Dealing with the impact of the global pandemic has been disruptive for many businesses, creating new challenges and drastically changing the way they do things overnight. Adapting to new ways of working has proved more successful than expected.
Take product development, for example.
Before 2020, remotely developing complex projects involving multiple employees and suppliers without any face-to-face meetings wouldn’t have been considered. The discussion around a busy meeting table, with ideas scribbled on a whiteboard, was the way to collaborate and get things done. Or so we thought.
Yet, the fact you are reading this article on how we helped launch V-Hub by Vodafone Business during lockdown proves it can be done.
Working together, we created and developed V-Hub virtually. Team members were all working from home, many of whom had never met before. Not a single physical meeting was involved. What’s more, V-Hub launched in record time – taking just a matter of weeks to create and go live with the initial service.
Even though we are a large organisation, our core delivery team was relatively small and we worked with an extended network of suppliers and stakeholders where needed.
And what have we learned from our experiences?
Set the objectives
First up, we started with data and insight. We found that small business customers want objective and expert information on all things digital to help them get back to business successfully.
Having identified the market need, the outcomes were defined, followed by the workstreams and resources required. And so we set up a team to build a portal to offer independent information in the shape of articles, podcasts and free one-to-one support from experts through calls and a chat service.
Using this outcome-based approach, we were always clear on our goal and what needed to be done.
Crucial for success were the virtual meetings, keeping them short, focused and only held when needed.
Online tools also made virtual meetings easier with, like a virtual whiteboard that helped us generate then organise our ideas. Participants could add to the whiteboard using their devices to create virtual sticky notes.
Make decisions. Keep up the pace
It wasn’t all plain sailing though. We needed to listen and adapt, and be willing to make decisions quickly, based on the information available at the time, in order to meet the tight deadlines.
This helped us make progress. And if it didn’t work as expected, it was okay because we could reassess and make changes quickly to keep the project on track.
For example, the initial idea was to offer tokens that visitors would use to request chats with advisors. But we soon realised it was too complex and we quickly stopped that development, creating a better customer experience.
The team is continuing to do this, seeing what works and what doesn’t, gathering feedback and making changes, working to improve the service and make it better for customers, because after all, V-Hub is only as good as the value it delivers to the businesses using it.
Tips and Tricks
Five things we learned about working together online
- Shorter, more frequent meetings. While most people can cope with an hours-long physical meeting with regular coffee breaks, spending a couple of hours on a video call can make it hard to retain focus. Hold short meetings on specific issues to make progress in smaller steps. 15 minute meetings each morning help to track progress and maintain the momentum.
- Limit participants in meetings and plan your agenda. Too many participants can quickly dissolve the purpose of a meeting. Making an agenda and sticking to it, and asking participants to prepare in advance, can mean you get the outcomes you need.
- Allow time for reflection. Back-to-back online meetings can leave little time for thinking and that’s when mistakes can happen. Make sure there is enough time between meetings for people to consider the discussion, reflect and feedback on plans.
- Follow up every meeting. Make sure everyone knows the outcome of each meeting and their actions - It sounds simple but taking notes and sharing them along with actions will ensure everyone is on the same page and accountable for what they need to do. This is even more important when remote working as people are often juggling things like home schooling, so can be distracted when coming off a call.
- Call colleagues when you need to. Working in an office, it’s easy to pop your head round the door and ask a colleague a quick question when you can see they are free. Instead of filling up your colleague’s inbox, try making short calls or send text messages when you need to. Stop worrying about disturbing or interrupting colleagues.
Justine Healey, Senior Business Consultant, NTT DATA UK
Claudio Costa, Director, Business Consulting, NTT DATA UK
Andrea Favretti, Business Consultant, NTT DATA UK