Best Project Management Tools To Manage Offshore Dedicated Teams

Best Project Management Tools To Manage Offshore Dedicated Teams

Worried about failed offshoring experiences? Here are some best project management tools to redefine the way you manage offshoring.

It was a usual workday. James Hills, the president of the U.S.-based marketing firm MarketingHelpNet, opened his laptop to check his emails. No emails. His website didn’t exist either. 

It took Hills a few moments to realize what had happened. His offshore web development vendors in the Philippines had simply shut it all down. Because of a dispute. 

It’s a real-life story. Not fiction. 

Offshoring Horror Stories Do Exist

The James Hills case is an extreme. It is certainly not the only one, though. There are several other horror stories easily available in the public domain. Of offshoring gone bad

So much so that Google readily offers you the keywords “outsourcing failure stories”. Check it for yourself if you must. 

Do You Give Up Offshoring, Then?

That – we believe – is the other extreme. It is a typical knee-jerk reaction that throws the baby out with the bathwater. Cliches are cliches because they are true, you know. 

If you respond rather than react, you will be able to retain the advantages of offshoring without suffering its cons. 

Use these tools and enjoy a great offshoring experience.

7 Ways to Manage Offshore Teams With Clever PM Tools

You need these sets of tools to reap the benefits of offshoring without having management nightmares:

  • Project Management Tools
  • Communications Management Tools
  • Team Management Tools
  • Online Storage and Sharing Tools
  • Time Tracking Tools
  • Invoice Management Tools
  • Security Management Tools

There are smart tools and techniques to effectively handle each of these areas. However, do remember that in the ultimate analysis, how well you utilize the tools depends on several human actions. 

1. Project Management Tools

There are several highly popular ones: Jira, Proofhub, Slack, Trello, and so on. Choose the one that you and your offshoring partner feel most comfortable with. Create a project roadmap using the tool, focused on the Agile approach.

Jira

Jira software

Jira from Atlassian facilitates the application of the Agile approach. Users mention several preferred features of this tool. 

Key Features 

  • It helps in project task prioritization and bottleneck identification.
  • It allows a wide range of options to customize workflows with project milestones.added. A 2018 Jira Infographics informs that Jira customers use 400 different workflows on an average.
  • Advanced reporting, search, and filtering options, with historic business data consolidated in one hub.
  • Advanced security options with a wide range of tools for developers to track bugs and issues. 
  • Easy applicability across devices as it supports both android and OS mobile apps.
  • Easily scalable as per project need. As per the Infographics, Jira’s largest customer had more than 4,200 projects.

Pros

  • Usable for both tech and non-tech projects
  • Highly customizable
  • Great roadmap support
  • Easy integration with third-party tools
  • Particularly good for Agile

Cons

  • File upload limit of 10 MB
  • The mobile app is not as good as the web version
  • Graphical reports lose clarity when downloaded and it is not possible to reuse reports.

Pricing

Jira

Proofhub

ProofHUB

Apart from project tracking and task management, Proofhub also enables chats, discussions, and collaboration for proofing. It facilitates time-tracking for each task even during multitasking. It can also generate custom reports in addition to default reports. Its wide capabilities make Proofhub one of the best project management tools.  

Key Features

  • All-in-one workstation. It allows planning, organizing, and collaboration.  It allows assigning projects in private workspaces. 
  • Workflows and dashboards with to-do lists, time-tracking, events, and milestones.
  • Delivers Gantt charts and reports. 
  • Customizable file upload options.
  • Proofhub’s built-in browser facilitates group chats.
  • Proofing is a special feature that facilitates providing feedback on different file types. 
  • Mobile and tablet compatible.
  • Advanced search options. 
  • Solid security options.

Pros

  • Advanced PM features
  • Easy to use
  • Easy integration
  • Good mobile optimization
  • Strong customer support

Cons

  • Too many notifications with no option to customize or limit them.
  • The interface is not too good and the UI can become problematic at times. 
  • Some users with large teams and complex projects are not happy.

Pricing

Proofhub

Trello

Trello logo

This one is an easy-to-use project management software with a strong collaboration feature. However, it does not offer reporting and time-tracking features.

Whichever PM tool you choose, the important point is to stick to it. Make sure that all project communication gets reflected on this platform. 

Discourage your offshore project manager to pick up the intercom and issue an instruction to three other team members. Get them into the habit of issuing instructions on the project management tool.

Hire Dedicated Front-end Experts

Key Features

  • Efficient task management and project tracking, complete with progress meters
  • Fast and detailed overview of the front and back of cards
  • Easy and appealing visual organization tools
  • Easy drag-and-drop function and in-line editing
  • Power-ups and email integration
  • Option to invite an unlimited number of members and voting features
  • Easy file attachment and other attachments upload
  • Issue identification and bug fixing
  • Efficient mobile optimization

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Strong reminder system
  • Functions in real-time
  • Mobile and tablet friendly
  • The robotic assistant named Butler in Trello power-up can perform a number of tasks and takes commands in simple English.

Cons

  • Limited storage space
  • No option to edit posted comments
  • Not too efficient for large and complex projects

Pricing

Trello

2. Communication Management Tools

Team meetings are necessary, whether your team is in-house or offshore. Even with the adoption of the most sophisticated and efficient project management tools. 

The special need for an offshore remote team is that you cannot have it in any of your office meeting rooms. You need to create an online platform for the meetings. 

There are several options for you to choose from. 

Skype

Skype

Skype remains one of the most preferred online video conferencing platforms. In 2017,  there were 1.33 billion Skype users all over the world, informs Statista. The estimated number of users by 2024 is 2.27 billion. 

Key Features

  • Audio and HD Video Calling
  • Diverse call options: Skype to Skype, Skype to Landline, Skype to Mobile, etc.
  • Chat/messaging options
  • Easy screen sharing
  • Recording and live subtitles option
  • End-to-end encryption option to keep messages private

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Allows group calls with no need for any extra features
  • Offers a secure calling experience
  • Even the paid plans are inexpensive
  • Adequate file sharing options
  • Excellent audio call quality

Cons

  • Not as good on mobiles as on laptops
  • Video quality can improve
  • Poor customer support

Pricing

Skype

Slack

Slack

Slack is mainly a messaging platform, which also allows the integration of third-party apps like Google Drive, ZenDesk, etc.  It allows both public and private messaging and archiving of documents. However, some users feel it works better as a communication platform in combination with a project management tool like Trello.

Key Features

  • Option to create one team with multiple channels or multiple teams with multiples channels
  • Easy to integrate with other tools.
  • Slackbot is a special feature which is a great automated reminder tool. 
  • Efficient task-tracking.
  • Easy note-taking option to collaborate through posts.
  • Efficient search options. 
  • Customizable shortcut and slash commands.
  • Supports audio and video calls.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Customized channel options
  • Easy to integrate with a wide range of apps
  • Useful for both big and small projects
  • Flexible enough to be adapted for different industries and needs
  • Good mobile optimization

Cons

  • Limited file storage
  • Conversations  get deleted after 14 days
  • Too many notifications.

Pricing

slack as a communication management tool

Zoom

Zoom

Zoom has emerged as a tough competitor to Skype. In January 2020, Zoom had 12.92 million active users, says CNBC. That is a 21% increase from where it ended in 2019. 

Key Features

  • HD Audio and video call facilities
  • Group video conferencing
  • Easy screen sharing
  • Accessible across devices
  • Recording option
  • Chat option available if meeting organizer allows it
  • Whiteboarding, polling, and remote control

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Highly versatile and scalable
  • Good audio and video quality
  • Easy webinar setup option
  • Integration option with other tools like Slack and Zapier

Cons

  • Can be expensive for large teams
  • Time limit on the free version is 40 minutes only
  • Recent security issues that have revealed automatic forced video when you have the app installed in your device

Pricing

Zoom

User Consensus on Skype and Zoom

  • Zoom works better for teams that need to have frequent video conferences.
  • Skype works better for teams more oriented towards holistic business solutions. 
  • As per the TrustRadius rating, Skype scores 7.9 out of 10 while Zoom’s score is 8.9.

Some Other Communications Tools 

While Skype and Zoom are the most popular tools for online team  interfaces,  there are several other tools that you may want to check out: 

Please note that the arrangement is alphabetical. It’s not a rating. 

3. Team Management Tools

All the tools we have been speaking about facilitate team collaboration. In this section, we present some team collaboration tools for special tasks. 

InVision 

Invision

This is an online team collaboration tool created by designers for designers. 

Key Features

  • Fast prototyping.
  • Quick and easy mock-ups that you can share with team members and/or clients when you want to. 
  • Real-time design meetings, whiteboarding, and collaboration.
  • Customizable design sharing and presentation. It is like looking at the actual website, which is very different from a jpeg or pdf version. 
  • User testing and feedback.
  • High-quality mobile optimization.

Pros

  • Very good for prototyping
  • Allows interactive designs with advanced transitions and animations
  • Designer can control and improve the presentation quality
  • Facilitates design collaborations
  • Version history, sync, and live share options 

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Long learning curve
  • Limited customer support

Pricing

InVision 

GitHub

GitHub

This is one of the most popular team management tools for software development. 

Key Features

  • Automated workflows with built-in CI/CD
  • Development security
  • Efficient collaborative code review
  • Useful apps and extensions
  • All codes and documents in one place
  • Hosting

Pros

  • Simple to learn and easy to use
  • Excellent team collaboration options
  • Solid security and reliability
  • Seamless GIT integration
  • Availability of code history and versions

Cons

  • Difficult to reverse bad merges
  • No mobile app component
  • Search options can be improved

Pricing

GitHub

4. Online Storage & Sharing Tools

This section presents the best tools you can use for the online storage of your project documents. With sharing facilities, of course. 

Google Drive

Google Drive

Google Drive continues to be one of the most popular storage and sharing online apps. Statista informs that in October 2019, Google topped the list of “most visited multi-platform web properties” in the U.S. It had nearly 259 million unique visitors from the U.S. alone.

An average of 1.7 billion people across the globe use Google on a daily basis. 

Key Features

  • You can store whatever you need 
  • Easy sharing
  • Synced with other Google apps like Gmail, Google Drawings, Google Forms, Google Photos, and Chromebook
  • Powerful search options
  • 15 GB storage free on Google with a Gmail account. 
  • Upgrade option for more storage space
  • Document scanning
  • Offline working facilities

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Multiple collaborators can work on the same document or spreadsheet
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Collaborative communication features like comments and messages
  • Easy integration with all other Google apps
  • 15 GB free space

Cons

  • Images embedded in other documents cannot be more than 2 MB.
  • There is room to improve the spreadsheet functions.
  • No backup for deleted files.

Pricing

Google Drive

Dropbox

Dropbox

A Forbes article states that at the end of the first quarter of the U.S. financial year 2018, Dropbox had 11.5 million users. 

Key Features

  • Comes with both free storage and paid extra storage options
  •  Secure storage and encryption security
  • Accessible from any device
  • Good backup
  • Efficient sharing options across different operating systems
  • Commenting on files
  • Retraceable earlier versions
  • Customizable notifications

Pros

  • Simple to learn and easy to use
  • Efficient file sharing
  • Access to different file versions
  • Can store photos etc. also
  • 2GB free space

Cons

  • App administrators can delete inactive accounts
  • Serious security concerns
  • Limited search options

Pricing

Dropbox

OneDrive

Onedrive

This is a Microsoft product. It is a good fit for Windows users, naturally. 

Key Features

  • Accessible from any device
  • Easy sharing also with those not using Windows
  • Real-time collaboration possible on all devices using all the Microsoft Office programs
  • Microsoft Graph application to quickly find files
  • High-end security 
  • File restore options
  • Recycle bin
  • Data Loss Prevention
  • Customer-controlled encryption

Pros

  • 15 GB free storage
  • Good synchronization across devices
  • Easy to use drag and drop uploads
  • Real-time co-authoring
  • Efficient backup
  • Seamless sync with Microsoft office

Cons

  • Sync functions can improve
  • Link sharing is clunky
  • Too many access options

Pricing

OneDrive

Box

Box

Favored by small businesses and enterprises, Box comes with 10 GB of free space. Its paid plans start from US$ 10 per month. 

Key Features

  • Easy sharing and collaboration
  • Permission setting to secure file sharing
  • Workflow automation options
  • Interaction using Box view
  • Compatible across browsers
  • Data security, privacy, and compliance options
  • Easy offline access

Pros

  • Easy to access, use, and share
  • Ease of organization
  • Unlimited space
  • Regular updates
  • Strong customer support
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Issues appear when syncing with external hard drives
  • Folder thumbnail image needs to be customizable
  • No metadata display for photos

Pricing

Box

5. Time Tracking Tools

Your timezone will be different from that of your offshore remote teams. That is why time management tools are handy.

Toggl

Toggl

It is one of the most popular time-tracking tools

Key Features

  • One-click timers
  • Reminders for tracking time
  • Easy integration with more than 100 online apps
  • Manual time entry option
  • Calendar sync 
  • Time comparison on project dashboards
  • Billable time calculation and reports

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Stays on the screen – no need to switch screens
  • Generates comprehensive reports
  • Good Chrome integration
  • Easy to edit time entries
  • Good memory for phrases used to describe tasks

Cons

  • Only a week’s time readily visible on the summary tab
  • No integration with invoicing
  • More hotkey functions

Pricing

Toggl

Clockify

Clockify

Another popular time-tracking tool that comes with several useful features

Key Features

  • Project-wise time tracking
  • Auto tracker and manual time entries
  • Bulk edit options
  • Tracking reminders
  • Mobile time tracking
  • Sync options for member profiles and time tracking
  • Detailed or weekly reports

Pros

  • Super easy to use
  • Free to use for an unlimited time
  • Neat interface
  • Possible to set a default billing price
  • Accurate time calculation per project

Cons

  • Sometimes the software lags when switching between projects/clients
  • You have to manually start and stop. If you forget either, your time calculations will be inaccurate.
  • Doesn’t allow import and export of data

Pricing

Clockify

6. Invoice Management Tools

Maybe your offshore partners need these tools more than you do. However, the use of these tools improves your offshore remote teams’ productivity. We feel you need to know the most popular one.

Scoro

Scoro

Deloitte names it among its fastest-growing companies in 2018.

Key Features

  • Tracks both actual and billable time
  • Transfers billable hours to invoices
  • Automated recurring and scheduled invoices. 
  • Automated reminders for late invoices. 
  • Email invoices to clients on the basis of the hours spent on a project
  • Generates report on work and budget management

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Compact, fast, and informative platform
  • Allows you to see the big picture
  • Efficient invoice reminding system
  • Fast and effective customer support

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Takes time to sync with Outlook
  • Doesn’t sync contacts with Gmail

Pricing

Scoro

7. Security Management Tools

We are listing some preferred data security tools that businesses use. It is important to ensure that your offshore remote team uses sound data security tools. We present the features of one of the most used tools here.

SolarWinds Security Events Manager

Solarwinds

This is one of the most popular cloud-based security information and events manager (SIEM).

Key Features

  • Equally usable for small, medium and large businesses
  • SIEM security and monitoring
  • Threat intelligence
  • Log correlation and analysis
  • Network and host intrusion detection
  • Can also add value to existing security products of any other tool

Pros

  • Provides easy visibility to any changes in an active directory environment
  • Has a convenient searchable audit feature
  • Flexible and customizable as per business needs
  • Prompt notification for locked out email accounts
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • Some features are not fully integrated into HTML 5 and are slow to access
  • More graphic options needed to display data to non-technical persons (maybe senior management)
  • The number of email alerts can prove overwhelming

Pricing

SolarWinds Security Events Manager

(Note: Informatica security is available as a component of their cloud integration packages.)

End-note

Treating your offshore dedicated team as a business partner rather than a vendor is one of the best strategies you can adopt. With a long-term relationship comes trust and dependability. Both of these are important factors in giving you a rewarding offshore experience.

Aayush Gupta

Aayush Gupta

Sr. Manager, Brand & Marketing
Aayush brings an inquisitive, rational and dedicated approach to brand marketing.