Video conferencing, cloud sharing, and other advanced business systems have broken down communication barriers and made global collaboration easier than ever.
These tools have caused an exponential increase in the amount of organizations incorporating remote workers and including distributed offices into their business model. In fact, an article from New York Times found that in the US alone, 43% of workers spend at least some of their time working remotely (and that number is only increasing).
But, while tools can help groups stay connected, establishing strong processes for collaborating is what will truly enable a multi-location organization to thrive.
How to Collaborate with Global Teams
We’ve gathered insights from 9 marketing leaders on how they’re using processes to collaborate with teams across the globe.
Keep Track of Tasks
“Recent technologies and SaaS software allow us to effectively communicate and work on tasks through team collaboration tools. Our company and some of our clients use Asana for this purpose, which is a task management tool that allows everyone to see who’s working on what.
Everyone on the team has a list of their tasks with the due dates, so it's easy for everyone else to check on the workload and plan accordingly. This helps provide some clarity no matter where you are. These tools even eliminate the need for emails, making operations more efficient, so you can work remotely and don't need to be present in the office.
A few best practices here are: first, create a task/project name that is descriptive, so people can understand what this task is about, then add subtasks and assign them to the team members who should be executing on them.”
- Mike Khorev, Digital Marketing Strategist and SEO Expert at Nine Peaks Media
Project Management is Key
“Powster has creative teams in London and Los Angeles. We coordinate heavily with Slack and have weekly calls to sync the team's workflow. We also dive into Asana and set tasks for each other, and have a project manager in both studios who help direct the teams. Projects are sometimes split between the two studios and sometimes one studio handles the whole thing, depending on the client, location, and skillset needed.”
- Ste Thompson, CEO & Creative Director at Powster
Appoint a Project Lead
"We have a relatively flat structure here at finder.com, however with everyone so passionate about what they do, we have found that it helps to have a project lead on global campaigns to drive it forward. This doesn’t necessarily need to be someone of seniority - they are responsible for scheduling calls, taking input onboard and setting up the tools for each market to make it a success."
- Jennifer McDermott, Head of Communications & Customer Advocate at finder
Track Team Health Using KPIs
“We implemented a key performance indicator (KPI) system in accordance to each team and its workflows with a color system.
This color determines the performance of each team on a daily basis. The KPIs range from project duration, to ad revenue increase, to client or candidate leads. The KPI per team is the most important quantifiable measure of the whole team's performance.
The green KPI range is the best score and the red KPI range is the worst. If the team hits yellow they must discuss internally how to improve the KPI score and if it's red they have to urgently make changes to improve the score for the next day.
Since implementing this KPI system, marketing and company performance has dramatically improved. We've seen great collaboration within teams, more innovative thinking, greater work ethic and improved morale with increased transparency and being part of a team that is working towards a clear and common goal. The KPI system has been one of our best implementations in our history and works especially well for remote teams.”
- Kean Graham, CEO at MonetizeMore
Touch-Base at the Beginning and End of Each Week
“We are a fully remote company and our marketing team is spread out across the world. We meet twice a week through Skype video chat. On Monday, we outline the plan for the week. On Friday, we evaluate if things are still according to plan or if we are still aligned with our goals.”
- Carlo Borja, Online Marketing Specialist at Time Doctor
Use Diversity to Your Advantage
"Since each office/country/culture is different, marketing ideas often need to be customized to a particular country, and yet this diversity of company cultures and needs can be a tremendous plus in generating new ideas.
The key is encouraging each office around the world to not only generate new ideas for the larger global marketing team, but also provide creative stimulus from their particular country that could trigger new ideas from their global co-workers.
For example, in working with 18 offices worldwide for a large pharmaceutical company, we had each office submit innovative point-of-sale, new product, packaging, marketing and distribution ideas (outside of their brand’s category) to trigger new ideas within their category.”
- Bryan Mattimore, Co-Founder at Growth Engine
Keep It Personal
“We have an international team - I am in France, with team members in the US, South Africa, Bulgaria, Serbia, Pakistan and Philippines. Apart from the means of communication, we compensate for the lack of in-person time with activities that make us get to know each other better. Our chats on Skype often circle around personal topics, we send each other gifts when possible, we do blog posts like this one about our pets so we get to share more about our lives outside of work.”
- Tatiana Bonneau, CEO at AMAfeed
Make Files Accessible
“Our collaboration consists of the constant flow of communications. All our files are in the cloud in order to ensure that our orders can be picked up by one office right where the other office left off.
We also check in regularly between departments to make certain everyone is on the same page. Our favorite collaborative application is the Google Drive, arguably the most reliable and simple tool on the market. Likewise, the Gmail platform has ton of free perks that we happily take advantage of.
Some other departments use apps that help with their niche projects, yet for us, nothing is more functional across the board than Google Drive, it’s easy to use and is incredibly multi-functional.”
- Nate Masterson, Marketing Manager at Maple Holistics
Stay Accountable for Day-to-Day Tasks
“I needed a system so that people could get on with their work, but their team members would know what they were working on. With our remote marketing team, we started a process whereby, at the start of the team we would all jot down our top few actions we had planned for the day. Then, at the end of the day, we'd record what we actually accomplished (often it was those things we had planned, but sometimes other, more urgent things had come up during the day, so we'd spent our time on those.)
We've found that by being deliberate about what we're planning to do in a day, we're much more focused. We also know that the rest of our team can see our plan - so there's an element of healthy accountability there too! We each have a greater appreciation for what our team members are doing - which is very useful in cross-functional teams. It's also helped us identify times when someone might be prioritizing something differently than expected - and we can help get us all on the same page.”
- Fiona Adler, Founder at Actioned
We hope these expert insights help you build your own successful global collaboration processes. Ready for even more insights? Here's how 9 marketing leaders collaborate with global teams.