An increasing number of businesses are embracing the idea of virtual teams. This change in mindset is a result of the prevalence of technology and studies highlighting the advantages of remote working and how it boosts productivity. The recent pandemic has only added fuel to this fire, making it more crucial to adapt to this operational model or to perish entirely.
However, when we consider business processes such as product development, it can be tough to visualize carrying out brainstorming sessions and team-building exercises over virtual platforms. But necessity is the mother of invention. As a result, product development teams must also adapt to this change in the landscape.
How will they do that? Let’s find out!
Tips to Build a Successful Remote Product Management Team
Here’s how you can ensure that your business achieves the desired results while building products remotely:
1. Learn. Improvise. Adapt
Naturally, the product managers would be the first person to bear the brunt of the culture shock that comes with moving online. They would not only have to be the one to accept the change but also lead and drive it!
When one peruses through the product manager job description, they will notice that their primary task involves collaboration and coordination across various teams at every stage of the product development process. It becomes clear that the core component of all their activities revolves around people-to-people connections.
Therefore, their immediate responsibility would be to round up all the tools and platforms that will allow seamless communication and collaboration and make it accessible to your product development team. In this process, you can even learn remote operating tools, and who knows, acquiring these new skills could add to your product marketing manager salary!
2. Prioritize and Document Everything
Now that you can no longer walk over to the next cubicle and leave behind a post-it note, it becomes all the more essential to document every shred of information. Fortunately, those with substantial experience in product development are already masters of documentation. With the right set of tools, product managers can seamlessly extract information regarding market conditions, customer reviews, and competitor analysis.
Once you compile all the data, it must find its way to the relevant teams. With data sharing applications such as Google Drive and DropBox, you can create a collaborative platform for all the teams and its members. Therefore, complement data documentation with dissemination.
Next, product managers will have to assign priority to these tasks to ensure that they are completed on time.
3. Substitute In-Person Interactions
Even though you may operate digitally, the overall process of developing and creating the product remains essentially the same. Therefore, product managers will have to recreate similar dynamics over virtual platforms. It would be useful to set up synchronous and asynchronous communication channels to unify the team.
Next, you can set aside a clearly defined schedule for stand-ups, meetings, one-on-one interactions, and roadmap reviews. Thus, the teams will rebuild their ability to work together without losing sight of the product vision.
4. Maintaining Employee Focus
While some may find their regular work environment distracting, working at home can get even messier. It is easy to get occupied by non-work related stuff, be it your laundry or an unscheduled nap. For this purpose, it is vital to educate team members on how they can stay productive even as they work remotely.
Having a dedicated workspace can be an excellent start to creating a conducive environment. Some team members may find that dressing up for work could help them get in the zone. Finally, keep to a routine schedule and eliminate all distractions as you wrap them up!
There is no such thing as overcommunication.
Communication lays the foundation for a successful product development strategy. In traditional setups, the product manager is the singular point of contact. However, in virtual teams, product managers must foster direct communication between the teams involved in the process.
Through direct communication and the spirit of collaboration, you can eliminate the risk of data silos, which would otherwise stall the product development process. Cross-functional communication will also allow for transparency and grant visibility to the work that is actually being carried out.
6. Shifting the Focus on Results
One of the greatest advantages of remote working comes from the flexibility that it offers for employees to work according to their availability and requirements. Since people may not necessarily work according to the typical 9-5 schedule, product managers will have to assess the team performance based on the deliverables. Such a result-oriented culture will encourage team members to deliver their best even in the shortest periods.
Hence, product managers must measure the result and the impact that the team may deliver in accordance with the deadlines rather than micromanaging and monitoring the hours put in by the employees. In doing so, you will also find that your team will develop their trust in you and go above and beyond while delivering your product!
7. Lead by Example
As stated previously, product managers will play an instrumental role in actualizing the transition. You can start by using social interactions to build a personal rapport with all your team members. Being your authentic self will enable you to establish the trust that you would otherwise enjoy in the physical setup.
Next, you will have to offer proactive support. Empathize with your team members to locate the ones who are finding it hard to stay on track. Make it a point to check in with them and offer them assistance and support. At the same time, recognize the high-performing individuals or teams, and celebrate their performance to keep everyone motivated.
Contrary to popular belief, it is highly possible to thrive as a remote working product development team. However, it comes with the responsibility to stay self-disciplined and motivated to achieve the goals. At the same time, communication will continue to steer the process towards its goals.
Product managers must make all attempts to establish the maximum possible opportunities for team members to listen to each other and be heard. When everyone involved in the product development process is highly engaged, they will be capable of delivering as per the expectations.