Virtual Project Management: An Alternative to Conventional PM Practices
Virtual project management comes with an abundance of challenges. As a project manager, here are some of the red flags you need to bear in mind!
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Even if the pandemic ceases to exist in the near future, you will have millions of businesses that have been bullied into becoming virtual companies. It was not by choice, but it sure taught a lot of valuable lessons to organization owners.
Speaking of businesses transitioning to virtual companies, and what comes next is strongly tied to virtual project management these days. Given that you are using the right tactics, VPM tools and improvising as a project manager, the chances of making through the existing pandemic are high.
It doesn’t matter, to be honest, whether we like working remotely or not, because the real victims are the managers that have to virtually manage their teams, which has its fair share of challenges attached to it.
It isn’t easy in the traditional office structure where everyone has a physical presence to be monitored. Virtual project management tools take things to another level. Whilst you can’t manage everyone under a microscopic gaze, there are ways to keep work in order and your team members organized.
Fun Fact: Daily scrum meetings through virtual project management software are a great way of keeping tabs on team members’ performance.
What is Virtual Project Management?
Virtual project management is the process that a manager or a person-in-charge uses to manage a virtual or remote team. This process is needed by the manager or the company when different team members or the whole team is distributed across various time zones.
That means that they are not in the same bracket as one another and everyone must be assigned work and everyone has to be monitored to see whether they are performing at their best or not. Remember when we talked about managing virtual teams to be a horror movie? Geddit?
All of this hoopla is just because the managers are focussing on the work aspect and not realizing that this is 2020, and they have a lot of different tools like nTask and various other resources, that can help them win the battle against all the challenges that virtual project management throws at them. But more on that later.
Let’s take a look at all of the different benefits of virtual project management.
4 Benefits of Virtual Project Management
As the virus is spreading all over the world, remote working is quickly becoming the new norm of the organizational paradigm, so it’s very hard to ignore the elephant in the room, Virtual project management, and its benefits.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of flexible working and virtual project management provide to the manager, as they both go hand in hand.
1. Reduction in Office Expenditure
This is one of the most important benefits for the company when it comes to managing virtual teams rather than managing physical ones.
Why? Because businesses all over the world are trying to reduce their expenditure right down to the smallest penny, there would be no bills to pay when it comes to office space or utility or any equipment costs. Moreover, businesses are going to save tons of money that can be redirected to other company operations.
2. Access to More Talent
Whenever the company or the managers do anything nice for their employees, such as; giving them the ability to choose their hours or giving them a choice to pick-up a place where they can work from, the gesture can reap favorable results.
The most important benefit of that gesture is that the company gets reviewed as a fun place to work at, and it attracts millennials.
On that note, millennials are the targets of many high-ranking firms just because of their values and their energy. Top it off with the youth factor, you are looking at an office with a fair proportion of millennials who bring new ideas to the table.
The time of the baby-boomers is slowly starting to fade away. Millennials can be groomed to take any number of projects to the next level.
3. Improved Employee Retention Rate
One of the most important things you have to remember, if you are managing a team or a whole company, is that hiring new employees is always expensive than retaining the old ones.
For new employees, companies need to spend time and resources into training them and making them capable of working at optimal levels. Also, new employees are far more likely to leave the company for any number of reasons because they could be easily swayed with multiple job offers from competitor organizations.
To spend less money, companies go to great lengths to make sure that their employees are happy and content with the processes and workings of the company. And the one thing that the employees require, apart from anything in their professional life is work-life balance.
Work-life balance is a necessity required by all hard-working employees to make sure that their professional life doesn’t eat up their personal life. That is why working remotely is the best thing for them.
This way they can take care of their families and spend time with them while completing their work assignments, making everyone happy.
4. Increase in Productivity
Working from home is bound to have some particularly important benefits; both for the company and the employee in question. One of those benefits is the profound increase in productivity. While it may seem that working from home may make the employee quite lazy, studies have shown that it’s the opposite.
According to a study conducted by the people at Global Workplace Analytics, “A typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. The primary savings are the result of increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness.”
This is an example regarding an employee from the sales department. But these results can be tested for an employee from any other professional field. The numbers will have a variance to some extent though. Employees working from the comfort of their homes are more relaxed just because they don’t have to endure the daily long commute from their office to their homes. Also, they do not have to attend any unnecessary stand-ups every single day.
Let’s take a look at some of the tools that are necessary for the manager to apply proper Virtual Project Management Strategies on their teams and their work tasks.
Best Tools for Virtual Project Management
Virtual Project Management is met with a lot of different challenges on the way which include:
- Trust Building among the virtual team members
- Monitoring progress of every task and activity related to the project
- Maintaining the office culture in a virtual paradigm
- Slow communication channels among all of the parties involved
These are some of the issues faced by managers managing a virtual or remote team, but don’t worry. Listed below are some important software that the managers can use to meet these challenges in battle and win.
nTask is one of the most famous and important project management software that can be used to exercise the practices involved in a virtual project management process. If you are looking for easy and effective execution of your projects and subtasks, this tool is pretty lit’ right now.
Some of the key highlights of what nTask can help you to do as a project manager are appended below:
- Manage any and every project that the company is currently working on right now
- Collaborating with the project teams on the tasks and activities related to the project
- Scheduling meetings and other interactive sessions that will keep everyone in the loop and there will be no place for scope creeps
- You can also share files among the team members in one place or individually
So, if you want to take care of all of your virtual project management needs, start using nTask’s free version today to check and be mesmerized by the sheer size and effectiveness of the application for all your management needs.
2. G Suite
Belonging from the family of Google online applications, G Suite has a collection of some of the most amazing software that you need for your virtual office in 2020.
Including Gmail, Drive, Docs, and Calendar among many others, G Suite is a complete set of applications that will help you create your own virtual office in mere seconds. All of the information and data used in these applications are safely stored in Google’s servers, which makes it extremely easy for the managers to share it with their team members and also keep their data safe.
You can also set up different meetings and communication channels through some of the applications in the G Suite, and have the times of those meetings can be entered in the calendar app to alert the whole team when it’s time for everyone to come together.
Here are the key features of G-Suite:
- Calendar Management
- Content Management
- Document management
- Real-time Editing
- Video Conferencing
One other application that sets itself apart from everything else is Google Docs which lets team members work on documents together in real-time. That is a must-have application when your teams are working remotely.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 6 months, then you probably would’ve heard about Zoom. Rising to fame within months, Zoom became the most used video conferencing application in the world.
All around the world, people are celebrating birthdays, weddings, graduations, and many other important parts of their lives on Zoom. It is an excellent application for conducting online meetings and other collaboration ventures.
Here are the key features of Zoom:
- Attention indicator
- HIPAA compliance
- Live / video conferencing
- Role-based permissions
- Screen sharing
- User management
- Active speaker view
- Board meetings
- Collaboration tools
- Content management
- Instant messaging
- Meeting ID
Other than that, Zoom video conferencing has seen a surge of online users from all over the world. For instance, most of the schools have been under lockdown due to the COVID-19 issue. For such students, teachers have been conducting virtual classroom sessions through Zoom. We heard that these sessions are a great alternative to real-life one-on-one interactions between students and teachers.
Virtual project management is more of an art for veteran project managers. Usually, we don’t pay much attention to using remote tools, unless and until there’s some sort of emergency. However, if you haven’t tried such tools, now would be the perfect time to do so. They work to enhance productivity and minimize extra man-hours by offering various alternatives that are otherwise often overlooked.
Published at DZone with permission of Fred Wilson, DZone MVB. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.
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