If we were to take a poll, few would be surprised to discover that most professionals have not been formally trained in project management. When you first started your career, did you hunger to understand the best methods for delegating tasks and leading a team toward a specific goal? Doubtful. However, more and more, project management is becoming a core competency. When you really think about it, aren’t many of your work activities, “projects”?
Regardless of professional background, we believe the key to an organization’s success (especially in a remote workplace) is to have a structured project management protocol in place, as well as having an acute awareness of their team’s skill set. Additionally, it’s imperative to have an open mind, and a budget, for utilizing various tools and systems that help create efficiency, maximize performance and streamline business processes.
Through our experience and research, we offer the following tips and tools that can help you become a great project manager while assisting in choosing the project management platform that is a good fit your organization.
Why is project management important?
It is our belief that remote teams get more work done. However, these teams still need to create the value that daily collaboration and idea-sharing brings to an organization. Without it, staff grows stagnant and innovation is replaced by inflexible processes that fail to transform and grow over time.
Good project management processes and tools help team members get their job done, and encourage team synergy, collaboration, accountability and innovation. In a remote workplace, the fit and adoption of a tool is even more necessary.
What does project management look like on a remote team?
The success and failure of remote teams relies directly on the organizational leader and their willingness to embrace good project management as a catalyst for creating transparency and reaching goals. These tools help recreate the day-to-day, side conversations that happen in a traditional environment. If you’re interested in utilizing a PM tool for your remote team, here are a few tips for starting your first project.
Get clear consensus on the need. Before starting any project, the entire team must know, “What problem are we solving? What is the goal AND how will we quantify success?” Knowing where you’re headed will help you prioritize tasks and meetings down the road. Then, determine a timeline for key milestones and completion of the entire project. In complex projects this, along with many other items are frequently in the project charter. Lengthy project charters aren’t always necessary, but agreement on the goal and measurements for success are essential.
Decide on a meeting flow. We’ve already mentioned that virtual workers get more done. The truth is that they take pride in their efficiency and are typically averse to meetings. Blog.doist.com suggests that remote managers . schedule meetings only when they are needed, 2. Stick to an agenda, and 3. Make meeting short. The most shocking piece of advice that they give is to make meetings optional. Whether you agree with optional meetings or not, the important thing to remember is that your team members are productive because they are bothered less. So, as you think through your particular project, fight the urge to schedule too many meetings.
How do I choose the right project management software?
Thoughts to consider when making that decision include: (1) Understanding why good project management is important, (2) Recognizing what project management looks like on a remote team, and (3) Determining the specific needs and workflow for your specific project. The reality is that every organization is different, and their needs are unique. But, there is a framework, borrowed from everhour.com, that every manager can work from to help them choose the most beneficial software for their organization.
Focus. The first thing to figure out is what you want the software to do. Do you need an application that helps you and your team communicate? Do you need one that helps you track the progress of different tasks and projects? Or do you need software to help you and your team members keep meticulous records? Define your organizational requirements first in context with the other tools you use.
User Adoption. The second part of the framework is determining who will be using the software. Will it be a small or large team? Will it be the CEO and/or the board? Will it be one team with small, repeatable projects? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team?
Your answers to these questions will first help you identify tools that are the “right fit” for the audience. For example, is this a team of linear or creative thinkers? Are they self-learners or do they prefer specific direction? Understanding the audience, their skill set and how they will use the tool is critical for overall adoption. The platform’s features are worthless if the program is not being used correctly and efficiently.
Cost. This might sound like common sense, but we promise it’s a key component of choosing the right software for your organization. If you do your research, you will find that some programs, like Asana, are free for teams of up to 10 people. Others like Teamwork [teamwork.com] or Basecamp charge a flat rate for unlimited members and platforms like Smartsheet have a blended rate. Knowing budget and cost structure of the platform will help you plan for growth.
The most important idea to remember is, don’t be afraid to use project management software especially with your remote environment. The longer you do, the longer you’ll miss out on the many benefits your organization could be. If you don’t have the time, we’re happy to help.