I often get asked about working with virtual teams and communicating project information around the world. Virtual project management is often one of the hardest parts of a project manager’s job. Over the last 30 years, I have managed a lot of virtual teams, starting back in 2000 when this whole virtual world exploded. See, before 2000 and the whole Y2k scare, there were not a lot of virtual teams in the IT world, but after that, the world exploded. So, the need for getting better at communicating with direct team members and direct employees that were thousands and thousands of miles away became a thing in IT. As the years continue on, the tools got better, the cameras and mics got better and now today, this is common for the office environment.
Here are a common set of project management communication tools that I feel are critical to use on all projects, and especially with your virtual team members:
Project RACI – Critical for project team members to know exactly what they are assigned to on the project.
Gantt Chart / Project Schedule – Again, this is a critical tool that project managers can see project tasks over a time scale view. Project team members can see exactly what they are working on and whether they are running on time or late?
Budget Spreadsheet – Again, critical tool for project team members to understand what they are costing the project. Vendors/contractors or FTEs all need to know the actuals and estimates of their hours on a monthly basis.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – The WBS is a critical tool for every project manager. PM’s that don’t use WBS’s are not tracking their projects in a tool that is easy to use, easy to report and all-around great tool for the project.
Project SharePoint Site / Document Control Center – There is a huge need for project managers to set up a SharePoint site or a place where you store all the project documents. When project team members near or far need access to project documents, they are always available.
There is some of the key project management tools and templates that I feel are critical for project managers to use on their projects. Especially with virtual team members, these tools are critical.
I want to be clear, are these the only tools? No way. But they are a good set for project managers to get themselves started in managing virtual projects. You are going to find the more and more you do this, that virtual project team management is easy, but takes time to master and become great at it. Don’t worry, that can of worms has been opened now for years and it is not going away soon. That just means you have years and years to practice!
People often ask me where I can get some of these templates from my books and for the tools mentioned above, and I am happy to send you here.
What do you think?
If you like this article, you are going to love this one on project communications. Check it out here: 5 Essential Project Management Communications Techniques for 2021. Also, I wrote this article about interviewing over Zoom, I think you will like. It is located here: Zoom Interviewing Tips
BTW: I found another really great article on Project Management, Virtual Project Management…etc over at KUMOSPACE and thought I would share. Have a look here: Project Management Uncovered: Roles, Tools & Tips. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Bill Dow, PMP
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