It’s critical to have some type of soft-interface to communicate with your virtual team. We use a software called Sales Stream specifically for telecom, there are many other systemized tools out there, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, TeamPM, the functionalities of the systems will vary and should depend upon what your specific needs are. The important thing is to develop a system of communication with your team, or have someone help you implement one if you don’t have one already.
We use a variety of tools: video cameras on our phone system, PCs and in the offices. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and project management tools, we use Infusionsoft in our office. We have many tools and systems in place because it helps keep everything accounted for and organized.
In the case of redundancy, make sure that you have emergency plans in place. If there is a failure, backup capacity allows you to continue operating. Even if production is at 50 percent, it’s 100 times better than being completely down.
We have multiple redundancy pathways in place, yet there are still times we get caught flat-footed. The unthinkable takes place and there you are. Make sure that you have other suppliers in place to handle extra work that you can offload to until you get back to 100 percent. The last thing you want to happen is for any disorganization to filter into your clientele business or lifestyle, depending upon the clientele you serve.
Nothing will cost your business faster than an inability to supply your customers with what you promised. This can be a hard, expensive lesson to learn. Be proactive and look at all the systems you have in place and ask yourself, What is the cost to build a system that won’t work?
Start with making a list of similar businesses that you can offload work to on a short-term basis while you work on your own infrastructure. Are there multiple pathways into your building if you lose Internet connectivity? If your building floods, is there a system in place to send people home and work as efficiently as they do in their offices? These are a few contingency plans that should be put into place.
Let’s take a look at other steps and aspects of building a virtual team.
First and foremost, if you walk away with one thing after you’ve read this, it should be the importance of changing your job title. Examine the way that are currently doing business, if you have a failure is there a contingency plan in place. Furthermore if that contingency plan fails is there a redundant contingency plan in place. A well-designed plan should have a minimum of two consecutive failures and still be able to maintain operations. The old adage applies here of Murphy’s Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And I think is most of us can attest to, system failures often do create other failures. That’s why it’s critical word ever possible to have multiple redundancy plans in place.