Project Management isn’t easy. The challenge increases manifold if there’s a remote team to be managed. You need the right set of people, processes, methodologies, tools and, most importantly attitude to successfully manage a remote team. Some of the top challenges of managing a remote team include ensuring consistent communication, flow of communication through the right channels, tracking progress regularly, respecting the time of all team members and not ignoring any team member. It may sound easy but when it comes to everyday management, it become a herculean task.
Irrespective of the software development life cycle that you might follow, waterfall or agile, you need to ensure that you follow Project Management Best Practices to effectively manage a remote team. You might be dealing with an offshore team of developers, testers, engineers and team leaders. At times, you might choose to hire an offshore project manager to ensure the proximity with the team.
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If you follow the following 10 best practices, the likelihood of project success increases in many ways.
1. Get everyone on the same page
Ensure that all team members understand the same terminologies, metrics and agree on the same communication channels since the beginning of the project. You must be considerate to the time zone differences and must let the team share their schedule beforehand. If all the team members are in sync since the beginning of the project, you will setup a hassle free and self-sustaining model for project delivery.
2. Communicate project overview and timeline
You must communicate the expectations, vision, timeline and objectives from the project. All the team members must understand the project objectives, goals and objectives from the project, and the role of each of the team members.
3. Update the progress on tasks daily
If the team updates the status on tasks and you ensure that they update the status daily, there is transparency maintained throughout the project lifecycle. You can also ensure that in case of backlogs, there aren’t any major lapses and you can keep the project milestones on time.
4. Identify communication tools at the beginning of the project
There are several communications tools available these days. You can use instant messenger, wiki, task board, and email client to keep interacting with the team. You can choose tools that can reduce the setup overhead and is able to fill the gaps in the process. Trello and Slack are popular communication tools.
5. Keep the meetings regular and short
The frequency and duration of the status meetings totally depends on the complexity and magnitude of the project. There are some project managers who like to have daily meetings (it varies as per the attention required in a project). If the meeting agenda is decided beforehand, you can save everybody’s time and have a focused discussion.
6. Integrate Project Management Software
There are several business apps that can help you streamline the project. These software systems can integrate with all the other business apps. Virtual location of the work can help tasks organized and visible to the entire team. Project Managers can use time management tools that can help to keep the project on time. Basecamp and Toggle are popular Project Management tools.
7. Take team’s feedback
As a project manager and leader, one of your key responsibilities is to listen to all team members. You may choose to conduct individual feedback sessions with team members. The feedback can be regrading better ways to perform a task or meet a project goal. The purpose of the feedback session can also be to understand the issues, roadblocks and better ways to work.
8. Foster team spirit
It’s possible to encourage team spirit and bonding even if you’re working with remote teams. You may have virtual meetings where the agenda is to just to know the team members better, their likes, dislikes and passion. For some meetings, you may also conduct personality assessment tests to understand what drives individual team members (and have some fun). Encourage team members to learn about each other.
9. Track time and cost
Monitor activities of the team members and generate reports regularly. If you keep a close track of the milestones and project spending, the risks of slip-ups are reduced considerably.
10. Be available for the team
Keep the communication line open for the remote workforce. Structured communication is good but be open to have unstructured chats with the team members. Be approachable, always, to respond to their issues, feedback and questions.