Remote project management and virtual teams can be a great project model if your organization allows it and your staff is focused on productivity. Are you a project manager who needs to pitch the concept of remote project management to your PMO director? Or are you a PMO director or CIO or corporate exec building your project management model and you need to pitch the virtual project management team model to your CEO or the rest of your leadership team?
Here are a few arguments that can be made for remote project management from my perspective as I've been doing it successfully for most of the past 12 years or so.
1. You have access to the best talent in the world.
This is more of an argument for the entire virtual team, not just remote project management. But that's most of the model I know since I've been working with a very geographically dispersed project team model for most or all of those 12 years. Utilizing talented development resources working offshore allows you to get the best of the best without the cost to relocate them (and usually they would not want to relocate so this is the only way you can get them on your staff or on your projects).
About the only negative is the issue with timezone differences, but most are happy to work with you in your timezone – or in the case of an entire team of developers – have one designated contact that will be available during your hours.
2. Your profit margin increases and you can win more projects.
By utilizing offshore development teams, you can obtain entire offshore teams that are co-located to work on your projects and usually at a fraction of the cost of local resources. This model increases your project profit margins allowing you to bid lower and win more projects than your competition.
3. Project managers are freed up for real work when it's needed.
In 12 years of remote PM work, I've rarely had a situation where I said to myself, “this would be better if I could drive to an office somewhere.” In fact, there has only been one project in the past years where more than half of my project team was local to me. For that project, I did spend some time in the office, but it really wasn't necessary.
4. The overall cost savings and productivity can be high.
This, of course, depends on the organization, but remote / virtual teams – from my experience – have been more productive, cost less money due to more efficient meetings, less travel and high use of electronic communication, and the ability to connect with the client whenever necessary by someone key to the team. The customer isn't co-located, so why should the team be? But we are ready, willing and able to support that customer literally on a moment's notice and can do so for very little cost with the remote / virtual model.