In the last couple of years, I've begun to travel a lot more. To give you an idea, I'm going to be on a plane once a month for the next six months.
Sometimes I'm only gone for a weekend retreat and sometimes I'm gone for a week for a massive client project. Either way, the show can't stop running. I've got a podcast to keep up with, a social media following to nurture and a brand to build regardless of where I may be in the world. I also have clients to cater to and digital products to create.
Fortunately, I do have a virtual team to help with all of this stuff. Over the years we've learned what tools and processes work for us so that everything keeps running even if I'm not actually available. In this article, I'm sharing what some of those are.
Project Management Systems
The main tool that helps me manage a virtual team is a project management system. I've tried my hand at quite a few of them, and while I have my preference, I'll share my insights on the ones I've tried.
- Asana: Asana is by far my favorite project management system for an internal team. It's free for up to 15 team members. You can also create multiple projects with tasks and sub-tasks and even color code them. This works well for us because I have multiple projects going at once. All I do is assign a task to my manager and then she assigns tasks to contractors. It also works better for me visually because I like to see things in list form and color coded. Finally, it's helped us really clean up our inbox because we just communicate from within Asana.
- Basecamp: I've used Basecamp to manage my internal team and didn't like it too much. It just didn't work with how I like to see things. I also didn't like how everything ended up in my inbox again. However, I have also used it as a client and I've seen how it works really well for business owners like my web designer. This one may be for you if you need to communicate with your clients often. Since I don't, it doesn't make much sense for me.
- Trello: While I don't use Trello with my internal team, I have used it as part of an editorial team. I have to say, the best editorial process I ever saw was created with this system. Instead of lists, it uses boards. You can also move documents from one board to the next for easy streamlining.
Which project management system you decide to use with your team is just going to depend on how you work best. I suggest trying your hand at a few of them and then deciding which one makes the most sense for your business.
I was recently on a trip where I didn't have much access to WiFi. While I could just use the tools mentioned above from my phone, I have a rule about keeping as much work off my phone as possible. Also, depending on where I'm traveling to and why I may not have time to go into our project management system to see what's going on.
That being said, my team does need to contact me sometimes while I'm traveling. Since my cell phone provider doesn't charge me extra for data and text in most countries, my manager knows she can text me if she really needs to get a hold of me.
Several aspects of my business are automated. That way neither my team or myself are required to spend much time on them.
For example, we use an all-in-one email marketing and CRM system. In this system, leads are tagged depending on how they found me. The tag sets off a series of emails that allow us to automate the sales process.
While I feel like I still have a lot to learn about managing a virtual team, I'm happy to say that at least I've figured out some ways to keep everything running while I'm traveling. With the help of these tools, I can rest assured that things are being taken care of even if I can't be on top of everything.