17 Apr Managing projects remotely – our top five tips
Managing projects remotely for many is no new activity – we’ve learnt to use resources around the world where expertise exists.
But in these strange times where we are being told to only go to work if it absolutely can’t be done from home, many are finding themselves thrown into the world of remote project management – with no real time to plan!
Here are some considerations we’ve learnt when managing projects remotely:
- There’s so much technology to help you – take a look
For sharing documents, explore OneDrive, Google Drive and MS Teams. You can also integrate them with collaboration tools like Smartsheet to provide real-time project updates through Gantt charts, and use video conferencing tools like Zoom, BlueJeans or WebEx for project meetings, 121s and SteerCo meetings.
It’s worth agreeing some rules on the first project team meeting to make sure everyone’s bought into the video conferencing etiquette – just simple things like muting unless you’re the one talking and setting recurring meetings where possible. It also helps if everyone uses video calls rather than just audio as it makes for a stronger bond. Who doesn’t like to see colleagues in their own homes, and if there’s a rogue pet coming in on the act, embrace it!
- Hold more regular stakeholder updates
As you can’t rely on quick updates when you bump into stakeholders at the coffee machine or in the canteen, I’ve learnt that it’s so important to schedule update calls with different interested parties. They don’t need to be longwinded, in fact they’re better to be focused.
Online dashboards help to provide a structure to the session and set the format for the call.
- Establish clear deliverables
Of course, any good project manager will set clear milestones, but with remote projects they’re even more important. If you’re at the next workstation to your colleague, it’s easy to make sure that you’re aligned, but when working remotely, there needs to be more discipline in place to align and support team members.
When deliverables are met, recognising and celebrating the successes really does bring the team together. And it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; in fact, a grand gesture is tricky in these crazy times, but you’ll be amazed how a little thought can go a long way.
- Agree an informal way to communicate
Whether it’s a team WhatsApp group or remembering to sign in to Google Hangout every morning, it’s definitely worth having a channel for immediate questions and check-ins. It can be so much easier than sending an email with a question and can definitely keep the team spirit going as everyone feels more connected.
- Defined governance processes and escalations
As there’s no popping over to someone’s desk to check they’re doing everything right, it’s important to set clear guidelines on when and how to talk through an issue. These don’t need to be overly onerous and there’s nothing worse than governance for the sake of it, but making sure everyone’s clear on when to ask for help, rather than suffering in silence, is a key part of remote working.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like time’s been wasted as someone’s waited until the next team meeting to discuss an issue rather than raise it when it happens.
With the enforced lockdown, there’s no doubt that we will see new ways of working when things get back to some sort of normality. Now’s the time to adapt and embrace change as they will be skills that will benefit us all in the months and years to come.
If there’s a critical project that just can’t slip, we’d be happy to talk through how we can manage it remotely for you.