It’s hard to get remote work right. But remote project management is even more challenging as team leads need to ensure everyone’s aligned and responsibilities are clear – often across multiple projects and timezones. Remote work requires everyone to communicate better and more frequently to make sure that projects run smoothly.
This is where technology comes into the picture.
Sure, just picking out software won’t solve all your problems. But whether you’re an enterprise company or a startup, you need an intuitive and easy-to-use tool that remote project managers can rely on to manage projects, schedules, and workloads across teams.
Most remote project management tools are designed to help keep projects on track, teams on schedule, and budgets under control. But not all are designed with the same philosophy in mind—to make remote project management less stressful and more human.
Consider these features the front-line soldiers in your resource management army; they lead the way for creating better employee experiences, productive teams, on-target deadlines, high-quality work, and as a result – happy clients.
1. Calendar integration – Never miss anything that matters
As a remote project manager, you can’t always know what your team is doing because they’re not right there to ask. Instead, you need unique insight into team availability and workload that’s easily accessible at any given time. Is someone out sick? At the dentist’s? On a school run?
Most of us use multiple calendars to organize our work and personal lives, but as a remote project manager, you don’t want to juggle multiple calendars for each team member. It’s time-consuming and can lead to errors in scheduling.
What you do need is to be able to see the whole picture, not just the one that shows up on their work calendar. The solution? A calendar integration. By syncing your calendars, you’ll reduce the risk of meeting clashes, missed deadlines, or anything else that matters.
Resource Guru offers two calendar integrations with Google Calendar and Outlook. Say goodbye to confusion and scheduling conflicts for good. In just one click, you’ll see your bookings in Google Calendar or Outlook as well as in your Resource Guru schedule.
Your tool also needs strong privacy settings to protect your team’s personal info such as doctor’s appointments or any other appointment that’s private and confidential. With Resource Guru, events synchronized from outside calendars show up as private, and only the dates and times are visible. You can only see the personal details of your own integrated calendars.
With all bookings in one place, you can be sure you have the most accurate information and schedule remote teams with confidence.
2. Capacity planning – Manage team health
In a remote setting, it’s not as easy to have your finger on the pulse and know how your team is feeling. But staying on top of their workloads and managing their time is your job as a remote project manager.
This is where capacity planning comes into the picture.
Remote or not, capacity planning is your key to getting ahead of workload issues, managing burnout, and improving engagement among employees. It’ll help you spot workload issues early on or help you quickly identify when you don’t have the people you need for upcoming projects. This could mean two things: employees are overbooked and workloads are getting to an unmanageable point. Or they are booked for other projects or on vacation, and you need to hire freelancers or contract workers.
On the other extreme, if employee hours aren’t being utilized and team members are waiting around for the next task, you’ll know just from a quick glance at utilization rates. None of these scenarios are ideal of course, but it happens! A capacity planning feature will help you stay on top of any capacity issues that might arise, so you can be proactive about fixing the issues, especially when it comes to burnout.
The Great Resignation sparked by the pandemic was a direct result of employee burnout. And deeper research into the factors that lead to burnout points to chronic workplace stress, unreasonable workloads, and low employee morale. This means, as a project leader, you want to plan ahead and assign workloads based on human capacity, not hourly calculations.
Simply put, book employees for no more than 80% of their hours to leave flexibility for an unexpected pivot in project scope, a few sick days, or to account for time spent on administrative tasks.
Without a capacity planning feature – especially in a remote workplace – you won’t know whether you’re over allocating a team member or which team members can help ease the workload. A resource management tool with a capacity planning feature gives you this information right away, helping you stay on track for current projects and plan for upcoming projects.
Capacity planning is integral to project success, especially in a remote environment where team members might set their own schedules or work in different time zones. Ideally, a capacity planning feature gives you the ability to filter by skills, location, and time zones, so you can put together your project dream team by sourcing the right talent. For instance, if you need a design team for a project that requires heavy synchronous collaboration and many meetings, you don’t want to book three designers who live in time zones with little overlap.
With Resource Guru’s custom fields and filters, you can easily see which team members have specific skills, are available over the coming weeks, and are in the same time zone. Once the logistics are taken care of, your team can focus on remote collaboration and produce quality work instead of dozing off at a 6 am meeting.
“Resource Guru is simple to use. It allows us to optimize our resources and keeps an eye on every project.”
3. Resource scheduling – Goodbye overallocation issues
Scheduling software can be clunky and confusing, leading to more hassle than you began with. Your remote project management tool needs to have features that streamline scheduling and prevent overallocation.
With Resource Guru, you can view team schedules at a glance and make adjustments with a simple drag-and-drop interface. Plus, you can extend, contract, or duplicate bookings to rebalance workloads and keep up with the many moving pieces of project planning.
The availability bar is a resource scheduling feature that provides a quick reference point for assessing the workload of each employee. It gets shorter as an employee’s hours get booked and when you book an employee beyond their billable hours, it turns red, drawing your attention to the overbooking.
This helps you utilize employee hours at an optimum level and gives you instant visibility into who’s overworked and who’s bored.
4. Clash management – The end of double bookings
A big challenge in remote project management is staying ahead of double bookings—employees who are assigned to two or more projects simultaneously tend to work extra hours and rack up overtime expenses for the company. This is a lose-lose situation because employees give up their work-life balance. Eventually, they feel stressed out and either miss deadlines or rush and produce poor-quality work. This, in turn, leads to customer dissatisfaction and churn, which is bad news for your company’s bottom line.
A booking clash management feature helps you proactively avoid over allocating people. In Resource Guru, this feature forces you to make a choice if you try to add a booking that clashes with an existing one. You either add overtime or add the project to the person’s waiting list. Waitlisted bookings need to be resolved by moving the booking to another date or freeing up the team member’s time on those days.
This way, you prioritize tasks, make calculated decisions, and keep your remote projects in order.
5. Keyboard shortcuts – Less scrolling means increased productivity
Keyboard shortcuts may not seem like a super important feature at first, but when you’re an enterprise company or a large agency trying to schedule teams, equipment, and meeting rooms, all of a sudden, shortcuts become daily time savers. Less scrolling? Yes, please.
At Resource Guru, our recently released “Go” shortcut helps you find people or resources faster. When you’re in the Schedule, you can jump to people and resources faster by simply typing G for GO, and then pressing the first letter of a person’s name (e.g “T” for Tom). Next, you’ll land right on that letter, finding Tom much quicker than you would when scrolling through the Schedule.
Different remote project management tools offer different shortcuts, but you definitely want shortcuts that save time and eliminate repetitive tasks.
6. Leave management – Because time off means time off
Leave management is a must-have feature in your remote project management tool, especially because your co-workers can’t physically show up at your desk with a reminder that they’re off to Malta next week. Plus, the last thing you want is to get blindsided by an employee’s vacation.
In remote companies, time off needs serious documentation, and a leave management feature can take care of the details. Whether team members are going on parental leave, working part-time for a few months, or booking paid time off, you can plan workloads in the context of time off and keep things running smoothly even in their absence. PTO shouldn’t be one of the reasons 70% of all projects fail.
Most importantly, you can plan in advance if you need a full-time employee for coverage or if a few hours from a freelancer will be sufficient. Protect your workflows from disruption with detailed records of sick time, PTO, or personal leave.
“Resource Guru has the perfect balance of simplicity and detail. It’s easy to see where issues might arise.”
7. Search and filters – Find who and what you need, faster
Search and filters are powerful and necessary features of any tool. As a remote project manager, you’ll want to be able to quickly find people and projects without having to dig deep.
For example, the ability to search and filter among your pool of people, projects, and other resources makes it easier for you to:
- Find people and resources in the right location
- Find people on the right team
- Find people with the right skills
- Find people with the right areas of expertise
- See who’s been booked for specific projects or clients
This way, you’ll be able to find the right people for the right projects, and ensure that your projects run smoothly without any resource allocation issues due to skillset or experience.
In Resource Guru, you’ll have default filters immediately available, such as Job Title and Skills but you can also create custom fields to add any filters that would be useful for your team or business.
You can add more general fields such as “Location” and “Team” or add “Strengths” and “Weaknesses” to find the best team for your projects. Or why not try something less conventional like “Favorite project type” or “Client deal breakers?”
With custom fields, you can create fields and filter among your resources in a way that works for your specific needs. Because the more you know about your resources, the better off your projects are.
8. Project forecasting reports – Stay on top of project health
Many projects are canceled even at late stages if the forecast for success isn’t up to expectations. By using project forecasting reports, you can see the big picture and zoom into the little details to make sure there are no surprises along the way.
With Resource Guru, you can analyze which projects and clients are consuming the most time and resources, the amount of time spent on work that you don’t charge clients for, and whether you are over-servicing or under-servicing your clients. The reports even include time-off data so that you get a clear picture of how vacation, sickness, and other types of leave are impacting your business. This clarity helps you distill where your time is going, what’s working, and what needs to improve, so you can get more accurate with project forecasting and budgeting.
Managing projects is tricky business, and the reporting feature makes it easy to view performance in terms of numbers, whether you need stakeholder buy-in or to do things differently for the next project. Plus, you can even download Excel reports if you want to analyze the data in different ways or share it more widely.
Do a trial run of your project management tool before you purchase
Even if your project management software checks all the boxes, sign up for a trial run to see if it’s the right one for your needs. Most tools offer a free trial, and it’s your chance to explore the features in action and see whether it’s worth the investment. Plus, there may be features you don’t end up using, which means you could choose a lower-priced tier and still have a tool to manage remote projects.
Want to try Resource Guru? Start a 30-day free trial. No commitment. No strings attached. Just better scheduling. Sign up now.
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