Project Manager As A Virtual Team Symphony Maker

Interview with Roman Dmytryshyn, Project Manager at VAfromEurope:

“It is possible to get all the necessary talent in one place once you start thinking virtually”

Project Manager

In the not so distant past, the project team members were almost always co-located, working together in one office. The reason is trivial. It was very difficult to communicate and collaborate with people, if they were distributed geographically. Nowadays a new-wave framework of project teams has already put down roots and is gaining ground on the market. It is called virtual project team when employees are physically distant from each other or from a customer. It happens in the event of involving skills from  company branches and divisions, engaging freelancers who work from home or any third-party company, even international.

We have recently interviewed Roman Dmytryshyn, Project Manager at VAfromEurope, the one-man band who orchestrates a huge number of processes to ensure a successful deployment of solution and customer satisfaction. Roman has agreed to give us an insight intо the depth of his profession that has recently acquired a new dimension.

Int.: For those of us who are slightly off-topic: Why do your clients need project managers in the first place? Can’t they survive without PM once they have already contracted virtual assistant?

R.D.: To make things clear I should probably start with the fact that usually the Project Manager does not manage the development of the project, nor make this final decision whether a person qualifies to be part of a team or not. Project Manager is a specialist whose main task is to manage the overall project: plan and set priorities, schedule tasks, create timelines, provide for smooth communication flow and rapid problem solving. So, if you want your project to get the best possible start then continue dynamically and wrap-up successfully on a date set at a project kick-off meeting, then project manager is definitely your best bet. Virtual assistant, on the other hand, is the best solution when you intend to delegate your asks and manage someone to do work. You delegate graphic design, contact search, social media updates, web research, blog posts to your virtual assistant, give necessary info, sometimes guide the person through the process and monitor performance. With project manager who is hired to work with a team of several empoyees you brush the responsibility of team management off your, in most cases already stooped, shoulders.


Int.: The question is whether the process leader is so much required, or this function can be successfully performed by one of the team, a head of the company, or even the customer?

R.D.: Most CEOs manage the company as a whole physically not having enough time to manage all the company’s projects, especially when there are many. This person is responsible for tasks with higher hierarchy what oftentimes holds true for all our customers. The moment this responsibility is redirected to someone from the team, this person instantly starts falling behind with main activities. To make matters worse, not everyone has a knack for managing human resources and projects whereas speed and efficiency are table stakes these days. Without well-coordinated, professionally managed team you are simply moving money around the table with a million-to-one chance to hit the jackpot

Int.: As we have been talking for no more than 10minutes I see that alert messages and notifications keep popping up on your desktop, you keep receiving phone calls and if I got it right two members of your team are behind the door vying for your attention right now. What is your typical day? Is it always that hectic?

R.D.: Mostly. I’d probably have to keep you an hour longer to give you a bigger picture. In short, it all starts with planning tasks for a day. Then I check the work done by team on the previous day, hold a meeting with the team or discuss matters with members, have a Skype or Viber call with the customer, work with documents, make few reports, monitor work and address issues as they come up.

Int.: I see. Lots of cat-herding, stress and a bit of paperwork.

R.D.: You got me (Laughing).

Int.: Are there any benefits about your profession, probably hidden from the public eye?

R.D.: What makes this position exciting is an opportunity to make decisions, organize product creation, build strong remote team, coordinate and control team work, create a motivating and positive work environment to keep employees productive and eager to accomplish goals.

Int.: As it always happens a fly in the ointment can be found if you look intensely?

R.D.: Well, in fact you don’t have to look intensely, pitfalls are there in a plain view. The most glaring ones are long irregular non-stop work hours, high overtime level, the need to respond to urgent tasks outside of working hours, stress. Another red flag is hoisted on heavy responsibility, even if chances to influence the outcome are limited. You can draw an analogy with soccer here, team is winning but coach is losing. The leadership believes that if the project is successful – the team are great, and if you fail – that is PM’s fault.

Int.: What makes a good PM?

R.D.: The main professional traits to be cultivated are a good knowledge of the subject area of business, leadership skills, skills of presentations, ability to see the big picture, negotiate and express thoughts in different languages, work with people.
Also, experience of planning, assessment and risk elimination, the ability to perform administrative tasks, build a team is a great asset.

Int.: Thank you so much Roman from VAfromEurope for letting us step into the role of Virtual Team Manager.