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Virtual PHA workshops

Few tips on planning and organizing virtual workshops

Virtual PHA Workshops

This article presents tips on planning and organizing virtual PHA workshops. The pandemic situation that arose due to COVID-19 has led everyone to challenge the status quo. PHA workshops that traditionally would require all team members in the same room with a facilitator and scribe. Considering the lockdown that prevailed during the COVID 19 pandemic, it become a new norm to perform PHA workshops in a virtual environment.

Upon conducting several workshops in virtual environments, we were able to list down several practices that improves the efficiency and quality whilst maintaining suitable engagement by all participants.

  • Advance Preparation for Virtual PHA Workshops: It is advisable to book the meeting calendars (ensuring all meeting participants) at least one week in advance. Last minutes changes in meeting timings are better to be avoided. Also, it is important for the team to be intimated about the virtual PHA workshops as some of the meeting participants may not be well conversant. The PHA workshop secretary or scribe should ensure that all team members are logged in into the system.
  • Trial Run: A trial run with the key members few days before the PHA workshop is required to ensure that all can communicate with each other virtually. This increases the quality of the virtual workshop as well as reduce waste of time.
  • Choice of Virtual App: We have been using Microsoft Teams as we found that it is highly effective for such workshops. The system which has the specialized software installed will be used to initiate the invitations and the screen will be shared by the secretary or chairman, as required. Microsoft Teams provides feature for anyone to seek control of the screen. The secretary and the chairman will keep a complete copy of the documentation. Secretary / Chairman’s screen will be shared with the team. It is advisable to keep microphone in mute when participants are not talking. There are some other apps also for virtual meeting such as ZOOM & Webex. Choice of virtual app will be taken prior at the time of proposal finalization.
  • Preparation for Virtual Workshops: To ensure effective discussions, the PHA markups should be provided to the team at least one (1) week in advance. 1-2 days prior to the workshop, a meeting should be held (along with Chairman and Scribe) to discuss any questions / alignment issues. This will avoid such discussions during meetings.
  • Node Mark-ups on PDF: It is better to markup nodes on the PDF rather than using a scanned markup. Colors produced on scanned markups depend upon the type of scanner and this could lead to participants having different colors for the same nodes leading to confusions during workshops.
  • Nodes with Separation of P&ID: It is better to maintain an excel file with hyperlinks to various node marked P&IDs so that it is easy for the team members to identify the nodes and remain aligned with the chairman.
  • Documentation: It is better to have all key documentation provided to all team members so that if some documents are not visible online, the participants can open the document on their PCs.
  • Solution to Obstacles: Sometimes, some participants experience poor sound quality. In this case, the Microsoft Teams invitation will also include a phone number which when connected to, will provide clear sound. This practice should be performed at trial session to avoid delay and enhance the virtual workshop quality.
  • Role of Scribe: When the PHA workshop is conducted in a virtual environment, it would be easier if the chairman also takes the role of recording outcomes into the software, to avoid situations wherein the scribe hasn’t heard the chairman or any other type of miscommunication. A scribe (secretary) may still be required to facilitate everything else especially with respect to organizing invites, ensuring that all team members have the required information for a smooth workshop. An important role of the scribe would be check if any of the participant has got disconnected. Keep a track of any participant who may be trying to admin to the virtual meeting room. The scribe should be provided with the required rights to control the virtual meeting app.
  • Ergonomics: Ergonomics during working from home is very critical. A work station should be well lit with natural or artificial light. Chairs should be ergonomically designed.
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