Remote work was on the rise before the coronavirus crisis and the associated government-mandated shutdown. For example, it grew by 400% between 2010 and 2020. However, it was not the norm because employers were not certain they could get things done right with a remote, distributed team.
Recent events have forced many teams to embrace remote work, but managers who may have been reluctant until now may need time to adapt. Remote teams require a different approach to project management if you want to have everything come together. This is why it is essential that you start learning about agile project management and how it can help your organization. Here are three reasons why agile project management is absolutely essential for remote teams.
An Introduction to Agile Project Management
Agile project management is designed to be small, focused, and flexible. Projects are broken up into small projects and groups of tasks that are finished rather quickly. You test things at each iterative stage to make certain it is what the end-user wants or needs. You make changes to the project plan or design and test again.
If you’re wondering “what is agile project management?” the linked article explains in detail how teams can benefit from it. It also explores different agile management methods. In addition, it runs down some of the differences between the most popular agile project management methods like Kanban and frameworks like Scrum. It even touches on lesser-known methods such as Scrumban, which is a combination of both Scrum and Kanban.
Now that we know a little bit more about agile project management, let’s take a look at why it can be so powerful for remote teams.
It Maximizes Communication
Whether you’re using Scrum, Kanban or another agile project management methodology, agile project management is transparent. Everyone can see the tasks that are in work and what is the top priority for the team at that moment. This process can be done more easily and intuitively with a tool like Kanban than Scrum, as it allows you to see the progress of each task in real-time through a Kanban board.
Another great thing about agile project management is that it allows for collaboration. Your team works together toward completing the current project. Team members that are not being utilized can identify bottlenecks and take the initiative to help someone who might be struggling with a certain task.
You also work closely with the customer, getting their feedback as soon as possible. All of this maximizes communication and engagement, things that are otherwise hard to achieve with a distributed workforce.
Agile project management often centers around a Kanban board or project flowcharts that track the status of tasks. By focusing on key tasks with a set time frame instead of the big picture, you can make changes as necessary.
If your business was using agile project management when half the workforce was ordered to work from home, the odds are that you had the software and internal processes to continue working. Agile project management is designed to support flexible, changing operational environments. If problems arise, agile project management allows you to dedicate a two-week sprint to dealing with that problem, no matter what it is.
Support for Long-Distance Management
Many companies were reluctant to let people work from home because they couldn’t monitor staff in person. This is much harder to do from a distance. Agile project management reduces the need for check-ins because your employees can see what tasks are assigned to them.
Furthermore, they should automatically report when they start work and when they complete tasks. Management can then focus on removing obstacles or acquiring the necessary resources to get things done on schedule. Better yet, agile project management tools allow you to monitor progress even when team members’ schedules don’t overlap with yours.
A side benefit of implementing agile project methodologies is that it reinforces personal autonomy and discipline. You don’t need to follow up with remote workers nearly as often unless they report problems, and this may occur automatically thanks to the Kanban board.
You also get everyone onboard through team meetings before the new sprint begins. Quick check-in meetings may be held daily so that managers know what they need to do and become aware of new problems. The entire team works together to resolve problems, yet you eliminate unnecessary meetings like status meetings. The project management dashboard gives managers that information.
Agile project management methodologies create the structure remote teams need to work together effectively. It also sets up the systems that foster communication and maximize productivity without requiring a manager to micromanage people from a distance.