What do you do when a global pandemic disrupts your organization’s priorities?

When you lead the organization’s portfolio team, you tap into the deeply ingrained risk management practices and determine the strongest response to ensure the best possible outcome. You celebrate the wins, capture lessons learned, and leverage a community of subject matter experts to creatively address unresolved issues.

At Trissential, we are trusted advisors to many progressive PMO leaders, helping them to adapt their processes and tools to the changing world around them. One of the ways we do this is through facilitating a gathering of these leaders to support their collaboration with peers.

As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we recently surveyed the PMO Leaders group to learn more about how they and their teams were responding to changes driven by the coronavirus. When the results were gathered, we found there were many ‘just in time’ processes being implemented or changed in support of and/or in reaction to COVID-19 in organizations. We then brought the group together to discuss how everyone is handling the pressure and the changes – Here are a few key observations and topics of discussion:

The Wins

Teams are all on the same footing now that everyone is working remote. The level of teamwork and ‘we are all in this together’ mentality is at an all-time high. As we work in distributed teams using technology, we are learning that many of the geographic barriers to hiring have been removed. So, overnight your talent pool has gotten bigger, and the competition for those resources has increased.

People are more focused, which is driving higher productivity. As we work remotely, we need to streamline our processes and become paperless with automation playing a key role in these changes. The unintended positive outcome of these changes has been operational cost savings. Organizations are beginning to consider which job functions can remain remote and which need to come back to the ‘office’ which can lead to even greater cost savings over time.  

The Lessons Learned

We can deliver value in shorter timeframes, though it may not be perfect. Most organizations are somewhere on the journey to use agile practices and are learning how to deliver value in smaller increments. That said, we need to consider when progress over perfection is the right approach.

Leading with compassion, we need to take care of the people side of things. Now more than ever, the lines between home and work life are becoming blurred. As such, we need to understand what our employees work from home situations are like, what they are dealing with personally and professionally, and how we can support them to deliver their best results. While remote work can save operational costs, we must always seek to understand the human impact.

The Experiments

The longer we work remotely, the greater the need for technology to successfully collaborate. Teams need to identify good solutions for virtual whiteboarding and brainstorming. When companies bring their teams ‘back to the office,’ whiteboarding on our mobile devices may continue to be the norm as we all adopt required social distancing behaviors. Even now, conference rooms and floor plans are being modified to encourage employee safety.  

During and after the pandemic, many organizations will have new or different business drivers to evaluate when deriving priority and value. Many companies are considering resetting their portfolios overall. They have already put initiatives on hold, making it the ideal time to re-evaluate their prioritization model to ensure they are delivering the right projects, at the right time, and in the right way.

The Winning Strategy

So, what do you do when a global pandemic disrupts your organization’s priorities?  Savvy leaders are taking advantage of the disruption, introducing change, finding ways to adapt and adopt. They are not only predicting long term changes, but they are influencing the new normal by experimenting, repurposing, reprioritizing, and ultimately winning the recovery.

Laura Dotseth: Chief Essentialist, Solution Delivery
Pam DeGrote: Senior Business Consulting Manager