Remote Control: Project Management in the Tech Age

June 17, 2016 by FlexPro

virtualWhen picturing a team meeting in the world of project management, it’s easy to default to a group of employees gathered around a conference table in a well-lit room, guided by what’s displayed on the projector.  Key decisions, scheduling changes, and metric discussions have traditionally occurred in-person.

Fortunately for project managers everywhere, technology has changed the game.  While there is nothing quite like sitting across the table and tackling a tough project, virtual connections have opened a new road to global commerce and a promising path to true work-life balance.

Communication upgrades in the business world aren’t exactly fresh news.  There’s a good chance you’ve read about innovations in meeting software, video conferencing, and cloud computing.  But according to a pair of articles over at TechRepublic, additions to a toolkit shouldn’t be the only thing on the mind of a modern-day PM

Instead of moderating conversations in a conference room, project managers must now find a way to successfully assemble a project team and operate as normal without frequent face-to-face meetings.  It’s not uncommon for remote teams to meet just once or twice in the same location during the slow march toward completion.

The articles cover two key principles in this new age of communication: forming the right team and guiding them toward completion efficiently and effectively.  Leading the way in the PM community now means understanding the role of technology from start to finish.

Assembling a Winning Team

A team will only go as far as the individuals selected are able to carry it.  Similar to a traditional setup, identifying project goals and pairing them with corresponding skill sets remains paramount to team assembly.  However, finding the right associates may rely heavily on trusted networks and referral sources, according to TechRepublic.  Using a third party to validate the skill set of potential colleague mitigates the chance of partnering with the wrong person.

From there, logistics of the partnership must be evaluated in detail.  Time zones, technological capability, and receptiveness to meeting virtually should all be factored into finding the right fit.  Working remotely, particularly from a long distance, requires discipline and flexibility that many may be unable to provide.

Finally, performance measurement is critical when working with a remote group.  Quantifying the efforts of the entire team can give a project manager an immediate sense of where improvement is needed.  Attacking areas of weakness can often mean coaching individuals through constructive feedback, leading to positive change overall.

Managing to Victory

With the correct team in place, remote management is a fresh take on age-old PM practices.  Setting expectations is always crucial, and the frequency and method of team communication should be established prior to project initiation.  Accommodating the schedule of each team member may be a challenge, but finding the best way to reach everyone involved is important to starting off as a cohesive unit.

The final piece to the remote puzzle is the technology used across the board, whether it is for planning, live communication, or collaborative documentation.  It is the duty of the project lead to align the technical tools required to drive toward the finish line and monitor their effectiveness.  Without working conference hardware or a way in which to share in-progress deliverables, a project will surely fail.

The best in project management aren’t just able to adapt to changing technology, they are able to develop emerging virtual strategies into a strength.  Remaining open to non-traditional arrangements can help any PM shed geographic limitations and open global possibilities.


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