Why Agile Makes a Powerful Remote Project Management Method

For the past decade, remote work has been growing as the best way to work. Per a GetApp study, there was a roughly 400% increase in the number of remote workers in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020.

There’s no doubt that remote work benefits both employer and employee, but there is one major concern: finding a reliable way of getting things done with a distributed team.

When you have a remote team, more often than not, everyone is working on separate tasks or parts of a project. This requires planning and proper project management to be considered at every stage.

Traditionally, projects follow a life cycle beginning with planning and ending with client reviews.

The problem here with traditional project management is that reviews are only conducted when there is already a final product. If a client decides that revisions are necessary, the entire product may need to be dismantled to accommodate them. That’s hours of work thrown out the window.

Enter the Agile methodology.

Originally designed for software development, Agile’s emphasis on constant output and iteration has made it one of the top project management methods for remote teams.

How Agile works

The concept of Agile is built around constant improvements and efficiency, and at its core are sprints. A sprint is a short period of time in which a set of tasks relevant to the current project stage are completed.

Depending on if the output meets the specifications, teams can either move forward to the next sprint or spend more time on revisions.

Compared to the waterfall approach, Agile involves a lot more testing and back-and-forth conversations with the client or the project manager.

While that may sound more time-consuming than its alternative, it isn’t. Since reviews are done after each sprint, everything is smoothed out by the end of the project.

Why Agile project management is perfect for remote teams

Let’s talk about the remote work issue that sticks out like a sore thumb: your team isn’t there when you turn your head or walk down the hall.

Monitoring your team isn’t something you need to worry about when you’re together in the office, at the same time. But in a remote setup, there’s the possibility of having team members whose schedules rarely overlap with one another.

project management dashboard

This means that there’s a real risk of deadlines being missed, especially if you have tasks that are dependent on the completion of other tasks. You can’t just tap them on the shoulder and say, “Hey, can you get this done first?”

When working remotely, everything has to be planned carefully — the size of the tasks you’ll divide projects into, to whom you’ll assign them, and which tasks are priorities.

Agile reinforces the core characteristics of remote work:

  • Autonomy
  • Communication
  • Discipline
  • Efficiency

By strategically assigning tasks to specific individuals in the team, managers can rest assured that progress is being made even if the team members aren’t working together at the same time.

The entire team agrees to what’s in their sprint before it begins, so it’s clear what’s being worked on in that timeframe.

Team members can focus on finishing the work in front of them. Regardless of whether they can move forward or need to make revisions, significant progress is made after every sprint.

Tools for smooth Agile project management

Using Agile in your remote team becomes easier if you have a project management tool that’s designed for that methodology. Here are some of the best apps available.

Hubstaff Tasks

Hubstaff Tasks is a project management tool built on the principles of both Agile and remote work. Tasks comes with Sprints, a weekly planning feature that makes it easy to prioritize tasks and collaborate with team members.

With Stand-ups, teams can quickly report what they accomplished, what their next objectives are, and if there are roadblocks impeding their progress so you can help address them. They’re automated to prompt your team members and send managers updates on a daily basis.

project management dashboard

You can attach files, add labels, set due dates, and communicate with team members from within tasks. All the information you need is stored in one place so it’s easy for anyone to pick up a task and run with it.

Hubstaff Tasks also has Epics that consolidate tasks into a larger project, and custom workflows for smarter project management. Auto-assign tasks, move them forward, or revert to the previous stage.

It’s free to use for up to five users, and the premium plan starts at $4/user per month.

Kanbanize

As the name implies, Kanbanize uses Kanban boards and cards for a smooth visual project management experience. Its Card Links feature lets you view the relationships between task cards as well as dependencies so you can focus on the right tasks.

Kanbanize is a great choice if you’re looking for an app with analytics features. It has multiple types of reports and graphs that can help you understand your team’s performance and consistency.

Kanbanize doesn’t have a free plan. It starts at $99 per month for up to 15 users, with optional add-ons. You can try it free for 30 days.

Trello

Trello is a popular project management tool known for its easy drag-and-drop style Kanban interface. If you’re looking for a pure, hassle-free Kanban-style collaboration tool, Trello is a solid choice.

With Trello, you can easily view the status of tasks within projects, who’s assigned to what, and sub-tasks within tasks. You can also see which team members are involved with the task so you can quickly tag them in comments to send them a notification.

Trello has a free plan with limited features and task boards. It has two paid plans, starting at $9.99 per user monthly when priced annually.

Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a great app for teams who prioritize flexibility over anything else. It lets you view your workflow in card, Gantt chart, calendar, or spreadsheet form. This is useful for teams with multiple, large departments.

Smartsheet’s strength lies in its sheer number of add-ons. It has add-ons for all kinds of purposes, from employee onboarding to event planning for marketing teams.

Smartsheet has two pricing models: Standard and Enterprise. The Standard model’s Business plan costs $25 per user monthly with a minimum requirement of three users. The Enterprise model is for larger businesses, and you’ll need to get in touch with them for pricing information.

See what Agile can do for your team

Project management can make or break your remote team. Without it, remote work is twice as difficult as working in an office. But with Agile project management in the mix, it’s hard to beat.

The initial adjustment period may be challenging, but once you experience the full benefits of working remotely, you’ll never want to go back.

Author Bio: Courtney Cavey leads the global, fully-distributed marketing team at Hubstaff and Hubstaff Tasks, and is a certified Project Management Professional and Scrum Certified Product Owner. Together, her team brings the Agile, data-driven power of Hubstaff Tasks to entrepreneurs and businesses around the world. Contrary to stereotype, she does not use a standing desk despite how much she loves a good Stand-up.

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