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However humdrum it may seem our mundane life gives us a chance to play different parts living in several possible worlds. During a single day, we change from a parent to a businessperson, from a boss to a shopper, from a patient to a spouse.
And besides those roles in the real world, there is one more, virtual life that most of us lead. Social networks, chats, online computer games, and Viber communities make us a part of various virtual groups. When members of such groups join their efforts to work on some project they become a virtual team.
The advent of IT and outsourcing has ushered virtual teams into the world of business. The number of such virtual workgroups displays a steady upward trend with more remote employees (and employers) working over longer periods on some projects.
Since members of virtual workgroups are usually geographically dispersed (across both various regions and countries located in different time zones) the greatest challenges they face are virtual project team management and communication. How to manage virtual teams effectively may be quite a poser until you remember that modern digital technologies are here to provide project management tools for virtual teams.
The Importance of Project Management Tools
If you strive for an outstanding performance efficient project management for teams is a sine qua non. It is not limited to briefing the team on their assignment and demanding to hit the deadline. It serves to establish and maintain rapport between clients and personnel, promulgate the vision of success, monitor the performance, and navigate the team through all vicissitudes of the process.
Being pivotal for the company’s success in regular office framework project management becomes crucial when there is a remote team to handle. In this case, the traditional teamwork challenges of communication and cooperation are exacerbated by the separation of the project participants. And here team project management tools come to rescue proving the statement that the two necessary prerequisites of efficient project management are a competent team and adequate technology.
Virtual team collaboration tools help to maintain cohesion between the team members from different places and time zones and promote coordination and tracking of their input on the project.
Project Management Tools: What are they?
Conventionally, project management spelled lots of paperwork with occasional involvement of emails and messaging services. Accomplishing it in such a way was quite exacting what with the significant amount of backtracking to do and with the occasional loss of information that might occur between multiple communication platforms. Virtual team software has radically streamlined this process.
Virtual team communication tools are web-based platforms that allow you to devise and accomplish your project in its entirety by managing its schedule, sharing files and information with the virtual team, and keeping track of the overall performance.
How to Choose Project Management Tools
There is no universal rule of thumb on picking the best team project management software as there is no comprehensive software fitting all requirements. Since such tools come with various functionalities the process of selection should start with pinpointing your team’s needs and determining the tools that can meet them. Typically, an adequate project management tool includes the following features:
- Time tracking (often in the form of a Gantt chart);
- Task, document and expense management;
- CRM integration;
- Collaborative editing;
- Role-based access.
The pivotal focus of the features is certainly CRM compatibility. Choosing CRM solutions by Nimble you will obtain an effective and easy-to-use platform that will become an indispensable assistant in building rapport with clients as well as in monitoring appointments, assignments, and other business-related issues.
The Best Project Management Tools for Virtual Teams
Varying in design from team project management apps to simple spreadsheets this software is called to bring all members of a virtual team together and ensure they deliver the best result they can. Here is the list of the most effective project management tools to be used for virtual teams.
- Monday.com. Formerly known as Dapluse, this software features a single dashboard that sports the stage of the project your workgroup is accomplishing. It allows both to plan workloads for each member of the team and distribute assignments among them. Employees receive notifications with tasks and comments on their progress on computers or mobile phones. Transferring the files is easy via employing its drag-and-drop function. The vendor offers a scalable pricing policy with a free trial option to boot.
- Wrike. The app is a cloud-based solution featuring a Gannt chart timeline as well as time and budget tracking functions. Live activity feature and email/calendar synchronization provide swift communication while comprehensive request forms, live editing, and file management bolster performance and productivity. It has not only a free trial option but a free version for small teams consisting of 5 and fewer participants.
- Zoho projects. Besides typical for such tools options, this software ensures perfect project planning where task lists and milestones let you monitor the progress and introducing subtasks and dependencies leverages greater control of the process of project completion. The cost-effective policy allows using the tool for an unlimited number of users at the same price.
- Asana. It is perfect for setting priorities, meeting deadlines, and anticipating risks. All of these are implemented through mapping out every step on the way to your goal and synchronizing different schedules that your team may have. The latter option identifies itinerary gaps and overlaps letting you introduce prompt adjustments. And the basic version is free!
- Microsoft Project. Being one of the world’s most popular tools it is essentially familiar for global users. Its worldwide applicability provides it with access to a range of devices which makes it a powerful efficiency-booster. The software furnishes shared reports that are sent to team members keeping them on the same page no matter how far physically they are.
- Basecamp. This solution is of special value for virtual teams with a single source of truth. It excludes the loss of documents in inboxes and features message boards where updates and announcements are placed. An “HQ” that you get with an automatic check-in for groups supports communication across the whole company with a special nook (called Campfire) for casual talk. An all-inclusive pricing plan serves any number of users to be served at a fixed price.
- Crocagile. It is good for small and medium-sized companies (which virtual teams often are) since this solution features a lean user-friendly intuitive interface. It is foolproof and easy to master although it contains all the items (sprints, stories, full life-cycle) necessary to ensure dynamic communication within the team and consequently their effective performance.
- Trello. Displaying high efficiency when utilized for separate projects it is still more spectacular in integration with a calendar tool. Special benefits of this tool include, among others, mobile and window apps as well as a free starter version.
- Skype. This one is a software classic. Its opportunities for video and audio communication as well as effortless file sharing keep this free platform on a prominent place among the best tools for virtual teams.
General Project Management Tips for your Team
Whatever tool you might employ, it is important to remember about project management basics.
- Communication is your asset. Investment in communication tools is never a wastage. Keeping the team members on the same page and motivating them to deliver is what eventually determines the success of your project.
- Automate efficiency tracking. Although it is quite tricky, especially for virtual teams, it is important that the project participants don’t waste their valuable time on reporting to the manager instead of focusing on the task. Technologies can do it for them in a stress-free way.
- Collaboration suites matter. Effective collaboration between the remote team members is never a piece of cake, yet it is vital since they may be assigned certain tasks that require cooperation. Corresponding software can improve it drastically by providing easy file-sharing and eliminating duplication and redundancy.
- Streamline policies and procedures. Make sure employees’ expectations and managers’ requirements meet. An accessible handbook on regular procedures guarantees that the personnel has something to refer to whenever they face a challenge.
- Keep work and life in balance. In a way, it is easier for virtual teams since their members don’t waste precious hours for commuting but have an opportunity to do their household drudgeries in between contributing to the project. However, because of this schedule-blending employees may sometimes feel that their work is never over.
So it is important for the manager to carefully monitor the duration of the daily grind and encourage the employee to call it a day when their day assignment is completed.
Today, finding virtual employees and enlisting them to complete a project is becoming an increasingly widespread practice. Arming your team with adequate software will ensure seamless communication, productive collaboration, and, ultimately, the excellent performance of your personnel.
Megan Ranger is the content marketing manager at Nimble. She is an alumna of California State University, Long Beach. She enjoys true crime podcasts, reading, and writing in her spare time.