Managing projects is a demanding task in itself. Add in a remote team in the mix, and the task becomes even more challenging.
But just because something is challenging doesn't mean that it's impossible.
When it comes to remote project management, there's a myriad of things to take into consideration. From hiring remote employees and collaboration tools to assigning roles and responsibilities, managers have a lot on their plate.
But, with proper strategies in place, managing remote projects can become as straightforward as managing in-office teams.
Planning the Team
You know what they say, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Planning a remote team is not the same as planning an in-office team. Keep in mind that these employees will be working with minimal supervision and outside a physical office.
Your team should consist of employees who possess the required characteristics for remote work. Some of these characteristics include:
- strong work ethic
- communication skills
Overall, you need people who can commit themselves – whether it is in the short-term, immediate term, or long term, people who can work, and deliver under very minimal supervision.
And once you hire a remote employee, you have to think about onboarding them to the company.
Onboarding remote employees involves:
- Greeting the new employee over a video conference session.
- Letting the new employee meet the team.
- Helping new remote employees complete their paperwork.
- Introducing them to your company culture.
- Getting them up-to-date with the communication tools you'll be using.
- Having detailed outlines of goals and expectations.
Roles and Responsibilities
The second thing you want to do is set expectations upfront and have a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.
Let's imagine that you hired four software engineers. They all have different specializations and experience levels.
Based on their experience and skills, you have to assign proper tasks to each employee.
Then, as your remote employees work through the project, you can easily track their progress using project management tools such as Asana or Jira.
These tools let you follow through on every stage and keep tabs on who is working on what.
This way, you can rest assured that there will be a flow of work within the team – which will help move the project forward.
Every project has deadlines to be met.
Knowing the deadline will help determine the size of the team and the scope of work. If the deadline is tight, but the plan is too ambitious, you would have to narrow the scope to release the product on time.
This is where agile development comes through. In project management, the agile methodology can help extensively in project execution.
The agile methodology involves the division of a project by a team into several phases or stages.
In each phase, there is a collaboration with relevant parties, constant improvement of the project as well as client input.
Sprints, which are primarily completion and execution periods in the phases of a project, also help to form the backbone of the agile methodology.
The key aspect involved in the agile methodology is collaboration, planning, execution, and constant monitoring and evaluation at each phase and sprint of the project.
Work organized in sprints is also relatively easy to manage.
The flow of information is what keeps the ball rolling. It's what makes it possible for project managers to liaise, cooperate, and coordinate with their remote team.
When it comes to executing projects, ongoing communication is crucial.
There are two main ways how remote teams can communicate, and that's by using synchronous or asynchronous communication tools.
Synchronous communication is communication that occurs between two people or more, and these people need to respond in real-time.
Slack, for example, is a communication tool that allows for communication between two parties or more, and these parties can respond in real-time and at near the same moments.
It is also a tool that allows for multiple users – thus making it an excellent fit for synchronous communication purposes within projects.
In asynchronous communication, the people involved can respond at a later time and not necessarily in real-time, as is the case with synchronous communication.
Collaborations tools like Asana can come in handy here. These tools allow people to leave messages for others to reply at a later time.
Preparing for Challenges
Not everything will be rosy. There will be obstacles and snags along the way.
The most common challenges with remote work include:
- technical issues
- communication issues
- trust issues
When it comes to technical issues, you need to ensure that there are mechanisms for addressing them within the shortest time possible.
With interruptions, remote teams need to ensure they set their work in secluded and dedicated rooms or places in which they will experience minimal disturbances.
With communications, it all boils down to choosing a set of communication tools and sticking to them. Inform the remote team of the tools they'll be using and only introduce new ones if it's necessary.
To sum this up, project management of remote teams is a craft. It requires careful planning, smart hiring, and organized approach to work.
If you follow these guidelines, you'll manage to put together and manage an outstanding remote team that will continually:
- produce high-quality work
- meet deadlines
- help your company grow and thrive
Jessica Fender is a marketing consultant, blogger, and professional writer. Currently, she is collaborating with AllTopReviews, a website for academic writing services reviews where Jessica is focused on creating innovative and customer-friendly strategies. You can follow Jessica on Twitter.