Key to successful remote projects

Author: Michael Schlecht, Senior Project Manager Alta Via

How do IT projects change as a result of the Corona crisis? After a few months of project work under "Corona conditions" with our long-term partner Sodastream, it is worthwhile to sum up and share the experiences for successful remote project work.

"Dealing with the pandemic from March 2020 was new territory for all of us. The impact of the related changes on NetSuite projects, which require a lot of coordination and meetings, could not be foreseen. The exceptional case of working from home became a rule. Cloud-based tools became the instrument of the hour." 
(Michael Schlecht, Senior Project Manager Alta Via)

From live workshops to almost 100% remote working

Alta Via is the NetSuite implementation partner for various global and international implementation and rollout projects at Sodastream. The project teams are made up of internal and external employees from different locations and countries. Colleagues from Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Poland and the Ukraine work closely together.
Sodastream's project methodology includes a series of workshops such as kick-off, classroom pilots, user acceptance tests, training and go-live support. Prior to the corona-related contact restrictions, these workshops took place at the project sites. In recent months, the project work has evolved into almost 100% remote tasks. Face-to-face meetings have been replaced by Zoom sessions. Staff who could only work from their home offices were fully involved in the project.

Cloud tools are the instrument of the moment

Sodastream committed to a cloud strategy early on (2016). They also created the necessary conditions for successful remote projects when selecting tools. The tool environment and infrastructure were thus already in place and could be expanded accordingly. This did not create a break, but rather an evolutionary further development took place.

"Of course we need experienced NetSuite consultants with the ability to convert business requirements into stable NetSuite solutions. Sodastream is growing rapidly, processes and requirements are subject to constant change.
We expect our partners to contribute their experience in this dynamic environment and work with us to develop the right solution for the current situation."
(Shahar Malenboim, Sodastream Global IT Project Manager)

Not all project tasks can be mapped completely remotely. The introduction of new processes in the warehouse, in shipping and in production often require local support concepts. If the corresponding local IT or suitable key users are not available, alternative solutions must be found. This is where the remote project becomes more complex and carries a higher risk.

What makes a good remote project work?

  • Cloud-based tools are the need of the hour. Access is easy and hassle-free for all team members (clients and the consultants involved).
  • The implementation projects are based on the NetSuite system. As a cloud ERP system, it is an ideal platform to be able to support the requirements of global remote projects. Whether productive systems or development or test systems - all can be accessed by anyone from anywhere at any time. All that is needed is a computer with internet access and a browser.
  • Select a suitable communication tool with access for everyone involved in the project.
  • Make agreements and rules for the use of the communication tools together in the team. The video function can compensate for the lack of personal contact.
  • Ensure clear and stringent task management. The team can get information on individual tasks at any time and view the history. Tasks are defined and managed as tickets. The entire project communication and control is based on this transparent procedure.
  • Create a shared cloud-based document repository. Joint and simultaneous work on documents or sheets ideally supports remote project work.
    Allow more time for building relationships with new team members who could only be involved through remote contact.
  • Face limitations openly. Not all project tasks can be fully mapped remotely. The introduction of new processes in the warehouse, shipping and production often requires local support concepts. If local IT or suitable key users are not available, alternative solutions must be found.
  • And last but not least: A successful project work, whether remote or non-remote, is always based on good and close cooperation between the project teams. Here, above all, trust between all those involved plays an essential role.

"Project work is understood as a team task, external and internal team members work together on the solution. Success or even mistakes are borne by the team. Mutual trust in the respective project participants is one of the elementary requirements for this. We have had excellent experiences with Alta Via with this working model and are already looking forward to the next successful sub-projects."
(Shahar Malenboim, Sodastream Global IT Project Manager)

"At Sodastream, we have been able to establish and develop many contacts in face-to-face meetings over the last few years. This has helped us a lot in the transition to a fully remote project. We regret the loss of the face-to-face meetings, the exchanges over lunch or dinner. That is missing." 
(Michael Schlecht, Senior Project Manager Alta Via)

 

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