Photo: Peter Mesh, online project management expert and educator
There's been great speculation about whether organizations will bring remote workers 'back to the office' after the pandemic is over.
Researchers have been busy collecting data on this for months. And the results show what most of us already suspected: work-from-home is here to stay.
A recent Stats Canada survey found that 25% of Canadian businesses are 'likely' or 'very likely' to offer their employees the option to work remotely following the pandemic.
Surprisingly, 14% reported that they will make it a requirement.
Feeling blindsided by this radical shift to virtual team management? You're not alone.
We developed the Online Project Management certificate to help team leads and managers adapt to the new reality.
This week, we interviewed the instructor, Peter Mesh, a virtual project management expert with over 20 years of experience in the field.
He walks us through some key challenges project managers are facing right now, and how this course can help.
Q: Peter, can you share a little about your education and professional background in project management?
Peter: I am a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree in distributed learning. I have spent most of my career in project management in a wide range of industries.
I've worked in Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Power Generation, Commercial and Residential Construction, and Education.
My customers include Bose, Chrysler, Fisher Price, Suncor, Amazon, IBM, and Iqaluit Housing Association.
Q: What is your experience as an instructor? Have you taught project management courses before?
Peter: I began teaching part time when I launched my first business 25 years ago. Since then, I have worked as an instructor and instructional designer for many online, in-class, and hybrid courses.
I’ve been responsible for the online learning library and learning management system for a major Canadian college.
I have also taught hundreds of project management professionals in project management, project controls, risk management, and contracts for companies such as Schneider Electric, TC Energy, Intact Insurance and Nova Chemicals.
Q: Can you give us a quick overview of the Online Project Management certificate? What skills do students learn in this course?
Peter: The Online Project Management certificate is designed to help teams transition to a distributed model for project execution.
We help learners gain the skills they need to apply proper project practices to ensure work is getting done to the standard you expect, even though the team is no longer together in the home office.
Q: Who is this course designed for? Who will benefit most from the training?
Peter: This program is ideal for anyone who is a project manager and needs some support in transitioning to a distributed execution model in the virtual world.
It’s also for managers who are looking to “projectize” their day-to-day work to better distribute tasks to their team and hold them accountable.
Q: Why are online project management skills so important? How has this practice evolved in recent years?
Peter: Project managers have always been leaders in working in a distributed world, with team members often in different office locations and time zones, and suppliers in different cities and countries.
But project teams have traditionally stuck to a brick-and-mortar approach to project execution with all parties tied to the home office.
Today, companies are looking for ways to shift to a virtual project execution model.
They want to leverage the power of the distributed team by using technology and alternative approaches to governance to drive higher levels of productivity and innovation.
Q: Where do people struggle most when managing projects and teams online?
Peter: One of the most common areas of struggle is knowing what is getting done by whom. Are people even working?
But there are some simple tactics you can use to better break down work, assign it to specific individuals, and track progress.
Q: What kinds of hands-on assignments do students do in the Online Project Management course?
Peter: Students are expected to apply learning to their everyday work in each of the seven 2-week modules.
For example, in week one, learners delve into gaining a better understanding of the potential solutions to a specific work process or problem.
Then, in week two they apply it in their job - or create a plan to apply it in the near future. We focus on practical solutions you can tailor to your unique project-related challenges.
The course also integrates a high degree of peer-to-peer learning.
Students share their work and provide feedback and suggestions, to help each other with problem-solving.
Q: Covid-19 has forced many teams to move online. Is there a silver lining? Are there benefits to managing projects remotely?
Peter: Yes, managing projects remotely can help streamline processes and boost efficiency.
For example, online project management tools can help managers better control and easily automate many traditional project processes (invoicing, material control, document management).
But adopting these tools is only half the battle.
Project managers must know how to clearly define how processes work. They must determine who owns what, and how to extract the data they need to monitor the success of their project.
Q: Do you see virtual project management continuing to grow even beyond the pandemic?
Peter: I believe Covid-19 will be a catalyst to permanently shift how many companies operate and how many projects will be executed.
Projects have always needed to be run “virtually” due to the distributed nature of many of the players.
We've had the technology to move to a virtual project management model for 20 years. But old-school leaders have struggled to let go of their traditional line-of-sight management model.
Now we're seeing a strong shift toward a more empowered model that focuses on ownership, accountability, and the deliverables being produced.
This shift, if done properly, will allow project managers to navigate difficult challenges in real-time, backed by the data they need to make good decisions.
Need help managing projects and people online?
Explore the Online Project Management certificate at Kompass. This course runs for 14-28 weeks and is delivered online.
Learn practical virtual project management tools and skills from Peter, and customize those approaches to your own work challenges.
Get personalized instructor support and plenty of peer interaction.
This course is an excellent way to optimize your transition to an online model, and set yourself up for future success.
Click below to explore the certificate in more detail and chat live with an Admissions Advisor.