The Benefits of Having a PM for Your Remote Team

“Why is project management important?”, this is an interesting question that clients sometimes raise. They’ll ask: “Can’t we just give instructions to the team and manage it ourselves? It’ll be cheaper.”

Project management is often thought to be an unnecessary addition to the budget, and yes it might be perceived as expensive. However, running projects without good project management is a false economy.

But can clients afford to not have a project manager?

In my point of view, it is very simplistic to say that project managers are the guardians of the triple constraints (Scope, time and cost). It’s well known that software companies are highly likely to implement agile methodologies to manage their projects, one of the most popularly used frameworks is Scrum. According to Ken Schwaber, commonly known as “The father of Scrum” you must start your project by following the process rules to successfully deliver value. 

Scrum = 3 Roles + 4 Artifacts + 5 meetings. 

Roles

There are three main roles: Development Team, Product Owner and Scrum Master. The Development Team refers to a small group of people that do the work. The Product Owner refers to the individual responsible for obtaining funding, defining initial requirements, managing priorities and project goals. According to the PMI Organisation, the Scrum Master has the closest proximity to a Project Manager. This individual is responsible for the Scrum process and serves as a facilitator for the team, making sure meetings take place on a daily basis, ensuring documentation is up to date and being there for the team at all times. If you’d like your project to go into the right direction you must ensure you’ve gotten these three roles covered up.

Artifacts

Artifacts are documents that facilitate information management. According to Scrum agilist there are 4 documents that should be used on a daily basis to successfully drive the team and deliver value. These are: Product Backlog (Prioritisation of the work), Product Vision (Project goals), Scrum board (Organisation of the work) and Burndown chart (Work Velocity).

Forbes magazine highlights the importance of having the project documentation readily available and organised in one place. Everyone should have a clear understanding of where to go and how to find information. Based on my personal experience from working on Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, good project management requires investing time and effort on documenting (Regardless of the project background, goals and the methodology of choice). 

Communication

About 75-90 percent of a project manager’s time is spent formally or informally communicating, according to PMI’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (aka, PMBOK). No surprise then, how much communication is linked to project success. Scrum methodology uses at least 5 structured meetings and encourages casual touch points on a daily and weekly basis. Bear in mind that a project manager ensures the scrum process takes place, and needs to be there for the team at all times. The development team is focused on doing the work; without a PM, what’s holding the team and the client vision together?

Does my remote team need a remote Project Manager?

“While clear communication is always necessary when managing a team, it is especially the case when working remotely”, states the Chief Strategy Officer for Cicayda in his Forbes article. On the other hand,  Mark Robinson, Co-Founder of Krimble Applications states “In order to successfully manage a remote team is specifically critical to give access to up-to-date and relevant information and encourage them to use their judgment to make appropriate decisions”. John Carter, Founder TCGen Inc. states on TechBeacon: “Team members must not only have a single version of the truth, but also know that it is the most current version. Make one individual responsible for the document and allow only that person to edit it. He also adds  “The most important aspect of staying agile in virtual teams is to keep the roles of the Scrum Master (SM) and Product Owner (PO)”. 

Great project management means much more than keeping the triple constraints in check, delivering on time, budget and scope. It unites clients and teams, creates a vision for a successful project and gets everyone on the same page. When projects are managed properly, there is a positive impact that reverberates beyond results. According to experts, the need for a project manager only accentuates when working with a remote team. I would add to the previous statement that it is especially important now.  We are not just managing the regular WFH challenges, but we are dealing with a world health crisis. This has definitely an effect on individuals and it is now especially important to be there for the team. It’s key to sense the team spirit and identify any ups and downs that may undermine their performance and somehow impact the project’s goals. 

5 Reasons why your remote team needs a PM

  1. A great project manager is a team facilitator. It’s key to sense the team spirit and identify any ups and downs that may undermine performance and impact the project goals.
  2. Great project management means much more than delivering on time, budget, and scope. It unites clients and teams, creates a vision for a successful project and gets everyone on the same page of what’s needed to stay on track for success.
  3. According to Ken Schwaber commonly known as “The father of Scrum”,  you must start your project by following the process rules to successfully deliver value. A dedicated project manager supporting the team adhering to these process rules will increase the project success rate.
  4. According to experts, the need for a project manager only accentuates when working with a remote team. When projects are managed properly, there’s a positive impact that reverberates beyond the delivery of results.
  5. Clients could manage the team themselves if they are ready to invest the time and effort required, plus have a good understanding of the methodology used. Good project management will have a crucial impact on project success.

So coming back to the question, clients ask: “Can’t we just give instructions to the team and manage them ourselves? It’ll be cheaper.” Yes, clients could manage the team themselves, if they are ready to invest the time and effort required. On top of that, it is a must that clients have a good understanding of the methodology used. The team needs a Project Manager, whether clients are ready to take the role or prefer to hire an expert, as project management will have a crucial impact on project success.

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