Working remotely on a project (and even managing a project remotely) is not new but it remains a hotly debated topic. In a post on Plan.io, 11 experts from the project management and agile/scrum world shared their answers to the question “How do you feel remote work changes how teams work together?” Most of the responses suggest that remote project participation and management are associated with many challenges and risks that need to be identified and proactively managed to achieve the project success.
I have first-hand experience of working on distributed project teams and would like to share with you today a few articles with suggestions that I am finding useful and relevant.
In her article “Does remote project management really work?“, Moira Alexander breaks down factors that may impede remote project management into several groups and suggests a number of solutions:
- Productivity degradation
- Location, distance or time zone issues
- Cultural and legal differences
- Communication barriers
- Technology, data access and security issues
In another article on CIO.com, Brad Egeland offers 5 tips for remote project managers:
- Be organized
- Use a collaborative tool
- Seek a personal connection with team members
- Over communicate
- Keep senior management and the customer informed
In a Forbes article, Dave Nevogt explains how you can manage a remote project in six steps (to me, they look more like tips):
- Spend extra time in the planning phase
- Find the right team
- Pay in installments, and build in incentives
- Set up task-tracking software
- Set expectations for communication
- Test early and often
Another “5 Helpful Tips for Managing a Project or Team Remotely” include:
- Spend extra time getting to know your team
- Set goals within the team early on
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone
- Get the right tools for the job
- Keep the team updated in real time
As you can see, common themes in these articles include careful planning, communication with team and stakeholders, and using the right tools. Speaking of tools, the following two collections will offer you a rich variety of choices:
- “10 Apps That Make Managing Projects Remotely a Breeze” introduces Asana, Swiggle, Ontraport, Acunote, ProofHQ, Basecamp, 10000ft, Insightly, Hall, and Teambox.
- “Top 10 Project Management Software for Remote Teams” presents brief overviews of ActiveCollab, Assembla, Basecamp, Central Desktop, Confluence, Kapost, Producteev, Teambox, TeamLab, and Time Doctor.
I have used both Asana and Basecamp included on these lists. These products fall into the category of SaaS project management tools, which also includes – among others – Trello, Wrike and quite a few other products. In my experience, choosing the right project management / communication / collaboration tool is a critical success factor for a project managed remotely.