Nowadays, the term "remote" is quite controversial. Modern technologies blur the boundaries caused by the distance and different time zones and open up more opportunities for business. Communication tools have become so accustomed that often people sitting in the same room prefer them when communicating rather than face-to-face interaction.
In view of this, hiring teams in the articulate areas and working remotely became quite a prevalent practice, especially in the IT sphere. One of the best ways to work remotely is outsourcing. It involves the delegation of some part of the work by the manufacturer to a third party in order to reduce the amount of work and concentrate on the production process.
5 Ways To Organize Remote Work And Manage It Effectively
Such way of running a business has many strengths. Let's look at the advantages of virtual teams hired to develop your project. Here are just some of them:
- Ample opportunities to find highly qualified staff;
- Ability to learn from the experience of foreign colleagues;
- Ability to delegate a part of the functions to the professionals working in virtual teams;
- Time and resource saving, especially if the team works in a country where the income level is lower than in yours;
- Ability to get a high-quality product due to the experience of your partners.
However, cooperation on a remote basis entails different risks. Let's look through some of them:
- At a distance from the team that executes your job, you cannot fully control the workflow;
- There is a risk of missing deadlines and deviation of the actual result from the expected one;
- You may not be entirely aware of what a virtual team is up to: you may not completely understand the lifestyle of your employees, their personal preferences, expectations, etc.;
- You may face difficulties with organizing the corporate culture due to inability to meet your partners personally.
So, how to manage a team and how to work remotely with maximum efficiency? How to minimize possible risks and how to achieve an effective result
Here are some tips from Cleveroad team who successfully runs the remote way of business for many years.
Smart use of advanced technologies as for workflow organization
Managing remote workers has it's peculiarities due to the fact that you cannot meet them face to face every day. In Cleveroad, we follow Agile and Scrum methodologies techniques which are of great help in managing global teams and achieving the most effective result from work. There is a strict and clear system which coordinates the workflow in our company.
In order the developers, quality assurance engineers, and other team members receive clear and unambiguous tasks, the product development process is divided into sprints.
Sprint is a short period of time, during which each member of the team must attain certain objectives set by the project manager. Usually, it takes no longer than two weeks but this period may vary depending on the specifics of the project. At the end of the sprint, participants do not simply report the accomplished tasks but introduce a finished part of the product to the client.
If you're still deciding how to manage a team remotely, you should definitely take into consideration this Scrum technique.
Every day the development team led by the project manager meets with a client via Skype to report of the workflow progress. The meeting is arranged at the certain time and is obligatory for all the participants. Each member of the team has few minutes to tell what he did yesterday and what the working shift plans for today are.
This method as one of the remote management tools encourages each participant to analyze the effectiveness of their work, compare personal results with the results of the colleagues, properly plan time and workload. In some way, it brings a team together with the client, as they actually see each other through video conference.
This method is widely used in many IT companies and is highly recommended if you're thinking over the way of how to manage a team remotely.
Planning and analyzing
Planning and analyzing are the initial and final stages respectively when carrying out sprints in our company. They are of the highest importance when managing remotely.
Each sprint starts with a planning meeting where project manager gives his vision of what tasks need to be delivered and at what time they should be implemented. This is further discussed with the team members and an informed decision is taken.
Each sprint ends with a retrospective meeting where the results of the previous sprint are summarized. The participants analyze past achievements and failures. Basing on this experience new tasks are planned.
Proper distribution of functions among the team members
No matter how good the advanced team collaboration tools are, human factor plays a key role in the workflow organization and remote team management. To this end, special attention should be paid to the position of a project manager who has a vast deal of functions, including planning, organization, and control of the development process.
The main purpose of the project manager is to implement the idea of the client accurately within the time limits set. Also, project managers take care of coordination of project details with the client, distribution of functions among the team members, setting up effective communication in virtual teams, monitoring the process of implementation, providing regular reports and demo versions, delivery of projects in accordance with established deadlines.
That is why in Cleveroad we approach with a great care to the selection of the candidates for this position as we know how important they are in a global team management.
Our project managers are highly experienced and continue developing their skills taking special courses and trainings. Using Scrum methods, they follow the project from the very beginning till the end making sure that it is being developed according to the client's requirements and expectations. Managing remote employees with their help becomes easier and more efficient.
Arranging the workflow tasks and results by using specially designed tools
Having transferred a project to be developed by the third party, you would be interested in monitoring actual performance. In Cleveroad, we make heavy use of task-tracking systems which are very useful tools for remote teams management. They help our clients to be always up-to-date as for how the work is progressing. The most common ones are Jira and Trello. Let's look through each of them in more details.
It has a variety of functions and is of great use when working with global teams. You can create tickets, set their titles, define types (task, issue, bug), indicate priority (major, minor, trivial), indicate deadlines, add components, description, attachments, etc.
Jira is a task-tracking system used for control of issues and management of projects.
The ticket can be assigned to a particular performer who, in it's turn, can change the status depending on the implementation progress (open, in progress, completed) and attach files, links, screenshots, etc. demonstrating the working results. The ticket can be watched by the creator and other members of a remote team. What is important is that you can add as many participants as you wish.
Jira can be customized to suit your business requirements the best way. You can use it for managing complex development projects.
Jira is written in Java, supports multiple RDBMs. It is oriented to the Agile methodology. You should pay for a license to use it. It has a free trial version, though.
Trello is a task-tracking system used for project management in small groups.
It has user-friendly interface and is easy to work with. You can create different boards and cards with an indication of tasks, use color-coded labels for organization, assign the creators, add / remove members, etc.
You can use Trello to quickly enter the minor development tasks. You can even think of using it to set out-of-project assignments, e.g., tips for team building activities for your remote employees.
Excluding misunderstanding by organizing a comprehensive communication
Choosing a remote business model, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to communicate with colleagues every day on certain topics. Therefore, it is very important to establish effective channels for virtual team communication in order to avoid misunderstandings in both professional and personal matters.
Use team communication tools to be always in touch with your employees. There are plenty of them now: Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, Hip Chat and others.
Do not be limited to corporate communication channels and professional topics of discussions only. Share personal phone numbers, create chat rooms where you can joke and tell interesting news not related to the work.
It would be useful if each employee set up chosen tool on their phone so that in the case of an emergency to respond and resolve the issue as fast as possible.
The main point of using the virtual team communication tools is to avoid misunderstanding and exclude a lack of communication. You should create an atmosphere where all the team members can easily contact each other and you, ask questions if something is unclear, elaborate details, accord with different aspects of the project, etc. Informal chats are also welcome as friendly atmosphere unites the team, thereby making the job for each employee more valuable.
Along with communication by means of special tools, do not forget that personal meetings are very important when managing a remote team. Try to allocate time and resources in order to organize such meetings. The best approach seems to be your visits into the place where the employees work.
Depending on the duration of the project, it is advisable to have team building activities for remote teams with your participation every six months, every three months or more. The meeting can be arranged at the office and (or) in an informal setting (cafe, restaurant, etc.)
In the office, you can directly observe the work process, see the working atmosphere of your partners, point out the possible things you would like to change.
In an informal setting, you can talk on the unrelated matters, get closer acquainted with the colleagues, learn the peculiarities of their personalities.
Development of the corporate culture to enhance staff motivation
Corporate culture is an important element of every company that values and cares about it's employees. It is essential to make sure that employees feel useful, know the goals they seek to achieve and get proper reward. A well-organized corporate culture is one of the best team collaboration tools.
Managing geographically dispersed teams in a form of outsourcing, you do not need to take care of it by your own. First of all, this task is to complete by the leaders of the outsourcing company. Therefore, selecting and building a virtual team that is going to develop your project it is worth paying a special attention to this point.
At Cleveroad we constantly work to ensure that our staff feels like an important part of the company, motivating your virtual teams is a priority for us. World best practices help us to inspire people and let them work with a great enthusiasm.
Thus, the remote way of setting up the business, particularly outsourcing, is a great opportunity to keep costs down and hire a highly qualified staff. Having studied how to manage remote workers effectively, we can highlight the following key points for achieving a top result:
- smart workflow organization;
- proper functions distribution with paying a special attention to the position of the project manager;
- effective use of advanced technologies both for tracking the working progress and communication between the members of the team;
- establishing friendly atmosphere in a company by different means, such as arranging personal meetings and team buildings for remote teams.
We hope that this article helped you to learn how to manage a remote team and organize the aspects of project development the most effective way. In case you have any questions, please get in touch with us.
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