We all know it, but how do we measure and foster alignment in our teams and projects in real-time.
The missing piece to project management - Team Insights
According to Gallup, only 2.5% of companies complete 100% of their projects. What are the rest of us doing wrong?
It’s the question that keeps project leaders up at night: Why did that project fail? In a recent white paper, we argued that one of the most important reasons for projects not meeting their objectives is that managers spend too much time on processes and not enough time on people. If you want to break into that 2.5%, you need to start thinking about the humans behind your deliverables.
Projects aren’t only about processes
When teams fail or under-deliver, there’s a tendency to go looking for the reasons in the project plan or the scope. Budgets and timelines are treated as the primary yardstick of success in many project autopsies, but analyzing these operational and progress metrics rarely yields the answers we need - and if the answers do come, they usually come too late.
An expertly-crafted methodology doesn’t automatically translate into project success, because methodology won’t mean much to a team that’s unsure, misaligned, and chronically stressed. This can be troublesome for project managers, who are generally well-versed in things they use to manage projects - processes and methodologies - but not in the ways they can empower people. It is crucial, for obvious reasons: humans deliver projects, methodologies do not. This is not to say that processes or project plans are unimportant - of course they are - but these cannot stand alone. If you want to get the full picture of project health, you need to start paying attention to the people behind the project. That's where team insights come in.
What team insights are - and aren’t
Before we get into why team insights matter, we have to define what that is - and isn’t. The first thing you need to know is that we’re definitely not talking about performance reviews or spyware - we’re staunchly opposed to spyware tools of any kind - but rather about insights into the teams dynamics, engagement, and effectiveness.
The simplest way to define team insights is that it's data derived from the team themselves. At Perflo, we’re specifically interested in the benefits of gathering micro-feedback from team members throughout the lifecycle of the project they’re working on. We don’t do feedback or reviews on an individual basis. Instead, we draw on team micro-feedback and project micro-reviews - all completely anonymized, of course.
Rethinking which data matters most
Companies are quick to turn to quantitative methods to predict the likelihood of project success. But while there are many data points that can be used as metrics of project health, there are very few that provide insights into team health. That’s why we argue that an analysis based solely on data about tasks, timelines, and costs doesn’t tell you about project performance as much as it does project progress. What’s more, much of the data that gets plugged into traditional project management tools and spreadsheets is weighed down by baked-in assumptions and subconscious biases. Generally speaking, the fewer sources prediction data is drawn from, the less accurate it will be. This is why it’s critical to start drawing on other types of data - more holistic data; data that represents more perspectives and variables; data that’s about people, not just projects.
Without this kind of accurate, timely, and accessible people data, it’s difficult for a project lead to pinpoint exactly where their team needs attention and to identify what may be going wrong. Project leads are forced into a reactive mindset rather than a proactive one, which hampers their ability to make the right project decisions. This will inevitably affect the probability of a project succeeding - projects may fail entirely, or have subpar outcomes. For some reason project leads have traditionally not always been responsible for monitoring and empowering team performance and engagement, despite the body of research showing that those who do so see significant improvements in project performance and team retention.
But this isn’t their fault – they simply haven’t been equipped with the information and tools they’ve needed to drive successful projects. It’s time for that to change.
Time for a new approach
To ensure consistent project success, we need a new approach to managing projects. We need an approach that one seeks to understand and empower the people responsible for executing our plans and delivering our desired outcomes. In a recent white paper, we argued that what’s missing is another layer of data, one that has up until now been overlooked entirely - or just tacked on as an afterthought, when it’s too late to make a difference for project outcomes. That missing piece is people data:
This means that our approach to improving project outcomes is less about reporting performance and more about improving performance. When you focus on people - listen to them and empower them - they’ll perform at their best, and project success will naturally follow. With Perflo, we’ve answered some crucial questions: How can we leverage people data to improve the way teams work? And what would that look like in practice?
What would a solution look like?
In order to have any impact, the process of collecting and analyzing people data needs to be:
- Seamless and automated, so it can be applied to any project team with minimal effort and overhead.
- Continuous and contextual, so it constantly produces insights that are meaningful to that stage of the project.
- Insightful and actionable, so it measures metrics that matter and which can be actioned in the moment.
Doing this manually would take an immense amount of time and effort, both things project leads don’t have much of. This is why we’ve created a dedicated system that collects and analyzes micro-feedback data automatically throughout a project, delivering insights in an intuitive manner that allows project leaders to act on them in time. Instead of focusing on process-related data, Perflo takes a people-oriented approach, providing real-time insights into proven metrics that affect project team performance.
Perflo is the first tool that tackles the project problem from this angle. Because Perflo works continuously throughout the lifecycle of a project, team leads don’t need to wait until after a project has gone off the rails to find out what went wrong. Our insights allow them to identify potential blind spots and make proactive decisions to address problems as they arise. As a result, teams stay aligned, engaged, and on track to project success.
In our new world of work, change is fast and the war for talent is ongoing - none of us can afford to ignore the individuals who make our organizations work. In short - it’s time to prioritize people. If you’d like to learn more about how Perflo can empower you to do that, head over here for a free demo.