Author: Margot Mora

With a passion for writing, Margot spends her working hours managing content teams and guiding her team at Better Buys. She also brews a mean cup of coffee (single-origin pour-over, of course), and in her spare time, loves to curl up and play on her Nintendo Switch.

Picking the Perfect Project Manager to Oversee a System Selection

Choosing a software system for an organization is something that businesses need to pay special attention to. Such systems do not pick themselves, and when it comes to finding one that is right for your specific company needs, you might encounter conflicting opinions on the matter. Ultimately, you need a capable project manager to evaluate various views and requirements and then identify the right system for your organization. The prefect PM for the job is one who will be able to select a system suited to handle the needs of your organization as a whole, and not just one for the people or teams with the most to say during the selection process. Any management system you choose will be tasked with planning, project governance, and resource and risk management. It will also influence the leading of project teams, sharing and monitoring tasks, and managing the stakeholders of your company. For the sake of illustration, let’s look at the process of selecting a human resources management system or HRMS. Obviously, this type of system combines tracking data with numerous protocols and processes to ensure that the management of human resources, business protocols, and data extrapolation is well managed within the business. A good management system also helps to ensure that your operations do not focus too heavily on data and extrapolation or neglect the needs and evolving requirements of the people involved.   Employ a Professional for the Job Who Can Look at the Whole Picture The size of your company or organization will largely determine what your system needs to be able to achieve. However, no matter where your business is on the spectrum of complexity, a project manager will remain answerable to the head honcho thereof. This may be an HR manager, a suite of company directors, the owner, or the CEO. You need a PM who is able to interface with the head of the company or area being touched most heavily by this decision, as well as the team members who will be utilizing the system. Going back to our example, this person needs to understand what kinds of services HR supplies and how they do it. These are the factors that the system is going to work to improve, after all! Consideration that the first step to implementing a new system that nearly everyone in an organization will be required to use is vital. Every employee at every level of your company is technically a stakeholder, so effective and clear communication with all stakeholders involved is essential for long term success. Proper proficiency, and inclusion of training, if needed, in using a new management system is also crucial for success. This is particularly true for large organizations that require their HRMS systems to achieve complex tasks.   Specialized Experts and/or IT Professionals Some companies may chose an PM for the job who has experience in the field the system most touches. In the case of choosing a HRMS, a PM with experience in human resources or a background as an HR manager makes sense. These managers have specialized expertise in human resources, which means that they will understand what needs to be achieved and where improvements and changes must be made. They should also have experience in project management protocols. If such a professional has worked directly with different types of systems, he/she will be able to reduce the trial and error factor when the implementation stage comes. If an organization has an in-house IT department, the managers therein will probably offer an opposite set of skills. Following our example of the HRMS selection process, IT professionals have more experience in technological projects, and may not be as capable of handling the nuances that HR is accustomed to navigating. This is why experts recommend a company focus on their IT and HR strategies separately, while still encouraging the departments to communicate effectively and find mutually beneficial solutions together.   Benefits of an ‘Out of the Box’ or External Solution Ultimately, many organizations may have to come to a compromise or choose multiple professionals—say an HR manager and an IT manager who work well together under the direction of a PM. The right person would be able to implement some project management structures to streamline the process further, such as a user representative group or a project committee. Having a committee in place can also aid in supporting the PM for better decision-making or a joint decision-making processes. There is also an external option available to businesses. That is, consultants. Consultants are dedicated to helping companies and organizations select and implement system solutions. If an expert viewpoint is required, the advice of a consultant is invaluable. Consultants can also be hired only as needed, which could reduce operating costs, especially in smaller businesses or start-ups that do not have significant expendable funds.   Conclusion Understanding how different systems work, what features they offer, and how they can best be incorporated into company culture must all be considered points in order for a sound decision to be made. That’s why picking the perfect project manager is crucial to the system selection process! Don’t forget to select someone who is able to interface with all the parties involved while evaluating the big picture. The perfect PM for the job will also have experience in the field of focus, be able to work well with IT (not against them), and potentially manage a user group for collective decision making.  

How to Streamline Meeting in the Modern Workplace

The workplace has undergone revolutionary changes in the past several years. Avant-garde tech companies were the first to break the stale, depressing mold of cubicles, corner offices, and 9-5 jobs more than 20 years ago. In recent years, though, this trend has spread out to the wider working community. Nowadays, you can find forward-thinking companies creating a more modern workplace regardless of size, location, or services provided. Despite all of this advancement, one staple of the traditional workplace continues to cause frustration. It is that of meetings. Can you relate? The following article will address common meeting problems and how to be successful at streamlining your meetings to meet modern workplace environments.   Common Meeting Problems Too Frequent Many people hold meetings because they feel that is what they “should” be doing, not because there is truly a need for one. There’s nothing wrong with canceling the occasional regularly-scheduled meeting if nothing significant is on the agenda.   Inefficiency Speaking of agendas, there needs to be one…every time! Two of the most common complaints that employees have are that meetings are too long or have no stated purpose.   An Excuse to Exercise Power This could be one of the most frustrating reasons on this list of common meeting meeting problems. Unfortunately, some people—especially managers and higher-ups—may see meetings as a way to remind everyone who is in charge. In these situations, only a few people talk using the occasion to further their own goals, rather than achieving any collective consensus or genuine buy-in.   They Take People Away from the Real Work This problem is somewhat of a necessary evil. While many people would love to avoid meetings entirely, but they have to understand that there are times getting together does serve an important purpose. The problem is that every hour you spend in a meeting takes time from the work that you are expected to deliver on. For people who telecommute, who are required to travel to the office in order to attend meetings, workdays are even more interrupted and productivity reduced. The goal is to find that sweet spot between necessary evil and utility. The good news is that intelligent meeting management is possible! You just have to learn how to streamline things.   Streamlining Solutions for Meetings Utilize Modern Tools Technology is cranking out so many new tools that it can be hard to choose the most appropriate options for your needs. However, there is a variety of meeting management software on the market these days that works well. Such software takes care of the most labor-intensive parts of meetings, such as scheduling, preparing agendas, and following up on action items. Some can even conduct sessions for you. Integrating the cloud into meetings and/or meeting preparation can make like things easier for everyone. Namely, making information and documentation available to all parties in real time. This reduces confusion and makes everyone’s life easier.   Create a Flat Hierarchy While many modern companies have attempted to flatten their hierarchies, it’s difficult to completely remove rankings and still have work flow smoothly. Inside meetings, though, everyone should feel empowered to share their ideas, regardless of rank or position. Not only does open communication create a better sense of teamwork, but people who feel like they are dealing with their equals are more likely to persevere when faced with big challenges. A culture where everyone is encouraged to contribute to the conversation is more important than you think.   Integrate your Mobile Workforce More and more people telecommute now. Whether they do it full-time or part-time, chances are, they could be missing out on meetings taking place in the office. That doesn’t have to be the case, though. High-definition conferencing tools now make it feasible for employees to attend meetings virtually. And, we aren’t talking about the awkward, voice-only Skype calls of yesteryear. Skype and other companies have devised ways to bring back that face-to-face element of a meeting. Plus, they offer screen-recording, screen-sharing, and file-sharing features to replicate the feel of a physical meeting that is just sometimes needed.   Keep Things Secure All of these technological solutions may sound like a vast improvement over boring, old traditional meetings. And they are, but they come with a significant drawback, too—security concerns. Moving all or even some of your meetings into a virtual space can set you up for security breaches. Since many meetings involve sensitive information of some sort, maintaining privacy is of utmost importance. There are two main types of security breaches that you should be aware of when utilizing modern meeting technology. The first is snooping, which refers to accessing audio communication shared over the web. Without properly secured communication lines, competitors can listen in on your meetings and glean valuable information. Hacking, on the other hand, refers to unlawfully accessing data in some form or fashion. Companies that have not established effective security protocols leave their employees open to hacking during meetings that utilize the internet. Such weak security protocols include failure to encrypt sensitive information or accepting weak, easily guessable passwords for log-ins.   Conclusion Many of the most common complaints about meetings can be mitigated or solved entirely by rethinking what you’ve always done and, instead, considering a streamlined modern approach. Both overly-frequent and inefficient meetings can be improved by utilizing technology, by inviting only necessary attendees, and/or making sure you stick to planned topic(s). Create a flat hierarchy within the meeting space, which will empower employees of all levels to share their thoughts. This approach also stops others from commandeering the agenda for their own benefit. Integrate your mobile workforce into relevant meetings allowing employees to maintain their work/life balance while still fully participating in company life and decision-making. So, get streamlining and see for yourself how much better your meetings can be!