Since Scatterwork was established in 2008, the company has had the objective of having a 100% virtual team to support its operations. In fact, the company name was selected to reflect this interest only a year after Twitter was launched and a year before Facebook made any profit.
Our service is Project Consultancy, so is dependent on its team of experts. By developing a team which is 100% virtual has several tangible business benefits in contrast to bricks-and-mortar companies:
Some Benefits of Virtual Working
Among the many benefits of virtual working, these are the most important ones for Scatterwork:
The opportunity to select the very best experts wherever they are in the world, compared with being restricted whoever lives near enough to commute.
Rapid launching of new assignments, sometimes within only days of notice compared with longer lead times if experts must travel, get visas, book hotels etc.
Team presence is many locations, countries, cultures, time zones etc, so improving the variety of experience which supports problem solving.
No investment in office space and overheads (insurance, telephones, telecomms infrastructure etc.) which simplifies incremental growth.
There is no such thing as a free dinner
While the benefits of virtual working are very real, they do not come without some overhead:
The dependency on communications technology, which must be specified to match virtual working and managed actively is a significantly more complicated than for colocated businesses. This offsets some of the simplification and cost saving compared wtih working from a physical location.
Every opportunity should be used for the team members to meet each other face to face, for example when travellng to the same client. Ideally this would be supplemented by team meetings from time to time, again not free of cost.
Everybody should be comfortable with asynchronous (= not at once) communication with the team. Synchronous communication (e.g. the live team meetings) are like gold dust and should be protected.
Team members tend to feel lonlely and this is not addressed by nearby team members, unlike the situation where they are colocated. This does not suit everybody.
Mostly it is not possible to see the work, only the results of the work. This demands a mind-set change for management compared with a traditional office.
Each team member is responsible for agreeing their own work with the stakeholders and managing the communications and tools. In short, they should be “self-starters”, which does not suit everybody.
In summary, there are positive and negative features of virtual work, which for Scatterwork are balanced in favour of virtual working.
Is Scatterwork on its own?
No, although the vast majority of companies have physical offices, there is a significant number of companies which, like Scatterwork, work virtually. Here are some that we are aware of:
The rate of change in our society started to accelerate long before COVID-19 arrived. Even though the pandemic is not over, it is clear that the world is moving into new, unexpected and unpredictable directions, at a rate even faster than before 2020.
As businesses evolve, in a world of continuous change accompanied by an increase in projects being completed, business change management has become ever more important – a discipline that project management needs to be aware of and involved in. Project management focuses on the processes and activities needed to complete delivery and installation of systems or processes (such as a new software application) while change management focuses on the people affected by those projects and implementation of the processes (or other changes within the organization).
“For every €, £ or $ spent on change in a project, there is a 43% ROI gain (€0.43 for every €1). By contrast, projects with poor change implementation lose €0.65 for every €1 spent”:
“Change Management that Pays”, McKinsey Quarterly, 2002,
Project management teams focus primarily on fulfilling the strategic objectives of a project. Change management complements the project management process by supporting the human side – it is increasingly recognised that a project’s measure of success is significantly impacted by the way in which the desired project outcomes are achieved and additional value is realised.
Within a project stakeholders are often made up of cross functional teams and varying backgrounds, who require management through interactive two way dialogue so they can support and advocate the project and overall transformation. Without buy-in from these stakeholders or the rest of the organization, a project’s outcomes can be impeded.
Change management enables the maximum number of people to make a change, in the shortest possible time, with maximum capability, in order to deliver business benefits quicker. “Change” is people, process and (… systems). The more people are required to work differently, the more effort is needed on change management, to support them as they go through the process. It considers factors such as the individual change journey, change fatigue, adoption and reinforcing the change.
Project management and change management differ in approach, processes and tools employed but complement each other; since projects can have a significant and lasting impact on the business and its stakeholders, both disciplines are necessary when executing a project or initiative and should be employed hand in hand to ensure a project’s long-term success.
As a Change Management Facilitator Adedayo Ajibola is all about assisting businesses to help their people navigate change within the organisation. She is a certified Project and Business Change professional and founder of Horoma Limited; a management consultancy based in Reading, UK. She appreciates feedback and discussion on project and change management and can be reached at email@example.com
Boltić: Hi James, I understand that at the time you met Scatterwork you were working on a demanding project of setting up a new business model in your organization.
So could you describe in more detail the specific approach of Scatterwork to help you deal with the challenges, such as setting up the team and managing interdependencies and resource planning?
Bauly: Sure, with pleasure, thank you. So when we started the training program with Scatterwork what we found was that we were coming at it really as a sales and marketing team with very limited experience at that time in project management.
So what we really needed was “project management training 101”, really, really for beginners.
For a lot of the people in the team, you know, this was really their first experience of structured project management.
What was really good was the way that the training team helped us just take those first baby steps and understand the basics around project management and what are some of the key success factors, all the way at the beginning starting with:
● how do you set up a project team, both in terms of talking to the people and bringing them into the team ● but also capturing in the PMP process how you document that and how you set that on paper.
Yeah, we did that with some live exercises and also some basic but quite fun theoretical discussions as well.
Boltić: That’s great. And what was specific, is there anything unique about the experience of working with Scatterwork that helped you understand the specific importance of project ownership and how to develop a focus in the mandated project team?
Bauly: Yeah, I think what was really appreciated actually again in the context that we were in, was having a trainer from Scatterwork who clearly has deep experience and a long history in Project training.
And I think some of the most valuable lessons were based on the trainer sharing of his own personal experiences over the years and putting those experiences forward as mini-case studies, to demonstrate what can go wrong if you don’t lock in the senior sponsorship in the mandates.
You know what are some of the things that can derail a project if you don’t do that properly
Yeah, as much as the as the actual simulated trainings in the workshop I think that the personal anecdotes and experience of the trainer we’re really insightful and I think that sums up the lasting memory that I have from the training.
Boltić: Thank you so much James for doing this with us, thank you.
Bauly: With pleasure, thank you!
Guest:James Bauly, Head of Personalized Nutrition at DSM Nutritional Products Ltd, Kaiseraugst, Switzerland
Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH
Boltić: What was the specific experience you had with Scatterwork and what was the project that time?
Winwood: Sure, no problem at all. I used to work with a company DSM Nutritional Products who were based in Kaiseraugst in Switzerland. And they decided that they had a need for specific project management training, which they certainly did, and decided to call on an expert to do that.
The problem was what they didn’t want was a just a manual and a boring list of to do’s. They wanted something that would actually apply to the situation that we were working at the time and then practical and could be used afterwards. And that’s why Scatterwork was chosen.
Boltić: So in specific, how how did Scatterwork meet those expectations and what were the specific benefits that you can draw out of this training?
Winwood: OK, we had a mixed group of I suppose around about 20 people who were involved in the training which took place over three days in total.
And the key thing was that you could take away something you could use straight away from that process, bearing in mind the people who attended the training hadn’t had any formal project management training at all.
I don’t think anybody had that particular career, so it was new to all of us but it was particularly important that we could then take what we’d learnt and use it straight away. And I guess what was key in the training itself was that we used real examples throughout.
It wasn’t example stuff; it was real things that happen in our day to day work.
Boltić: So are there any additional impressions that you would like to share about Scatterwork and working with them?
Winwood: Yeah, when we did the training to be absolutely honest with you I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I don’t think anybody else did. It always helps to have an empathetic trainer, somebody who is enthusiastic and friendly but firm when he needed to be and we certainly got that with Scatterwork and I think we all appreciated that.
And it was done in detail, it was done in a logical fashion so everybody could follow without knowing any of the background whatsoever. So unusually in that, that you can take something from ground zero and basically leave the training at the end of the time with something you can practically use straight away.
Boltić: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us.
Winwood: You’re very welcome.
Guest: Dr Rob Winwood, Proprietor at Winwood Bioscience, Helions Bumpstead, Haverhill, UK
Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH
A seminar is an event where the participants interact intensely with each other over several hours or days to improve their understanding of a particular topic, or maybe work together to find solutions.
It is much more than a video conference or webinar, even though the technology used may be the same as for video conferences, but the management of the interactions is far more varied and intense.
This challenge is topical because of the very significant change in attitude to remote seminars which has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have often heard that in this or that particular country the people prefer to interact face-to-face and as a result it’s not possible to deliver at seminars remotely.
As recently as last week, I contributed to a seminar which was originally scheduled to take place in Malaysia. Because of the pandemic the client accepted that travel was not possible so the event was moved online.
The participants were from Bangladesh, China, Japan, UAE and Indonesia so the amount of travel, time, cost and carbon emissions which would have resulted from a traditional face-to-face project seminar was considerable.
It suited both the client company and the participants for different reasons to hold the seminar remotely.
During the Covid-19 pandemic millions of people in business, schools and universities have started working from home, so-called remote working, home office and so on. The result is that they are much more familiar with the remote conferencing which is an important enabler of remote seminars.
This is very similar to the situation years ago in the United States when Bell Telephones made a marketing decision that local calls would be free. Any of us who have watched American films or have been there will recognize that the telephone is used very extensively for long discussions, even between people who live next door to each other the marketing decision drove the familiarity.
The widespread acceptance and usage of teleconferencing has been different. It is only in the last decade or so that most business people have easy access both to smartphones and laptop computers as well as broadband internet connection, which is available nearly everywhere including shops, trams, airports, city centres etc.
Although the technology to support seminars remotely became available over the last decade or so, actually using it to deliver seminars remotely has had a lot of resistance.
I am going to talk briefly about three topics related to delivering seminars remotely successfully.
The Logistical Challenges
The Human Factor
“For and Against”.
The Logistical Challenges
The logistical challenge is the first thing, because if the tools don’t work everybody gets frustrated and abandons the effort. The first priority is a standard interface using a selected app which everybody uses.
Everyone is familiar with Skype, Zoom, WebEx and so on but you cannot have a mixture of these on a call. Someone must decide which one to use.
Many familiar apps require a download which is not allowed in many corporate environments. Even if you are allowed to download the app, not everyone is an IT expert and knows how to configure it.
As well as the same app for everyone participating in the seminar remotely they all need microphones and cameras.
These are both on smartphones and laptop computers but casual use is often not so very satisfactory. For example the camera on a laptop usually points upwards to the speaker, looking from under their chin this and the shadows on their face from the lighting above do not look very good.
Getting the microphone to work is also a challenge because there are so many possible settings, some of which interfere with others. As with the camera, what works technically may not have high enough quality, so the microphone in the laptop computer is better replaced by a headset, both for sound quality and to reduce background noise. So the camera and microphone may work technically but not always very satisfactorily.
A third challenging logistic aspect is having a quiet location without visual distractions. If we’re working in an open plan office it can be very disturbing to others to hear us delivering or participating in a seminar remotely.
If we’re working from home or near an open window or in a café there can be a lot of background noise. I was on a remote seminar which had very pleasant Indian music in the background – lovely but not in the right place.
In another conference one of the participants was on a motorbike taxi in Paris which they use when traffic is very dense. Not surprisingly the background noise dominated the communications.
So to summarise the logistics, there are at least three challenges of delivering seminars remotely.
All participants must have the following: the same app installed on their computer or phone and know how to use it. Although I have no commercial connection with them, my tips are to use Demio for delivering seminars remotely and Whereby for conferences because access to all of the features: voice, video, shared screen, shared application etc are all accessed simply through a browser without any download. This increases the reliability significantly.
They need good microphones and cameras and need to be familiar how to use them. Although not essential, it can detract from a seminar if their quality and user experience is limited.
And the third thing is a quiet location with broadband internet access that doesn’t have distracting background noise and where children don’t come running in and where no dog is barking in the background.
Of these three points only the first one can be managed directly by the seminar leader; the others depend on local support together with connectivity tools provided by the app. The challenge is making sure that you have someone on the receiving end who is actively managing these points.
The Human Factor
Now to the Human Factor, where the biggest challenge of delivering seminars remotely is a lack of acceptance that it can be done or that it works.
This is similar to the introduction of email. I remember that the pharmaceutical industry was very slow because they were worried their secrets could be emailed out to competitors very easily. This meant the sector was maybe several years behind others in introducing email.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, certainly a lot of people are more accepting of the technology that’s available, so that’s one less challenge for delivering remote seminars.
The general opinion is that the acceptance among the millions who are now familiar with some of the tools has increased dramatically which means that there are opportunities for transferring seminars into a remote format. As recently as last month I was involved in negotiation with an organization which assumed that a seminar delivered remotely was the same as spending several hours passively in a webinar delivered by Zoom.
In a seminar the participants usually need some way of interacting in groups and a typical webinar format, where there are one or two presenters sharing their knowledge, answering questions which have been sent in by participants using the chat channel.
The basic difference between this and the seminar is the depth and time dedicated to directing interaction among the participants, so my big tip here is to put participants into teams so they interact with each other.
I recommend not specifying how they interact but leaving it to them to work out for themselves whether they use telephone, email, teleconference and so on. By putting them in teams and asking them to interact with each other and then to present their results or ideas on PowerPoint about a given topic which they can email back to you, the dynamic changes completely compared with a webinar or a lecture.
The same logistics challenges exist as mentioned already because the breakout teams can’t be guaranteed to have good leadership or familiarity with the tools. Delivering seminars remotely with this approach increases the acceptance because the tool, Zoom or whatever, is mostly used to coordinate participant action and is not used for contact 100% of the time.
The second challenge under the human factor heading is familiarity with the tools.
I’ve often had the experience of remote seminars where somebody’s connection didn’t work. For some reason they always think it’s the fault of the person at the other end. I had one colleague in Australia who got really annoyed with me because his connection didn’t work.
My tip in these situations is to tell them that it’s working for everybody else so the problem must be at their end. Unfortunately a lot of seminar participants don’t accept that and just wait until something happens.
The best solution is to tell everybody that both ends of the communication must seek to renew contact actively if the communication breaks down. Of course the technology is improving all the time.
Another example in Google Meet is the automatic generation and translation of subtitles when you talk. Maybe not perfect but certainly enough to help in a mixed language situation.
Another feature is the replacement of background in the video of the speaker. You may be sitting in front of a distracting background but that is replaced dynamically by some other picture. This is really convenient because you could be in a hotel or an airport or in the kitchen but you don’t need to show this to the people at the other end. The tip is to make sure that the background doesn’t distract and then nobody will notice it.
“For and Against”
In my experience people who have met each other once, even for a cup of coffee, have a very good chance of working well together remotely. It might be very pleasant to have face-to-face seminars but they can be certainly done very effectively online.
Another advantage is that each person can access the seminar from wherever they are and not necessarily from home. This simplifies the logistics and means that it’s easier and takes less time to participate.
Another advantage is that because each participant has their own log on, each person can see who else is involved, because the names are usually shown on the screen online. If you have several people sharing a microphone like they used to on telephone conferences, you don’t know who is online and you probably can’t hear them very well either.
Of course particularly if people are traveling from a distance to meet each other, avoiding flights saves time, money as well as carbon emissions and particularly for long-distance fights.
Of the disadvantages, delivering seminars remotely misses the equivalent of standing in a queue for coffee and chatting.
I once had a colleague in Spain who complained that the difficulty with our communication was that we drank our coffee in different countries.
Seminar participants also need to solve problems. When they work together physically, they can judge each other’s mood and interest by the body language which is missing when they work remotely. This makes it hard to negotiate so for a lot of people.
Another disadvantage is that a seminar at a corporate head office would be an occasion for them to meet various colleagues outside the seminar. Without travel, that doesn’t happen.
So to summarize the challenges of delivering seminars remotely, they fall into logistic and human areas.
In the logistics area, a lot has to do with the organization making sure people have the same app, they have microphones and simple things like that. It’s easy in principle but the challenge is to make it actually happen.
On the human side there has been a lot of resistance for a long time to delivering seminars remotely but the Covid-19 pandemic has made a lot of people familiar with the technology and this means that the main human issues are more to do with familiarity with the methods than they were before.
Presented by Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir, Principal of Scatterwork at Infotech ICT 2020, the international conference and exhibition in Belgrade
Boltić: Hello Zoltan. I am very happy that we’re doing this interview and I would like to ask you if you would like to share some of your experience which you had previously with Scatterwork – mainly when was it, where was it and what was the particular project that you were working on at the time?
Lorantffy: Sure, so this would have been in Budapest Hungary back in 2007-2008 and the assignment was centered around training and solutions and so Deasún was also a facilitator and at the time I was the general manager at IIL for Budapest Hungary and he came in and was training our clients on project management using Scatterwork.
Boltić: And talking about the approach, is there something specific that you would like to share as beneficial considering the way it was delivered by Scatterwork?
Lorantffy: Yeah, we found that based on all of our client feedback, and there were certain things that we had there, the entire experience from beginning to end was very well ranked and that included the contents, it included delivery, it included the facilitator of course, Deasún was very integral in leading us from beginning to end.
The process, the logic behind it and of course you know how applicable are those learnings in the business world and so we found that the entire experience from beginning to end was ranked very high.
Boltić: Hi Milan, thank you so much for doing this interview with us.
First of all I would like to ask you if you could describe what was your experience with Scatterwork in the first place?
Šmigić: Thank you, Zorana, for inviting me. It was 2014 here in Belgrade where we organized the first Project Society Conference and with participating speakers from different European countries including Scatterwork.
We had an opportunity to further promote the project management profession and also the PMI, the main organization that we all belong to. Also the interesting topic for our participants was a panel discussion where Scatterwork was one of the major presenters: how to apply project management in government sector where we actually had our discussions and received a strong feedback by the participating members of our organization.
Boltić: So could you share some impressions about that panel discussion and how Scatterwork contributed to the society?
Šmigić: As it was our first international conference we had a strong positive feedback for more than 140 participants and we actually received additional members and we received very strong background from the Scatterwork experienced professionals, showing us
how to work in remote teams,
how to participate in government projects
how to relate to companies, both in public and global sector as project management and portfolio management professionals.
Boltić: So at the end, are there any takeaways that you would like to share from that particular panel?
Šmigić: Our idea was to invite Scatterwork to help us further promote our profession and we actually achieved our new members and we increased the number of participants within our conferences by sharing the knowledge and experience provided by Scatterwork.
Boltić: Thank you so much Milan for sharing this with us.
Guest: Milan Šmigić, CEO CPM Belgrade and Visiting Professor, Politecnico di Torino
Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH
Zorana: Hello Mario. Thank you so much for doing this
interview with us. The first thing I would like to ask you is:
what would be the main tangible benefit that you
could share with us about the bootcamp with Scatterwork?
how to deal with different stakeholders and how to manage them to have success
in the project.
Zorana: Great. And when you started the Bootcamp:
what was your main motivation?
what were the issues you were looking to resolve?
what was the project that you were working on at
Mario: I was working on a project in the Ivory Coast in
the cement industry and the main motivation was again to deal with different
There were a lot of stakeholders
involved in the project: local authorities, rail companies, harbour companies
and also subcontractors so it was mainly a question of how to deal with them,
how to manage them and to identify how important they are for the project.
Zorana: And how big was that project in terms of cost and
Mario: It was
around 20 million euro. There were different companies involved but among the
most difficult thing was to deal with all the external stakeholders: the local authorities,
rail, clients, all of them and identify that not all of them are equally
Zorana: And just for the for the end, one last take-away
from the bootcamp, something that you could apply on future projects and like
in your business?
Mario: I am in a very similar project now and I’m already implementing the things I learned in the bootcamp with Scatterwork.
Again the issue for me at the beginning is that it is important to identify the stakeholders. That is a critical issue for the project and now I have identified after the bootcamp with Scatterwork that this is key thing to have a success in a project.
Zorana: Thank you so much, Mario.
you very much.
Interviewer: Dr. Zorana Boltić PMP Interviewee: Mario Gil Fernandez MSc PMP
Is Situational Leadership still valid for new managers? I’m Deasún Ó Conchúir of Scatterwork and I’m looking at a model that’s been around for a long while.
When we move into a new role taking over an existing team, we assume that everyone is experienced. That means that we give them low support and low direction; just let them them get on with the work. But if that doesn’t work enough then we can change our style and give higher support to individuals, hopefully bit by bit moving them towards the experienced level.
If that doesn’t work we can decide to be more directive so we’re telling people what to do but still giving them high support and then in a case where somebody is a complete beginner we can just tell them what to do and give them no support: please just do the work.
The advantage of that is that we find people where they are. We might go two or three steps back on that system before we find where each individual is. And of course we treat everyone, differently depending on who they are. Then with a bit of luck they will work their way up to the experienced quadrant, but it takes time!
Now another approach is that we start at the other end and the big disadvantage of this is that if somebody is not a beginner they get annoyed immediately and then you’ve lost them until you move out of that job.
So the question I’m asking “is this approach still valid?” because it was formulated in the time when there were not so many generations working at the same time as there are now and this approach was identified before the existence of, for example social media and the internet and of course these days we’re in contact with people around the world who come from many different cultures and have many different styles of interaction. So it may be that the model that was laid down some time back is no longer valid so I hope that this video will have at least stimulated your thoughts in that area.
Are you responsible for a mission-critical project and want to do everything to deliver it successfully? Then a Deep Dive Project Bootcamp is what you need. In it we explore your current project and look for opportunities to accelerate the delivery, reduce the costs and minimize the risks.
Why does it work?
Of course, you already know what you are doing and the purpose of the bootcamp is to go into that in detail and look for opportunities for improvement. The areas that we examine cover the whole range of how we plan and implement the project.
For example, identifying who exactly the stakeholders are and what their stance is; how we work with a remote team, how we manage the risks, how we control progress and so forth.
Who is it for?
So the deep dive project bootcamp is for your staff and their project teams who are currently responsible for delivering mission-critical projects and who need to achieve significant improvements, so it’s suitable for
mission-critical projects which are at a planning or implementation phase
it can also be applied to Troubled Project Recovery, for example after a change of leadership if a project hasn’t been delivering as expected.
Bootcamps are relevant for all business sectors and technical branches.
Choice of Delivery Options
Bootcamps have a number of delivery options, for example if you have confidential projects, you probably want to do the bootcamp in-house, either on-site in a traditional face-to-face environment or maybe by global virtual delivery.
If you have a project which is less confidential, for example moving an office, then you probably feel comfortable with bringing it to a public event, if there is one in your locality at a time when you need it.
Spectacular Business Payback
The business payback of the Deep Dive Project Bootcamp can be spectacular.
A company in Canada found that its deliveries worth 10 million euro were being blocked by its client due to an inspection issue. When these were resolved the deliveries were released.
A company in France was able to start a project phase 20 weeks earlier than the original plan due to an insight that it obtained during a bootcamp.
A company delivering products into China had to register every single one and this was both complicated and expensive. During a bootcamp they developed a standard approach and this allowed them to go to their clients and say “this is the way we normally do it” and ask for a contribution from the clients. So not only did they have a better process but they were actually able to get their clients to share half the cost.
In Switzerland a company had an unusual situation as the people in production virtually all had doctorates in chemistry, so they were very competent professionally but with a different focus from projects. During a bootcamp they were able to expand their responsibilities and accelerate revenue growth.
How you benefit
So you benefit by identifying
valuable opportunities to improve delivery time, costs and risks and of course other details, but these are the ones that tend to dominate.
You benefit by leveraging from our experience in over 40 countries and you get an opportunity for individual consultancy.
You also share insights with other participating project teams and the hands-on multicultural delivery style is usually great fun.
If your project is mission-critical or it may be very visible politically within the organization or maybe the demands are very high compared to the resources that you have at your disposal, this is definitely time for you to contact us in connection with a Deep Dive Project Bootcamp. Thank you!