Organizing and carrying out a large business project takes a lot of your time and energy. The good news is, that you don’t have to handle it all by yourself… you can hire an experienced project manager to take the responsibility of managing any project you need help carrying out from start to finish.
Even better news is that it’s now a reality that you don’t need to hire an in-house project manager to manage your projects. You can hire a remote virtual project manager to make sure your projects run smoothly and are completed on time.
When you hire a virtual project manager, you will increase your businesses efficiency and ultimately grow. With a professional who is trained and experienced in virtual project management you will have a higher rate of success. Keep reading to learn more!
What is a virtual project manager?
Some businesses might not be ready to make the jump to be entirely virtual, but they would benefit from a virtual project manager for specific projects. A virtual project manager is hired onto your team when you have a project that needs to be managed. They will oversee the project from beginning until the final delivery. When you have a project in mind, your virtual project manager will plant it, create timelines, outline the workflow, manage the team, set deliverables, and own all responsibility of the outcome.
It’s the job of a project manager to lead teams and direct their project team to the end goal. They are ultimately responsible for the end results. Therefore, a successful virtual project manager will have the following skills and traits:
- Great communicator
- Has an entrepreneurial mindset
- Understands and has used many communication and organization tools
- A proven project leader
- Honest and direct
You might be wondering what the difference between a virtual assistant and a virtual project manager is? The simple answer is that a virtual assistant works on individual tasks and a project manager oversees an entire project.
Types of projects a virtual project manager can handle
You can find and hire a project manager for almost any project you’d like. It can be a smaller scale project that only lasts a few weeks or it can be a large project that will take months to complete. Each project manager will have their own experience, background, and skill sets to help your business. Here are a few of the main ways a project manager will help you, your company, and your project succeed.
- The project manager will manage your entire virtual project team. Most projects will require many employees, freelancers, part-time staff, vendors, and contractors. You can hire a project manager to manage everyone that is needed for the project. They will assign tasks to each team member and check-in on their progress throughout the project. The project manager will also keep the virtual team motivated and keep them focused on the end goal of the project.
- The project manager will do the scheduling and resource planning. Creating a plan is important to set the project off on a successful path. The project manager will create a timeline with deadlines, assign tasks to the team, control time management, monitor progress, oversee quality control, provide feedback, and will make sure everything is successfully completed. There are many moving parts to a project, so hiring someone who is trained in virtual project management will guarantee an organized process.
- The project manager monitors cost estimates and develops the budget. A good project manager will understand the limits of a budget and importance of sticking to it. If a project is delivered as expected but goes over-budget, then it will still be considered a failure.
- The project manager runs risk assessments when issues come up. Every project will hit roadblocks along the way. It’s the job of the project manager to consider issues that may come up at the beginning of the project, so the virtual project team can avoid them. If issues do happen during the process, the project manager will analyze the risk and decide upon the route to take forward.
- The project manager pulls together reports and documentation. The virtual project manager will create reports for the client to review and will gather all important documentation. They will provide reports that include the process that was taken, if the project requirements were met, who was involved, and feedback for future projects.
How to effectively work with a virtual project manager
A virtual project manager will already have experience working remotely for businesses. But, there are a few areas to consider to make your relationship successful.
Systems and workflows in place
It is best to handoff any of your documentation, systems, or workflows that you have already created for the project you are hiring your virtual project manager to work on. If you don’t have anything laid out yet, that’s something your project manager can create.
Communication and organization tools
If you have specific communication or organization tools your business uses, you should let your project manager know as soon as possible. Your project manager will take this information and get the virtual team started with the tools you recommend.
At the beginning of a project, your virtual project manager will make sure all key stakeholders understand how things will be organized and how everyone will communicate. Since many team members might be geographically located in different parts of the world and are in different time zones, it is extremely important to keep all lines of communication open. There are many ways to keep in touch virtually including:
- Project management software including Asana, Airtable, Trello, Monday, and Basecamp. These programs will all allow for simple and effective ways to collaborate with your team virtually.
- Video conferencing (more on this below)
- Instant messaging platforms such as Slack, WhatsApp, or Microsoft Teams. These programs will allow you to stay connected with your team in an organized way that email can't. A benefit to many of these types of platforms is that they will show if a virtual team member is actively online or not.
- Cloud-based file storage and sharing programs including Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive will keep all your files safe, secured, and shareable with your team.
- Standard emailing
- Voice messaging using Voxer or Viber provide secure and real-time voice message communication to anyone around the world.
Virtual phone or video meetings
Having regularly scheduled virtual meetings is essential to a successful project. A project manager will organize routine meetings using a video conference platform, such as Zoom, Skype for Business, Join.me, or GoToMeeting. Ideally, the project manager will schedule an initial kick-off meeting to introduce all of the key stakeholders and run through the project’s plan.
Your project manager will know the importance of making sure the scheduled time works for all team members so everyone can benefit from the meeting. A virtual meeting is a great time to run through a predetermined agenda, but also an opportunity for everyone to become more familiar with each other, share information, ask questions, evaluate progress, set priorities, and create action items.
During the process if the team can meet via video chat, that is an added bonus. Being able to see your project manager and team face-to-face will help build trust by feeling more connected. When you are able to see someone else, you can gauge their facial expressions and body language.
Setting goals and expectations
When you hire your virtual project manager you should have an idea of the end result of your project. Make sure you discuss your goals and expectations as early as possible. Having clearly understood goals and objectives will help a project run smoothly.
- Make sure you get started on the same page in regard to vision, purpose, and expected outcome.
- Find a project manager who is flexible enough to adjust expectations throughout the process.
- Since your virtual project manager can’t walk into your office to ask questions or go over issues, it’s important to let them know when you can be reached.
Building a strong relationship
A strong foundation of trust will create a successful team. Building trust usually comes over time, so a virtual project manager will work hard gain the trust of all team members involved in the project. They will meet individually with each virtual team member, but also with the group as a whole often. An experienced project manager will get to know each person on a more personal level to make sure everyone feels heard.
4 Benefits of virtual project management and virtual teams
The idea of hiring a remote project manager might be new to you. Almost any project that can be done in-house can also be done remotely. Think of how many contractors or vendors you already use that aren’t located in your office. You can work in a similar way with a project manager. Below are a few of the main ways you will benefit from using a virtual project manager.
1) Larger group of candidates to search through
You can hire a virtual project manager from anywhere in the world. You aren’t limited to finding someone that is only located near your office or someone who is willing to relocate for the position. This opens you up to search through a larger talent pool to find the most qualified candidate. You also never have to worry about losing a remote project manager if they decide to move since their office moves with them.
You will save money by hiring a virtual project manager. You don’t need to supply equipment, office space, supplies, or benefits. You will only be paying for the project you assign them to, rather than a full-time salary.
You have the ability to hire from across the country or worldwide. A diverse team will give your business new perspectives on workflows or challenges your business if facing. Remote project managers will have worked with many other businesses and can share their insight and knowledge with you.
4) Increased productivity and efficiency
Studies have shown that remote workers actually get more done when they aren’t working in an office. A virtual employee will have fewer distractions and will have the ability to work more hours than just the traditional 9-5 time slot.
The future of project management and project work is virtual. It’s time to think about a project you have coming up and how you could start working with a virtual project manager to successfully complete it. You'll be amazed how your company will benefit from virtual team.