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How to Manage a Virtual Team

 A list of the best software to manage a decentralized business

Working remotely is one of the best avenues agencies and companies have taken in the last decade, and there are even more convenient ways to improve such dispersed collaboration and communication. Widely distributed companies have found the perfect way to cut expenses that would typically come with a brick and mortar space and source global talent. One of the biggest challenges of living online is managing a global team. It's quite challenging to have the same managing style across the board, especially if your group consists of people living in different countries with a variety of time zones and cultural differences. However, there are multiple platforms developed to help manage the 'digital nomad.' 

One of the biggest challenges facing digital-living companies is communication. Time zones are challenging, but if there isn't a system in place to improve communication, not only between management and the team but also amongst team members themselves, it could prove detrimental to the business. Accountability is also a well-known issue for digital-living companies, even with robust hiring systems; often, we find ourselves dealing with contractors that fail to reach deadlines or complete tasks and consequently affecting others in the team.

 Here are a few examples of applications you can use to improve collaboration and communication amongst your virtual team members.

Best platforms for management

1. Project Management

2. Payments

3. CRM

4. Documentation

5. Communication

6. Attendance Management

Project Management

Trello

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Just like their site mentions, Trello is a fun, flexible, and free way to organize plans, projects. It uses a fantastic kanban-style digital organizer. Trello provides the opportunity for teams to collaborate and share boards where you can add multiple cards; it looks very similar to making several lists, you can add infinite 'items' on each list and move them around accordingly. Trello is a highly visual platform with design and usability that provides the opportunity to breakdown items in great detail while also making them easy to follow, understand, and implement. Many virtual teams use Trello to share projects, check the status of a project, and provide essential information that is visible to everyone in their organization.

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Many of Trello features are free to use. However, there is a limit to how much you can do and how many teammates can be added under free usability. If you have a growing team that requires unlimited features, add-ons, and automation, then paying for a membership is a must.

Airtable

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Similar to Trello, this cloud collaboration platform also provides the opportunity to add tasks, assign people to them, and track the status of different items. It works more like a spreadsheet by making more details visible at a glance. A great benefit of Airtable is that it can store a considerable amount of data in their database, therefore creating dynamic views to let you sort everything from primary data to complex tasks with custom filters and parameters.

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Both of these project management tools have several similarities, yet their unique benefits. The goal is to give access to multiple projects to team members across the globe, provide them the opportunity to add notes, attachments, or descriptions to update their status and make all projects run seamlessly.

We highly recommend allowing your management team to review the features of each platform and see which one is more suitable for your style of work.

Payments

One of the biggest challenges virtual teams are experiencing is sending and receiving payments. Payment regulations vary significantly between countries; this proves to be a big problem if you're using features such as wire-transfers; they take so much in commissions that the recipient ends up getting a different amount than expected.  Wire transfers also make it difficult for your virtual worker to collect their payment promptly.

Xoom

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This platform proves to be effective and secure when it comes to digital money transfers. It is considered a feature from Paypal, making the integration effortless and fast if you have a Paypal account from where you receive payments from your clients. Xoom can have people from your team receive their payment within hours.

Veem

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Another global payment platform that is making it easy for companies to send payment to their virtual teams. Veem has a long list of countries you can send and receive payments from; the process is just as seamless as Xoom and charges per transaction.

Both Veem and Xoom send payments to your virtual team's bank account directly, and both charge per transaction. A great feature of these platforms is that they are known for being safe and protected. Veem is Comodo certified, and Xoom is VeriSign certified; they keep your data and personal information safe with up-to-date encryption and advanced protocols.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management

CRM products are the most popular platform used by both virtual and local teams to manage the business. CRM is most valuable when there is a sales team or if your company is lead-based. However, some CRMs are so diverse they can be used for much more than just sales and can increase the efficiency in multiple teams.

Pipedrive

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This CRM platform's primary focus is sales and doesn't leave room for much else unless you want to get creative. The great thing about Pipedrive is that (similar to Trello), it has Kanban-style types of pipelines, making it easier to track leads and move them according to your setup goals. Pipedrive also offers the opportunity to add the contact information of each lead and cost per lead, which helps when you measure customer acquisition.

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Salesforce

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The #1 CRM platform in the world, Salesforce gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service — a single, shared view of every customer's journey, again, highly effective if your business focuses on lead-generation. Salesforce has a robust system for analytics that can provide essential insights to multiple departments within your company. Company size is irrelevant in regards to what you can accomplish with Salesforce as it is customizable and a powerful tool capable of aiding companies of any size.

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Hubspot

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Hubspot is the one-stop-shop CRM for the one-stop-shop Agency. It's the most popular CRM platform for Marketing and Advertising agencies, and especially virtual agencies, as it provides a complete overview of all of the intricacies that come with managing a client's inbound marketing and sales efforts, along with your business efforts. Similar to Salesforce, Hubspot provides tools for your whole department without focusing too much on lead-generation business; it has an excellent tracking and analytics system along with a project management board for your team to track their objectives. Hubspot also has a High Academy for your team to learn and improve efforts on all departments and optimize your team's skillset.

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Documentation

HelloSign

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Legally binding contracts, business documents, etc. can all live within this platform. HelloSign provides the opportunity to fill documents, add check-boxes, and digital signatures from multiple parties; sharing is made easy and efficient. Not everyone needs to signup to the platform to have access to a document and sign it, which is a great benefit that's rare to find on similar platforms. Records can be sent by email, downloaded, or you can keep them stored in your HelloSign dashboard, giving access to documents to your virtual team.

Communication

Slack

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Slack has been in business for only six years, but it has become one of the most popular and most used platforms for team communication. Think of a live chat and your google drive combined. Slack's popularity and effectiveness can be contributed to the different #channels you can create to organize your team's communication. In creating these channels, you are giving your virtual team the ability to allocate the topic of conversation properly, so messages are not convoluted, and vital notifications are not lost within a long messaging feed.

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Zoom

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Zoom is a video and web conferencing platform that is most effective when used for virtual team meetings. You can give each team their own 'room' where they can schedule meetings with other team members and meetings with external clients and vendors. Zoom can attribute their success to their product being reliable and providing high video quality.

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Attendance Management

If your virtual team works by shifts, by the hour or moves around to different locations, these are the best platforms to organize their schedules.

TSheets

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TSheets is the most popular platform for attendance management. TSheets gives you the ability to add multiple workers and assign them to specific shifts, whether it be by the hour, location, or the client. TSheets also allows your virtual team to clock-in through their mobile app, which records their location and their movements, which is excellent for on-the-ground salespeople that visit clients at multiple sites in one day.

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WhenIWork

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Similar to TSheets, this platform provides scheduling, locations tracking, and clock-in/clock-out features. It's accessible as a web or mobile application, making it easier for remote users. WhenIWork is the most cost-effective alternative, especially if the team needing this type of platform is relatively small.

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All of the platforms mentioned help prove that managing virtual teams is not only possible, but help make the digital working environment agile. These products help show that we are not becoming a gig-economy but rather a decentralized economy where largely distributed businesses are proving time and time again to be a success. It allows companies to provide opportunities on a global scale, and to improve collaboration and communications amongst members of one organization. 

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