Article Overview

As Project Managers, we look for ways to get more down during working hours. The theory is the more we get down during normal business hours the more family time. Well, in today's world some organizations have 24/7 normal business hours. Working from home during the pandemic, the lines between work life and home life are blurry.

To be clear, in this article “technology” includes devices and apps. 

Individually, Jon & I manage various projects with only a laptop and a cell phone; sometimes with two of each. This approach has gotten more frequent in today’s covid environment, with employee safety measures via social distancing. Managing this way is sometimes frustrating for PMs that manage by walking around (MBWA). 

Applying device-only management, we’ve learned how to condense a one-page status report to a brief text message. However, we must ask ourselves “how effective is this approach?” Executing a construction project, the project owner wanted a daily progress status. We agreed that it would be tweet-length – no more than 144 characters. (We know it is more characters now). Originally the project owner wanted to be able to read the daily status on one screen on his blackberry (no swiping). The project owner was pleased with the actions taken to meet his request. So, in this case, it was effective. Note: Information & requests like this should be included in a RACI chart and the communication plan.

          Table of content:

  • 1. Communication
  • 2. Technology is a curse and a necessity
  • 3. Applications/Devices
  • 4. Use Technology to Your Advantage
  • 5. Conclusion


    With global teams, understanding and managing team members' daily workload is almost impossible. All we can do is provide support to help team members meet their commitments to our project through communication and removing or finding alternative paths to obstacles. The size of the team will have a great impact on the communications channels, see the equation and graphic below:

    Equation of number of communication channels

    Communication Chart

    Communication model

  •                                                                                                Figure1: Example of a communication model 1
  • Lastly, besides the maintenance and configuration throughout the team, we are on the slope toward the mentality that emailing, and texting are suitable communications methods. Emailing is not necessarily communicating effectively, nor texting. Communication is much more complicated than that as illustrated above.

  • Technology is a curse and a necessity

    Technology is great when it works and sucks when it doesn’t. More times than not technology issues arise when you are in a hurry to meet a pre-determined deadline or under pressure to complete an immediate need. We particularly like the frustration of ‘no service’ or ‘no wi-fi’ issues.

    Knowing how to manage global resources with technology is not necessarily intuitive or taught. Not only is it setting up the devices properly; it is also making sure the apps are set up for our advantage. Most apps have rules and settings that can be used to our advantage. Creating and applying those rules can sort emails and prioritize. Using a tasks app with reminders and timers can support you in scheduling your time to your benefit and success.

    Lastly, it is making sure that every stakeholder and team member has the same apps or at least access to the same apps. If the team is not using the same apps risks multiple from receiving updates and being able to input to the team. Then, there is the learning curve for introducing team members to new apps. Does this open the can of worms of how the new app is paid for? How is training paid for and executed? Is it necessary for everyone to use it? Can another existing app be used as a converter from an existing app to the new app?


    We are not recommending or advertising for any cell phone, laptop, applications (apps), and/or platforms. We recognize that there are lots of apps and devices available advertised for project management. Sometimes it is a trial-and-error process to find what works for you and your situation. We do recommend making sure devices and apps are kept up to date. A decade or so ago, it was a major IT department effort to roll out the latest updates to company devices. Depending on the size of the organization the rollout could take up to a month. Updates go smoother today, the issue now is that updates can come weekly, so making sure you are aware of the updates and the changes is even more critical

    Use Technology to Your Advantage

    Plan how you want to manage your day/week. As a project manager, it is sometimes easier to plan a project than it is to plan your own day or week. With change priorities and issues arising, setting a few blocks of time for managing your effort. For example, reviewing email. Emails arrive at all times of the day. Set up a time to review once or twice, possibly three times per day. Same with the cell phone not every call is life or death and needs a response right now. Some bosses may disagree with that. Set up your apps and devices in a way that gives you the greatest chance of success.

    Every device has the capability to be silenced; whether it is turning the volume all the way down – to vibrate, or airplane mode, or simply turn it off. On occasion, a boss may get upset about having to leave a message. You just need to explain that you were working on something that needed full focus. Or, on another call. Bosses usually accept those explanations, but don’t be pressured into dropping everything when the boss calls. Too much stress! 

    We recommended whether you have a new device and/or news and updates to apps: Read the manual. Even if you have been using something for years. I learned this the hard way. One of my devices updated and I just kept using it as I had. It quit functioning as I remembered. After reading the notes for the latest update I learned a function was edited and I had to reload it and reset it. So, now I read everything that comes with new devices (I change phones every two years for the latest technology.), new apps, and updates to existing apps. 

    Learn about all the settings or rules. Compare those settings and/or rules to the way your desire your day to go. My guess is that knowing about certain settings and/or rules will have you setting up your best productive day. You may even have a few “Aha” moments.


    Recently, we were directed to a book that presented some interesting productivity hacks. We have included the link to that book. We recommended after you read the app or device manual and/or update notes if they seem to be confusing, search for articles and books online to help you understand how to use or what changed.

  • Book Link: Project Manager Productivity Hacks: 2021 Edition: 9798551611851: Creaser, Nigel: Books 1