Onboarding a business onto a remote working framework is a daunting task but the current pandemic has placed many businesses both SMEs and larger corporates in a race to build the competencies necessary to get their business divisions and teams to work from home successfully in order to remain in business.
As part of this transition businesses need to recognize that new SOPs need to be approved and directives put in place such that teams can follow them to successfully and sustainably work from home. In previous articles we looked at guidelines on how to manage a remote working team, as well as the tools needed to do so. In this article we look closely at Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) businesses have put in place to better facilitate remote working along with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you can create to measure the effectiveness of your distributed team. For many business teams pursuing their primary objective; business growth and revenue, SOPs and documentation may come in secondary in terms of importance but for remote working teams these become vital for the design of a process management framework that is able to capture the complexity of an organisation’s operational processes and simplify it such that each person in the process knows what is required of them as work gets pushed through the process, while also allowing managers to monitor the completion rate of each work item in the process. For businesses that do not have up to date SOPs this is a great opportunity in time to map them out.
Engage your entire team when mapping out your business process (P2)
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Simply put Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a set of instructions that describe all the relevant steps and activities of a process. This can be as simple as a sequence of tasks each with its own checklist, which is a layout perfect for startups and smaller teams as they iterate and optimize their process, or they can also be represented in a process flow diagram. Business Process Model and Notions (BPMN) diagrams are a great way to map out and visualize processes and include; starting and ending events to each process, the different tasks and subtasks required, decision points, documentation to be generated and information to be communicated during the process, and databases to be accessed and written to all organised by the division responsible for each of these tasks. For a great, very short introduction into BPMNs check out the video here. If you are a part of a large company it is likely you have already implemented and follow the ISO 9000 standard or a variant of it to document your business processes as part of your quality management system. Whichever the format, make sure that your process is as simplified as it can be, and can be followed by all team members it relates to regardless of their experience level.
One key aspect of developing a remote working project management framework is that you need to relook at your business processes and digitize them if this is not already done. To do this it is highly recommended that you bring your entire team on board. This way a more granular understanding of the requirements to complete each task in your process can be understood along with their pain points. Make sure to have a clear start and end point to each of your processes and clearly detail handing over guidelines and checklists from task to task such that work can move smoothly down your process without a lot of back and forth between team members.
In addition to looking into your business processes it is important that you and your management take into consideration the pain points of working remotely and put into action measures to address them to ensure that work gets done efficiently by motivated employees. Key challenges that need to be addressed is a lack of communication and a lack of visibility into the workload, effort and mental state of each employee.
- Develop an onboarding deck for your remote management framework; highlight the expectations of each team member when remote working and introduce to the new tools and services they will need to use to coordinate their work remotely
- Design a virtual check in that team members need to report on at the start of everyday, this can follow the format of a daily check in; What did I do yesterday? What am I going to do today? What are my roadblocks?
- Create dashboards to provide teams and managers with their individualised tasks to be completed each day, highlighting critical tasks.
- Setup daily video conference meeting between each team to get everybody on board with the current status of all the projects and update any roadblocks to complete objectives
- Create a buddy system for employees to make sure that they support each other, as working from home can feel both isolating and stressful.
- Identify how you can measure the productivity of each employee by setting up relevant KPIs for each job role.
- Introduce questionnaires to get feedback from employees as to the success of your implemented system and use that feedback to iterate on it to ensure it improves with usability making it easier for your team to collaborate and complete work remotely.
It is important to take into consideration and account for the fact that while setting up your remote working framework and onboarding your team, productivity will be low. That is to be expected, it is important that you take a collaborative approach to identifying with your team how you can optimize your remote management framework in a manner that is suitable and effective to use for everyone.
Identifying which metrics to measure is key to assessing the success of your project management framework (P3)
Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are performance measurements companies can use to identify how effective they are in reaching their goals. While each business team will have its established KPIs when working as a remote team it is important for managers to identify KPIs that will enable them to have a clearer understanding of their distributed team’s performance. As with the setting of all KPIs it is important that each is; simple, relevant to achieving your organisation's objectives, measurable, achievable, and visible to your team.
Utilizing project management tools it is possible to record attendance and measure the number of working hours of each employee on a remote working team but depending on your organization's culture it may be more relevant for you to assess outcomes rather than time spent on tasks. This is where breaking down tasks into small sizes, estimable in no. of hours along with guidelines for quality output will help you assess the output of your employees as they complete their tasks, in both dimensions of timeliness and quality.
One critical area that you will need to need to measure is communication as it is the key to the success of your remote team. Developing metrics in this area can include tracking;
Attendance and Participation at team meetings
Utilization of team communication channels
Updates on roadblocks and delays ahead time
It is important that team members are given details into the KPIs they will be assessed by so it is very clear to them what is expected from them and why. This is essential to ensure that employees do not feel like they are being micromanaged by their bosses or expected to work in a manner that does not make sense to them. Finally it is also important to remember when implemented as part of your remote working process management framework these KPIs will be not just measuring the performance of your teams but also of your process management framework, it is therefore important to establish these KPIs and get your teams honest feedback on the set of your team communication and project management framework such that they can be optimized for your team.