Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Jigs Gaton’s session, Project Management, Critical Event Management, and COVID-19: Reflections, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.
Kyle: All right, hello everyone, and welcome to today’s MPUG webinar. Project management, critical event management, and COVID-19 reflections. My name is Kyle and I’ll be the moderator today. And this session is eligible for one PMI PDU in the Strategic category. MPUG activity code for claiming the session in on the screen now.
Kyle: And, like all MPUG webinars, a recording of this session will be posted at mpug.com shortly after the live presentation ends, and all MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit. All the sessions you watch on demand can be submitted to your webinar history, and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted. Within you history, you can print or download your transcript and certificates of completion, including the one for today. And you can access that by logging on to mpug.com and click the My Account button, and then click on Transcripts.
Kyle: As you can see, today’s session will be a little bit different than the typical MPUG webinar, and we plan to open things up for discussion and questions during the second half of the presentation. So if you have any questions or comments, or want to join in on the discussion, please chat that over to us at any time using the chat question box on the GoToWebinar control panel. And we’ll go ahead and get started.
Kyle: So we’re very happy to welcome the members of our panel today. Claudia Dent is the senior VP of product marketing for Everbridge. She previously served as senior VP of product management for over seven years, leading the company’s rapid product expansion and diversification to become the global leader in critical event management. Claudia has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and has held executive positions in product management, marketing, business development, and general management at companies such as IBM, Rational Software, Interleaf, Compuware and Gomez.
Kyle: Sorin Fiscu is CEO if Housatonic Software, a company that develops software solutions for product managers such as Project Plan 365. Renowned for apps that work with Microsoft Project data, Sorin leads a team of software developers that are well versed in PM methodologies and practices. Getting a little bit of feedback here, sorry folks. Okay. Picking up from that, Sorin is also working on ERIX, an AI assistant for building MS project plans, and one that helps PMs in their day-to-day activities.
Kyle: Jigs Gaton is CEO of Phoenix Consulting and Training Worldwide, a company that helps developers design and implement better programs and build capacity with training and other resources. Jigs has over 30 years of experience in both the private and public sectors working as a project manager and PM consultant. He is currently based in Kathmandu, helping organizations with post-earthquake reconstruction and other disaster-relief efforts.
Kyle: So, welcome everyone, and at this time I’ll hand it over to you, Jigs, to get us started with today’s presentation.
Jigs Gaton: Well thanks, Kyle.
Kyle: And you should be able to share your screen at this time.
Jigs Gaton: Great. So.
Kyle: There we go.
Jigs Gaton: Let me pull up a deck here. Great. All right, well welcome everybody. Great quote from Bill Gates back in 2015, eh? Thanks Kyle, again for that introduction. I’ll just say a few words. I’m retired. I’ve been in the business for 40 years, living in Kathmandu, Nepal. I have lots of PM friends still in the business. I get calls when they need me. Sorin happens to be one of those old friends. We are old school project managers, I would say. Between Sorin and I we probably have almost a century of experience, or over a half century anyway. And Claudia’s a new friend, but I feel like I know her because she’s an ex-IBMer like me. Once an IBMer, always and IBMer.
Jigs Gaton: So my intent, in the first place, was just to find out how the PM community was handling COVID, and perhaps I was thinking about lessons learned, getting ahead of the curve, helping out in some way while this was all unfolding back in February when I went into lockdown, first of February. And I wrote an article at MPUG and put in a survey to collect some data on project managers in this situation, although that didn’t work out too well. First I got kicked off of Reddit. You can’t have surveys on Reddit, I had no idea. But I managed to get some data from other sources, and I’ll be talking about those results in just a sec here.
Jigs Gaton: But really, my intent was just to see what could be done, and how we were doing. And from past experience, I know when these crises happen, project managers usually get the brunt of the problem and have to sort through it, and it can be very stressful and whatnot. So anyway, I did the survey, I got some low [inaudible 00:06:21] turnout on the MPUG one, a high tech one from Survey Monkey which came out with a report that asked very similar questions that I was asking, so I found that very interesting and pulled some of their data. The report is curiosity and agility, we’ll link it down below.
Jigs Gaton: I also talked to a lot of my PM nomad friends from around the world. I’ve been on the road for about 20 years now, and interesting enough, before I was on the road it seemed like things were easier. But as soon as I got out of the US and started doing project management in other countries, continents, like Africa and here, Asia. Things got rougher. We’ll talk about that in a minute. And then there’s my wife, where I get a lot of information all the time. But she happens to work at the World Bank, which isn’t a real bank. It’s an international [inaudible 00:07:23] organization of 10,000-plus people, plus contractors. But the point here is that I’m hearing Zoom calls 24 by 7 here while she’s online meeting, and we’re both hard of hearing so I sort of vicariously listen in. So I feel like I know what’s happening at least in one enterprise.
Jigs Gaton: What I found out was that, as PMs, we’re not very optimistic at the moment. We’re a little bit depressed, except for the agile PMs who seem to be having a good time. As far as an industry breakdown, what I wanted to look into a little bit was how industries were adapting to all these changes that are happening. 80% of PMs in tech, advertising, airlines, aeronautics, industries like that seem to be doing very well. Nonprofits, as normal. Manufacturing seems to be in the dumper, and disappointing is that government PMs that were surveyed don’t seem to be faring very well. And, of course governments move slowly, but in times like this we’d hope that they’d move a little faster, right?
Jigs Gaton: I asked people if they had a risk management plan, basically. Yes, of course, we all do. Most of us, right? Did we use it? Are we using it? Well, not so much. Some of are, some of us aren’t. Is it working? Or risk management plan. Yeah, of course it is, kind of, maybe. Well, that’s understandable. We’re not out of this yet so whatever we’re doing, we won’t know if it worked or not for a little while. Now I found this interesting. Have you ever run a simulation to test the emergency communications, your emergency procedures, your risk mitigation efforts? No, wish we had. Something to think about here. Simulations.
Jigs Gaton: What’s your health? Well, most of us are healthy, it seems. And I just want to say one thing. I really sincerely hope and wish everyone and their families are healthy in the PM community, and all the other communities, and that we can all pull together and get through this. I’m a little bit worried about mental health. Seems like, from what respondents are saying, we’re all going a little bit nuts.
Jigs Gaton: Some of the countermeasures that the respondents mentioned that they were taking. Of course, all the virtual. Excuse me, that’s my first cough on camera. Physical separation, limited work hours, rolling shifts. Scheduling must be really interesting right now. I’m not doing any, but I really feel for the ones who are. Universities are bringing in students at different times, workplaces have different schedules. Wow. If you didn’t have a work from home plan before, you have one now. Excuse me. Figures I get a cough right when I’m speaking.
Jigs Gaton: So what I really found interesting about local surrogates replacing international travel. I actually have a friend who is using Team Viewer augmented reality on a phone. Got a job. He’s being sent out by an inspector in the US with the phone and the augmented reality app and just basically following instructions.
Jigs Gaton: Lessons learned so far. I don’t know if you can see my cat. Kitty. She’s here, come here. Isn’t everybody doing this now? I don’t know. Cats must have something about Zoom, they love it. Anyway, one of the lessons learned that someone wrote in about, work backward from complete failure, I found fascinating. The idea that maybe plans can be started from failure backwards just fascinated me. Make a plan, asteroid’s going to hit the Earth, what are you going to do? What’s the best we can if something like that happens? And then have that as a backup plan, along with the regular plan. That’s interesting.
Jigs Gaton: Several people just said if you’re not affected, just keep on going and go slow and be patient. Which I think is some really good advice. I know that, from experience, when things go wrong we tend to, adrenaline starts running, we start thinking too fast, faster. And then we start doing things that we shouldn’t be doing. Start looking for that risk mitigation plan, can’t find it.
Jigs Gaton: So, what software tools? What are people using? Well, our tried and true MS Project, MS Teams, Confluence, Zoom of course, Google Meet. But the one thing, this came up several times. Heat maps. Wow, that must sound terrible. Anyway, I know when the pandemic first started, I found myself looking at the John Hopkins University heat map every morning. 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000. I just gave up. But the idea of a heat map intrigued me. Just in general. In project planning, and in mapping things out, and setting up schedules. Having some heat maps of events, situations, circumstances, that sounds great to me.
Jigs Gaton: Because, from my experience, and this is the question I always come down to, is can AI save us from whatever it is that we’re going through? In particular, COVID and the next black swan to come. And how are we using AI? That thought is always in the back of my mind. And so, while I was in the middle of the survey and writing the article, I was doing some research on AI and the pandemic. And I came across Claudia’s company’s website, [inaudible 00:15:16], and the words, the acronym CEM, Critical Event Management, it intrigued me very much. And I started thinking, “Well, how can CEM be integrated with PM? Is there some synergy there?” Because what I was looking at on her website was some AI tools that were showing what situations on the ground were at a particular time and I know that as a project manager, working on a global project, that’s something that you have to think about all the time, or it’s in the back of your mind. What’s going to go wrong in the other country?
Jigs Gaton: Anyway, I’d like to just turn this over to Claudia now so that she can tell us about how her tools could possibly help us out as project managers during this black swan event, and the ones that are bound to come in the future. Climate change events. Things were easy in the 80’s as a project manager. At IBM, I worried about snow days. That was the biggest thing I had to worry about. Now, project managers have a lot more. Did I get? So go ahead [crosstalk 00:16:36]. Yeah.
Claudia Dent: Yeah, so hello everyone. And I certainly understand the challenges of project management in the sense that often times one of the key functions that I’ve run during the course of my career is more on the project management side for agile development. So I did have to chuckle when Chuck said that the agile project managers were all doing pretty well. Probably because software enables us to work more effectively at home, but that’s not true for so many other projects. So that brings us into the whole notion of Critical Event Management and what we do to help our customers.
Claudia Dent: So in many ways, Everbridge was built for these black swan events. That is what we do for a living, so to speak. We deliver a software as a service platform that enables organizations to understand which risk events happening at any given time around the world the things that are going to, we call those the bad things. So on the right hand side, we have a bunch of bad things and on the left hand side, we have all your good things. And whenever bad things intersect with good things, that’s when you can get a critical event. And we help you not only understand what is critical, and what you would need to respond to, but automate that response.
Claudia Dent: And so, when we think about risk events, we don’t just think about external things, and we’ll talk about some of the intelligence we have around bringing external data in, but there’s also things that happen internally. Whether it’s a disruption to a particular process, a safety issue, system failures. All those things that, as project managers, you live with day in and day out. Disruptions, et cetera.
Claudia Dent: And on the left hand side we have all of the good things, all the assets. And of course, for project managers, people are critical. The people who are working on your projects, the ones who are really delivering, and they can be located in many different places. They can be traveling or not lately, as Jigs mentioned leveraging programs to bring in more surrogate workers because travel is kind of shut down now. There are many situations where you have to have someone on the site, you can’t have someone working remotely to drive a crane. Well, maybe someday you can. That’s definitely a possibility, but today a lot of things have to happen on the ground.
Claudia Dent: So understanding where your projects are, those project locations. Where all the people are with all the right skills that you need is critically important, so we enable you to upload that into our system so that when a risk event does happen, we can instantly understand which projects are impacted, the people working on those project. Because you may have remote workers working on a project and something happens that, normally, you wouldn’t even have your sights on because it’s happening in Kathmandu and your project is in London, and you forget the fact that Jigs is an important part of that project. So this enables you not to worry about that. Those locations can be dynamic, so if people are traveling you understand exactly where they are. It accounts for that dynamic movement, not only of people but of assets as well. And in a nutshell, we help you respond to any critical events.
Claudia Dent: We talked about inputs, right? And this is where some of our intelligence comes into play. We have global risk intelligence that we source from 22,000 different trusted sources, and we’re able to have some automation behind that, and intelligence, so that we’re serving up accurate information incredibly quickly. That’s key, too. If there is a tornado, you want to know that really quickly. If there’s a hazardous situation, hazmat fire or something, you want to know that really quickly.
Claudia Dent: Now, you don’t want to know hundreds of things that are happening at any given moment in time, though, so we do help you correlate. We also take in your critical events, whether they be things in supply chain, an industrial accident that might destabilize things for a while, IT things, we’re all aware of these things. And then also any kind of sensors and devices that are monitoring either security, or thermometers, or anything like that, can also create alerts.
Claudia Dent: And again, the big thing is that you have to understand, though, is that alert something you really care about? A fire near an office isn’t that important if it’s a mile away. If the fire is a block from a manufacturing facility that has hazardous materials, well that is something you care about. So enabling automation around that assessment is the first thing. Taking in that global risk intelligence, your intelligence, et cetera, and then locating who is impacted by that. Who do you need to evacuate? What projects are going to suffer? What skills to you need to bring to bear to mitigate the situation?
Claudia Dent: And the other key thing to note is that COVID obviously is a giant critical event, right? It’s ongoing, it’s something that we are monitoring all the time, and I’ll talk about that in a few slides. We also have a heat map, too, but I want to make some comments about that. But something internal can also disrupt [crosstalk 00:23:25]. Go ahead. Is there a question, or?
Kyle: Nope, [crosstalk 00:23:33] Sorry.
Claudia Dent: Okay. No worries, no worries. So an outbreak at a project site, somebody self reports. A thermal camera detects that somebody’s temperature is high. Those are also things around COVID that you have to quickly assess. So once you understand all those things, the idea is of course to have a way to quickly respond to those. And that’s another thing, is that we orchestrate that response. So maybe if somebody self reported, you want to immediately do contact tracing. We automate that process. You want to literally control devices, you want to limit access to a building because there’s an outbreak so you want to shut down the badge access control systems. You want to initiate a bunch of standard operating procedures, alert people, escalate when a project is being interrupted. All of those kinds of things can be automated as part of a common operating environment, looking globally and worldwide. So that’s what we do, and it’s a very flexible system. So we could spend a lot of time going over all the different possibilities, but I did want to give you the overall landscape.
Claudia Dent: And one thing that Jigs mentioned which I was thought was really interesting, because I did the same thing, right? We actually have our own heat map in our common operating environment and it is based on the John Hopkins University. And I would say that in the beginning, the heat map was interesting because you could see the red growing and spreading. Now, sadly, everything’s kind of red, right? And interestingly, also from a case count perspective.
Claudia Dent: But the conditions are really changing, and one of the things that, as project managers, it’s not just about case counts, it’s around a broader impact. So, for example, being able to understand by geography, by country, by state, what are the quarantines and curfews in effect right now? What kind of reopening guidance is available for that particular geography or state, whatever? What kind of transportation closures and delays? Because these things are changing, right? We started to open up over the summer, and the world started to wake up. We all started to come out from underneath our rocks. And now, you see conditions changing again around the world, and we knew we were going to go into, possibly, a fall, autumn upswing. So now things are closing down again. There are cities, El Paso, Texas, which now has [crosstalk 00:26:33] shut down, et cetera. So we want to give you more than just a heat map, and that is giving you an understanding, at any point in time, of a more broader impact.
Claudia Dent: Disasters are not waiting. We’ve been pounded, today we’ve got Zeta breathing down our neck in New Orleans, right? We’ve had a number of hurricanes. We’ve had hurricanes positioned to hit Florida when they are at the peak of the pandemic. We’ve got a typhoon now in, I think there’s one that’s threatening Vietnam now. So it’s not just about understanding the impacts of a hurricane or the impact of a typhoon in Vietnam, it’s understanding the full landscape. What are the impacts of COVID mingled with a hurricane? How are you going to evacuate people in a hurricane or a typhoon? How are you going to make sure that they get to higher ground in a way that is socially distance safe? You can’t pack people into a shelter like you would be doing under normal circumstances. So it’s the compact effects of things which are super important.
Claudia Dent: Protests is another thing that could possibly impact the progress of projects. We had civil unrest, we know, here in the United States starting in the June timeframe. That spread around the world, and now we’re entering into another phase of potential protests. So, for example, Everbridge has added a new threat feed which is really related to changing conditions around the 2020 US election because we know that might take some time to resolve, as all the mail in ballots have to be counted, et cetera, and there could be some unrest during that time period of resolution. So being able to understand that has become more important. And again, it’s all those combined threats. A hurricane, on top of a protest, on top of COVID. So having that full landscape understood and how it’s going to impact your projects, and automating those responses, and being able to be nimble around it.
Claudia Dent: I thought it was really interesting looking at some of the results from the survey around risk management plans, because sometimes risk management plans, flat plans that don’t provide any dynamic interaction can be very frustrating to use because they don’t account for a protest near a project site during a pandemic. So you have to be able to have something that is more living and dynamic, and that’s really what Everbridge tries to bring to the table for people. A way to look at those things in a dynamic changing world.
Claudia Dent: Obviously, a lot of our customers use this in their global security operations center, but during COVID some of those people are all working remote and things have been closed down. So it’s not just a tool that you use centrally, it’s also used for remote purposes as well. So that you can get that global view of, here’s all my assets and here are the alerts that are impacting my specific assets. People, employees, offices, warehouses, supply chain, et cetera. So it’s a totally virtual environment.
Claudia Dent: So that was really the prepared remarks I had to get us started. I’m interested in hearing any questions, and hearing from other folks as we move through the panel today.
Kyle: Thanks Claudia, appreciate that. And just a reminder to everyone, we will open things up in just a bit here after Sorin speaks, and any questions of comments you have, feel free to chat those over and we’ll take those on toward the end of the session. And Sorin, I will go ahead and make you the presenter so you can share your screen, if you’d like.
Sorin Fiscu: Can you hear me okay?
Claudia Dent: We can.
Sorin Fiscu: Okay. So as I was watching your slides, Claudia, I was just thinking, putting my software developer hat on, and it’s like, “Wow, wouldn’t it be cool if we can bring all this data into our Microsoft Project type plan, and as we build our plan, as we update our resources, have real time access to that type of information to help us with our project plans.
Claudia Dent: It’s almost like a two part integration with Microsoft Project. One is to bring in the people who are working on things as you make those assignments, right? So you understand if a tornado hits Kansas and you have a remote worker in Kansas, that person may not be able to help you. And then the second part would be on the alerting side. I’m sure that you have project mitigation plans that we could automate once that alert comes through. So those are some things to think about, I think, in the future.
Sorin Fiscu: Well, I think I have a technical glitch here which is not surprising, I’m the software guy, right? Looks like my PowerPoint slides froze on me. But anyway, I’ll just pretty much try to… As you can probably see, I have only three slides. Can you still hear me okay?
Jigs Gaton: Yeah, I can hear you.
Sorin Fiscu: Okay. But let me just give it one more try here. Looks like PowerPoint didn’t like it. So anyway, just a few words about Housatonic Software and what we do, and then we can move to the discussions and the questions. Housatonic Software, we are a companion to Microsoft Project. We expand Microsoft Project’s capabilities in areas where you may want to use different platforms, like run Microsoft Project on Mac. You may want to view your MPP files, you may want to integrate with Google Drive and other cloud providers that are not supported by Microsoft Project. And we also provide real time collaboration for your MPP file, similar to Google spreadsheet where [crosstalk 00:34:27] at the same time during updating your plan.
Sorin Fiscu: A couple years ago, we started to work on ERIX, our version of a virtual project manager assistant and I have to tell you, since the day I told Jigs what we are working on, he keeps coming and asking me, “Is AI going to save the world? Is AI going to save the world?” So I don’t know, Jigs, we’ll see. We’re working on that.
Sorin Fiscu: So part of this presentation, I just wanted to give you a perspective from us being like boots on the ground, working with our clients that are like yourself, Microsoft Project type users. And what trends did we see, and what are some of our reflections on the COVID-19. And one area where we’ve seen a lot of action and a lot of need is in project collaboration. As you can imagine, people are looking into better to share their project plans. Everybody’s working remotely, mostly, and they need those abilities, to leverage the cloud, to do real time collaboration, to work on different platforms and work on those project plans in a more efficient way. So that’s one thing that we’ve seen as a trend in the past months.
Sorin Fiscu: We also seen a major shift to the online training, online classes for project management. We do work with a lot of universities around the world and lately, we’ve seen a huge move. Mostly all universities now are looking for project management online classes, and that’s definitely, I think, a trend that’s going to stay with us even after the COVID crisis.
Sorin Fiscu: We also, through our day by day work with our clients and providing support, and providing consulting to the project community, we’ve seen an increased need to integrate better risk management, risk assessment tools. We do provide a risk tracking module that integrates with our tool and allows our Microsoft Project type users to do risk management inside their project plans. And we also have seen a need for risk type views, similar to what are used into Microsoft Project on the [inaudible 00:37:57] views and the agile views, having the ability to view the project, the big picture project, and to assess risks, and to identify and deal with them much quicker inside your Microsoft Project plan. That’s another thing that we’ve seen out there.
Sorin Fiscu: So I’ll finish here with my last slide, which I think that’s what is displayed on the screen. We hope the COVID-19 crisis will end eventually, we’ll all make it healthy and safer on the other side. But the digital transformation, the implementation of AI tools and capability is just starting. That’s my presentation. Thank you.
Kyle: Thanks Sorin, appreciate that. And before we open up discussion, Jigs, I wanted to reconnect with you here. Was there anything else that you wanted to speak about?
Jigs Gaton: Sure. Am I on? Yeah. Well, I just wanted to mention, just so that everyone knows about Sorin’s software, Project Plan 365. It’s a editor and a viewer that opens up Microsoft Project files, 100% compatible, go back and forth. And what Sorin’s company is doing is adding functionality on top of the .mpp file that doesn’t break it when it goes back into Microsoft Project, so that sort of extends the capabilities of a Microsoft Project user, which I’ve found very useful since I met you, Sorin. Yeah.
Jigs Gaton: And then, let’s see, I wanted to say something about what Claudia was talking about. Yeah. How project planning and project management can join forces with critical event management, I don’t think has been defined yet. Has it, Claudia?
Claudia Dent: Yeah, I would say no. You know what I mean? I think that there are low-hanging fruit things that would be straightforward to do. Loading into Everbridge, like I said, where are the project assets? And we do have construction companies that are doing that, right? So they have projects going on around the world, they’re looking at higher level impacts so that they can understand, out of the thousand projects we have going on around the world, which ones are in jeopardy. And who are the people working on them that would be impacted if some bad thing happened? So you could take that down to a more granular level for a large project and still understand who’s working on that, where are all the resources, et cetera. So there’s the notion of the asset location, which could go between Everbridge and Microsoft Project.
Claudia Dent: The other thing that we have, we also have the notion of a dynamic task list. So if there is some kind of an impact we can automatically launch a task list for the responder to think about what they have to do. And that could come from Microsoft Project. Or it could inform changes that would have to happen in a project plan. And I think the nature of how that… I think, Sorin, that would be something interesting to discuss. It sounds like you have the chops to think about that. I could see a number of different ways in which it could be leveraged.
Jigs Gaton: Right, and that’s the thing. It’s all so new, I think. But when I think about Sorin’s ERIX tool and a voice communication interface into a project tool, and think about your tool also being integrated into a project tool, where I could just start asking the project planning tool, “If I were going to do a project at a certain in this country, show me what are the risks.” And what’s the history?
Jigs Gaton: Also, one of the things I loved about what your tool does is connects all the back end data bits. If you’re having a COVID event, it has links to the regulations on what you should be doing, the CDC guidelines or whatever. But that application could be spread across so many different types of project planning problems, I think. That rich data connections into the project planning tool that you’re using. See, this is my dream. This is what I hope to see before I go. I’ll stop talking now and let anyone ask any questions, or comments that they have. Kyle?
Kyle: Absolutely. Claudia, there was a question, let’s see here, from [Blanca 00:43:52]. Curious which industries are typically using Everbridge?
Claudia Dent: That’s a great question. We are really cross-vertical. We have corporations and private organizations like technology, life sciences, construction, manufacturing, the travel industry, finance, et cetera, are big, big Everbridge users. All the big consultancy firms use us because we can have that dynamic management of assets, et cetera. Travelers, right? We can track travelers. So that’s very large, over thousands of private organizations. We also have a very significant presence in public. State and local governments. We have whole countries. Australia uses us, for example. Singapore, Norway, Sweden. There’s a number of countries. Iceland uses us, et cetera, and we’re starting to grow from a country perspective.
Claudia Dent: And then in the United States, hundreds of counties use us as well. All the COVID stuff that happened in the United States where you saw governments say, “Text Boston COVID to triple eight, triple 7.” That was all Everbridge behind that. The ability to communicate out to people to inform them of changes in regulations, outbreaks, et cetera. And major states use us. Massachusetts, Florida, California, Connecticut, Vermont, all use Everbridge behind the scenes to manage and coordinate communications during critical events. I hope that helped.
Kyle: Yeah, thank you Claudia. The next question came in from Tom. It looks like he shared an experience and then following up with a question here. He said experience from the UK local government, “Our project governance can’t keep pace with the change needed to deliver gains and changes for our citizens. Change was happening with 99% focus on the solutions, not on defining the problems or documenting very much at all.” And then he asks, “What do you do to make or keep change management relevant in a fluid scenario?” So I guess this would be open to anyone that may want to comment.
Claudia Dent: That’s a great question. I’ll let Sorin, if you want to… Since I talked on the last one, you can talk if you want and I’ll fill in some other comments.
Sorin Fiscu: No, go ahead. Go ahead, Claudia. That’s fine.
Claudia Dent: I think that one of the things that is difficult, and we see this around the world, is having plans that you can keep up to date and relevant in a highly changing environment. Now you have to start with something, but when the crap hits the fan, and all of the crisis management people that I’ve talked to and such, one of the things that they’ve said to me is that the plans are just useless because they’re too [inaudible 00:47:38]. What we really need is lighter weight task lists that we can change on the fly to manage situations that, you know. Because a crisis, you can’t predict everything about a crisis. So it’s a blend of having something that’s dynamic that you can respond and add additional things, like a earthquake can cause a fire because a gas tank explodes. Well, you might have an earthquake procedure, but now you have a fire. So you got to be able to quickly add the fire thing into the earthquake thing and make manage that.
Claudia Dent: In addition to that, you do have to have standard operating procedures where, for example, let’s say in COVID you have an outbreak in a facility. In a manufacturing plant, et cetera. You may have local regulations where you need to report to them that outbreak, and you also need to report the actions that you took to contain that. So the other thing that we do is, instead of making the burden of keeping track of all that stuff on stick notes. “We did contact tracing on this day, and we told everyone to evacuate on this day at this time.” The system automatically manages the audit trail. So audit trail management is the other [inaudible 00:49:01] makes that whole process more automated and allows the people who are really trying to do the work, to do the work and have the system handle things like the audit trail, what actions you took, et cetera. I hope that helps.
Sorin Fiscu: What I can add here. This is one area where I believe AI may help, especially when we deal with what if type scenarios and we need, as project managers, we need to run different type of data through a multitude of scenarios and we just need options. And we need to communicate those options and to reach quick decisions that will help with our projects. That’s where I feel AI may help us, and that’s one area we’re focusing in the future on. How do we get the plan with real time information, and how do we provide a set of tools to the project managers that will allow them to make complex and complicated type calculations and get back the information they need. Running right now a what if scenario through Microsoft Project, you’ll know how easy it is, so I’m not going to get into details.
Claudia Dent: Yeah, I think that’s exactly true, and those are some of the things that Everbridge is certainly investigating and looking at. So for example, the last time you had this situation, here’s what you did. Here’s the task list you used, here’s the tasks you added, you know. So you understand what response was taken the last time as a reference. So the other thing you’re doing is you’re using past intelligence to drive future plans instead of trying to create 10 binders worth of crap.
Jigs Gaton: It’s interesting, Claudia, can this dynamic list be spit out of your system? Is that what you do? I mean, you can look at a part of what’s happening and say, “Okay, give me all of the task lists needed in this situation. All the tasks.”
Claudia Dent: We don’t anticipate it yet today, but we allow you to create task lists that you have ready to go, that when an event happens, obviously you seed it with the base task lists. Like if there’s a COVID outbreak in the manufacturing plant, here’s the step you’d take. But we also allow you to add other task lists, and to create task lists on the fly, so it’s very dynamic. And as you’re doing all of that it’s keeping a complete audit trail of everything you’ve done around that particular critical event. Here’s our disinfectant process. And by the way, it’s not just about a flat task list.
Claudia Dent: It’s dynamic in the sense that other people are checking off what they’re doing doing. So that it’s really a team response. As you disinfect floor by floor, the overseer of the disinfectant process is checking that off. So it helps the project manager, instead of calling them every five minutes, “Have you disinfected floor 4?”, and I’m using [crosstalk 00:53:07] examples or whatever, but [crosstalk 00:53:09] more serious things, like “Well, okay, we just did contact tracing and it looks like person A also went to the office building. By the way, we do that automatically, too. We look at where people badged in. We have proximity contact tracing. But obviously you want to handle those things carefully, also. So we give you the automation but the ability to use your brain so that you’re not making mistakes that people could make if they just blindly followed some procedure.
Jigs Gaton: Sure. Yeah, that’s what I was getting at, Claudia. It’d be really nice if there were a tool that just, based on a situation like in an earthquake, spit out all the needed tasks based on task history.
Claudia Dent: We do that. Yeah, we do that. For example, we also understand that you have a bunch of standard operating procedures around an earthquake, but there are fallout things that happen around that, that you would have to add the fire process in, or whatever it is. But that’s all automated. That’s correct, yeah. It does it automatically. If an alert comes in from global intelligence, let’s say a terrorist attack, of a certain severity because you don’t want to create chaos and call everyone in the middle of the night if it’s not… You want to make sure that when you plan these things you’re looking at the right severity and the right response, and how you want to communicate and get the responders activated.
Claudia Dent: So all of that part is automated. In the middle of the night, there’s some kind of event that is severe enough, you activate a plan right away. It gives you all the task lists, the responders can start working on that, the management team. It automatically sets up a conference bridge, so that happens automatically. You get a phone call, you’re joined to the conference bridge. You might be an executive but it’s a plant around the world, so you’re bringing everybody together. Stakeholders, people that need to know, people who need to respond, et cetera. That part is all automated.
Jigs Gaton: Yeah, that’s really cool. After experiencing an earthquake here in 2016, and that was like 6.8. I was doing project management work during the time and I can tell you, we’d been working on earthquake preparedness forever. There are entire organizations here that are just devoted to earthquake preparedness, and funny, nobody had a tent afterwards, in our go bag. In short, it just didn’t work, really. Everybody freaked out. My wife’s on the UN line and we have walkies, and people didn’t even know how to use the walkie-talkie. Everybody’s just, at the same time, jamming on the walkie-talkie, “Earthquake, earthquake, earthquake.” And despite all the training, despite all of the, they actually had drills, it just didn’t go off very well. And so, I’m just [crosstalk 00:56:44].
Claudia Dent: Well, [crosstalk 00:56:44] gone off even worse, though, if you hadn’t done the training, right?
Jigs Gaton: True.
Claudia Dent: Think about that.
Jigs Gaton: Then there’s other situ-
Claudia Dent: That’s what every crisis manager has said to me. The plans never go the way they’re supposed to. So you have to be very prepared to be flexible, and be able to add in tent to the next time around, or whatever.
Kyle: Yeah, thank you.
Jigs Gaton: Any other quest-
Kyle: Believe it or not, we’re right up to the last end point of the webinar here, so-
Jigs Gaton: Really?
Jigs Gaton: So soon?
Kyle: An hour flew by. So I wanted to pass it around, and if anyone would like to share their contact info, or where people can reach you to learn more about the tools you’ve mentioned. Sorin, would you like to share any info?
Sorin Fiscu: You mean the website?
Kyle: Yeah, the website, and if anyone… Maybe email address if anyone would like to reach out questions, specifically.
Sorin Fiscu: Sure. Our main website, it’s projectplan365.com. And we do have the contact information there, the best way to reach out. My personal contact, it’s my first name last name at the company name, Housatonic dot com. So it’s email@example.com.
Kyle: Great, thanks. And Claudia?
Claudia Dent: Yeah, so first of all I want to thank everyone for joining us today. Our website is everbridge.com, and we recently did hold a road to recovery symposium and we had some really cool speakers. We had Dr. Anthony Fauci, we had Richard Branson, we had Sanjay Gupta, so there’s some interesting topics out there as well as road to recovery stuff that are all recorded that you can access, so I’d highly recommend. I did an interview with Dr. Nancy Messonnier around vaccines. She runs the vaccine program for the CDC. So there’s a lot of information out on the Everbridge website. In addition to that, my personal contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. And at the end of the day, I hope everyone stays well and manages the next hill I think we possibly have to go up, and the vaccine comes sometime next year, we can breathe a sigh of relief.
Kyle: Thanks Claudia. And Jigs, before I hand it to you, thank you for coordinating and getting everyone together. We really appreciate it. That was a [inaudible 00:59:43] than what we normally do, so great.
Jigs Gaton: Awesome. If you want to get ahold of me just go to the MPUG website, www.mpug.com. Search on Jigs, it’s all there.
Kyle: Great. We did have a couple more questions that came in. I’m sorry that we ran short on time. And someone had a great point. They were interested in possibly networking and connecting with the others that attended the webinar. So just a reminder that the webinar is being recorded, and will be available on mpug.com in just a couple hours. You’ll get an email to see that. Within that page, you can comment directly on the webinar, and Sorin, Claudia and Jigs will have access to that as well, so if you’d like to keep the communications going, that’s a great place to do that. So keep an eye out for that email in just a couple hours.
Kyle: For those of you that are claiming the PDU for the session, I will get that back on the screen for you now. Just want to pull the webcams down. All right. So you should see that coming up in just a second here. Today’s code eligible for one strategic PDU.
Kyle: And before I move on to our upcoming sessions, once again I’d just like to thank everyone that joined us from the panel. It was a great presentation. Thank you for the participation from the audience as well, we really appreciate that. So if you missed any of the session or would like to go back and review anything, the recording will be posted later. And you can watch that at any time, and also communicate with everyone there.
Kyle: Just a quick note on our upcoming sessions. Next week, Satya Dash will return for a session on two-pass technique with Project. And the session following that will be Dharmesh Patel on tips, tricks and clicks on effective project management using Microsoft Teams, so another timely session there. And that does it for today. So, once again, thank you Claudia, Sorin and Jigs. Thank you to everyone that joined us live or is watching on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll see you back next week for our next live session.