5 Project Management Tips For Successful Virtual Teams

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Remote workers are a popular business option and they provide several benefits to your company, including cost savings and access to a global talent pool.

You can segment your growth plans into meaningful projects and outsource the work. This article will give you five tips on effective project management with virtual teams.

1. Conduct Regular Meetings

Holding meetings with your virtual team is important to engage them with their work. Try to get everyone together to address progress issues.

Some of them may live in different time zones or work with other clients. But it's critical that you get together on a regular meeting time that works for everyone.  With optimal attendance, you will boost productivity and reduce mistakes.

Whether meetings take place over video, live chat, or conference calls, your team must know when they need to join in. It should always be at the same time and same day so that everyone can create a productive schedule around it.

It's also wise to keep notes as the project progresses. Log all non-vital concerns and bring them up at the next scheduled meeting. Encourage the rest of your team to do the same. 

2. Build the Best Team

One drawback to a virtual team is that it's more difficult to turn a group of people spread all over the map into a cohesive whole. Teamwork requires personal bonds, which is why facetime via video chat is important. Before you can make significant connections with another person, you need visual and audio clues.

If possible, let new additions meet with the rest of the team in person. Some form of a mentoring relationship, even for a single day, is ideal for this. However, in a virtual environment and for every project this is not always practical.

This is why it's critical to take on those people who are not just qualified for the work you expect but accustomed to telecommuting. You want productive people who will be consistent when left on their own and people who will seek guidance rather than invent their own solutions.

Try to become familiar with the character and the work history of those you onboard. If a virtual candidate isn't a good fit for the project, your style, or your business vision, keep looking.

3. Have the Right Tools in Place

Virtual teams require effective collaboration tools. Your program has to fulfill basic needs, such as tracking, accountability, information sharing, communication, and testing/review. There are project management systems available that cover these matters.

Good project management is essential to avoid duplicated efforts, confusions, omissions, and other issues that lead to rising costs and delays. The software should be easy to learn, able to integrate with existing tools and secure against malware or theft of intellectual property.

You want to be able to send reminders or alerts, reports and have a calendar or scheduling capabilities. You will also need to track who does what to ensure that all team members are using their time well to complete the tasks someone assigned them.

Communication is your most basic and important need. If team members are working in different time zones or schedules, they need to contact you or a team leader for guidance. Regardless of your software features, you will need to set forth procedures on how and when communication takes place.

4. Develop a Climate of Collaboration

There will be times when your project team may include outside parties such as clients or vendors. Your processes should ensure that these different people can collaborate without confusion. Each needs to share what's relevant to the task at hand.

For virtual teams, collaboration takes place through technology. Keep your project management flexible enough to allow different parties to control their own contribution. Stability and security, even redundancy, and search features should be a part of the platform to guard against loss of data or messaging.

A centralized system helps you get an overview of what's happening throughout the team. Others will want transparency into the aspects they fulfill, and how well their work satisfies overall needs.

You should encourage everyone to give and accept feedback and to suggest new ideas where they could be of benefit. If everyone understands that the project is a group effort, results will come faster, and the experience will be more satisfying all around.

5. Define Clear Goals and Policies

Launching a project that will pay off in greater revenue begins with two objectives:

1. Gather and list all factors, such as estimated costs, required tools, talents, and materials, long and short-term milestones, and you or your client's expectations. 

2. Share this information with your project team and any other stakeholders. Make sure that everyone is clear on their responsibilities, and understands your policies concerning quality, communication, and scheduling.

The clearer idea of the project objectives you can provide, the more likely your team will fulfill them. It will also be easier to tell where expectations are not being met or further clarification is needed. In large projects where there are many participants, it's even more essential that everyone knows the criteria required before work begins. 

Document what's taking place and have everything written down. Understand the limitations or demands that your expectations pose, and the capabilities of your team. Developing policies that work best for you will ensure smoother project completions going forward.

In conclusion, the increasing speed and capabilities of online networks and resources make virtual teams an appealing option. Having the agility to create and manage off-site teams as needed is an advantage in rapid business growth.

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