Leading a remote project management team

Project management is the application of acquired knowledge and skills through a
formalized set of tools and techniques to, initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close
projects. A project also comprises of the stakeholders and therefore, their expectations should be
met as expected or even surpassed. Project management applies the skills of general management
of planning, directing, organizing and controlling resource in order to be able to meet the
constraints of time, the technicality and the costs involved in a project. Resources here comprise
of the people, materials and the equipment to be used. Project management comprises a team.
For any project to be successful, a well-defined team must be formulated with the required
personnel to perform their various functions which means that the team should be cross-
functional. The team put in place will oversee that the various activities of a project are
efficiently carried out and that it serves its designated purpose.
Remote Project Management Team
The project management team can either be local or remote. A local team comprises of
team members who are located in one place which can allow for face-to-face meetings and even
working together in close proximity. On the other hand, a remote team comprises of people who
are geographically scattered and this has been made easy to manage with the advanced
technology. The team members can get in touch through teleconferencing and video
Factors Influencing the Success of a Remote Project Management Team
A project, whether local or remote could go wrong in so many ways to ensure that this
does not happen, keep in mind the following; the project must be assigned a manager to oversee
everything. The project manager should be appropriately skilled to tackle their responsibility.
The project manager is the leader from the start to the completion of the project. As these remote
teams seem to be quite challenging in managing, the project managers have to put in a little extra
effort to ensure that the projects assigned to the remote teams are successfully decided upon and
implemented. The project manager should have clearly defined authority to lead the team and
should be highly committed to the methods decided upon to run the project. The manager
assigned to lead a project team should possess different skills which contribute highly to the
success of the project.
The manager should be a leader so as to be able to set the direction and scope of the
project, communicate this to the team members and serve as a source of motivation and
inspiration. Be very good at communicating and negotiating through the various stages of the
project. Also, the project manager should be a great problem solver to be able to identify,
analyze and mitigate the problem. The project manager should be very knowledgeable in the key
areas of project management. This is what is comprises of the project management knowledge
areas (PMBOK) and includes; scope management, communication management, cost
management, time management, quality management, risk management, human resource
management, project integration management, procurement management and project
stakeholders’ management.
The success of a project also relies on the ability to have a very skilled project
management team which is in line with the final goal of the project. To ensure that this is
possible have a clearly defined plan of the project that is well understood by everyone including
the project manager. This serves as the point of reference to work against to ensure efficiency
and effectiveness. Workable monitoring and tracking methods should be put in place so as to
constantly check the progress against the plan.
To understand how to effectively manage the remote teams, a project manager has to,
first of all, understand the various activities involved in project management. The activities can
be identified as planning and defining activities which are the decision phase and the
implementing and controlling activities which are the doing phase. The decision phase has a
variety of activities which are; defining the goals and objectives, the work requirements, the
quality of work, the quantity of work, the resources required, the work sequencing and schedule
and the budget in place. The doing phase on the other hand is; work initiation, tracking and
monitoring progress, activities and people coordination, comparing actual progress to planned
schedules and the budget set, making the adjustments as required, completion of the project and
then finally assessing the project results. With the basics well understood by the project manager,
the measures are undertaken to lead and manage the team now become very essential. Poor
management will lead to poor results and therefore, the project manager has to acquire very key
tips in ensuring the best results are achieved by the project’s team.
Strategies For Managing A Remote Project Management Team
Invest In Hiring A Qualified Team
The most important thing to put in mind first is having a very strong project management
team. If this is in control of the project manager, the choice of each individual in the team lies in
their hands. The members should be self-disciplined, greatly motivated, self-driven, very
sufficient, optimistic and most importantly, possess the knowledge and skills required for their
different tasks. This structure of team members will help in avoiding problems like
communications challenges arising as a result of different time zones for example, or even
absenteeism during meetings as the members will be self-driven to do the right thing, at the right
time as required of them. To also ensure that you are working with a highly qualified and
professional team, don’t limit your choice to the locals only but consider global sourcing of the
members. The project manager should invest a great amount of their time in learning the team
members, and whenever they need clarity, ensure that they speak directly to an individual rather
than through their email (Billows, 2015).
Conduct the Project Kick-Off
With the team in place and everything set, the project should officially kick-off as the
project manager would do for a local project. A sufficient kick-off highly impacts the final
results. The meeting can either be through teleconferencing or video conferencing which turns
out to be much better. The kick-off meeting should address all the crucial matters such as the
purpose of the project, the time frame for the project completion, the available resources, the
constraints they may encounter and other success factors for the project. Also, outline the
different roles and responsibilities of each member and make sure that you answer concerns for
clarity purposes (Billows, 2015).
Encourage Transparency
To ensure that the workers can easily open up, have the interest of knowing each other,
comprehensively discuss the project and share the different opinions they have, encourage
transparency as the manager. This will only be made possible if you as the manager led by
example. You should be actively involved in discussing all the aspects of the project and sharing
with them the mission, vision, and goals of the company involved. Then set expectations and
communicate to ensure that the team members are aware of what is expected of them (Tank,
Organize Work
Get yourselves organized to avoid chaos. Managing a team that has its members scattered
around each dealing with different issues of their own and you as a manager handling varied
projects can be hectic. Therefore, a proper set structure will come in handy to overcome this
challenge because it boosts the running of the project. This is achieved by having procedures and
integrating project management systems in the course of the project. Organize the data required,
split it into categories and avail it for all the members. Decide on a communication mechanism to
pass across the messages. Deadlines should be clearly stated and communicated early enough to
the members and use a collaborative approach in handling various issues so as to know what has
been worked on, what is being worked on and what has to be worked upon (Tank, 2016).
Put in place the Expectations
Continuous updates to the team members on the status of the project and any necessary
updates all through the projects life cycle. This ensures that there is a consistent working
atmosphere for each member of the team. They are up-to-date on issues like the exact progress of
the project, the tasks that are still ahead of them and the different statuses of each task. Follow-
ups on the individual team members are also very important for the overall success of the
project. Understand each and every capability of the team members, whereas some are very good
at multitasking through various roles, some prefer performing a single task at ago (Billows,
Conduct Regular Meetings
The project manager should schedule and conduct regular meetings through video
conferencing as required. The essence of this is to achieve effective communication which is key
to managing the team members as they are dispersedly located. Effective communication helps
avoid very minor misunderstandings which might arise as a result of poor communication. To
keep the team in cohesion, ensure that there is, submission of detailed reports on the project
progress just before the meetings so that they can serve as the basis for the meeting’s agendas.
The up-to-date reports help to ensure that the member stays on track with the project and that
they are not easily distracted by other things away from their main focus. The submission of
early reports helps to plan for the meetings and therefore ensure that the meetings are very brief
and to the point which help to save time. When scheduling meetings, especially for team
members who are located globally, make sure that you are mindful of the time zones so as to
ensure the meetings are at everyone’s convenience. For the success of this approach, the project
manager has to be dependable and very reliable, consistently respond to questions and other
inquiries very timely. This highly benefits the entire project (Billows, 2015).
Have A Standard Work Culture
Creating a standard working culture also helps in coordinating the activities of the project
management team members. The culture comprises the behaviors and values of the team
members that contribute to the social environment of the team. Building a steady working
culture, which results in a real team, instills deep commitment of the team members and lets
them know that their contribution to the project is highly valued. In addition to this, encouraging
friendships, having open lines of communication between the members, organizing get-togethers
and once in a while having face-to-face meetings will build team cohesiveness. Also, share the
vision of the organization involved with the members and encourage them to be a part of it
(Gupta, 2017).
Track and Measure Productivity
Tracking and measuring productivity is also very crucial. The manager should be
cautious though to avoid micromanaging the team members. To successfully track the various
aspects of the project, the project manager analyzes the output as well as the productivity of the
members. With this kind of system in place, you are assured of your team members being
optimally utilized. This should be communicated to the members so that they can still meet set
deadlines besides being flexible in their operations. Tracking the activities of the team members
also serves as a way of evaluating performance and awarding credit where it is deserved (Gupta,
Performance Appraisal
The team members’ performance appraisal also increases productivity. A positive
recognition is a bonus to almost everyone. Most people love it when they are showered with
praises. This could go a long way in motivating the team members. Recognizing the fact that
some people are very fast at completing tasks assigned to them serves as a time saver. Through
this, members always look forward to effectively completing their tasks within the shortest
possible timeframe and therefore go an extra mile to help others who would greatly appreciate
the help. For appraisals, the project managers should do this during the meetings and ensure that
this is included in the minutes to ensure effectiveness (Billows, 2015).
Challenges in Managing Remote Project Management Teams
With a workable strategy in place, a project manager has to understand that there are
some few challenges that might be encountered when managing a remote project management
team. However, identifying these challenges, analyzing them and planning on ways to overcome
them, will ensure that the project manager is well prepared to handle anything that comes his or
her way. The various challenges include; hiring of people who cannot be good remote workers,
here a project manager should ensure that the team hired is suited to such a way of work, Vague
project details, and instructions, a manager should ensure that during the planning stage, clear
and precise details and instructions on the project are set to avoid micromanagement,
Micromanagement on its own is also a challenge and to overcome this, the project manager
should have faith in the team that it will do what is required of them at the right time and through
the right procedures. Communication inefficiency which usually makes it very hard to pass
important information across can be quite a challenge to a team that is not operating under one
roof, therefore have, for example, have an internal company blog to overcome the
communication challenge.
Lack of direct contact with the team as a project manager is another major challenge.
This is based on the fact that the project managers usually organize face-to-face meetings once in
a while with an aim of motivating the team members by making them feel appreciated. Lack of
access to the organization’s culture is another challenge. The task of ensuring that every team
member is in line with the organization’s culture is also indeed a huge challenge. This forces one
to orient the employees before they report to their stations. Overburn of the remote workers, the
team member might be so much involved in accomplishing their tasks that they forgo breaks. As
a manager, one should encourage these employees to rest during scheduled breaks. The lack of
avenues for personal growth for the team members is another challenge. The project manager
should allow the team members to attend seminars and conferences to be able to grow their skills
and abilities. The wrong delegation of work to the wrong persons has also been another issue. In
order to address this, the project manager should keep in mind that the different team members
have a different qualification and at no point in time should one be required to do what they are
not qualified to do (Dakic, 2017).
Emerging Trends in Managing A Remote Project Management Team
Remote project management has been greatly applied in the modern business world as
compared to the traditional times when local teams were the only way of managing a project.
This, therefore, means that new ways will be continuously discovered to improve on remote
project management teams. These trends include; the internet of things this is to enable team
collaboration, enhance security, improve project timeliness and make it easier for the project
manager to control the team members. Much emphasis has been placed on emotional intelligence
in that a project manager is required to have the ability to track the schedules. Budgeting for
projects that demand productivity and great efficiency is another new trend. There has been a lot
of professionalism of remote project team management. The project management software is
another thing that will enable a project manager to develop a professional framework from
getting work done.
A remote project management team is not as difficult to manage as it is thought to be. It
just requires a little more effort put in as compared to a local project management team.
Coordinated activities and a workforce that put emphasis on the importance of team building as
well as teamwork for the remote project is easy to manage. With the project manager who
understands the strategies of managing a remote project management team and a cooperative
team, the success of the project is guaranteed. The success of a remote project management team
majorly relies on the availability of good leadership skills.
Billows, R. (2015, September 2). How To Manage Remote Project Teams. Georgetown, Texas,
USA: Microsoft Project.
Dakic, M. (2017, June 8). What are the Challenges of Managing a Remote Team?
Gupta, A. (2017, November 15). 5 Strategies to Manage Remote Project Teams. Enterprise
Project Portfolio Management.
Hoda, R., & Murugesan, L. K. (2016). Multi-level agile project management challenges: A self-
organizing team perspective. Journal of Systems and Software, 117, 245-257.
Lee, M. R. (2016). Leading virtual project teams: Adapting leadership theories and
communications techniques to 21st-century organizations. Auerbach Publications.
Lockwood, J. (2015). Virtual team management: what is causing communication breakdown?.
Language and Intercultural Communication, 15(1), 125-140.
Tank, A. (2016). How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team. The Startup.

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