At Silverware, we’ve nurtured a distributed workforce since 1996, so for our remote employees, staying at home means business as usual. During this time, we recognize that we are not alone in our goal to maintain familiar, yet productive habits. Over the years, we have cultivated a list of seven habits for successful remote projects we value as a company and find them more important than ever during these unpredictable times. We call these habits The Silverware Way. We thought it would be worth sharing how two of our consultants use The Silverware Way to navigate a remote implementation during one of the most unusual periods in our lifetime.
The Silverware Way
Seven habits for successful remote projects we aim to exhibit every day to create a unified company culture and customer experience.
Successful habits at work
Meet Michael Ciganda and Chelsea Gibson, two Dynamics ERP consultants at Silverware, who are currently working on a remote go-live. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, they both realized that delivering a successful implementation would test their skills and training. Determined to find the right solutions for their customers, Michael and Chelsea deployed several strategies influenced by The Silverware Way. We’re checking in with them to see how they’re using these habits to keep the project moving even in the midst of uncertainty.
One of the first steps Michael took was to communicate and implement a triage strategy for the project. Similar to a disaster plan, a triage strategy lays out a process of what should happen and who should act when things don’t go according to plan. A triage strategy also outlines an escalation chain of command to ensure the right stakeholders and resources are deployed at the right time. The triage strategy was communicated to the entire project team upfront, then adapted on the ground as the situation changed. “This gives us an opportunity to see if we need another meeting, or re-training before something big like a go-live,” Michael explains.
Clarify and verify
Both Michael and Chelsea organize a daily standup call with all department heads so that every issue is discussed. During these meetings, every problem or potential problem is addressed, no matter the size, so the team gains a better sense of what action is needed and when. While normally done in person, Chelsea says that the remote standup is one of the most successful routines the team has ever witnessed. “Being remote offers an opportunity for people who may not have spoken up to speak up if they are intimidated in an in-person setting. They are able to speak up about the issues they see and offer support to other teams because they felt the right pressure.”
Work together as a team
On a day where the team would normally be on-site, an all-day Zoom support session was open to recreate in-person dynamic. In addition, they were prepared for the anticipated direct communications through phone and email. Michael and Chelsea assessed the severity level and then worked with the customer to determine the prioritization. They also emphasized to the client’s internal project manager the importance of internal triage and delegation of support issues that bridged system and process.
Chelsea recommends establishing a communication tree upfront so that whenever someone gets pulled into a conversation, everyone knows which associated people need to be involved. The tree would include the PM at the top with the individual department heads and users below to ensure that when one person is added to a meeting or email, all relevant people are included.
Of course, we’re doing business, but ultimately, we’re all people with families to worry about. Both consultants make a point to check in with clients and co-workers — a phone call or email asking about them and their families. “Especially the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reaching out to make sure things are going ok and people seem to appreciate that,” says Michael. It’s a small gesture, but it matters deeply to us. When our people thrive, so do we.
During go-live, Chelsea noticed that people have a lot of anxiety about “messing up.” But this is just part of the process. “I tell people all the time,” she says, “you have to mess things up to get them right. We are here to help normalize and implement during these unpredictable times.”
Go-lives are stressful events for new users. No one wants to feel responsible for breaking the system during go-live, but it’s also the best moment to take advantage of the consultants that are immediately involved and know the environment. That’s why establishing habits for successful remote projects is key.
It’s vital that each team member takes ownership of everything they become aware of. This means making sure every issue and task they know of is raised, and then is either handled by them, or delegated to the person with the right skillset. As new individuals join the project team, Michael and Chelsea onboard them to the triage process and empower them to make decisions. Neither hesitate to bring in other Silverware consultants when additional resources or expertise are needed. “I want us both to see the issue and then triage between ourselves based on our expertise,” Michael says.
“We work as two arms of the same person,” Chelsea adds.
Then there’s the training component. “The users have to support themselves at some point, so we encourage the critical thinking, troubleshooting, and defining your super users as soon as possible so they can support themselves going forward,” Chelsea says. Training for now is remote, but the best training, she says, is actually the training you teach yourself. When the user performs the clicks and incorporates the muscle memory, that’s when true ownership of the system begins.
Close the loop
Michael and Chelsea understand that keeping everyone in the loop and on the same page takes ongoing effort, but digital tools can help. The team initially trialed new tools like Microsoft Planner – a collaborative tool that acts like a project whiteboard, where people can assign expectations about when and how something will happen. It was a great tool, but wasn’t onboarded early enough to establish the right comfort and familiarity. The client team ultimately chose a living PowerPoint which worked thanks to the dedication of the PM and the PM’s regular updates. No matter what you use, Michael says, “The goal is to make it visible to everyone that’s on the project. The tool must allow them to assign expectations, see how they’re going to be resolved, and when they’re going to be resolved.”
Enrich the experience
Michael also went the extra mile and applied a tool he developed while working on other implementations. His tool monitors transactions on the house manufacturing and accounting side – it illuminates bottlenecks in a project and comes in handy when the project team is remote. He spotted a way to make a project better, then shared something that they could apply in every project after. We’ve found that habits for successful remote projects include doing things like thinking outside the box.
We are lucky to have employees like Michael and Chelsea who embrace The Silverware Way by adapting and applying the habits for successful remote projects throughout their work. This kind of learning-while-working drives each of our team members at Silverware to complete successful remote projects while working from home.
We are here to help everyone find new, different, and productive ways to get business done. If you are dealing with remote projects and could use extra assistance, let us know how we can help. Be safe. Be smart. Be well.