The fact that several people will be working together leads to some problems, such as lack of cooperation, failure to understand instructions, and the possibility of duplicate work. The situation may become increasingly problematic if the members of the team are working at remote locations. In fact many teams are dispersed in different locations, or even countries in real life. However, even though this may seem really complicated, in reality, nowadays there are online collaborative tools that can render the process simpler and smoother. Thanks to this, all communication as well as workflows for the team are centralized and managed more easily and systematically. Let us take a closer look at the benefits of using such a tool when managing a remote team.
1. Task Management
The things that need to be seen to, addressed or completed within a set timeframe are often never ending. As a team manager you are a delegator, and so you need to make sure that you assign these tasks to the various group members wisely. The allocation of tasks depends on each team member's expertise as well as the time required to complete. The general rule of thumb is to get things done, and a tool that enables you to delegate these tasks whenever you need or whenever anything crops up, is critical. The system can basically work in a way whereby emails can be sent to the various team members, and at the same time you will be able to move and sort things out in different folders. Freedcamp.com is an online project management tool for small and medium businesses and it comes free with great task management, file sharing and communication tools. Basecamp and Trello are two other very popular solutions.
Communication between the team members essentially revolves around the various goals. It is important to set up a structure so that the goals can be aligned properly and all the team members will have a clearer idea where they stand and what is required of them. There will be different folders so that different tasks can be tracked. Folders and sub-folders will be focused on one task or area or workflow. Basically tasks will be inputted and assigned to the various team members or collaborators, and in such a way every individual will know what he or she is responsible for. When it comes to file sharing and communication with different teams nothing beats Google Docs. But to create a chat room and brainstorm new ideas together -scribblar.com can come in handy and it is free to use too.
3. Managing files
Google Docs offer a complete cloud-based file sharing solution. Regardless of where the team members are based, everyone will have access to the various resources thanks to the cloud. Attachments can be sent and these can involve written content, images, links, notes as well any resources. The best thing about this tool is that all the work is saved automatically and every action will be time stamped.
Other than that Tamashare is an excellent file sharing and annotating tool that supports many file types, even including MS Office documents. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate. In addition to these, make use of simple desktop tools like doc to pdf conversion to enable users switch between different file types.
4. Setting collaboration workflows and policies
Another major benefit of online collaborative tools is that they are highly customizable. Workflows and policies can be better managed. So for example, when a meeting is set up, it is easier for the team members to communicate both before and after. In most cases ideas are collected, reviewed, evaluated, and then implemented. The best thing about it is that every team member will be aware of what is going on, what is being shared, and what decisions are being reached. Basecamp offers complete project management tool set with an equally awesome file sharing system. But Trello uses a card-based system for keeping your project overview as simple as possible and easy to monitor.
5. External parties can be integrated into the workflow
Besides the usual team members, at times, the team will also need to collaborate with external parties, such as consultants, contractors and other agencies. Most current tools enable several parties to be comprised in the same system for a more cohesive and effective partnership. As the CEO of MoversCorp.com, Margarita Hakobyan puts it -"It is very important to keep your external partners updated about the ongoing projects & their requirements. Apart from managing our own team, we have integrated vendors and customers at different nodes to enable reporting in real-time". Evernote Business breaks down communication barriers between departments and external parties. Users have the possibility to invite collaborators and discuss the current issues immediately. Obviously specific access limits will be set in such cases, and the system allows you to do this easily.
6. Meetings can be set up much more easily
Periodic meetings can be facilitated as now you do not depend solely on emailing. Agendas can be easily created and notifications can be sent whenever anything important needs to be communicated. With Skype, video conferences are easy to do and can be done through phones or tablets anywhere, anytime.
These are just some of the most popular and efficient online collaborative tools. Most of the tools recommended boast extremely easy implementation - so you don't have to waste much time during integration. In this day and age where we have become an increasingly global workforce, these tools are truly a godsend, and they can make things so much easier and more efficient.