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Keeping projects moving during lockdown

Wednesday 22 July 2020 Workforce Management


By Luke Brown

Project management is something that we pride ourselves on at CACI, be it delivery of internal projects designed to improve procedures or update and maintain our own systems, or delivery of client facing projects. Every project receives the same care, attention and scrutiny as the next, so that we can keep learning and improving from one project to the next. Keeping this process running as smoothly as possible was the focus of our team at the announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown and with a bit of flexibility, it’s something that we’ve managed to sustain.

I work as a project manager in CACI’s Cygnum team, delivering our workforce management solutions to internal and external users. Cygnum is central to everything that we do, since we rely on the software for our own planning, tracking and budgeting. Our team uses it daily for running reports, tracking time spent on projects, allocating budgets and resources and feeding information into our wider management reporting – we use it the same way that our clients do. Everything is logged in Cygnum.

Staying connected

Central to how we manage the multiple projects that are running at any given moment are our daily stand ups. These really help me to get an understanding of where each project is and where resources need to be applied most. I was initially concerned that these would suffer with everyone working at home, but we’ve able to switch these meetings to Skype with no loss of output from the sessions.

Our team has been heading in this direction over the past couple of years anyway, with everyone now well versed in using Teams, Skype, Zoom, Yammer and distant contact. Since our projects are run across the UK, it is normal that we’re not all in the same place at the same time. COVID-19 has just pushed this to the extreme.

Being used to working in such scenarios has certainly served us well during the lockdown. The interoperability of Cygnum and our internal processes with third party software has also proved hugely beneficial, especially as we have had to complete a complete major enhancement project to Cygnum, with the release of the latest version, Cygnum 2020.

Getting projects over the line

We were very close to the completion date of the project when the lockdown came into force, and as the project manager for it, I was a bit nervous that our timelines would be knocked out of kilter in delivering the work.

Thankfully, Cygnum really demonstrated its worth to us, as everyone was able to access the same resources and information from home to enable the smooth continuation of the project.

The same has happened with major client projects, too. Upgrade work is under way and we still have service level agreements to meet, all of which I have been able to manage through Cygnum. Allocating training and support time has been a case of business as usual, with delivery set to remote, rather than face to face. With everyone in the same position, it has been easy to communicate and work with our clients remotely.

Ultimately, everyone still has the same goals and it’s been impressive how flexible everyone has been, both from the perspective of my colleagues and our clients. Remote delivery has become the new norm, but we’ve been able to utilise Cygnum in the same way. The consistency it has afforded us has been invaluable.

Beyond lockdown

Looking beyond lockdown, we’ve proved that we have the systems in place, both in terms of communications and delivery, to run our projects smoothly in extraordinary circumstances. I am expecting more clients to take up remote project delivery and training, since it is helping to manage costs, travel times and resources more efficiently. We’ve been able to dedicate more resource time to some projects, since travel time has been taken out of the equation. This has also eased the cost burden of travel and subsistence across our projects.

Whilst the value of face to face interaction will always remain intact, this scenario has shown us a different way of working. We have the technology in place, where we use it from is the only outstanding question going forward.

Luke Brown is a project manager in our Cygnum team. For more information on Cygnum, please click here.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the necessity of a UK-wide lockdown, keeping on top of projects and tasks has changed, but not stopped

Keeping projects moving during lockdown