Trello App for Geographically Distant Project Management Teams. Trello is an amazing tool for high performance project teams.

In today’s modern technologically-savvy world, where information is available at the touch of a button, things have become easier and easier to do. Yet with this ease and the availability of information, we have also seen a rise in geographically distant teams which has given us new challenges and obstacles to overcome. How do you manage a team where everyone is in a different city or country? How do we align and communicate efficiently? As a project manager with this issue, one of the apps I use to remedy this challenge is called Trello.

Most of the time, email communication is used to share data, to delegate work or provide reporting. The problem is that many people have too many emails to sort through and it can be difficult to get the project information together at the right place. At least, if you are anything like me, then you may be receiving hundreds or thousands of emails a day~ and depending on how many projects you have, trying to organize the email into their respective projects can take a lot of time. This is where trello has been my Knight-in-shining-armor. And trello is a more efficient and less time-consuming way!

trello

But before we get into more efficient tools for project management with virtual teams, let us first go in-depth into what virtual teams are.

A virtual team is not just a team with individual locations that are geographically separated, there

are MANY other factors to consider. Geographical distance isn’t the ONLY distance in geographically distant teams… there is also a certain distance between the individuals in regard of their language, culture, skills, technological capability and/or availability or status in the society. For example, we may have a project that needs to get off the ground now, but due to a month-long celebration in India (Deepavali for instance), it may be asking too much of our team mate there to drop the festivities and family time for our project. We need to set ourselves up for success by honoring the others in our team AND their cultural heritage.

But coming back to business, it is important to bridge this virtual distance quite quickly in order to kick -start the project and get the job done. The main aim of a project manager is to get the project team collaborating over the project scope, the working packages and the individual activities as fast and as efficiently as possible. If the team is in the same office, it is reasonably possible to collaborate because the project manager can get the people on a daily basis to interact with each other very easily. Still, they send each other emails with information about the project which is sooner or later sink in the flood of emails…especially if you are someone who receives hundreds of emails a day. This is where trello comes in handy.

TRELLO is a cloud project management tool based on KANBAN principles, but with the features of online collaboration via your smartphone, tablet and browser which allows you AND your teammates to add documents, pictures and links to each card. Think of it as a giant project management pinboard. You can create cards with action items, assign the action items to team-members, give a due-date to each card, and add important documents, screenshots and the like. And one of the best features is that you can have 1 board per project! So no need to sift through hundreds of emails in order to sort everything out!

Since I am using TRELLO to record the activities in cards and add members to it, it is now very easy to record the information flow to each activity and participate from anywhere in the world (if there is internet connection) on the ongoing works. If there is a question, I can easily answer it by adding a comment and I can contribute to ongoing activities to ensure the regular monitoring and controlling, which is supported by the built in calendar and reminder system.

Another great feature is that when someone else is working on the project, and is moving action items into the FINISHED column, I can see it in real time via my phone app or computer. You can also manage these notifications if you do not want to be bothered, but I think it is great to receive those notifications and see who is working on what.

As said above, a virtual team doesn’t only comprise of geographical location; it can be much more. Therefore, I always suggest starting a project with a face -to-face meeting where everyone gets to know each other and build a certain level of rapport. The project online collaboration tool TRELLO is only as good as long it is used by all project team members. And you can invite certain people to specific project boards you create on trello. A project manager may have up to 20 boards, and each team working on their respective trello boards. Messages, emailing and calls can be cut by over 50% by having your team use TRELLO. Personally, it has been a life-saver. Regular contributions are important to monitor and control your projects, and this tool is perfect for just that. To overcome language barriers, add pict ures, white board graphics and explanations, and you can attach documents to your individual TRELLO boards .

For me, the obvious benefits for using TRELLO are:

  1. Reducing the emails in my inbox and have the project information directly in the right project on my right TRELLO board.
  2. Knowledge – management and data-backup for each project is in one place, available for the entire project team (as per invited selection of stakeholders).
  3. Collaboration among the virtual project team, and instant notification for updates on the project board or activity to the smartphone, tablet or computer.

I highly recommend that all Project Managers with teams either in the same location or different locations consider utilizing TRELLO. It has done wonders for my projects, my time and my results!

Cheers,

Peter Wyss

Peter is an expert on: Railway Projects, System Integration, Renewable Energy Projects, Project Management, Scrum Master, Agile Project Management, Risk Management, Rescue Troubled Projects, Contract Management, Project Consulting, Project Management Office, Project Management Training, Project Assessments, EPC(M) Projects, Program Management, Project Management Coaching, Virtual team management in Global projects.
You can find him at his website and Linkedin.