Ever since I first came across the VPM Network LinkedIn site, I have been wondering what all the hype is about and whether this is really a new skill.
I can remember back to the early 1970’s when I ran implementation teams in Eastern Europe from UK working with American system providers where you spent weeks away from your home office with scant access to telephone and the main communication channel was Telex!
Meetings were always face to face and the closest you got to a teleconference was if someone had jerry rigged an extra headset to their desk telephone.
Even in the late 1980’s, living in the States and supporting Customers along the Eastern Seaboard, my week was spent jumping on and off planes to meet with onsite project teams and Customers for weekly review/status meetings on the various projects I was responsible for. There was no audio or video conferencing hence the face to face meetings.
However, having said all that, throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, I was running project teams in many different countries often liaising with suppliers on a different continent. Wasn’t that “Virtual Project Management”?
My first memories of the impact of “modern communications” was in the early 90’s when running multi-site projects for NationsBank from Charlotte in N.Carolina at offices there, Atlanta, Dallas and London where if communications didn’t fail us, we managed to hook up the vendor and client teams in all locations for a one hour weekly project review.
By the mid 1990’s, audio conferencing, voicemail and email were coming of age and the pace of life at work started to significantly accelerate; no longer the weekly trip to visit the Customer for a face to face meeting with hours wasted sitting in airports and on planes; now it was wall to wall conference calls with a monthly face to face.
For some reason voicemail never took off as a major tool for communication although, in my opinion, even today, it is an underutilised tool.
In one global Company I worked for, we used voicemail as a very powerful tool for communication in around the clock operations with the ability to leave messages for colleagues in other timezones and pioneer “follow the sun” working.
The technique here was to keep each voicemail to one topic so you could keep a stream going as long as required … something we also applied very effectively to emails as email became the preferred tool to voicemail with the ability to include multiple recipients.
The point of these reminiscences? My premise at the start of this blog is that VPM is a rebranding of a skill many of us have been practising for nearly half a century; some maybe longer.
I guess for those of us that have been around that long, we just grew into VPM and adopted new technologies/tools as they became available.
For those born into this era where there are a plethora of tools and techniques, I’m all for ensuring people are properly trained and mentored to make effective use of them. The contribution made by Hassan Osman on his web site, book and on the LinkedIn VPM Network site are all good reminders of skills we need to be successful in the fast moving world of Virtual Project Management!