There is Nothing Virtual about Online Project Management

Quest Post by: Imogen Reed

The internet has given rise to a new way of doing business. Not only can we all now do our shopping, gain access to balance transfer offers and network with people on Facebook and other social media, but also thanks to project collaboration software, the internet allows us to conduct business projects online with team members scattered across the country or globe.

Running a project online with project collaboration software is no different than project management in the physical world, but it can pose certain challenges, especially with the lack of face-to-face contact. However, with the right approach, there is no reason why a project can’t be just as successfully managed over the internet as it can in the physical world.

Relationships are Key

As with face-to-face project management, relationships are the lynchpin of an online project too. As a team leader, successful communication and fostering good working relationships is the key to achieving a successful project, but with a lack of face-to-face communication, this can prove difficult for some people. The most important thing to remember is that in any successful project, success is underpinned by the connection of people, and the influence, input and decision making they forge together. This can only be achieved with productive working relationships, based on trust and the understanding of what each member of the team is bringing to the table.

A good project manager understands and facilitates these relationships. It is important to hold online meetings in exactly the same manner as you would in the physical world, and allow each member time to speak and encourage ideas to flow between the different team members.

Establish Well-defined Goals

Everybody involved needs to know what the main purpose of the project is; this may sound obvious, but quite often the main goal can be clouded by peripheral achievements, which certain members of the project may also want to achieve. As project leader, it is your job to ensure people don’t lose track of the big picture and to make sure that any ancillary goals don’t take people away from the main goal.

The goals of a project should also satisfy all members, especially when the collaboration is with other businesses. Having a common goal that you all want to achieve will unify people, but if people have their own agendas and ideologies, it can lead to dissention where different members of the team work to their own aims. This is another example of how good communication can help. As project leader, you need to set a tone that invites collaboration. If people have disagreements as to the goal, discuss and debate their interests and try to foster interest with the main goals of the project.

Differentiating Delegation with Collaboration

As project leader, it is not your job to assign people to different tasks, then just sit back and allow others to achieve the goals of the project. During an online project, remaining hands off can leave you unattached to what is going on. Collaboration means that as a leader you need to be actively involved. Meetings should be used to discuss and thrash out solutions to problems collectively, rather than simply delegating a team member to sort everything out. Keeping track of progress is an important aspect to any project management. Project collaboration tools enable team members to file reports, drafts and other material, which as project leader you should read and scrutinize at every stage, to ensure the project is on track.

Keep Language Simple

Because communication is key, complicating discussions online with business speak or overly specific jargon can easily lead to confusion. Good communication is about clarity. Because an online project may involve team members from different regions, or even different countries, the jargon and language may differ greatly. For example, when discussing things such as sales, leads and conversions, outline what you mean because to one person a sale may mean the same thing as a conversion to another.

Strong Leadership

As already discussed, strong leadership isn’t about delegating tasks and sitting back. Leadership is about listening to different views and opinions and making an informed decision. Compromise is key to any collaboration, but this should be done in an informed manner, not just to satisfy the more vocal opinions. You also need to stick to decisions once they are made. Saying one thing one day and something else the next will not only lead to confusion, but also will foster distrust in your leadership skills. Once a decision is made, stick to it, unless you are really sure a mistake has been made; in which case, talk to all members of the team about your fears and arrive at a new decision using the same informed and collective approach as before.

David Robins


David Robins is the founder and CEO of Binfire. David studied at both Cornell and MIT, and was the Director of Software Engineering at Polaroid for 11 years.

  1. I do accept as true with all of the ideas you have presented to your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for starters. Could you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.