Just because your team is remote doesn’t mean project management has to be difficult.
If you have the right tools and processes, and know how to make them work for your team, you’ll be well on your way to creating a seamless system.
Here are eight steps you can follow to setup your remote project management (PM) system today.
1. Evaluate Current Processes & Tasks
In order to understand where you need to go, you need to know exactly where you are. The best way to go about this is to interview the heads of departments, then send out a survey to the whole company. This way, you can see how department heads want PM to work, and find out how team members are actually going about it.
To help eliminate confusion during these conversations, gain clarity upfront on the terms you’ll be using: A process is an upper level series of major steps, with those major steps being tasks. Tasks are made up of actions or smaller steps.
2. Interview Each Team Member & Identify Areas for Improvement
Based off the survey answers, you may want to interview key team members to help you understand their tasks better. You’ll want to know:
- What they are responsible for
- How they’re currently working
- What they need to be better at in their respective jobs
- Where their workflow is getting stopped
- Imbalances in their workload
3. Re-Evaluate Roles & Tasks
Based off what you uncover in the interview process, you may need to reallocate tasks. You may even need to change role requirements, or add new roles for the company to grow into. Remote teams don’t have the luxury of a whiteboard to define roles and tasks in a group setting, but we have found Trello works just as well, if not better! Here’s how:
- Set up a Trello board.
- Make each list the name of all current and needed roles.
- Create cards for all tasks. Keep a high level view on each task, don’t create cards for the minute actions and steps of each task.
- Generally, a new task is created when the project is handed to a new role. However, when there are major imbalances in workload, one person will do multiple tasks for a project before it gets handed over. In those instances, you’ll need to separate out the tasks.
- Review the tasks on the cards in a team meeting.
- Move the cards around to reallocate the workload across roles.
4. Reorganize Your Organization
If you have changed or added new roles, you’ll need to determine how the roles will work together by using an organizational chart. This will show who reports to whom, and what they’re responsible for (operations, strategy, builders, drivers, sales, client team, etc.). Aim for an organizational chart that doesn’t require numerous approvals to get work out the door.
5. Task Development
You’ll now want to set up your process according to the tasks, roles and the organizational chart you’ve created. This is where you will be developing the tasks for your project management system. Here are some task development best practices:
- Including a naming convention, realistic due dates, role assignment, and descriptions for each task.
- Group tasks that work together as sub-tasks under a parent task.
- Adding milestones to your task lists to keep your team on track.
If your project management system offers task templates, make sure to use them so that you won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time.
6. Build Your Project Management System
Once you have your process hammered out, it’s time to actually build it out in a PM system. As we mentioned in our remote work tools post, we use Teamwork for all of our PM. This system allows us to easily build out new task lists, upload files, record time, communicate task status updates, and collaborate on multiple projects all at once.
7. Team Training
Now that everything’s set up in your PM system, it’s time to train your team on how to use it. Since you’re all remote, a conference call with screen sharing capabilities will probably be your best bet. Make sure you take your team through every process so that there’s no confusion down the line.
8. Keep Updated!
Keep your remote project management system updated with new tasks. Don’t fall behind or else you’ll have to play a lot of catch up and end up spending more time creating and assigning tasks than actually completing them! To help your team adopt the new project management system, try this:
- Share your project management system during team meetings to get synchronized.
- Schedule recurring reminders in the calendars of habitually late team members to remind them to check the project management system daily until they are updating tasks on their own.
- Remind team members to communicate about tasks in the project management system, so the questions don’t get lost in emails or messaging services.