In today’s technology-driven world, more and more project teams are no longer located in the same physical space. Teams are often formed with members in different buildings, countries, and time zones around the world. And when managing a virtual project team, it’s important to follow some key guidelines in order for the team to be successful.
Standard communication across all project team members and stakeholders is very important when running a remote team. Many virtual communication methods exist (e.g. email, chat, VoIP) that can be used by a project team. Technology providers offer functionality within each of these communication methods that benefits project team members. To ensure success, at the beginning of a project, agreement across the project team on the communication method should be identified. From a communication standpoint, it’s also important to store all project documentation in a central location. Team members will be able to all reference the same materials and keep up to date on any changes.
Regularly Scheduled Meetings
It’s good practice for team members to participate in regularly scheduled meetings. Teams are formed with a collaboration of many different skill sets. Regularly scheduled meetings allow team members to stay engaged in what the entire project team is working on, as well as voice any opinions they may have. It’s helpful to also stick to a set agenda to ensure meeting success and not be derailed from the meeting’s original goals. Additional meetings can be set up if needed, or if there is additional time at the end, once all planned discussion has occurred.
When setting up meetings, it’s also important to take time zones into consideration. Different time zones may make scheduling ad hoc meetings difficult. One beneficial tip for virtual teams is to try and schedule meetings during “normal” working hours that overlap for all team members. Having regularly scheduled meetings that work for the entire team can help ensure the most people attend.
Meetings aren’t just important for keeping the team on track, they also help create a sense of community among members.
Roles and Responsibilities
Every team member on a project should have a defined role and understand their responsibilities. They should be aware of how the work they’re doing contributes to project success. Having a documented RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) chart lets each team member know who should be involved in which project tasks.
Use Project Management tools
It’s helpful when managing a remote team to use available project management tools. These tools allow team members to keep documents organized and allow members to track progress against tasks. Having each team member track the progress on their tasks lets everyone know, and stay engaged in, what is going on and when deliverables are due.
Virtual teams are growing in many corporations. The increase of available technology allows resources to expand outside the typical office walls. Working with a remote team allows the team to pull from a larger resource pool than a physical team. While virtual teams have their benefits, it’s important to understand some of the problems that can occur. Understanding how to prevent some of the project risks will allow the project team to fully succeed. Finally, if your organization needs help with any aspect of project management for remote teams, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.
Business Analyst/Project Manager