Remote Project Management: Overview of Benefits vs Challenges by Priyank AgarwalJoin 5K Subscribers T T T T July 15, 2020 Remote project management has been around for a while and covid-19 has brought it into mainstream. Just that organizations are more welcome and adaptive of remote teams and project management given the current pandemic. It is important to understand that, nothing changes in terms of managing projects except the fact that the teams working on the project are now remote. Remote project management entails all the usual challenges of managing a project plus added responsibilities of managing the entire remote team that is charged with project delivery. Resource planning, progress tracking, task management, stakeholder expectation management and overseeing end to end project delivery become more of a moving target with the project team distributed globally. Project Managers have an uphill task to bring the team to a common understanding and work towards shared goals. This challenge is going in to stay with more and more companies waking up to the benefits of having a remote team. Let’s do a roundup of the challenges and benefits associated with remote project management. Remote Project Management Challenges 1. Team Collaboration When teams are distributed across geographies with different time zones, real time collaboration takes a hit. Finding an ideal time for all team members for meetings, brainstorming sessions and progress reviews becomes a challenge. Project managers need to respect their team members’ work hours and availability while ensuring project progress is as planned. Also, getting quick answers & solutions takes time and has an impact on the project schedule. This may also cause resentment and demotivation within team members lead to a procrastinating approach towards the tasks at hand. 2. Lack of proper Communication Sharing critical project information and details also becomes a great hurdle and project managers end up with handling countless emails. Reporting requirements can often be misunderstood or lost in transmission and lead to rework. Imagine the toll on overall project efforts and cost. Additionally, problem solving takes longer and rather lead to further chaos instead of getting closer to a solution. Seeking updates on assigned tasks becomes lot more manual intensive and time consuming. This may cause misrepresentation of true progress and hinder progress. 3. Making Progress Running projects with steady progress in normal times has always been a dream. And think about it in the times of entire remote project management. Teams not being able to sit across the table to resolve issues, identify & communicate impending issues proactively largely contribute to project failure. Furthermore, getting the team and the stakeholders together is a must for maintaining higher engagement levels. Sharing the project vision is important to obtain desired execution. With remote teams this is always difficult. 4. Managing Remote Teams Building trust and synergy with remote teams needs a lot of thought and efforts. With reduced face time, picking up on the silent and non-verbal cues is a critical aspect. Understanding the team members’ work ethics and culture proves helpful in making crucial decisions and task assignments. Remote teams also make it difficult to properly assess one’s strengths and weaknesses. Overall task planning, assignment and execution can take a hit if enough checks and balances aren’t implemented. But then this too may prove counter-productive at times. Remote Teams Benefits 1. Access to Global Talent Pool The ability to benefit from a more comprehensive global talent pool makes remote team enticing for organizations. Remote talent often work on a contractual basis or part-time and hence keep the organization’s workforce nimble. The associated costs are also low as compared to full time in-house employees. Moreover, one can access required skills quickly from an open, boundary less talent pool in critical times. Thus maintaining a healthy skill to project pipeline ratio isn’t cost intensive with direct impact on your training and up-skilling budgets 2. Get Closer to your Customers Many industries require close association with the customers. Having remote teams is a great way to mark your presence and be closer to your clients. Remote teams help strengthen your customer service capabilities and improve your market presence. This surely provides a greater edge over your competition and helps drive business too. You have better chances of expanding your services in new geographies quickly based on market demand and quicker go-to market strategy. 3. Greater Accountability and Ownership When teams are remote they have the option to set their own work hours and have greater control over striking the right work-life balance. Improved work-life balance leads to reduces stress, greater focus on the work & results in improved quality deliverables. Teams are driven with a sense of responsibility and focus on delivering work on time and with quality to ensure dependent activities aren’t delayed or team members troubled. Moreover, they are willing to contribute more towards project success as well as step up to help team members get their job done in difficult times. 4. High Team Availability Online collaboration tools have made it possible for teams to be accessible during office hours and after. When teams are remote, they have the onus to be available on short notice. This works well for high priority project assignments. Also, high availability doesn’t mean overtime, rather flex-timing to cater to project meeting requirements. Making the team available for critical discussions and strategic meetings helps send the right message to the customers as well as the entire project team. Task management becomes easier and progress can be shared promptly with well-planned resource availability. Conclusion Remote project management is here to stay. Not only because there is a greater perceived revenue upside and safety but employees also prefer it to the office settings. Teams are adopting multiple strategies to enable robust remote project management with implementation of online collaboration and task management tools. To further strengthen their collaboration, teams use video conferencing, chat & remote communication tools like slack, zoom, skype, GSuite etc. But in the end, it all depends on: The company culture Freedom and trust within the teams Empathic approach by the leaders Robust KPI measurement Transparent communication & execution approach Teams are taking cognizance of the remote work norm of the day. Team members are investing in setting up their private work zones and home offices to provide their undivided attention to work. All in all, it is all about running project management just like the pre-covid-19 times but with more efficacy. Which remote project management challenges have you overcome and benefits realized that proved helpful for your teams? Related articles you may Like: How to be an Effective Project Manager in the Times of COVID-19 & Beyond Best Tips to Work From Home in Covid-19 How to Work with Remote Team Challenges Successfully How to Break Down your Projects into Milestones and Tasks?