7 Secrets to Successful Online Team Projects

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Have you just found out that you are the new leader of a team of 10 people?

OR

Do you have the SEEMINGLY impossible task of managing 10 people living in all the major and not so major countries of the world, because of the structure of your company?

This will start to happen more and more as companies go global in the near future.  The necessity to cut back on staffing may mean that one “field office” is staffed by one person.

It doesn’t matter if the team is all together in the same office, building or town.  The team can be all over the world.

But for any number of reasons, the individuals still have to meet.  And more importantly …. PRODUCE.

So, what is it that you want to do?

Create a product, solution or script for sales on the internet?

Write a community cookbook to raise money?

It can be done – by using one of the oldest tricks in the world –

MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK!

Secret #1 – GET A GROUP !

The first thing to do is get your group.

How you do this will depend on the sort of group you want to form and where those people are hanging out.

So, how can you find your people?

If you are a member of a group or forum it may be easy to announce the intention to form a group  –

As a part of that announcement you may want to share a bit about the project you have in mind.  This allows people to decide if the project is within their interest range.

Also let them know the expected duration of the project.

If this group is to work together on a voluntary basis one important factor will be maintaining interest and motivation levels.  This is easier if the group has a common interest and vision.

Individuals that volunteer will usually be pretty keen to stay with the process – but out of 10 the number of participants dwindles to 6 or 7 active players if the project lasts for more than 2 months.

If you are leading the group for work the team members will be slightly MORE motivated because they are being paid to be…….  But the stats will stay the same … they just won’t be participating as actively as the others.

To make sure that the drive and motivation continues to happens it is to set some goals for the group.

Secret #2 – Know what you want to do…have a PLAN

What are the project outcomes?

What ULTIMATELY is the goal of the project?

What is the best case scenario?

And the WORST that can happen?

Write it all down – preparing for the worst can help you act when the time comes.

And when the time comes don’t be afraid to make a decision – ACT – it is the most important thing you can do.

First some goals need to be set by the leader.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT GOALS IS TO HAVE THE TEAM WORKING AS A COHESIVE UNIT !!

Make sure that respect is emphasized to them and each must listen to the others ideas. It is vital for the process to work that each person feels they are heard.

THE QUARTER SYSTEM

Breaking up a large project into 4 phases makes it possible to plan timeframes and scheduling.

By using quarters each Major Change is identified.

Break each Major Change further down into Primary Steps

If necessary – break each Primary Step down into Robot Steps. Robot Steps are instructions that are numbered and follow a simple, logical sequence of actions or observations.  This is showing them what you are telling them, rather than just telling them.

For example: This is a Primary Set of Steps (1-5).

But each of those Primary Steps needs to be further broken down into their own set of instructions.

These Robot Steps are simple and follow a logical progression of actions or information.  Robot Steps for registering a domain name might look like this.

  1. Registration of a Domain Name
    1. Decide how much money you have to spend for your domain name.
    2. Decide what sort of hosting you need (if it is included in the purchase of the domain)
      1. i.      Be aware that some “free” hosting services advertise on your site for the “free” payoff.
      2. ii.      Will you be needing the domain for a business, and if so will you be needing a lot of storage space
  2. Ask peers if they know of any that they are happy with
  3. Decide on the company you want to buy your domain from and
    1. i.      Go to their website
    2. ii.      Search to see if the domain you want is available
    3. iii.      If it is, click to proceed to the payment section
    4. iv.      If it is not available, go back and think of another name;
    5. v.      Keep trying to you get one and
    6. vi.      Follow through with the payment process.
    7. vii.      Print a copy of the receipt for your records.
    8. viii.      If you did not get hosting with the Domain Company go to Step 2.
    9. Decide on the Hosting Company and
      1. i.      Go to their website
      2. ii.      Find the tab “signing up for hosting”
      3. iii.      Choose the plan you want
      4. iv.      Search to see if the domain name you want is available.
      5. v.      ETC

You get the idea – break the process down.  Even if the team members are experienced, they will feel more comfortable if they know what is expected of them.

By providing information of each step, the individual team members will know which steps they can accomplish and which they may want help with – everyone will have their own set of skills. They will share knowledge with each other if encouraged to do so.

It is important that individuals with knowledge share with those that don’t and everyone knows something better than the person next to them.

By using the quarter system people feel comfortable knowing their turn to shine is coming up.

So to create a Plan you must begin to visualize the process, broken into 4 phases.

What are the most logical breaks in information, obvious changes focus.

Map this plan out onto a mind map. Planning this way makes the obvious flaws or holes in the plan show up.  It may reveal that a step is out of sequence within the process.

More on the Quarter systems is available at  www. ??{:>).com  !

Secret #3: Define SKILLS needed to get the job done

For most group projects there will be a number of skills the team members will need to possess or as mentioned earlier, learn.

By breaking down each step towards the conclusion of the project it is possible to discern the skills and tools needed.  Usually there is a certain amount of research in addition to the up-skilling, and team members must commit a certain amount of time to the process.

Have a look at each step in your plan.

If they need to be able to open, read and respond to emails make a note of it.

Once you have the process broken into Primary and Robot Steps you can assess what skills will be required to accomplish the goals you set in accomplishing Secret #2.

Secret #4:  Know what TOOLS you need

Once you have decided the skills needed to complete the project find people that can do the jobs or be taught to do them.

One of the tools that comes in handy is a Project Planner.

Find a tool to assess them – in order to do this define exactly what it is you want them to do, and the skills they will possess to get the job done.

If they don’t know all the skills, it is OK because you get to teach them something and that gives value to the experience for them.

OR you may have enough people already waiting to get a group going – but lack the direction necessary to get started. How do you proceed?

So, define the skills you need to complete the project.

So, what is it that you want to do?

Create a product, solution or script for sales on the internet?

What if you have a great idea for a product – but lack skills in a certain area.

Get a tool for your applicants to fill out.

So, some tools may be:

  • Forms
  • Work books
  • Tables
  • Mind maps
  • A Notebook

Huh?  Wait a minute, A Notebook?

Yes, a notebook.

A notebook is the best tool going.

Why?

You can record everything in it –  If needed they can be used in a court of law (generally speaking) if the writing is congruent.  Meaning the pages follow on one to the next.

Keep track of what team members say during meetings

Make note of ideas

Secret #5:  Give the team plenty of INFORMATION

REMEMBER THE “CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE”

The members of the team will want to learn as much as they can.

Providing information for each step of the process is important to the learning process.

Even if it is a work team – the members will still need a sense of satisfaction at the end of the project.

Deliver masses of information to them.  Guide them towards resources, and provide tools to make each phase clear.  Detailed instructions in a workbook format are helpful. Keep a spiral note book with pockets and record conversation, decision, then give this information back to them in the form of the Status Report – continue to update with as much information as you can provide.

Secret #6: Define how all COMMUNICATION will be done –

COMMUNICATE OFTEN

What do you communicate?

MEETINGS

Group Meetings

Scheduling a meeting and notifying the team

Have an Agenda

Tell them what points will be covered and to ask questions at the end of each point – if things they want to cover haven’t been – do so before the end of the meeting

SHORT BURSTS OF INFORMATION

Instructions

AS SOON AS THE GROUP IS FORMED

Hold a meeting let them talk and get to know each other

Have them talk about what they are comfortable doing and what they would like to learn

People that are involved in a group or team project will usually have some outcomes they are expecting.

It is important find these expectation out.

AT THE BEGINNING AND ENDING OF EACH PHASE OF A PROJECT

Deliver instructions along with Status table and Mind Map

If they ask any question sor have any concerns about the tasks that make up that quarter

EMERGENCY SITUATION OR PROCLAMATIONS

Concerns with the server

Script flaws

Deliverables that become non-deliverables

VOTING

Secret #7:  Understand the tricks of OUTSOURCING

A great way to achieve any project you want to in a short amount of time is by Outsourcing – a lot has been written about outsourcing.

And outsourcing is an excellent way of leveraging time and skills. It’s one of the tricks of the trade that the big time players on the internet don’t want you to know.

It’s just like washing the car – or having it detailed.  If you really enjoy washing and detailing your car you can spend all day on Saturday doing so.  But if you prefer to go sailing or golfing on a Saturday – you may want to pay someone on the Friday to do it for you.

That is outsourcing the car wash!

Or the housework, gardens – any of those jobs are commonly performed by “out sourcers”.

These angels come in many forms.  There are free lance angels and talent you can get from agencies/online auction sites.  Be very clear about what you want them to achieve and in what time frame.

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