Gender shouldn’t determine an individual’s leadership abilities.
“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.” – Charles Malik
Remember how the project management industry looked a decade ago? There was very little focus on automation. Microsoft Suite was the only go-to tool for project managers to track work progress. And only 25 percent of women worked in computing roles in the U.S., with even fewer women seen in leadership roles worldwide.
As the technologies evolved and the world became more inclusive, the project management space also saw a facelift. The increase of women in project management brought new approaches to managing and delivering projects, reporting techniques, handling risks and challenges, team development, and communication.
A 2020 report from McKinsey proves the above point — diversity in an organization not only brings in different perspectives but also helps to create a superior product that is likely to be used by a wider audience.
So how are women leveling up their project management in 2021? We talked to a few women leaders about what they’re doing, whether it be new technologies or innovative techniques, to take their project management game to the next level.
Building a Reliable System & Process for Delivery
An essential part of project management strategy is how you manage your resources’ time. Knowing how well your resources are allocated to different tasks, activities, or projects; how much employee’s time can be assigned to other projects; the deadline for the various projects; etc., are the traits of a great project leader. A survey conducted by Peterson Institute for International Economics even found that women in corporate leadership positions significantly increased net margins.
Sara Pereda, Sales, Marketing, and Partnerships Operations Manager at MuteSix, says that having systems and processes in place is key for women leaders to excel: “When it comes to project management for 2021, this past year and beyond has really taught us that organization is key, and that the same independent, self-starting trends we applied when working remotely transfer over quite well to the office. Project management is all about reliability, and having a system in place that will hold each team member accountable for their tasks is a MUST — even if you are in the office down the hall.”
Pereda further advises, “…use all of the technology at your disposal when managing projects. Not only does it help everyone stay on the same page even when they’re working in completely different time zones, but automation also helps create an additional layer of accountability, making complex tasks much more simplified and straightforward.”
Women leaders are strong at collaborating and motivating effectively and can build up determined, reliable, adaptable, and flexible teams. These strengths help get everyone to work together toward a common business objective, which creates a better work environment and leads to meeting project deliverables on time.
Leveraging Technology to Collaborate Seamlessly
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” – Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
Technology is far-reaching over every industry and is changing the way humans interact and solve problems together. We all agree that teamwork, clear goals, defined responsibilities, and communication are essential to delivering a quality project. Leveraging a state-of-the-art tool helps us to collaborate easily and saves time spent in doing manual work.
Teams with more women are more effective at collaboration and less prone to facing unforeseen project costs due to miscommunication. Women leaders are great at managing and multitasking, which is an essential skill for team management.
Stephanie M. Casey, the founder and CEO of Lovage Inc., tells us how they have delivered a quality project in less time, “We create new, custom websites for established, growing businesses. We used to do a serve variety of website needs — cobbling together a custom proposal, cost, and production plan/schedule for every single customer. I took the pandemic as an opportunity to reformat how we worked and created a streamlined, explicit, 30-day production process to deliver a custom website. An interactive calendar is available at all times to my team and the client displaying where we are in the process and what is coming next. Through a semi-automated onboarding process, on day one, the customer learns what will happen, what they need to do, and all dates when meetings, approvals, and deadlines are scheduled.”
In the times of rising remote workforce over the past year, Casey also has set an excellent example of using technology for the greater good, “One contract. One process. This has allowed us to do better, faster, more creative work as there is no scope creep or losing momentum while waiting on something from the customer!”
The best project leaders are the ones who connect with people, build teams, and communicate well. Women leaders can bring a certain level of transparency to your projects and identify any bottlenecks that may derail a project.
Automating. Adapting. Advancing.
Automation helps solve problems, reduce human error, decrease time spent on each task, avoid double work, and increase the predictability of results by reliably unloading manual work done to a machine.
However, even with automation, you may have to redesign your product due to unforeseen changes. But top women leaders in project management are adept at anticipating delays and risks. They can look at a problem from different points of view and handle any sort of alterations to the budget, resources, or other parts of the project.
Vinti Jain, Marketing Coordinator at Zen Media, says that being adaptable is a top skill: “Adapting to new technologies is an important aspect of raising the project management bar and ensuring the team’s optimal productivity. The current hip thing in project management is automation. Automation is transforming the way the 9-5 works, helping you and your team to remain sane in the workplace. It takes care of our administrative tasks and establishes regular processes so that our team can concentrate on what matters, creating great content. As a project’s state changes, automation assists us to keep our work flowing by automatically altering assignees and priorities. Tech has been an inevitable part of our lives for a while now, and our dependence on the same multiplied amid the pandemic. Embracing these changes to manage projects more efficiently has been challenging yet rewarding.”
Automating processes has made collaboration between stakeholders more straightforward and allowed managers to take up complex projects that involve real-world problems. Women leaders are using technology and automation as an asset to go over these obstacles and build a successful business model.
Preparing for the Future
“The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.” – Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM
The scope of project management is no longer limited to entering project time and status in an Excel workbook. Project managers are now seen as leaders who can make critical decisions and bring success to the organization. Women in project management are often excellent multi-taskers, having done this on a day-to-day basis all their lives — running between home and work.
Even though women have inadequate representation in the tech industry compared to their male counterparts, there has been a 2.5x increase in the number of female CEOS on the Fortune 500 lists over the last decade. Given the positive trends across the industry, more and more companies are encouraging gender equality in the workplace to deliver high-quality products and become successful.
Women leaders are already transforming the industry at a fast pace and have a critical role to play in the future as well. Combining diversity with technology can and will make all the difference.