The situation with coronavirus has a huge impact on all of us. No one was ready for what is happening right now. For the majority of people, the way they work has rapidly changed. Teams that used to work together in one office now facing a challenge on how to keep all the projects running remotely. A lot of team members also have kids at home so they are not able to work on full capacity.
Instead of talking about all the negative news, we decided to give you some tips on how to keep your projects running remotely. A lot of teams around a world already have learned how easily and efficiently they can collaborate remotely using technology. There is already a tone of tools that will help you solve this issue. There are tools for almost everything. We decided to show you 6 tools that we consider as must-have so you will know what to focus on at the beginning.
We chose those 6 tools according to our own experience. Before we started with Logicalplan we were digital and marketing agency based in a small town in the Czech republic. It was almost impossible to build a high-quality team in our town because there are not enough people working in this field. We love the place where we are living so working remotely was the only chance how we could do what we wanted. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but we found out the way how to do that and now we love it.
We learned a lot of things the hard way so we want to share our experience with you so you won’t have to do the same mistakes we did. Here are the 6 tools that will help you the most.
- Cloud storage
- Videoconference tool
- Messenger or chat
- Online project management tool
- Resource management
- Mind maps
So many mistakes and inefficiency is happening without shared storage. The worst case is when your team is sharing docs via email. That is a receipt for a disaster. What is the latest version? Are changes from all team members already added to the doc? etc. It is annoying even in the office where you can immediately ask your colleagues, but once you work remotely you can wait for that answer for a long time.
The best way to solve this problem is to have cloud storage. You can choose Dropbox, Google or Microsoft. It is very helpful to install desktop up to your computer, then it seems like a normal folder in your PC, but you know that all team members with the access have the same docs as you do in their PC’s. It is also very helpful to set up the rules for naming the docs. For example “name_v1_editor”.
Name is the name of the document, v1 is the number of the version, the editor is the name of a person that created this version of the document. Those rules will help you to immediately find out what is the latest version and who has created it in case you need to discuss something. Another way is to create documents online and use comments to deal with the specific parts of the doc. But that is not always possible. Just check what is the best fit for you and start right now.
Communication is the key to keep your projects running. You are not able to discuss things in the office so you need to find another way to communicate. The telephone might be the fastest way, but it lacks key features like screen sharing and recording. Don’t be shy and turn on the camera. No one is looking great via laptop camera, but it is much more personal. It doesn’t help you not only build better relationships online, but you can also see the reaction of the person on the other side. Sometimes you might think that your idea is great and your colleague doesn’t know how to say that it doesn’t. With your cameras turned on you will see the expression of his face and sooner identify potential issues. There are many great tools like Whereby, Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, etc.
Messenger or chat
Talking about communication we all know messengers and how to use them in our personal lives. For work is it better to use something more advanced. What we use is Slack. You can download either on your phone and laptop. This will help you to communicate wherever you are. We all know how communication can get messy in the messenger’s groups. That is why Slack has “channels”. You can create a channel where you discuss only things about the project and all other important things like the newest funny gif you can share in the different channels. Slack is a great help, but be aware of what you are discussing via chat and what via call. Sometimes five minutes call solve twice as much as one hour of writing.
Online project management tool
Once all documents are shared and you are able to communicate remotely you can move on to another level which is an online project management tool. The project management tool gives you one central evidence of the project plan, tasks, and communication. It helps you keep everything online and always updated. There are many tools that allow you to do that.
With the project management tool, you will manage your team much easier. Honestly, I can’t imagine that anyone is able to work remotely without it. It might be possible, but extremely inefficient. And it is not only about efficiency, but mainly about you as a manager. With the right tool, you can let the system remember everything and focus your energy on creative things. Things that move you forward.
At the end of the day it is not up to you, but up to your team. Your responsibility is to give your team the right conditions to do their jobs. The first condition is that each team member has enough time to finish all the tasks, but on the other hand you have to make sure that you are profitable and that your team does the maximum. It is very hard to find a balance. A tool that will help you with that is the resource scheduler.
In our company, people are usually working on more projects at the same time. That means that we need to manage their availability across all projects to schedule tasks properly.
Especially now when schools are closed and many people are not able to work as much, because they have to take care of their kids, we need a clear view of the availability and workload of each team member. That is what the resource scheduler helps with.
The best way is to choose the project management tool that has also resource scheduling. So you can see all the changes in projects immediately in the resource plan. You can also use spreadsheets, but it is really important to manage your resources as a part of project management. Not doing that always leads to project delays.
It is also very helpful during online meetings because you can simply check all the tasks the other person is responsible for and discuss all of them during one quick call.
It took a long time before we realized how important and helpful can resource scheduler be. So many projects were delayed or finished under the pressure before we realized that we didn’t see the full picture during project planning.
When people are talking about the same thing it is not always the same thing. That’s why visualization is extremely important. When people are in the office they can draw on a board, but how to make sure that we are on the same page during the online calls?
What we found out is that mind maps are very helpful. They help everyone in the meeting to focus on the same part of the project without losing context. Sometimes people tend to go so deep into details and they forgot the big picture of the project. When the project is visualized via mind map and shared with all participants then the results of the meeting are much better and the whole team understands all the connections between their tasks and tasks of others.
There were so many people that couldn’t imagine working remotely a few weeks ago. Some of them even thought that their team won’t work and all the projects will stop if they won’t be together in the office. Now the situation forces them to open their eyes and see that there are already all the tools they need. I bet that companies that will learn how to use those tools will never get back to the old model.
So If you want to keep your projects running remotely make sure that you choose the right:
- Cloud storage to share docs easily.
- Videoconference tool to communicate personally and share screen.
- Messenger or chat to make your communication even easier.
- An online project management tool to manage your projects easily.
- Resource management to manage your team efficiently.
- Mind maps to visualize your projects.