Expert Interview: How Project Managers Can Leverage Team Brainpower
Nada Aldahleh, the Co-Founder and CEO of Sandglaz, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share her insight on project management trends. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.
Nada joined Buckner to discuss project management technology, as well as transparency and autonomy within teams and organizations.
Below are a few highlights from our conversation:
TechnologyAdvice: Let’s take a look at one or two trends in the project management software space that you’ve seen in the last three to six months? How does Sandglaz help businesses react to these trends?
Nada Aldahleh: It’s interesting that you ask about trends and project management because we actually recently published a book about the major trends affecting the project management world. I’ll tell you about the two. I’ll start with the trend of embracing change. This is the trend of continuously evolving project plans to meet market changes as opposed to sticking to the initial plan.
TA: You’re never going to be able to escape change. It’s always going to happen, so businesses need to be able to respond to that and be ready for it.
Nada: Embracing change has its roots in the Agile methodology and Lean Startup method, but we now see this trend has moved into many other fields. Basically, any project where after the fact changes are easy to incorporate, can and should leverage that advantage. For example, marketing teams who measure how their campaigns are doing, can adjust future work accordingly, design teams can collect customer feedback and adjust.
TA: So you’re able to adjust accordingly, based on the feedback that you’re receiving, that is the purpose of Agile.
Nada: Correct. The second trend is the increased level of transparency and autonomy within teams and organizations. Managers used to have all access to information required to make decisions, and they would share information with their employees only if and when those employees needed them for their jobs.
But now, there’s a trend to increase the level of transparency and empower our employees with more information that may not be in an obvious way required by them; because it has been shown that greater sharing and openness has a lot of benefits. It allows employees to act more autonomously and it makes them feel more trusted and involved. It encourages them to care more about the business, which increases their productivity and fulfillment.
TA: What challenges is lean project management software facing today? What are some of the pain points that project managers have on a daily basis when managing the way they work and the way their team works?
Nada: Projects can be quite complicated, and there’s always a degree of uncertainty. Meeting a deadline while keeping quality and budget is almost impossible, and teams are spending a lot of time creating detailed plans, and then they completely miss them. I think this is one of their biggest challenges. Another challenge is prioritizing and ensuring that the work being done is delivering value. It’s not only about speed, it’s also about direction. Teams moving in the wrong direction is like a car driving really fast off of a cliff.
In addition to moving fast, you really want to move in the right direction.
TA: Right, and making sure work is being done that delivers value. And if your technology can evolve and grow and change with how your strategy is changing, then that’s going to empower your project manager.
TA: I’m really interested to hear about the importance of increasing transparency, and some of the benefits you mentioned: it’s going to increase trust, and it’s going to increase the involvement and ownership and buy-in from your team members. Tell me more about why it’s so important to make sure your team members have a way to be more transparent.
Nada: When you have the involvement of all of your team, then you have a bigger set of people to be more creative and to innovate. You want to use all the brainpower that you have. Traditionally, managers used to have all access to the information, but not give it to the employees unless it’s obviously needed by them.
With time, they’re realizing that if we empower our employees with more information, then they can act more autonomously, and when needed, they can make more informed decisions. In turn, the employees feel that they’re being trusted, they feel that they’re involved, so they care more about the business as a result and then they produce more, and they feel more fulfilled. It’s really an advantage to both the employer and the employee.
TA: Right. And if you’re not tapping into that, you’re completely missing, and then you end up being in that car that’s driving off a cliff.
Nada: Yeah. And getting your employees involved will get you to make better decisions. Now, of course there’s challenges with this because teams always have to discuss and agree. So you need to facilitate that discussion and you need to make everyone feel heard.
Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or (download the show) to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. You can also subscribe to just the project management category.