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New Post 10/11/2020 7:18 PM
User is offline M8YGB
1 posts
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Requirements and management of remotely located teams 

Hello All,

Seeking some expertise. Have you worked on a project where teams are spread across different regions (geographically)? If yes, would like to understand -

1. how requirements were handled if stakeholders were spread across,

2. teams were handled / managed to ensure that the project sails smooth?

3. Also, what are the challenges and how did one overcome them?

Thanks in advance.

 
New Post 3/11/2021 2:17 AM
User is offline Stewart F
100 posts
7th Level Poster


Re: Requirements and management of remotely located teams 

Hi MBYGB, 

I've had the pleasure of this a few times. A mixture of those that were in the same country as me and those that weren't.

Lets answer your questions one by one:

1. How are requirements handled if stakeholders were spread across [regions]?

This depends to a degree on how imprtant that stakeholder is to your project and how far away they are. Usually in any given project, there is one or sometimes two stakeholders who are more crucial to your success than others. Where this is the case, if at all possible I would take the time to arrange a meeting with them at their office and go and visit them for a one to one. Obviously in current times with Covid etc that may not be possible, but lets assume it is for a second. Why meet them face to face? Well to start off with, they will always be more willing to focus on you and your project's needs, rather than be distracted by other work. Secondly, you can create a better work rapor with them and that always leads to a better working relationship. So where possible, always try to meet them.

Those Stakeholders who maybe aren't quite as important or you are unable to visit, arrange to use a video calling service (Teams, Zoom, Skype etc). Its more personal and again, you can ensure that you have a better hold of their attnetion. Build a rapor with them via this platform. Its a bit more tricky to do, but by no means impossible.

Whichever way you use, just because the Stakeholder is not in the same office or location as you, shouldn't really make a difference. You can still talk to them by a number of channels these days, and get your requirements through those dicussions. If you need to have a group discussion, then get them all on a video call so they can partake in the meeting just as if they were there in person. Remember, as the hoster, make sure you go to them and ask their thoughts etc. It's easy to forget/ignore/over speak someone who is on a conference call line. So make sure they feel part of the call by including them regularly.

If for any reason they are in a different time zone (had that a few times) then you can do one of two things. Either, arrange a time to call them which is in the middle of both working days (if possible) or, if that really isn't an option, ask your questions in written format. This is really the last option you should use, but if you must, then do. The problem with this is that things become out of context/open to mis-interpretation. I've been known to hold project calls with people in different time zones at 2am my time. I needed to speak to them and had no other option. If thats true for you, speak to your manager and maybe HR and see if you can work such a day once a week. Remember to add this to the Project Managers list of Risks and Issues log as it could affect your project.

2. How to manage teams

In these times, if you are anything like me, you have most, if not all of your team working from home. This can be almost anywhere geographically, but the way you manage them will not fundamentaly change. Some key points that I implemented when this started:

a. Make sure everyone in your team has two ways (or more) to contact you. Ideally your email and/or a Teams type messaging system.  The second should be a mobile number. The reason for this is that by having two ways, it makes your team members feel less cut off. It also means that if they have an urgent problem (not necessarily work related) they can get hold of you quickly. 

b. Any meeting that you held previously - carry on holding now. If your company has a video messaging system such as Zoom, Teams or Skype then use that. If they dont, speak to your IT department about getting one set up. Its always best to see your team members face to face, even if it is digitally. Your basic processes that you use for any project or day to day management of your team should not change, If you hold a Stand-up every morning then carry on doing so. If you do a 'Show-And'Tell' every other Friday, then do that as well. Just do it via Zoom/Teams/Skpye etc. 

c. I also hold fotnightly one-to ones with my team. Again on Zoom etc. In addition to my normal questions ("Hows the project going etc") I also ask them how they are doing. Mental Health is a big feature these days, and rightly so. But just by asking your team memember "How are you?" makes a really big difference. It makes them feel wanted and appreciated. Something that is easily forgotten these days. Dont expect them to come to you, You go to them. If they need 30 minutees to talk to you becasue they are finding life tough, then book out 45 minutes and try to help them. 

3. What are the challenges?

I've gone through a few already, but the biggest challenge is to assume that your project members are fine, just becasuse they haven't said anything. In these times, working remotely, its very easy to forget that human beings obtain 75% of their understanding through facial expressions. If those expressions can't be seen, the likleihood is that people won't understand. Make sure they do but YOU putting in that bit of extra effort. Don't just email becuase it'd quicker. Speak to them on the phone, or even better video call them. 

The biggest challenge I ever had was working with team and project members in a different continent. India to be precise. They were 8 hours ahead of us. So arranging meetings etc can be tricky. But if you put in the effort (hold your team meetings with them at 4pm rather than 8am) then it can work. 

My adivse. Quickly capture all the meetings and discussons you normally have during the week. Look at them one by one and see what, if any, changes you need to make to ensure they still happen and happen effectively. Do you need to circulate an agenda the day before? Do you need to send out a Conf Call link beforehand. Practice to make sure the technology works by holding a team meeting and telling everyone that x,y,z is how you plan to work from now on. Make sure everyone is fine with that. Do they have little ones to look after, in which case can you work around that or need to give thought to meeting times? Are there others who aren't normally included in your meetings, but should be now? A scrum master for example?

Overal, just because your team members and/or project members aren't in the same office, doesn't mean that work stops. It carries on as before, just a little differently. 

 
New Post 3/14/2021 4:54 PM
User is offline Adrian M.
739 posts
3rd Level Poster




Re: Requirements and management of remotely located teams 

Stewart - awesome advice on remote requirements elicitation and team management.

Thank you,

Adrian


Adrian Marchis
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