Remote Project Management – Is It Right For Your Project?

Paul Naybour

Remote project management is becoming increasingly popular.  Here we look at remote project management and ways to decide if it is right for your project.
Project management is going through a period of change made possible because of improvements in technology such as easy access to cloud PM and collaboration tools, inexpensive cloud storage and video conferencing facilities. As a result, increasingly, project management teams are no longer in one location. The various systems enabling conference calls, online cloud storage and all-in-one management, scheduling and communication means that project management teams are regularly made up of people working from all over the world.

The question is, just because it is possible, is it the right approach for the project management needs of your organisation?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, as it depends on so many different elements. Budget, location, project size and the expectations of the customer are all factors when it comes to deciding the best approach for an individual project.

One thing that is for sure, is the fact that remote project management is becoming increasingly popular. As a project management professional, you will have acquired many skills, but some of the skills associated with remotely managing a project may require a different mindset. You may find you:

●    Are the sole remote worker on the project
●    You work directly with the customer in person, but the hiring company is remote
●    You are able to work with your team in person on-site
●    You are working remotely from your organisation, and your team members are all working remotely from across the world

All of these situations bring their own challenges, but you can adapt to them all with a flexible approach.

Here are a few easy ways to consider whether or not remote project management is right for your project:

What Does The Customer Want?
Right from the start you should be asking what the customer wants from you. If you’re not sure – use those communication skills and ask. Some customers might appear to be fine with any set up, but when you ask they may suggest that seeing you in person is of importance to them. They might not have a clear idea of what a ‘virtual team’ actually means. They might say they are fine with a virtual team, but then organise in-person meetings. It is important you discuss expectations clearly, so you can decide the best possible approach.

Where Is The Team?
By looking at where the team is you can usually form a plan for the project location from there. So if most of the team works on-site, then it makes sense for you to work there as well. If most of the team is located in different places across the country or world, there’s no point in you working on-site.

Money Vs. Needs
It will cost a lot of money to get the entire project team on-site if they are all based in different locations, however if that is what the customer wants you will need to adapt. If this is the case you should put the expenses of getting the entire project on-site into the project budget, ensure the client is aware of the travel time and ensure the project is priced with the set-up in mind. The customer should be aware from the outset of their options and how the different options will affect the pricing of the project. Try to identify if the customer actually needs the team on-site so that you can give them pricing for both remote and on-site options. Let the customer decide between their wants and needs.

Project Management Is Going To Keep Demanding More And More Flexibility
As a project manager, you are used to being flexible and adaptable to any scenario. However, with remote project management on the rise and becoming ever more complex, your flexibility will be pushed and you will be stretched to work in ever more challenging situations. The key is to ensure you have, or develop, all the skills you need and be prepared to adapt to new situations as clients and customers expect it or the role demands it.

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