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Impact of COVID-19 on PPM Practices
Moid Ahmed is a certified scrum master with over 12 years of project management experience. He has managed large teams at multiple locations to deliver complex and cross-functional applications.
Waleed Letaeif comes with more than six years of project management experience. He has worked in various capacities in large, complex programs for capability planning and operations.
Moid Ahmed and Waleed Letaeif highlighted some of the key challenges and opportunities arising out of the pandemic for project practitioners.
Mr. Ahmed spoke about the changes in everyday work life due to COVID-19, and the ways of working in the new normal. He pointed out that completing projects in the changed circumstances would have been even more dif ficult had it not been for new tools and technologies.
The biggest challenges in remote working in today’s times are communication and collaboration, with practitioners being heavily dependent on modern tech tools to communicate and collaborate with teams and streamline processes. A key advantage that has emerged in recent times is location independence. Companies now have the capability to pick teams without being location dependent. Another area of improvement has been reporting. Quoting a KPMG report, Mr. Ahmed said that the project success rate has improved from 19 percent before the pandemic to 25 percent now due to the diligent usage of data reporting capabilities.
Waleed Letaeif gave a demonstration on a new software tool for project management that brings together all project stakeholders on to a single platform. It is a web-based platfor m that does not require installation and can be accessed with laptops or mobile devices.
The product enables digital transformation within organizations and provides a collaborative space for all project stakeholders . In addition, it can also help with resource allocation, wherein pr oject managers can easily allocate work to available resources withou t any chances for “over or under” allocation of work.
● Teamwork and ascertaining real-time status updates of projects are two big challenges associated with remote work.
● After the pandemic, organizations have increasingly embraced tech tools for various tasks, including data reporting.
● Resource allocation has become more efficient with location independent teams.
Intuit’s Transformation to Platform Ways of Working
Sayantana Roy has been in program management leadership roles in platform and core services, as well as in product teams at Intuit. She heads the technical program management for QuickBooks Online Advanced and key transformation initiatives for the small business and self-employed group at Intuit India.
Sayantana Roy outlined Intuit’s mission to power business growth and prosperity through technological innovation. The company underwent a major change to move away from a product mindset to platform thinking, and create an ecosystem around its AI-driven platform solution. It furthers the concept that the free flow of data and capabilities of the platform must bene fit everyone in the ecosystem.
During the planning process, the company faced a number of challenges in terms of timelines, resource management and dependencies, drag on innovation, and conflict in priorities. To sort out these challenges, the company devised unified planning.
Unified planning entails clear roadmaps, aligned timelines and functions, clear prioritization, consistent process, continuous planing, and common architecture. This helps to align all the important work and people involved on the same page. This, in turn, drives customer benefit, achieves business outcomes, and galvanizes the ecosystem.
Ms. Roy stressed that a unified consistent planning is extremely beneficial when driving economies of scale. It is important to build durable capabilities that can be leveraged across the ecosystem, and reused with ownership and accountability.
● Adopt unified planning to accelerate business outcomes and drive customer benefits.
● Create roadmaps for better transparency and alignment between teams in the planning process.
● A unified approach helps to keep all stakeholders aligned, from the inception of an idea to the delivery of the code.
New Norms Emerging in Project Development
Rajesh Sanal has 29 years of experience in building products, platforms, services, and high performing teams across banking, transportation, and healthcare. He has close to 22 years of experience in banking, where he has built software and services for multiple business areas.
Rajesh Sanal covered a wide range of areas that have got a new impetus to change after the pandemic. He touched upon customer experience, the emerging conflicts in project management, hiring trends, and the startup ecosystem.
He termed the recent global events like the Suez Canal blockage, the global semiconductor shortage, and maturity in the adoption of cloud technologies as precursors to the new normal. The pandemic added yet another dimension to the changes that the world was already witnessing. Mr. Sanal called it a “perfect storm,” and added that it all depends on how we navigate it.
He stated that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by 3-7 years. For instance, customer experience has become central to customer retention, and managing customer expectations have become the new paradigm. Secondly, designing for scale and reusability have become important while creating products and platforms.
Mr. Sanal spoke about emerging trends in the project management domain, such as conflicts between old-timers and millennials in a project team, and the presence of an unequal measure of risk between brownfield and greenfield projects, with the former having the relative advantage. He cautioned project managers against lethargy and asked them to fail fast, fail early, and ask for help while keeping all stakeholders in the loop without surprising them.
● Agile and DevOps are going to be the norm in the new business environment.
● Companies going for digitalization must undertake a ‘tech refresh’ and assess their ‘tech debt’ to measure up to their existing potential.
● Today’s leaders need deep domain expertise along with good communication skills.
People’s Well-Being, Renewed Focus Post Covid
Arundhati Chakrabarty is a consultant neuropathologist at the Leed Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. She has been an active contributor to research projects in brain tumor and rheumatology for the past 20+ years. She is a named collaborator for numerous grant applications with more than 50 peer-reviewed publications to her credit.
Arundhati Chakrabarty spoke about the alarming rise of mental illness since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. As per studies, nearly 35 percent of the general population struggled with mental health issues in the first COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Dr. Chakrabarty said that the experiences of stress, anxiety , and depression are directly linked to sudden changes in lifestyle. She suggested adopting a positive mental attitude, such as engaging in creative activities and hobbies, and maintaining a routine, as an effective way to improve mental well-being. She cautioned against harmful coping mechanisms like alcohol and binge eating. She emphasized upon the importance of having a support system of family, friends, and community connections.
Dr. Chakrabarty urged employers and businesses to play their part in containing this burgeoning issue. Besides integrating advanced technologies, they must cultivate a culture of trust, transparency, and openness in today’s remote workforce, she said.
● Adopt positive coping strategies, such as developing hobbies and maintaining a daily routine.
●Stay away from negative coping strategies, such as drinking alcohol and binge eating.
● Manage work from home better by creating a dedicated workspace and fostering long-term thinking.
Response of HVAC Industries Post Covid - Blue Star Perspective
V. S. Ashok heads the human resources function of Blue Star. He joined Blue Star as a trainee engineer in 1992. In his previous role, he headed the company’s customer service business.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many important lessons and reset our priorities. V. S. Ashok spoke about some of the initiatives his organization has undertaken since the pandemic broke out.
He recommended prioritizing three areas in an organization – people, process, and technology. For an effective people strategy, companies must organize programs such as direct interactions with the leadership and health and wellness initiatives, and improve employee engagement.
As far as processes are concerned, his organization introduced an HR bot through which employees can get updated on the latest information. The company also created an in-house safety app to improve workplace safety.
This was also a time for Bluestar to accelerate its digital transformation journey. It is utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation for real-time monitoring and utility diagnosis. The company has upgraded to Industry 4.0. to deal with the challenges brought by the pandemic.
● Stop micromanagement to deal with challenges during a crisis.
● Reset priorities around people, processes, and technology.
● Make the workplace safe for employees with products such as UVC emitters, touchless water coolers, and vaccine transporters.
Future of Urban Mobility
Satya Chakravarthy works in the area of propulsion and conducts research on combustion in gas turbine and rocket engines. Besides teaching at IIT Madras, he has co-founded ePlane. The company aimed at making a new breed of aircraft called hybrid aerial vehicles that will be capable of vertical take-off and can be deployed as air taxis in the future.
There is an immediate need for us to rethink the way we do traffic management. It is no longer about building roads and flyovers; rather the future of mobility is going to be aerial. According to a recent study by McKinsey, India presents the best market for aerial mobility in the world.
Prof. Chakravarthy stated that the existing aerial technology used in helicopters does not do justice to the need of fast mobility to cover short distances. Aerial vehicles must be silent, pollution-free, and cost-effective, he said, and pointed to electric propulsion as the solution for the future. Such aerial transport will work in cities where roof-tops can be use d as a launch pad.
He showcased various aerial vehicle prototypes that are currently being flown in various countries. However, all of them have some inadequacies which have made them a less desired option currently. Prof. Chakravarthy is optimistic about the future and believes that his aerial vehicles will be ready to fly by 1 march 2022.
● India is a great testbed for innovative, aerial urban mobility solutions.
● Urban mobility needs electric aerial solutions that offer quick and short rides, and are cost-effective.
● Think of vertical take-offs and landings from roof-tops as a solution to today’s urban traffic problems.
Medtech – Key Enabler in Personalized Cure and Wellness
Dr. Pradeep Desai leads Thaleset Innovations that offers affordable and innovative medtech and healthtech products. He was earlier associated with GE where he built the Software Center for Excellence and the Advanced Analytics Organization.
Pradeep Desai stressed upon the need for affordable healthcare in a developing country like India, and the role of technology in meeting some of the toughest challenges in healthcare delivery.
Dr. Desai spoke about an indigenously developed technology to diagnose sleep apnea. When brought into the mainstream, this technology will be an affordable alternative to expensive polysomnography that is used in the diagnosis of sleep apnea.
Medtech innovation has also made personalized patient care possible. Physicians can today conduct remote monitoring of patients with smartphones. New age technologies such as diagnostic engines, 5G telecom network, wearables, digital assistants, smart implants, labs on a chip, and nanotechnology are driving medtech innovation. Dr. Desai believes that medical decisions of the future will be data driven, with analytics technologies providing doctors with actionable insights for better decisions.
● Future of medtech is in disease management and wellness solutions.
● Data-driven insights to guide physicians in making better medical decisions in the future.
● 5G technologies are opening up real-time medical monitoring due to zero latency in data transmission.
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