Oct 20, 2020, Consulting

How remote work influences project management

iteo team

A project manager is one of the crucial roles in software development. It is a person responsible for work organization, efficient communication and delivering results according to schedule. In times of pandemic, many employees had to change their habits and work styles. How project management evolved to be fully remote?

Every project manager is put in the center of the team. They need to inform the client about current progress, collect feedback, and pass it to the programmers, designers, and testers to incorporate it into the production process. That role needs a lot of patience, excellent soft skills and liability.

What are the primary duties of a project manager?

Every person that works in this position has to analyze the requirements of the project and see what resources are needed. Then, they need to determine tasks that have to be done to deliver the expected outcome. Controlling daily progress and evaluating the team’s productivity are other obligations they have to keep in mind. In case of sudden changes or various random conditions, they need to take care of the team’s flexibility and negotiate solutions that will help them work without any roadblocks and finish the project as predicted.

As you can see, it is quite an important role with a lot of accountability. And they need to speak with many people on a daily basis – both face-to-face and by correspondence.

What are the other roles in project management?

As you may already guess, the main two parties that cooperate with the project manager are the client and the software development team. Each of them has a different role and a set of tasks they need to accomplish, so everything runs smoothly and is done on time.

In Agile and Scrum development, which is the leading methodology in seasoned digital agencies, the client usually enters the Product Owner role. They represent the company and their responsibility is to provide information on users’ needs and desires that have to be fulfilled by the product. Their expertise and knowledge about the industry, business and clients is crucial to creating a website, a mobile app, or any other software that will achieve success among potential customers.

On the other side, we have the team – usually with the team leader that reports to the project manager directly and the rest of the members that answer the leader’s decisions. What’s important is that every person has a different set of skills, so each project team’s composition should be carefully considered. We should pick people with knowledge in a particular subject that is meaningful for this concrete product and experienced in previous similar projects.

You shouldn’t completely forget about organizational and communication skills when choosing team members for a software development project. Their technical abilities are crucial, but other characteristics can influence workflow, productivity and cooperation.

How to work remotely as a project manager?

Project manager’s work is all about communication, so finding the right ways and tools to create an undisturbed environment for conversations is essential here. Our experience is based on the biggest challenge in a couple of years – the COVID-19 pandemic that made us all work remotely, whether we like it or not.

First of all, project managers should establish remote communication methods for all their projects or each one separately – depending on how open their clients will be to consent to the proposed plan. There shouldn’t be more than 2 or 3 robust programs or applications that allow video calling, text chatting for links and materials, screen sharing and synchronization with calendar to schedule meetings.

Speaking of calendar and scheduling – you should really keep track of your tasks, video calls and other to-dos. You probably already established a method of organizing your own time, so you can stick to that while working remotely. We will share some tools that can help in the further part of this article.

After establishing the communication rules with your clients and teams, you need to find space for daily calls to be up to date with work progress and pass information between parties.

And that’s basically it. The rest of the project management tasks were done on the computer anyway. If you have your laptop, a smartphone, maybe a paper calendar (if you prefer it for organization) and an internet connection – you can do your job no matter what happens in the world.

Tools useful for remote project management

Let’s talk about some tools based on the categories of operations they need to perform. For scheduling, we recommend Google Calendar for the most straightforward reason – most people use it. Having a Gmail account is common and synchronization is excellent, so it’s incredibly convenient for you, the team and the client.

Video calls can be done on Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype – depending on what is preferred by the Product Owner. All these tools allow the users to share their screens and send files so you can exchange materials in real-time, even if you are running a meeting with multiple people. Remember that using a camera during remote business meetings is considered professional so even though you work at home, ditch pajamas and brush your hair ?

For project management at iteo, we use several tools that help us track our tasks, report productivity and plan our workdays. BaseCamp is excellent as a shared space for our development team and the client. We can invite everyone to a dedicated project and do almost everything we need to – communicate, create to-do lists, add pictures or videos and so much more.

As for internal work organization, we use Confluence as a knowledge base and Jira for tasks and reporting work hours. Nothing really changed here when we started to work entirely remotely, as everything happens in a digital space.

For your own organization and scheduling, we recommend a couple of apps that you can test to see if you prefer any. Writing in your calendar is okay, too, so don’t hesitate to keep it if you liked it until now. For kanban lovers, Trello might be great and if you prefer simple lists, you can try Todoist or other similar programs. Their advantage is that web and mobile apps synchronize perfectly so you can always be up-to-date with your tasks for the day.

Email for EVERYTHING and Google Drive to keep and share files is obvious, so we won’t talk about them that much. The main idea here is to find the best remote work system to make the project manager, the client and the teamwork in perfect synergy to achieve high productivity and spectacular results.

Did remote work change our project managers’ habits?

Of course, it is different to work entirely remotely. Project managers can’t quickly drop by the developers’ room anymore to tell them the newest update from the Product Owner. And sometimes, working from home can be distracting. As a company with most of their clients abroad, we know how to communicate when we can’t meet in the office. We had to adjust our process during the pandemic just a bit to still deliver results and quality.

If you would like to cooperate with us, send us a message. As you can see, we are prepared to offer our software development services no matter what conditions we are working in. Let’s talk about your project and conquer the web or mobile app market.