Category Archives: Project Management

Challenges of remote project management and how to address them

It is quite rare to find someone who does not, at least partly, collaborate on business tasks remotely. Neither is it uncommon for teams within your own organization to be located in other parts of the country (or even the world). If you are someone like me whose clients come from across the world, remote project management is the only way to get things done.

Managing a project remotely can be tricky. No matter how articulate you are in your verbal and written communication, it is still not as good as being there in person. In his book, Silent Messages, Professor Albert Mehrabian argues that spoken words contribute to only seven percent of communication. Body language, voice, and tone contribute towards the rest.

It is, of course, not realistic to turn back the wheel of time and erase remote collaboration. Instead, we will do the next best thing – identify the challenges that come with remote project management and find ways to fix them.

Dealing with different time zones

Working with a team member from the other side of the globe is by far the most challenging aspect of remote project management. Simple queries to your colleagues could take hours to get answered. Not only can this mess up your work schedule, but it can also sometimes be a source of frustration.

This can seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually not. The fact that you may not be able to catch up with your team members for another day could instead force workers to better organise their tasks. Invest in project management software that fits the specific needs of your organization. Ensure all elements of your project are exhaustively documented by team members. This way, you reduce your dependence on individual members and instead focus on the process.

If you run an agency that deals with clients from around the world, it is important to stick to a specific work schedule. Otherwise, you could be tiring yourself out by trying to work across multiple time zones.

The rules change if most of your clients or team members are based in similar time zones. In such cases, it is a good idea to tweak your schedule to fit their working hours. You could, for instance, start a couple of hours early or end your day a couple of hours late if that could help you reach out to your colleagues before one of you logs out for the day.

Dealing with communication barriers

There are several factors that can impede an effective communication within a remote team, and the absence of body language is definitely one of them. Besides this, communication is can also be affected by external issues like poor network reception or internet connectivity. This can exacerbate other relatively minor issues, too.

While there are several collaboration options available, they are not all suitable for every scenario. At a basic level, your team communication may fall into one of two categories – brainstorming and project updates.

Brainstorming may include weekly catch-up meetings and product demo calls. In each of these scenarios, the objective is to enable a free exchange of thoughts and ideas among members of the team. In this case, are not the best option to build a free-flowing and cohesive conversation.

Video conferencing makes it possible for face-to-face conversations and if you are using a tool like GoToMeeting, you can also make use of the collaboration features like whiteboard, screen-sharing, and control sharing to replicate a real-world conference room.

For project updates however, it is more ideal to use a collaboration channel that is type-based. This helps with documenting the efforts from all members of the team, which is absolutely crucial. Any team member who has a query relating to the project can reference past conversations. Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Jira are some popular tools for collaboration and project management. Slack, or the recently launched Microsoft Teams, is a good option for quick back-and-forth communication if team members are in relatively overlapping time zones.

Tracking progress

Tracking progress on a remote project shouldn’t be so hard. Yetprojects fail because of improper collaboration. There are a few reasons why this happens. First, there are often too many people meddling with the process.

When your remote team has a flat hierarchy where people from various departments (like business, sales, design, and development) collaborate, it leads to a free for all wherein each member of the team creates their own workflow. This clutters the system and reduces the productivity of the team.

This problem can be frequently seen with project status messages. When different team members set their own status messages, it can lead to chaos where the status message itself does not carry any meaning.

To fix this problem, all members of the team need to agree on who is responsible for the various processes like creating a new project, structuring project statuses, and who can close projects. Typically, these responsibilities fall on the service seeker. In a webpage design project, for instance, the design and development teams shall be the service providers while the business/sales team would be service seekers.

The second factor that contributes to improper collaboration is lack of ground rules. Too often, members in a project tend to discuss casual and non-work related stuff from within the collaboration platform. This can drown out any critical project related updates shared by other members in the team. Other times, team members could share updates in the wrong section or without making the appropriate changes to the project status. Not following a protocol while collaborating online could make the whole process futile. It is important for a team to create a protocol document that underlines all the do’s and don’ts and strictly abide by it.


Remote working is already mainstream and is not going away. The only way to survive in this new reality is to acknowledge the problems this comes with and work out suitable ways to fix it.

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5 easy ways to build stronger connections with your remote colleagues

5 easy ways to build stronger connections with your remote colleagues

Ten years ago, almost to this day, I set-up my first home office and entered the world of remote working. Back in 2006, virtual working was the exception rather than the rule, and I only made it sustainable through hefty train fares into London each month for regular client meetings. Virtual collaboration tools and technology had a long way still to go, and connectivity was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today. But nevertheless, I made it work well, and discovered a newfound freedom through working when and where I liked.

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Want better meetings? Start by killing the agenda

How often do you leave a meeting, feeling that it was, well….boring? You made it through a big agenda, yet somehow little happened. There were no substantive debates. No ah-ha moments. It ‘looked’ like a good meeting, yet nobody would think or do anything meaningfully different because of it. This happens more often than it should and the culprit is the very thing that’s supposed to prevent it: the agenda.

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25 daily habits that are killing your productivity

Habits killing your productivity

Some days it seems almost impossible to be productive.

There are beeps and buzzes coming from your phone and calendar notifications on your laptop for upcoming meetings. These are just a few of the distractions that small business owners and employees experience on a daily basis. To fight the distractions and stay on top of things we try different productivity hacks. Most of the time they’re ineffective.

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Old school versus new school project management

Old school versus new school project management

Modern project management has very little in common with “old school” methods. Now project managers and teams can see at a glance how far things have come and how to transform their own daily project workflows in this new infographic from the Citrix project management experts.

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What were the 10 most popular posts of 2015?

What were the 10 most popular posts of 2015?

Now that the countdown to Christmas is in full swing, it’s always nice to reflect on the highs of 2015, and in our case, the blog posts that really got our readers thinking and sharing. So just before we kick back with a glass of mulled wine and call it a wrap for 2015, we thought you might like our Christmas Top 10 of the posts that grabbed the most eyeballs this year…

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How to cure a world of project failure

Project management - how to avoid failure

It is often asserted that 70% of projects fail. Usually by software providers, consultants and training companies looking to sell you their wares. I read some research conducted 10 years ago that suggested the figure was relatively accurate in the area of “lean improvement”.

Yet, our research (the Change Makers), suggests that the numbers don’t add up. What we see is organisations, and project managers, working their proverbial socks off. Delivering complex and often under-funded projects. And they do deliver them!

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8 steps to successful project management in distributed teams [Infographic]

When project team members work in different locations, communication often suffers. A mobility strategy can help to spark team spirit and to bridge distances—without arduous travel.

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Could you join the #noemail movement?

The no email movement

It’s tempting, I have to admit! A life without email would undoubtedly make a huge difference to my productivity. Throughout my career, the roles and positions I’ve held have always been heavily reliant on email, and although it’s been essential for communications, in many ways, it has also been a big distraction. Despite best efforts to restrict email related tasks to particular times of day, the reality is that people often expect faster response times. When an important email comes through which needs urgent attention, it can be tricky to ignore. But this can really disrupt the creative process and work flow.

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The five types of people you always encounter in meetings

Types you encounter in meetings

Love them or hate them, obsessively organise them or desperately avoid them, meetings are a massive part of working culture. From a quick team catch-up to a full blown brainstorm to the nervousness of a management meeting or client review, taking a group of people into a room often results in a series of personalities rising to the surface. How many of these have you encountered? (Clue: if you haven’t met one, you quite possibly are one!) And how do you use them to your advantage to make the most of the time?

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The funny side of web conferencing…and how to avoid some common pitfalls!

Funny web conferencing moments

Let’s be honest…web conferencing can be a wonderful business tool for teams who are geographically dispersed or working remotely. But even the most experienced web conference user will have surely experienced some of the common awkward situations that are part and parcel to getting a group of co-workers to communicate virtually. It’s not always the most natural of situations, and unless web conferencing is a regular occurrence in your business schedule, it can be easy to fall down some of the technology crevices.

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Let it snow – perhaps now is the time to test flexible working

Let it snow business as usual

Most of the country has been issued with a snow warning in anticipation of the arrival of the “Beast from the East” – a stretch of cold air heading our way from Siberia. How lovely.

Back in 2013, 77% of organisations were affected by severe weather. Yet despite it being acknowledged as one of the biggest threats to UK businesses, few are often prepared for the disruption it causes.

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Vital business lessons The Apprentice taught us this year

The Apprentice What We've Learnt

We’re getting closer to finding out who will be named this year’s winner of the prestigious partnership with Lord Sugar himself, and we think this might just have been the best season of The Apprentice yet. There’ve been the usual personality clashes, the hilarious soundbites and the fist-bitingly awful gaffes, but that’s precisely what makes the programme such an addictive watch.

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10 ways to be a great project manager

project management

If you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they invariably will say teacher, footballer, nurse or ballerina. But in the entire history of time, I don’t expect many children have answered project manager! It’s one of those vocations that creeps up on you, and suddenly you’re managing multiple global projects with six figure budgets attached, potentially with little formal training in the area.

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12 great tools to keep your team in sync

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, knew the importance of collaborative work. “He believed that Apple’s great advantage was its integration of the whole widget – from design to hardware to software to content-he wanted all departments at the company to work together in parallel,” writes Walter Isaacson in his biography, Steve Jobs. Jobs involved all departments in the development process. “Our method was to develop integrated products, and that meant our process had to be integrated and collaborative,” Jobs said.

But funnily enough, this collaboration took place around a big table, where various departments would thrash out ideas and offer their own perspectives. Imagine how he would receive the array of online business collaboration tools now making their way into the workplace!

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