1.2 Negative consequences from excessive use of email

2. The days of the lone wolf are over

3. How to introduce structured meeting management

4. Efficient meeting management in 7 steps
4.1 Correctly budgeting communication tools
4.2 Collaborating across locations on a small budget
4.3 Effectively planning project communication

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How to implement projects more effectively

  1. 1. Successful Project Communication How to implement projects more efficiently and ensure that your team understands you Sponsored by
  2. 2. Just a generation ago, the Internet wasn’t yet the permanent fixture of everyday office life it is today. A mail boy from the company’s post room delivered important information and documents to the recipient’s desk. The introduction of email led to a quantum leap forward in the exchange of information. Thanks to the cost-effective exchange of information via email, today business partners can make decisions much more quickly. And thanks to email, employees are also able to implement these management decisions more quickly. In particular, communication across national and local boundaries has become much easier and drives today’s economic globalisation. Broadband Internet and Web 2.0 have driven the development even further. Social networks have long outgrown their infancy and have firmly established themselves in the B2B sector. LinkedIn and Xing are just a few examples of how business people use the new technologies to create new business opportunities— especially to communicate across great distances. Messaging systems are already used widely in many businesses and have made their way from student learning groups right up to senior management. Distributed project teams and employees are the rule rather than the exception. And a new generation of tools for better collaboration over long distances is available to help provide modern project teams with competitive advantages. 2
  3. 3. CONTENT 1. Why email is actually obsolete.........................................................................4 1.1 The reason email is so popular.............................................................5 1.2 Negative consequences that may result from excessive use of email ��������6 2. The days of the lone wolf are over...................................................................8 3. How to introduce structured meeting management.......................................12 4. Efficient meeting management in 7 steps......................................................14 4.1 Correctly budgeting communication tools...........................................24 4.2 Collaborating across locations on a small budget...............................24 4.3 Effectively planning project communication.......................................25 5. Conclusion......................................................................................................26 Successful Project Communication 3
  4. 4. Why Email Is Actually Obsolete 1
  5. 5. 1. Why Email Is Actually Obsolete Objectives are usually broken down into sub-objectives which are then implemented by project teams. Members of these teams often work from different locations. Examples are IT projects where programmers or IT specialists often only collaborate for the duration of the project and external specialists support the salaried IT staff on a freelance basis. Meanwhile, project work is being performed in organisations of all sizes and in virtually every department. This can be, for example, planning a marketing campaign in collaboration with an agency, or specific sales actions that take place at different company locations. As a result, the rapid exchange of information via email is increasing excessively— with a subtle negative effect: real-time communication between employees, customers and business partners is decreasing.Joint meetings,eye contact and non- verbal communication fall by the wayside, which often leads to misunderstandings as well as overburdened employees and managers—with the result that more and more management is necessary and less work is getting done. 1.1 The reason email is so popular Control: Employees are the “masters” of their own email box. They can see who the messages are from and who they’re addressed to, and can then respond “in due time”. The danger is that recipients may postpone responding to unpleasant inquiries or initially just “sit out” problems, while the sender is happy to just have some proof of his action. Quick communication across time zones: Email communication can work to its own advantage whenever an immediate response isn’t required or when the sender and the recipient are collaborating across very different time zones.The information is ready to be reviewed, and the recipient can consider an answer and then respond. 5 1 Successful Project Communication
  6. 6. However, the big advantages of email-communication have also ensured that employees increasingly use asynchronous communication methods, when in actuality real-time communication is required—which can have significant negative consequences. 1.2 Negative consequences that may result from excessive use of email Confusion: Even the most unimportant questions find their way into one’s email box—from questions about what to do for lunch to things like “Could you come over to my office for a moment?” from the person who’s working next door. This makes it more difficult to choose between what’s important and what’s not. 6
  7. 7. Loss of productivity: For many employees as well as managers, continuously checking email can become addictive.“I receive emails, therefore I am (important).” Email addicts not only require a steady stream of incoming emails, they also do everything they can to maintain it:They declare the digital letter to be their favourite means of communication and also make extensive use of the CC-function, so that ultimately many employees spend a lot of time processing emails rather than focusing on the actual work or concentrating on ongoing project objectives. Inefficiency: Instead of clarifying matters in person, managers and employees attempt to clarify questions via electronic mail.This provokes additional questions if something is unclear or the recipient misunderstands the content of the email. If the exchange just happens between two people (sender and recipient) it is easy to keep track of it. However, if the sender addresses his question to multiple recipients, e.g. an entire project team, it can take off into other directions and unnecessarily delay finding a solution to the problem. 7 Successful Project Communication
  8. 8. The Days of the Lone Wolf Are Over 2
  9. 9. 2. The Days of the Lone Wolf Are Over If you‘d like to know how much productive time is lost due to excessive use of email, all you need is a stopwatch or an app with a stopwatch function. On an ordinary working day, take the self-test and measure the time you spend processing emails. On the following day, only respond to those emails for which the recipient requires a written confirmation or requests a file. Answer all other email inquiries from people at distant locations by telephone, or use a meeting tool like GoToMeeting if you need to discuss something with several persons. You will find that not only have you drastically reduced the time required for correspondence, but you have also dramatically increased your productivity. Synchronous communication in daily business is particularly beneficial for complex tasks where many people are working together to solve a problem.This is especially true with meetings. A perceived disadvantage of this form of collaboration—that still prevails in many companies—is that all participants need be present at the same place at the same time. The solution to this problem: online meetings with video conferencing. These communication tools have technically matured and long outgrown the “instant messenger” phase. Special business solutions not only work securely and reliably, but also meet the highest security standards, such as those required for data- sensitive industries, like financial institutions. 9 2 Successful Project Communication
  10. 10. The advantages of online meetings are obvious: ► Because all participants can effectively collaborate with each other, problems get solved more quickly ► Distances are no longer an issue since the communication happens in the cloud. People can participate in discussions or contribute ideas directly from their own desk. ► Decisions can be reached more quickly. If the provider offers mobile apps for smart phones or tablet devices, project managers or team members can initiate meetings or attend conferences while on the go.This minimises delays caused by the absence of important participants. ► Misconceptions are a thing of the past. Modern meeting tools offer high- resolution video transmission, thus enabling easy video conferencing. Unlike with SMS, email, or most other asynchronous communication methods, attendees are able to see each other, just as if they were conversing face-to-face. ► Huge savings through the elimination of travel costs. A professional web conferencing solution like GoToMeeting usually pays for itself after the first video conference or the first online meeting. Project members don’t need to get together at a central location; they can always meet online. 11 Successful Project Communication
  11. 11. How to Introduce Structured Meeting Management 3
  12. 12. 3. How to Introduce Structured Meeting Management The foregoing points have demonstrated the importance of synchronous communication among project members. However, rules need to be established to ensure that this new way of communicating is used the right way in daily project work. Initially, many employees may find it difficult to scale back the use of their “beloved” email. But experience has shown that within a short time the benefits become clear: ► Employees gain more time—even for personal things. ► There is less postponing or pushing problems “to the back of one’s mind.” Delays, such as waiting for email replies, are eliminated. ► There are fewer misunderstandings. Project members can explain details live on screen in real-time. ► Team-building is experiencing a renaissance, particularly when it comes to geographically distributed employees. ► An increase in the “cross-fertilisation of ideas” in synchronous dialogue as all project participants can simultaneously share their thoughts. 13 3 Successful Project Communication
  13. 13. Meeting management starts long before the first meeting. It is important that executives and project managers exemplify the new meeting culture in order to prevent individual team members from resisting the changes. EFFICIENT MEETING MANAGEMENT IN 7 STEPS: 14
  14. 14. 1st Step: Meet selectively Get an overview of the available meeting tools.Good solutions should at least have the following features: Possibility for meeting participation via telephone and VoIP in the same session. This is the only way to guarantee that all team members can participate in group meetings any time and ensures maximum flexibility. High-definition video conference function. Face-to-face communication is vital and should happen in a natural and realistic way. It is important that several participants can show their webcam streams simultaneously. Recording function. Make sure that you can digitally record your meetings— including the audio portion. By recording the entire project meeting you can save yourself the hassle of taking down meeting minutes.The meeting organiser and all attendees must be able to share each other’s screens. That way, each attendee can present his ideas to the other participants. Make sure the solution provider offers comprehensive support. Customer support should be available worldwide and in different languages. Don’t forget that project teams are often composed of globally distributed team members. Find out if a consultant will be available during the evaluation phase (and later), and whether the potential solution is fully scalable. No matter if internal or customer-based—projects are critical to your business success. Professional tools cost money, but you’re also entitled to excellent service and support. 1 15 Successful Project Communication
  15. 15. 2nd Step: Don’t meet in the dark Congratulations! You’ve settled on a good candidate. Make sure that the vendor offers you a test phase during which you can extensively test the meeting solution. Don’t just test the individual features. Try out different scenarios. Ask yourself the following three questions: • Does the tool run on various operating systems, e.g. Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android? • Can you also join meetings from mobile devices such as tablets or smart phones and—more importantly—can you initiate video conferences from these devices? • Don’t just rely on your own experience as a meeting organiser, ask your participants how easy it is for them to work with the meeting tool. Create a positive/negative list and discuss any negative points with the solution provider. Always keep in mind that a meeting tool must be intuitive and easy to use. Only that way you ensure adoption of the solution and achieve the positive effects described above. Have you asked your team members about their experiences? 2 TIP Test HD video conferences with multiple participants. Register for a free trial at 16
  16. 16. 3rd Step: Keep your meetings to the point Congratulations! You have selected a meeting solution and provided your project members with the required access information. Now set an official launch date for its use. Schedule a meeting and inform all project members that participation is mandatory. Meeting solutions such as GoToMeeting from Citrix offer an integrated invitation system that works with Outlook.You can specify in your invitations which members must attend the meeting and for which members attendance is optional.You can easily send your invitation from Outlook and even start a conference directly from your calendar. Your participants receive the meeting invitation and can confirm the date and time, suggest an alternative date and time, or decline participation.You can then monitor the current status of members who have accepted and those who have declined in Outlook. 3 17 TIP With GoToMeeting you can schedule team meetings with just a few mouse clicks. Your meeting information will automatically appear in Outlook. Successful Project Communication
  17. 17. 4th Step: Meet face-to-face If your meeting solution supports video conferencing, you should make the use that feature mandatory.Your distributed project members should feel like they are in the same room. Sometimes project members don’t like to see themselves on the screen.That’s because in everyday life people can’t observe themselves speaking. However, you’re certainly never heard of a case in which one of your team members has pulled a paper bag over his head during an on-site meeting. Therefore, never allow anonymity in a team video conference.An exception is, of course, if participants have too little bandwidth for a fluid transmission, or your meeting solution’s maximum number of webcam streams is lower than the number of team members. In this case, you should at least make sure that the video images of the meeting organiser and the person currently speaking are shown. 4 TIP “Smart” video conferencing solutions calculate the maximum video frame size for each participant based on the available Internet bandwidth. This ensures a smooth transmission. 18
  18. 18. 5th Step: Meet regularly Schedule a regular date and time to meet with your team or project members.With GoToMeeting, for example, you can automatically schedule a recurring weekly meeting.These meetings will automatically appear on your Outlook calendar, including all meeting information. Common rituals can help your team bond and generate assurance.Your regular team meeting should be held at least once a week. During this meeting, give each team member the opportunity to communicate his achievements in the collaborative project and to offer suggestions for improvement. Updates can happen at the end of the meetings. Each team member should be allotted the same amount of time to speak. Five minutes per person is often enough.This time limit helps members to focus on truly important matters even before the meeting begins. As meeting organiser, begin the regular team meeting by reading the meeting agenda.This allows all participants to get an overview of the issues that need to be discussed.Then provide a “bird’s eye view” of the project status and inform your team of upcoming changes as well as the progress of the project. 5 19 TIP With GoToMeeting you can easily schedule recurring team meetings. Attendees can import all of the dates and times into their Outlook calendar with just a few mouse clicks. Successful Project Communication
  19. 19. 6th Step: Meet on an equal footing A major advantage of online meetings and group video conferences is that you as organiser have control over the process. In regular meetings some less extroverted project members might tend to hold back their thoughts or get easily “overruled” by other participants. So when you enforce a time limit for speaking, make sure that these participants also have an opportunity to present their ideas and suggestions. To ensure that you’ve correctly understood your project team members, summarise the essence of the respective contributions and have the participants confirm it. Unlike with an on-site meeting, there’s no need to jot down the meeting minutes. Instead, just record your online meeting and make the recording available to your project members. Not only do you achieve the necessary transparency, but this way you also avoid having to respond to time-consuming email queries. 6 TIP Mute disruptive attendees in your online meetings. With GoToMeeting you can mute individual participants—for example, when you suspect that disruptive background noises come from a particular attendee. 20
  20. 20. 7th Step: Meet intelligently Keep a record of the most important points discussed. If some actions are required, appoint someone to write down the following: • what needs to be done • when it needs to be completed • who’s responsible for it. Forward a list of all these action items to all meeting participants. Either send them per email, which however carries the risk that it will go unnoticed in the daily flood of email traffic, or save them to a central location accessible for all project participants. The list of action items and recording of the meeting can also form the basis for your next meeting. For example, you can store your summary along with the recordings of your online meetings in Podio, your shared “virtual project office.” Or use an online filesharing service such as ShareFile, which meets the highest safety standards and appears in your file explorer as a normal computer drive. The best part is—that‘s precisely how it works. Thanks to the recording, your project members can review the points discussed at any time. It allows you to avoid annoying email inquiries and misunderstandings from the outset. 7 21 TIP Use a shared virtual space such as, where you can publish shared documents so that they’re always accessible for everyone. Successful Project Communication
  21. 21. The Most Important Tools 4
  22. 22. 4. The Most Important Tools for Successful Project Communication In many international project teams, the project communication consists more of theoretical statements of intent rather than practical implementation—even when all participating project members understand its importance and have agreed on the rules of communication within the team. It would be wrong to imply that there is a lack of willingness to communicate among project participants, because there are often other factors that prevent the efficient exchange of communication within project teams. Three main reasons for a lack of project communication: 1 The necessary communication tools for a clear and efficient exchange of information are not available. 2 The budget isn’t sufficient to supply all the project participants with the right communication tools. 3 Project communication wasn’t considered in the project planning. 23 4 Successful Project Communication
  23. 23. 4.1 Correctly budgeting communication tools Plan for the necessary tools in advance of your projects and evaluate them according to your synchronous and asynchronous communication needs. For synchronous communication, online meetings and video conferences are more cost-effective and efficient than telephone conferences and business trips. As for asynchronous communication, virtual “project offices” are an excellent alternative to email. The key benefits: All documents and the entire project communication are stored in a central location accessible for all participants— independent of any given infrastructure. At the same time, project members can carry on discussions there, leave messages or comment on procedures. 4.2 Collaborating across locations on a small budget GoToMeeting offers video conferencing and online meetings at a low fixed price without hidden costs. The monthly costs are usually less than a full tank of petrol. Organisational preparations for business trips are completely eliminated.Unlike with telephone conferences, all project participants can simultaneously communicate during an online meeting and even work together on shared documents. The online service Podio offers a Facebook-like virtual workspace for project groups that practically eliminates the need for emails. Project members can leave messages within their so-called “workspaces,” comment on the messages of other project members or add files. A major benefit, however, are the customisable apps, which can be “built” without any programming knowledge. As an example, if a project manager needs an overview of when his project members were not in attendance, he can create and add an absence app in the workspace with just a few mouse clicks. The above tools are available at a reasonable flat rate. Project communication costs can be accurately estimated and passed on to the project’s contractor. A return of investment (ROI) is usually achieved after just a short period of use. Not only are there significant travel cost savings, an even greater benefit lies in the increased collaboration efficiency with which the projects are undertaken. 24
  24. 24. 4.3 Effectively planning project communication Project managers often forget the “how” of project communication—especially during the project preparation phase. Telephone, email and business trips are accepted as given resources, whereas new and better solutions are often not taken into account. Problems caused by information exchanges across multiple sites can seriously impact the project after the work has begun, and strain budgets especially when more travel is needed—for example, if the project manager needs to function as liaison between clients and various locations. To ensure efficient collaboration across locations and national boundaries, project managers should determine prior to the project, what tools are required and what steps need to be taken. This ensures that each project member can efficiently exchange information with all other members. 25 Successful Project Communication
  25. 25. Conclusion 5
  26. 26. 5. Conclusion Nearly every manager and employee is faced with project work on a daily basis. Usually not all project members are present in the same location. This makes effective communication difficult and causes project delays. In many cases traditional tools such as email or the telephone are outmoded when it comes to exchanging information in real time and avoiding misunderstandings. New tools such as online meetings, video conferencing and virtual work platforms help project workers to effectively communicate with other project members across different time zones and geographic locations. These solutions reduce project time, save the customer money and lead to a greater competitive advantage for the company. 27 5 Successful Project Communication
  27. 27. North America 7414 Hollister Avenue Goleta, CA 93117 U.S.A. T +1 805 690 6400 Europe, Middle East & Africa Citrix Online UK Ltd Chalfont Park House Chalfont Park, Gerrards Cross Bucks SL9 0DZ United Kingdom T +44 (0) 800 011 2120 Asia Pacific Level 3, 1 Julius Ave Riverside Corporate Park North Ryde NSW 2113 Australia T +61 2 8870 0870 About Citrix Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is a leader in mobile workspaces, providing virtualization, mobility management, networking and cloud services to enable new ways to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, personal workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. This year Citrix is celebrating 25 years of innovation, making IT simpler and people more productive. With annual revenue in 2013 of $2.9 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at © 2014 Citrix Online, UK Ltd. All rights reserved. Citrix, GoToAssist, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, OpenVoice, Podio and ShareFile are trademarks of Citrix or a subsidiary thereof, and are or may be registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Mac, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Successful Project Communication Your partners for successful project communication. For more tips and insights - visit our blog! Our online service for better collaboration Get your free trial version! United Kingdom: 0800 011 2120 Our online service for improved organisation 335EN_EB/2013-07-12 28