Managing your project may well be more challenging than usual if the teams you’re working with are beyond physical reach. Here we look at managing this common problem effectively.
These days geographical separation is only seen as an insurmountable problem if you make it a problem. This is because it is so commonplace in today’s project environments. With the growing efficiency of technology via the internet, remote project management should, in essence, be quite easy. But that’s not always the case, which is why it’s best to be as informed as possible about this way of working – because it’s going to be happening more and more often in the future.
Here are some tips to help you effectively manage your remote project team:
1. Get To Know Everyone
Learn who you are working with. If you are new to the team or you have new team members, you have to get to know everyone properly before any project planning begins. Professionally building a strong working relationship is not only an advantage but an absolute must in Distance Project Management (DPM). You have to know which team members excel in certain areas and which team members are weak in other areas. By taking the time to get to know those you are working with, they not only learn to trust you and like you, but you learn who will be best suited to various tasks within your project – making it much more likely to succeed.
Time differences often present a real problem when you are working remotely. In order to avoid this you have to set a common time for communication because a breakdown in communication is almost guaranteed to make your project fail. You have to set a stable information exchange, especially in dealing with extreme time zone differences. Comprehensive, well-established and regular communication is the key to keeping your project flowing.
Software is available to provide virtual project management environments such as the two leading apps Basecamp and Codebase. They are perfect professional chat tools that enable you and your team to keep track of the project, what still needs to be done, which milestones have been reached and who has been given a particular task (to name just a few features). Apps like these promote open communication, and keep a log of everything as it progresses, which is much more efficient than a shared email – and less confusing.
3. Set your limits
Be transparent with your team. Let them know what you can and cannot do and where the project stands in relation to the timeframe. If the project has fallen behind, make sure team members and stakeholders know about it – never make false reports which, in the end, will compromise your entire team. Setting your limits is beneficial, this way each and every member of the team will be able to keep track of each others’ progress and even give out a helping hand when a task is behind schedule (with your direction of course). This way, you will be able to handle your team’s deliverables properly. And you will also be able to set clear and achievable goals for your team.
4. Promise is a Promise
If you decide to outsource a professional, make sure you fulfill your promise to them – that is, paying them on time. If you are working with your team online, always fulfill every task you told them you said you would complete. If you promised them a bonus if the job is done before the deadline, give it to them! If you promised to do someone else’s part of a task, get that work done! Delivering every promise will not only ensure you only ever give promises you can keep, but it will ensure those you work with know you are trustworthy.
Always stick to your set objectives and if possible, deliver something beyond exceptional. Use tools and methodologies that fit your objectives and never incorporate a project management framework that doesn’t suit your tasks. Work on things that can be achieved and then push for more.
If you have time to fine tune your work, do it, just make sure you still stick to the deadline. And remember, fine-tuning doesn’t just involve projects or results but also the people who worked to get it to this stage. This is the point where you will make assessments on the tasks completed, who did their tasks well, who didn’t and what needs improving next time. Just because your team is remote, doesn’t mean they should get any less of an appraisal than if they were in an office with you. Where possible, use video chat for appraisals so that you can tell the team member to their face exactly how well they did.