Mark, a development manager at Sensio Inc., was looking at a team calendar for next month and noticed there were multiple high priority project deliveries slated. He knew his team could deliver confidently and on time.

Four years ago, his entire team was located in the New York office. As the company grew, they set up satellite offices in Bangalore, London and Sydney. Paul, Mark’s boss, insisted he include the Sydney office in the projects managed by Mark. While Mark wasn’t comfortable with a remote team, he went ahead and did what was asked. He soon after realized the huge benefits of having a distributed team, including:

  • Increased team diversity in skill, culture and academic background. He found clients preferred the expanded skill sets, and as a global company they were able to offer more targeted services per region.
  • Improved turnaround time. By the time Mark would come back to the office the next morning, the Bangalore team would have completed half of the prescribed workload.
  • Increased savings attributed to reduced travel cost, wage differences per region, etc.

Trends in Distributed Task Management

Even though distributed task management is seeing increased favorability among companies, it is in fact an age old idea. From battles throughout history to the most basic cogs in the foundation of news coverage, one truth has been due to distributed task management: What one person can do, a team can do better and faster.

Today, distributed work management and various task management software have been through adopted by virtual teams. With globalization ensuring world economies are closely integrated, most organizations are left with no option but to facilitate a distributed work environment – often through virtual teams. Of course, there are benefits as well as limitations to this form of management.

“Fragmented Tasks” Benefits:

  1. Access to diverse professionals with different skills, and different cultural experiences.
  2. The advantage of hiring cost-effective talent.
  3. Opportunity to closely work with multi-location customer base.
  4. Ability to provide quick turnaround time.

“Fragmented Tasks” Limitations:

  1. Potential communication barriers.
  2. Cultural barriers.

3 Rules for Strategizing Virtual Teams

If you are going to work with a geographically dispersed team, you’ll face time zone challenges, varied communication challenges and cultural challenges. The latter will need to consider any language barriers, working habits, working hours, etc. As a project manager, your job is to tackle these challenges and use them to your advantage.

First, distribute project tasks to team members whose expertise/skills can be utilized in the best possible manner (e.g. your London-based designer provides incredible designs, your Bangalore-based architect has just the right style for this project, an international event in Sydney is perfect for a trending article written by your Sydney-based content writer, etc.).

Second, take advantage of team members from different time zones so delivery can be done at the earliest or most optimal way (e.g. your London-based UI designer provides the new design by his evening, the Sydney-based content writer picks up the design & provides content by his evening, the Bangalore-based developer implements the UI design & content during his working hours).

And finally, customers in other countries can be approached in the best manner if you consult your local staff about gestures, manners and local policies.