In one occasion, when I was a speaker at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, after the session one of the students came to me. The topic of the session was related to “source control”, but the main question that he had was related to remote project management. From my introduction, he understood that I work as a remote project manager.
His question was “How do you manage remote projects? Is it possible?“. He explained that he had a chance to work as a project manager in his father’s company. It was obvious that he experienced many difficulties as a young project manager. I was able to recognize that he could imagine how difficult can be if a project team is not in one room or at least in one building, and he was right.
Managing a remote project is not an easy job.
I had the opportunity to hear similar questions before I decided to write this article. It is not so hard to understand that people can’t imagine that a project could be managed remotely.
Managing a remote project may seem like managing a project with one hand tied, without eyes and with one broken leg.
Similarly to handicapped people who more intensively developing specific senses at the expense of others, a remote project manager has to increase specific skills that are more important for managing remote projects. For instance, one of the skills that I believe is really important for managing a remote project is written communication, especially if the project team is distributed around the World.
During my experience managing projects with distributed teams, I spotted fields in which I needed extended knowledge and more advanced skills. Without any doubts, outstanding communication skills, especially in written form, setting clear and understandable goals and good collaboration platform are important segments for which a manager have to develop some specific skills.
I was aware that some specific segments are much more important and I constantly work in improving my skills that those segments.
Also, I was interested about the experience and conclusions from other professionals.
After an small research project about the experience from other professionals in the field and with combining my personal experience, I summarized list of main 5 specific challenges and recommendations in a context of manage remote projects.
Identified Specific Challenges
- Scheduling difficulties
- Communication problems
- Language and cultural barriers
- Difficulty tracking employee performance (productivity)
- Lack of trust and cohesion within the team
- Find appropriate team members / Get to know people as individuals / Hire the right people
- Setup expectations for communication
- Spend extra time in the planning phase
- Find ways to encourage team morale / Create a team atmosphere
- Choose and set up the best tools for collaboration and task-tracking tool
- Establish a mission statement and shared goals / Make objectives clear
- Ensure accountability
- Form supportive structure and develop processes
- Celebrate success
- Being human
It’s not an easy task, but it’s possible to be done successfully with...
the right people to whom you can trust, with previously set up clear shared goals and the best tools for collaboration and tracking the execution.