Best practices for remote collaboration

Published on: April 28, 2020

Over 20 years, our project managers have become pros at remote collaboration.

They’ve only ever met the customers who’ve come to visit our office in Manila, but still managed to successfully complete 1200+ projects anyway.

(It works; just read our reviews on Google.)

So we asked some of our project managers to share some insights on how they made it work when we’re working on the other side of the world from our customers, and how they’re adjusting to the new remote setup we now have internally.

Maintain regular status updates

Consistent communication throughout the whole project is an important practice, especially when you’re on different locations and time zones.

Marcelo, one of our Magento project managers, says that his most important tip for making remote collaboration work is having regular meetings to have status updates and even discuss upcoming projects.

It keeps everyone involved up-to-date on latest developments and makes sure that we’re heading in the right direction.

Make sure all project details are in one place

Jerome, Mobile App project manager, ensures clear and transparent communication with customers by keeping all project details in our in-house project management system.

“Since everything is centralized in [our project management system], our customers have complete access to all project information that we also have access to.”

With IT projects, especially for mobile apps that are usually complex, project details can easily get all over the place with countless discussions and back-and-forth consultations.

This is why it’s important to have one place where everyone involved in the project—from the stakeholders on the customers’ side, to our own developers, designers, and testers—can easily keep track of all communication and current project status.

When starting your IT project, it’s important to establish a system early on so that you know that you and your supplier are always on the same page.

Put important items in writing

For Mark, Umbraco project manager, it’s important to always have a written meeting summary after a Skype call with a customer.

Similarly, MK—another Magento project manager—makes sure to write in chat the task description for her team of developers on top of verbal instructions.

Regardless of whether you’re dealing with teammates or third-party partners, putting things in writing helps a lot in keeping track of what has been agreed on—especially when it comes to IT projects, where it’s commonplace to come up with various changes even when development is already underway.

Having a written record to supplement voice or video meetings is a reliable reference throughout the whole project and can clear up any misunderstandings and ambiguities in your discussions, which also makes way for a good working relationship.

Turn on video for calls

One of the good things about physical meetings is getting to be face-to-face with the person—being able to read non-verbal cues in their body language as much as listen to what they’re saying.

While video conferencing is not a fully adequate alternative to this, it’s still better than voice-only meetings or even email exchanges.

At 1902 Software, Peter (founder and owner), has made it part of the culture to always turn on video for meetings.

It’s a small thing, but it contributes significantly to the whole meeting experience, and “forces” you to be in a professional state even while working from home.

Make it a habit to reply to emails right away

One of the things that people are concerned with in remote work setups, especially when outsourcing or offshoring tasks, is communication amidst huge time differences.

This is why at 1902 Software, we only work with companies in time zones with four overlapping hours with our own working hours, to make sure that we have enough time to hold meetings.

On top of this, Ryan, who heads our WordPress department, says that one of his keys to successful collaboration with customers is promptly replying to their messages/emails: “Even when I can’t attend to their concern right away, like when it’s outside office hours, I still reply to let them know I got their message and that I’ll get back to them the next day.”

This habit should come from both sides, though.

Replying to your IT supplier’s emails or questions promptly will avoid delays in projects, since they don’t have to pause and wait for your answer, and in the meantime move on to another task.

(Read: It may be okay to wait three days to reply to an email―just not when it is from your programmer)

(Get to know our project managers)

Working from home as a team and collaborating remotely with international customers and partners is not that different, and both are not without any challenges.

We hope this series provided some insights on how you can better work and collaborate remotely, and if you want to learn more about remote collaboration work or how to get the most out of an offshore IT collaboration, our team will gladly help. Contact us today.

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