fbpx

Close Enough: 5 Resources to Manage a Remote Team

The 5 resources that made our list to succeed with a team of remote workers include virtual whiteboards and process management.
Reading Time: 11 minutes
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

The 5 resources that made our list to succeed with a team of remote workers include virtual whiteboards and process management.

Looking for a system to successfully work & manage a remote team? 

We’ve assembled a list of 5 resources for you from the top experts in the subject.

Be it software development, digital marketing, animation, design or whatever​​​​​​​, remote working is becoming a huge trend worldwide. To hire a team abroad gives you access to low costs and talented workforce and it is a great way to be efficient and highly competitive. However, managing a remote team can get tricky, so we curated this list of tools for you.

At Start-ops, we help you to set-up your team and start operations in Mexico. We also handle all of the administrative and legal hassle that is involved. But the operational and remote team management part is on your side. So we thought to give you a boost in that area as well. Aren’t we awesome?

So let’s get to it. What makes a good remote team management system?

There are a lot of important areas. We have categorize them as:

  1. Virtual Offices (Project Management)
  2. Virtual Whiteboards
  3. Videoconferences 
  4. Internal Communication
  5. Process Management

1. Virtual Offices (Project Management)

This may not be the usual name for it but I think you should think of it like that. They are commonly known as project management platforms. And this is the place where basically all your employees hangout and (hopefully) work. If you could drink virtual coffee, this is where it would be done.

There are several good platforms, so let’s first take a look at the things that make a good virtual office (I’m going to keep calling them that, sorry but I loved the concept).

UI Aesthetics & Design 

Some people don’t really care about design. They argue that functionality is what is important. The truth is that everybody likes to see something pretty rather than something ugly. And if you want your team to truly be hanging out in your virtual office, it’s a good idea that it is visually appealing. Otherwise you just get a weird feeling of wanting to shut your computer down (or smash it depending on the level of stress). 

Your team needs to be looking at this thing for a big part of their day. You wouldn’t like to be staring at one of those 90’s business software interfaces all day for example. In today’s virtualized world good design is a pretty important thing.

Not cool for remote team management
We’ve come a long way

Collaboration Capabilities

Ok, so this is kind of obvious. Otherwise you wouldn’t be managing a lot. But let’s take a look at the things that your platform should do regarding collaboration.

  • Task assigning. If it isn’t clear who’s task is it, the task won’t get done. As simple as that. 
  • Comments. People should be able to share feedback
  • @ Mentions. It make things really easy if you can just let the right person know that the comment is for them.

Chronology Feats

Damn that sounded awesome. What I mean by chronology feats is basically that it has some kind of way to visualize your project in time. A calendar is the most simple one (and effective too). Gantt charts is the next step and that’s as far as my knowledge in project chronology goes. Gantt charts are a really cool way to visualize the entire project at once.

Gantt charts are great for remote team management.
Planning for success

Best Project Management Tools

Gitscrum

My favorite tool is Gitscrum. It is designed to fit the needs of Agile Teams but it would fit the needs of basically any kind of methodology to manage projects. Plus there are little bunnies helping you around.Gitscrum uses board planning to make your projects’ information visual, it has time tracking for your tasks and it integrates with Github, Gitlab, Slack and more.

Asana

Asana is a very powerful and complete project management tool. It probably is one of the best in the market. However, there is a bit of a learning curve. And this makes some teams reluctant to adopt it. That being said, it is one of the best tools in the market. If your team likes it there is a lot of functionality in it. In my humble opinion UI design is not great but the functionality is awesome.

Basecamp 

 If you have a big team Basecamp may be your best option. Their pricing model is based on a $100 usd fee per month with unlimited users. It is a really functional tool as well plus they seem to get the “virtual office” concept that I dig so much. They just call it a Basecamp. Like a camp from which mountaineering expeditions set out. So well, it’s the place where everybody hangout. Anyways, Basecamp is a really comprehensive project management tool that offers a free trial.

2. Virtual Whiteboards

I didn’t make this one up, I swear. But what would you hang in your “virtual office” while drinking your “virtual coffee”? You got it! A “virtual whiteboard” (I’m loving this). So a virtual whiteboard is just that. A whiteboard inside your computer. Exciting isn’t it? As simple as it may sound, this things are great. You can use them for a whole bunch of things if your team really uses them. There are a bunch of activities like brainstorming or brainwriting that you can do. Plus you can use different boards like the business model canvas or flowcharts to solve a lot of things.

Since the things that make a good virtual whiteboard are basically the same than a virtual office (Design & collaboration. Chronology feats aren’t really that important here). I’m just going to jump straight into the top contenders.

Realtime Board

They changed their branding to Miro for some reason. This is one of the best I’ve seen. You are able to use it on a browser or download the app. Realtime board has a simple, easy to use interface that is neatly designed.

Concept Board

Well, in all honesty, if we were a whiteboard software company we probably would use the word “board” in our name as well. Concept board is a little bit harder to get used to but it has some great capabilities. Like the ability to make video-meetings inside the whiteboard (well, next to it to be exact). It also has this kind of Prezi like presentation mode in which you jump from a zoomed in section to another.

Twiddla

First of all they get points on naming creativity. Twiddla focuses more on meetings than on having a whiteboard to which you would come back again later. It allows you to open up webpages, images or documents and use them as the background of your whiteboard. This allows you to write on them and take notes. For example if you are designing a website, you could quickly show the parts that you like and the parts that you don’t.

3. Video Conference Software

The best way to collaborate, organize and manage your remote team is with video conferences. There are a lot of things perceived by tone of voice and body language that allows us to decipher complex things faster. So, what makes a good video conference software? Let’s take a look.

Number of Participants

The first thing is the number of participants. There are times in which many people are involved and you don’t want your conference to be freezing or start hearing white noise or everyone else as robots.

via GIPHY

You may not need a lot of participants but it is always wise to choose softwares that you can scale your business with.

Screen Sharing and Collaboration Tools

It gets really annoying when you need to describe what you are seeing in your screen to someone (you see the little circle shaped thingy in the right corner, ok so click on it…). Screen sharing is a must for video conferences. Some softwares even have a way to take control of your collaborators computer (you know, in case they aren’t the sharpest pencils in the box). To be able to make annotations or draw on the screen is also a pretty important thing that makes things way easier. 

Integration with Business Apps

You probably already use a bunch of business apps. If not you should be using at least 6 after reading this post. The ability to connect your apps between them is awesome. It extends the benefits of the meeting. 

Best Video Conference Tools

Google Hangout

Can’t argue with free right? Like the entire Google Suite, Google Hangout is an amazing tool. If your team is used to google you shouldn’t look too far. I really trust pretty much everything that Google does. And I’m not just saying it with the hope that Google’s bots read this, like me better, and give me a better position in the SEO ranking (although that would rock). Another advantage of Google Hangout is that it allows you to make wonders if you have a little bit of Javascript knowledge and know how to use Google Appscript.

Zoom

Zoom also has freemium model that allows you to start for free and scale up while you need more feats. It allows you to add up to 100 participants in the free version (which I believe is about enough, it’s a meeting not a music concert). It has a limit of 40 minutes on meetings which may not be that great but I believe that it should be enough too. The cool part is that they let you have unlimited meeting. The paid tiers have extra functionality like storage and transcripts.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting starts at a price of $19 usd per user. You can have up to 10 participants and screen sharing. I know it doesn’t seem that great compared with the other two but remember that the quality of the meetings is key here. And GoTo is a big company that also makes webinar software and a few other things. They offer 24/7 customer care which is great for those moments of technical shortsightedness (we’ve all been there) and they offer a mobile app so you can have your meetings while climbing the Everest or something equally awesome.

4. Internal Communication

So most of the tools that we have already present are communication tools by themselves. However, , to manage your remote team well, you need something where you and your team can communicate constantly. Think of it as an office Whatsapp group minus the annoying memes (who am I kidding? I love memes). Constant communication tools are essential for group collaboration. It puts everyone in the same page and it serves the higher purpose of documenting evidence to point fingers if mistakes are made (we know it was you, Steve!). A good internal communication tool should ideally integrate with your project management tool. Nobody likes to have many softwares with different information in each. This tools are pretty basic. Let’s take a look at the things that make a good internal communication tool.

Remote team management can be annoying sometimes
He knows the pain.

 

Collaboration Capabilities

It doesn’t really take much and it’s pretty much the same as a project management tool.

  • Comments. People should be able to share feedback
  • @ Mentions. It make things really easy if you can just let the right person know that the comment is for them.

Categorization

Once you have been using your tool for a while you will be drowning in information. In order to be able to blame people for their mistakes (I’m looking right at you, Steve) you need to be able to categorize the information in some way. This can come in the form of channels, tabs, workspaces etc.

Integration with Business Apps

We already discussed this above. If your apps are not integrated, finding information will be like finding a needle in a haystack, which I assume is pretty hard. Unless you have a magnet. In which case we could say that apps integration is to finding information as a magnet to finding needles in haystacks.

Best Internal Communication Tools

It really boils down to two top contenders.

Slack

Slack is the internal communication tool by excellence. As such, it has integrations with pretty much every business app that’s worthy of that title. Slack has a freemium model for up to 10 thousand messages a month, with up to 10 integrations (which is the core of their value). After that, it can get pretty expensive taking into account that you pay per user. However, a company that needs more than 10k messages a month is probably doing well.

Discord

Discord is designed for gamers and, as such, you can find that it may have a less serious look. It is free, which is awesome. And it has great quality too. They do have a paid plan but it basically gets you games. Discord is not exactly business software (I’m just trying to look after your wallet here). But it works in the exact same way as Slack. The down side is that you can not integrate it with other business apps since it’s targeting goes to a different segment (one that eats a lot more Cheetos). 

5. Process Management 

Nothing helps you manage a remote team better than well established processes. I’m a big believer in processes. Sometimes people just use words without really knowing their meaning. The word “analysis” is commonly use as “to look closely at something” or “to examine in detail”. And it is not really wrong but it does not include the specific essence of the word. To analyze something means to distinguish and separate the elements of a whole to understand its composition. So it does have to do with examination but the important part is to separate the components of the thing. And that is exactly what you get from laying out your business processes. If you separate them in steps, tasks, subtasks et cetera, you are able to focus on improving different parts of it. This, in the long run, makes a huge difference.

So, after our brief etymology lesson, what makes a good processes software? Well it obviously should accept videos, images an all kinds of data. But there are some other important things.

Conditional Logic

Processes can get pretty complex. Of course you should see the laid out process as a guideline and not as if it was an algorithm and you were a computer (that’s the only advantage you have over a computer buddy). Conditional logic allows you to make branches of your processes. Think of it this way. You design websites, so you make a process for website designing. The first part of the process goes likes this:

  1. Call client.
  2. Fill out the Brief Template.
  3. Ask client to fill out website needs questionnaire.

And then you realize that your customers may either need a simple website or a more complex one that allows their users to sign up and it creates a database with their information. What’s going to prevent your account executives from glitching or shutting down? That’s right: Conditional Logic. With conditional logic you can create two (or more if needed) different branches. One would continue with the simple website process and one with the more complex one. 

Sequenced Tasks

Well, the idea of a process is to go one step at a time. The more you can separate your steps it will be best. For example a step like “build website” wouldn’t be really helpful. You have to separate it step by step. Think of whoever is going to make the process as a computer. You have to specify every little thing in order for thing to go right every time. And if they go wrong, to know exactly in which little step did it go wrong. So sequenced task are a must in this kind of software. In order to keep the process in the right order, users should be able to focus on one task at a time.

Pre-made Templates

So this is not essential but it’s really helpful. You may already have your processes outlined but in case you don’t it saves you a lot of time to use a pre-made template and just adapt it to your specific needs. Sometimes you get great ideas from this things.

Best Process Management Software

There are two top contenders in the industry.

Process Street

Process Street is the mac daddy of the process softwares. They have pretty much everything you will ever need in this regard plus an awesome marketing team offering great ideas to increase your productivity and enhance your processes. 

Tallyfy

Tallyfy is a good alternative. They may not have the templates and powerful marketing team that Process St. has but they still run a solid platform that will give you a good run for your bucks.

Conclusion

Globalization is growing at an accelerated pace. Companies of all sizes need to start working with people from all over the world. Be it to lower costs or access better talent. There are many tools that can help you to better manage a remote team. We may even write a part two of this post. The main principle here is that the people in your team really use the software otherwise it is just a waste of money. 

Roberto Cornejo

Roberto Cornejo

More from our blog

Want to lower your operating costs?

At Start-ops we help companies from all over the world that are struggling with High Costs and Low Profit Margins to easily start operations in Mexico so they can become competitive High-Level Enterprises.

Small and Medium companies deserve a fair chance to compete.

We want to see you succeed.

A business needs profits to survive & grow.

We can help your business to lower its costs by starting operations in Mexico.

We genuinely care about  our customers. We can guarantee you’re not going to talk to a phone menu or tape when you call us.

We want to see you succeed!

Schedule an Apointment.

got labor costs?

Calculate your savings with our sotware labor cost calculator