Virtual Project Management: Benefits, Challenges & Tools
Working remotely is no longer the exception to the work rule but a critical part of the modern workspace. Many organizations are switching over or supporting remote work models for several good reasons. They enjoy the advantage of hiring the best possible talents across the globe, experiencing higher employee retention rates, lower operating costs, and reduced environmental impact.
The project management world is not left out from enjoying the benefits of remote working. Many projects involve the project manager, project team, project sponsor, and other key project stakeholders using remote work tools to work on projects in a virtual environment. This type of project management is called virtual project management.
Virtual project management comes with a unique set of challenges added to existing project management challenges. Having a project team spread across different locales or countries comes with you having to manage varying rules and protocols.
In this article, you will learn what you need to know about virtual project management including its challenges and how to overcome them.
Let’s get started.
What is Virtual Project Management?
Virtual project management is the process of creating, working on, and delivering projects from a virtual environment.
Typically common with remote teams having members that do not share the same workspace, it refers to the management of a project over the internet. Virtual project management is usually done through virtual tools that bring every team member together to achieve project success.
The only distinguishing factor between virtual project management and traditional project management is the existence of workflows and team collaborations on a virtual platform.
Rather than having to physically relate with each other on physical boards and through physical meetings, team members generally relate through dedicated project management software programs sufficiently equipped for collaborative workflows.
Given the growth of remote teams in recent times, virtual project management has become more popular than ever. Teams dispersed all around the world are effectively managed and projects dedicated to these team members are seamlessly guided to success thanks to solutions aiding it.
Benefits of Virtual Project Management
Virtual project management offers you a lot of benefits with these benefits stemming from working with remote team members.
1. Cost Savings
The first and most noticeable advantage you get from running your project management team remotely is the amount of money you save.
Rather than having to rent an office space to accommodate all team members, virtual project management permits them to work from home. You additionally save on operational and overhead costs and your team members even save on transport to the office.
2. Employee Productivity
According to a study from the University of Oxford, happy employees are 13% more productive. Remote employees are generally reported to be happier than regular employees.
This is because they have more time to deal with personal issues and spend less time doing more tedious work like transporting to the office, engaging in unnecessary meetings, and doing paperwork, among others.
3. Wider Talent Pool
Running a virtual project management team means you have the freedom to choose your members from anywhere you want. You do not bother about geographical locations and select the best individuals that fit into your team. This is undoubtedly limited within a basic project management environment.
Virtual project management allows you to select worthy team members that charge less and get the same high-quality work done. You have a multitude of individuals available for you to choose from, so your virtual project management workflows are as efficient as they can get.
4. Improve Employee Retention
One benefit coming from employee happiness is employee retention. You do not want to lose your best crop of individuals, especially to competitors. Effective virtual project management helps you keep your team members satisfied with their working environment.
Virtual Project Management Challenges
Despite its benefits, virtual project management comes with some major challenges of its own.
1. Bad Communication and Collaborations
A very common problem with remote teams working within virtual environments is bad communication and collaboration. Having poor communication channels and techniques tends to smear your project’s chances of success.
In virtual project management, there is an absence of face-to-face conversations for proper context. Team members do not interact as frequently as regular co-located teams.
Working with a geographically dispersed team spread across different time zones inflates this problem. Some team members work while others rest, which causes delays in follow-ups on important messages and project tasks.
Although this could be managed, a compromise is needed from all parties in the team. There is usually no checks and balance system in place where every team member easily holds everyone accountable for their roles and responsibilities.
Additionally, where there are new individuals, proper integration into the team is difficult and not as effective as within a basic project management environment.
All these may seem overwhelming but are very much manageable with an effective project manager and team members willing to make the project work. The use of dedicated virtual project management software, as well as proper team communication planning and policies, solves most of these issues.
2. Performance and Progress Tracking
Ascertaining the exact progress each team member has made on assigned tasks is more difficult within a virtual project management environment.
Where the project manager or team leader does not have access to real-time reports on tasks, even when there is complete trust in team members, things can quickly get out of hand.
Difficulty tracking performance means you also do not have enough data to measure team productivity. Given the need to get the best out of your team members, the absence of actionable data proves detrimental to the success of the project.
3. Trust Building
Without trust, your team members do not effectively collaborate and relate with each other. Within a virtual environment, building this very important attribute is even more difficult as team members do not know themselves well.
In virtual project management, it is more difficult to ascertain the productivity of each team member. You need time to build trust and there may be many hiccups and clashes along the way.
Virtual Project Management Tools
You can solve all these virtual project management challenges with the use of dedicated virtual project management software tools. These software tools centralize all communications and offer additional features for managing meetings, schedules, and tracking the progress of all team members.
Overall Best Virtual Project Management Tool with Highly Centralized Workspace and Views
- Centralized Workspace: To solve the challenge of progress tracking, Monday.com equips you with a centralized workspace and dashboard. With these, you have access to all data from every team member through a single platform and ensure that all workflows are on track.
- Integrations: You also integrate hundreds of other platforms that help with the project and team management. These include web applications and programs like Slack, Google Calendar, Dropbox, Microsoft Excel, and HubSpot.
- Automation: You save time by automating repetitive workflows within your project management process and framework.
- Multiple views, including Kanban and Gantt
- Customizable templates for quick setup
- 24/7 support
- Mobile applications
- Time tracking capabilities
Top Virtual Project Management Application with the Most Comprehensive List Of Visualization Options
ClickUp is a simple project management tool that equips you with all the features you need to manage a remote team while guiding your project towards success. This platform is trusted by Google, IBM, and Webflow.
- Centralized Workspace: ClickUp equips you with a centralized workspace coming with whiteboards and dashboards for comprehensive reporting.
- Chats: You are given access to a chat hub accompanied by collaboration features like tagging, assigning comments as tasks, and linking tasks within the chat hub, among others.
- Visualization: ClickUp equips you with over 20 real-time views for your project management data. With ClickUp, your real-time updates through these views are accompanied by intuitive drag and drop options for easy editing.
- Document management
- Easy importation
- Native and external integrations
- Solutions for sales, marketing, design, finance, and HR, among others
Online Project Management Software with Extended Customization Options
- Customizations: Wrike comes with a lot of customization options to help you personalize your workspace to just how you want it. Customizations range from your dashboards to your workflow through automated rules.
- Collaborations: Alongside real-time chat hubs, Wrike offers you real-time notifications and dynamic reports on various workflows. You also enjoy collaborative live file editing with other team members.
- Integrations: This virtual project management software integrates with other platforms like Slack, Zendesk, Evernote, and Mailchimp, among a lot of other top platforms.
- High security
- Comprehensive visualizations
- Mobile applications
- Gantt charts
Great Virtual Project Management Choice that Offers Sufficient Personnel Management Options
Teamwork is a virtual project management tool trusted by Netflix and Spotify, equipping you with all the features you need to manage not just your remote team members and project but also your clients.
- Personnel Management: With Teamwork, you enjoy a tool to manage your internal employees, external contractors and freelancers, and clients you work with.
- Time Tracking: You track the time each team member spends on each task, and also easily determine billable and nonbillable hours from these.
- Integrations: Teamwork integrates with Google, Slack, Quickbooks, Dropbox, and Xero, among a lot of others.
- Easy imports
- Real-time collaboration
VoIP Platform with Extended and Advanced Communication Channels and Features
Zoom is a popular video conferencing platform that offers multitudes of VoIP solutions to virtual teams, with these solutions sufficient for effective project-oriented communications over the internet.
- Zoom Meetings: This is Zoom’s solution presenting you with a virtual HD video conferencing room for up to 1,000 participants.
- Zoom Rooms: An advanced solution dedicated to teams, this is an additional form of video conferencing option from Zoom that comes with content sharing and whiteboarding capabilities.
- Extended Functionality: You are equipped with an API, SDKs, and Webhooks, among others, to extend the functionality of the VoIP platform. You use these to build applications and create custom integrations, to mention a few.
- Chat hub
- App marketplace
- VoIP phone services
- Monetization solution (OnZoom)
Best Practices for Virtual Project Management
1. Use Dedicated Project Management Software
The use of dedicated software to virtually manage your project is essential for staying organized and managing projects better.
Virtual project management is only possible with the use of project management software tools. However, not making use of applications with comprehensive features dedicated to effectively managing and delivering projects is not your best line of action.
There are several types of project management software tools. They include simple project management software, enterprise project management software, visual project management software, agile project management software, project management software for small businesses, and project management software for real estate.
With these different project management tools, you easily guide projects to success as you manage your project and team members on a comprehensive platform.
You also have all your project information, status reports, documents, directives, and even important announcements available to every team member within this single platform or tool.
2. Optimize Your Meetings for More Effectiveness
Given the communication gap and problems existing within a virtual project management environment, meetings are crucial to resolving them.
You can gain clarity through discussions and place team members right back on track in efficiently delivering the tasks assigned to them. This is why perfecting your meeting sessions is important.
Some of the quick tips you want to go by include:
- Create an effective team meeting agenda to determine the objectives of the meeting before the meeting starts.
- Create agenda items and define the exact times for their discussions. You also want to prioritize these agenda items so the most important is discussed first.
- Ensure all team members get this team agenda before the meeting starts.
- Alternate meeting times to properly accommodate team members in different time zones and avoid over-burdening a group.
- Make accommodations for audio recordings for individuals that can’t make it to the meetings.
- Always start the meetings as scheduled.
All these are very important in ensuring your meeting sessions are as effective and structured as you want them to be. Ensure you take all possible steps to close the communication gap without any virtual team environment.
Effective team meetings ensure that all individual goals remain unified at all times. You also want to ensure that communication channels are carefully selected and categorized so messages are easily received and sorted out.
3. Always Look Out For Conflict
Consistent status reporting through project management software helps with resolving conflicts among the project team. Conflict delays the completion of tasks and even affects the productivity of team members. A
Alongside reporting on issues with the virtual project management system, you want team members to also report on conflicts with other team members. You set rules for conflict resolution that pose a win-win for all parties involved and ensure that all team members follow accordingly.
4. Make Use of Kanban Boards
Kanban boards are great visualization options for your entire project management workflow. Not only are they easy to manage and edit, but they also provide you with a comprehensive list of all your tasks and project status.
While choosing a virtual project management software, select one that comes with the Kanban visualization option.