In IT more and more assignments are becoming remote. It decreases waste of mutual time and resources, mitigates costs and most importantly with the right management and controls gets the job done as efficiently as any other method. With the right management even better. In my last company we all worked from home and got a lot of work done and continue to do so. IT today is getting more and more into a Home office mode almost as a prediction to Bill gates 1997 statement, 'In a decade it will not matter where you live as resource will be available
Remote can be on-off site, off-site or offshore. The most important decision prior to any remote work is to identify what can be accomplished remotely and what needs on-site participation. The baseline to working remotely is having a strong remote leadership and keeping all communication channels as if the team is sitting in the same room.
For our example we shall use a BW-on-HANA (BoH) Migration project as it contains all the ingredients of the IT project that we are trying to accomplish. Over the last 10 years or so as I have moved from 100% on-site to a mix of remote here is my KnowledgeShare© on what makes remote work successful
1. Manage Remote attributes: The most critical part of running any project is to be able to clearly define what needs on-site and/or remote participation. As a fundamental rule any rule based technical work can very efficiently be accomplished remotely. And all work dealing with business or customer interaction must be done on-site.
Business Case 1: For example if there is a need to build a custom Business solution, which is becoming more and more critical as the basic BoH migrations mature or as an early stage of building a business case for decision enhancement, where there is a critical need for business interaction are all on-site tasks. The Business Case, Functional Specs, Analytics UI and end deliverable look-and-feel are all on-site tasks. The design, build, test are tasks that can be done remotely. The UAT is on-site followed by release to production and support which can be accomplished remotely.
Business case 2: For a BoH migration from an existing BW. All strategic planning, i.e. HANA business and IT Solution including building the business case by tasks should be planned as on-site activities. Tasks like selection of System mergers (where more than 1 BW is involved), TCO reduction, automated cube cleanup, basic housekeeping cleanup, hot/cold deployment decisions and POC task planning must all be accomplished on-site. Once the basic plan is in place then the actual HANA technical aspects like Cloud installation/access, DR setup, appliance testing, project management, cleanup, automated cube cleanup, db migration, hot/cold deployments and core team tests can all be done remotely. UAT can be done on with a skeleton staff on-site and real-time issue resolution remotely. Final approval and move to production, security setup, switching users and other pre-production tasks can be mostly accomplished remotely.
At an executive level all rule based technical tasks are ideal for remote work. All business interaction tasks are best done on-site. At the end a 85/15 team of remote and on-site has proven to be the most efficient model in any BI project other than a net-new installation.
At an individual level ensure that your role is aligned to your skills and that tasks assigned to you are things you will be able to accomplish.
2. Project Management: One of the most critical aspects to stellar remote success is the role, responsibility and experience of the PM in managing disparate project members and teams. The PM needs to manage roles vs. skills, daily task management, communications / meeting with key stakeholders, issue resolutions and most importantly resource loads and balancing. The PM is a critical component in any mixed project and he would be the SPOC for managing all the balance five aspects of a creating a stellar remote managed operation. Before on-boarding the full team the PM must have a role map loaded with a project owner, steering committee members, project plan, business individual skill profiles, individual acceptance of tasks allocated to resources, daily tasks tracker, business case with deliverable benchmarks, Technical case with Infrastructure- architecture- and other technical details, project charter, project communications, risk mitigation plan, regional SPOC for remote teams, resource utilization and an issue folder in a shared drive
At an individual level ensure you sit with your PM initially and through the project and segregate tasks assigned to you, time allocated, and your personal commitment that both are professionally correct and deliverable. Delay good news, raise the red flag as you see an issue.
3. Daily communications: One of the most critical success factors for remote management is communications. The PM must reach out to each resource individually for a 10 minute call to check what they plan to accomplish that day with a follow through of what was accomplished by the end-of-day. This ensures that each resource is loaded appropriately and ownership and accountability is managed professionally. It also allows for resource re-allocation when certain tasks get accomplished faster than planned and other delayed for any reason- requiring resource reallocation. The PM must track daily activities, raise any issues to the Steering committee members as they become apparent and prepare the weekly status update on a daily
At an individual level make sure your agenda is loaded with daily meeting, daily communications with team stakeholders for dependencies and joint activities. Make it mandatory to check in daily and talk to your PM early – even if they sometimes forget to call you. Talk daily to your task-partners daily. Share your wins and document your issues daily. Be generous with your solutions and other will share theirs with you. Do not sit in isolation hoping things will fall into place somehow.
4. Schedule a semi-weekly meeting: Mandatory meetings with the core team members preferably on a Tue and Thursday when all team members must participate. As a rule Monday and Friday meeting do not work as there is no gap between Friday and Monday, and also if tasks are missed on Friday there is no time to ramp up by Monday. Once a week meeting is too few as there is no reaction/ catch-up time by week.
At an individual level ensure you send your task and accomplishment details to your PM the morning of the meeting so there are no embarrassing gaps in the full-team members. Stay ahead of the curve with your tasks and commitments. Be prepared for all questions on your tasks as you do not want to get into a situation that you do not have the answer in front of you. Do not guess or shoot from the hips - if details are not available state that you will send in the next ‘N’ hours and follow through.
Make success a personal Goal: Any project is a team and individual success. If one member fails then the whole team fails and if each member succeeds then the team succeeds. Do not leave anything to change and make success your personal and only option. If your success requires assistance from other members ask for it. If the role /task assigned to you is outside your skill comfort zone then point it out early. Make success a personal goal as this will help you enjoy your co-workers, your management, and most importantly your project.