Project managers tend to take in-house teams for granted by relying heavily on day-to-day interactions. Communicating last minute pivots, emergencies and even building camaraderie is easy when the team is a meeting room away. But how do project managers communicate effectively with teams an ocean away? Creating an offshore team requires much forethought. Choosing the best communication tools for your new team should take just as much thought.
We’ve compiled a list of top 8 tools to assist in managing a remote team.
JIRA is the go to project management tool used by large companies such as EBay and Cisco. In comparison to its competitors, JIRA has a user-friendly interface and allows you to select from 14 different languages. Price wise, JIRA offers tiered monthly payments based on your team size with $10 a month for up to 10 users. JIRA allows for agile project management by using a customizable hybrid Scrum and Kaban model. JIRA relies on a “big picture approach” that allows segmentation without leaving your developers in the dark on the overall project. With JIRA you can track workflow, provide in the moment feedback, and assign tasks. It also integrates with Salesforce, GitHub, Confluence, ZenDesk and others via the Atlassian marketplace. It also offers advanced security configurations.
If your company utilizes a number of web-based programs such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft applications, then Wrike would be a better fit than JIRA. Wrike is just as powerful in its own right. It is pricer than JIRA if your team is greater than 5 people. A team greater than 5 will cost $9.80 per user per month. Unlike JIRA, you will not need to add a content collaboration channel as Wrike integrates with Google Drive and other content sharing platforms. The platform allows team emails, calendars, and tasks to be shared in one place instead of hopping across platforms. Wrike is used by large enterprises such as MTV and Paypal.
Slack is a cloud-based team collaboration and management tool. At its inception, it sought to tackle the nightmare that is workplace email, by organizing messages and to-do list in one place. Since its launch, Slack has become THE name associated with remote team management. Instead of having a work email that can quickly be bombarded with junk, Slack allows for real-time synced communication only amongst those in the network. No one will miss an email again as the app has message boards as well as in-tool meeting for up to 15 people. Slack integrates with a myriad of other apps including Zoom, Google Drive, ZenDesk, GitHub, Dropbox and the list goes on. It can be used on Mac, Windows, Android, Iphone and Ipad. For a standard business it’s $6.67 per user per month. If your business needs SSO or compliance exports, it’s $12.50 per user per month.
While JIRA provides a project communication channel, Confluence enables content collaboration. In Confluence, you and your team can create shared documents with added security. Via integration with JIRA, Confluence connects your software developers to non-technical team members that may be in-house or located in another remote area. Both teams can look at project timelines, meeting notes, and correct any missing or incorrect information. Confluence is supported on all the same devices as JIRA and is priced the same as well. It is a cost-effective pairing that will streamline communication on all levels.
As far as free software goes, Join.me offers an impeccable user experience for virtual meetings. You can meet with 3 users for free on a standard account and up to 10 people on the PRO account. For an additional cost, you can meet up to 50 users at once. Join.me enables both in-time video and audio meetings as well as recording. The software gives you complete security and control over your meetings. You can share your screen with other users and share mouse control if you are presenting a collaborative presentation. There are functions such as roll call and mic mute which are helpful when there’s a large number of users. It is supported on desktop, Iphone, Ipad and Android. A cool feature is the “whiteboarding” function where you can draw out your thoughts and visually brainstorm with other users in remote locations.
When Microsoft acquired skype it not only brought with it Office 365 integration, but also a slew of upgrades that make business communication more streamlined. By using Office 365, you can easily schedule meetings or small one-on-ones with your remote team. Skype’s international calling plan is still cheaper than phone plans. Even better, if everyone on the team has skype, the calling is free. The functions are similar to Join.me as you can share your screen, share Powerpoint slides, mute the audience and even use the “whiteboard” function. Unlike Join.me, you can IM others in the group meeting. Skype for business allows you to host 250 people in a meeting at $2 per user per month. Basically, you can hold a mini conference with participants around the globe!
Bitbucket and GitHub are possibly the only go-to web based hosting sites for software developers. However, Bitbucket has some advantages over GitHub when it comes to sharing code on projects. Bitbucket supports Mercurial VCS and Git VCS. To mitigate the risk of data exposure, Bitbucket allows an unlimited amount of private repositories and charges per user. If you have a small team working closely on private projects then this is the platform for you. Bitbucket was acquired by Atlassian so it integrates with JIRA, streamlining your management oversight. Also, in Bitbucket you can create pull requests and code reviews.
Invision was created to give designers the flexibility to make minute changes without engineers having to re-write code (known as “rapid prototyping). In 2017, they raised $100 million in Series E funding and is the go-to design app for roughly 80% of Fortune 100 companies. Invision also acquired Brand.ai which gives them a boost of managing design teams through the cloud. Invision also launched InVision Studio, which is a competitor for Photoshop and Sketch. Invision makes PDFs archaic because you are able to share your designs with both client and team in the app and comment on the design in real time. Both client and team members can even change or interact with your design and create a to-do list with any changes that need to happen. You can even use it on mobile. For so much power, its relatively a steal at $99 a month for unlimited prototypes for 5 team members.