The Project Notebook

Working with Remote Teams

For many years I worked with remote colleagues around the world. While with GE Information Services I worked with folks in Europe. With Siebel Systems my PMO colleagues were around the globe in Mexico, Europe, Australia, and around the US. Quarterly face-to-face meetings and regular conference calls kept the team in sync. Things went very smoothly since we all were professionals and worked for the same company.

If you need to work with remote teams and everyone isn’t a part of a common organization, it may be a little more difficult. As the PM, it may be difficult to know if the team is really moving forward with your project. Here are a few things to keep in mind for managing the virtual team:

  1. There may be language and cultural barriers, so there may be a need to be very explicit about expectations and requirements.
  2. Regular face-to-face meetings may be necessary — you will need to determine the interval.
  3. It’s important to have clear deliverables at shorter intervals.
  4. If you are conducting an agile project, leading edge communications and collaboration technology will be essential.
  5. Have a clear communications plan. You may also be able to take advantage of time zone differences to “tag-team” issues around the clock.
  6. Make sure the right people are on the team. It’s easier if everyone is dedicated and really wants to be a part of the project.
  7. Share knowledge. This might range from archiving emails for orientation of new people to a knowledge management system.

Have more tips on managing virtual teams? Leave them in comments or email to sdcapmp@aol.com. Don’t forget, the deadline for answering the PMP Challenge Questions for a PMP Exam Prep book and CD is just a few days away!

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP