Project teams tend to combine many different individual capabilities working in lieu of a common goal. While members are individually adept, they comprise, after all, a team and working in close tandem is the biological necessity for the team to thrive and reach its interim goal. One of the major issues project teams face today is to get each of their members — who, in fact, often bear 6 degrees of separation between themselves — acclimatised to some project management software or the other. And the need to do so is for the sake of two prized desirables — harmonized efforts and timely outcomes. The issue arises when you try to put together and interlink different faculties onto one common platform (in this case on to the said software), which may/may not fit well with everyone’s individual work ethos.
A parallel concern regarding onboarding team members onto a project management software arises in case of new recruits. If there does not exist a way for them to learn and adjust to the way of things with regards to, say a project management software for a marketing team, it’s only going to affect the overall project schedule and transversely cause many foul moods.
All this is sort of like getting every ingredient — in appropriate amounts and order — into one pot to come up with a great dish; in time to feed a hungry soul. Discount the quality of one ingredient and you may just end up with a shoddy plate of food and a yapping stomach.
The trick to avoiding such displeasure lies in getting a regimented method in place for onboarding, in this case for the team members. The premise behind instituting a method altogether is that anyone who joins the team, and is thereby required to adhere to some project management software, is made able enough to get the hang of the system in as little a time as possible. Quicker the cohesion to a system; faster is the progress of a project team.
The following are a set of few measures project teams can adopt for easy onboarding of members on to the PM software, whether it is some marketing project management software or any such workflow system for that matter:
1. Define the “big picture” to get across the general idea behind doing a project.
Put in writing the key project objectives, its leader, essential task requirements, different level of conceivable risks, performance milestones, a budget approximation, and anything that might help provide a broad understanding what everyone is about to chase after. This helps a team get a feel of the scope of the project as well as touch base with entities involved.
2. Recognise key team members and their roles.
This basically helps a team member — new or seasoned — know for a fact who is handling which aspects of a project, at what level is everyone working at, and what their own role in the said team is. It helps keep the need for engaging in social niceties to a bare minimum.
3. Arm your team with a Project Management Software #101.
This is essentially for any new member joining a project team. It is advisable that you have a training protocol for anyone who joins the team — irrespective of whether they do so online or join your brick-n-mortar work space. Invest in producing easy-to-work-with user-manual which allows a team member to understand the system that he/she will be working with, and if possible, assign a buddy (or a project evangelist) who can help get the hang of things in a relatively faster way.
4. Define all touch points for a team member.
If you know in full clarity who you are supposed to be working with; with whom you need to collaborate for a set of tasks (say, I, a web designer having to collaborate with a graphics designer for putting up a website) and when you need to do so, it’s already a job half done. This is precisely the objective behind defining key touch points in a team’s activity schedule.
5. Meet often and check for achievement of set milestones:
Schedule relevant meetings to track the progress of the team working on a new software and check for accomplishment of tasks up until each such meeting. This is for the sake of making sure everyone has got the hang of the system software and is contributing to their optimum levels.
This is in no way a thorough list but a small laundry list of things a project head can invest into for the sake of continued efficiency of his/her team. And more than that a systematic approach to onboarding is a sustainable method for ensuring teams — those that are currently in existence and those likely to comprise in future — are not left to float across unknowns seas on their own but are assured of safeguards and guidelines when venturing into one.
Ask a team leader and for him onboarding, even today, is more an act of riding on faith. Many continue to simply hope for the best and some even hope for great obedience to team norms almost instantly. But faith offers guarantees to none. However, a manual-led methodical approach may just do so. Too old school and uncool for you? Likely. But why mess with a tested effort which gives a much greater probability of success than simply vouching on faith.
Meeta Sharma is an independent writing and editing professional from the digital marketing domain. Loves marketing and everything about it.
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