Project Management Tips for You and Your New Virtual Assistant
Working with a virtual assistant typically involves a lot of back and forth communication, as well as transferring of images, files, and other information. How you handle this will be largely based on your – and your virtual assistant’s – personal preferences. Some people like to work informally with just email and phone calls, while others, like me, love the structure of a full-blown project management system.
Email – One of the most common ways to send projects to a virtual assistant is through email. And email may be the preferred method of communication for both of you. After all, it’s an easy option and it also gives you (and your VA) something to go back and reference if there’s ever a problem or even if you just need to figure something out about the project at a later date.
The downside to email is that it can be easily missed in a jam-packed inbox, or sometimes it can land in a spam folder, or for whatever reason, it ends up lost in cyberspace somewhere. Plus, important emails can be deleted that should have been saved, and that can cause hiccups to occur with projects.
Phone/Skype – For those tasks that are a little more in-depth and need a longer explanation than what a basic email would allow, it might make more sense for you and your VA to get on the phone. The only downfall to sending a project via phone/Skype is the fact that there are no ‘paper trails’. In this case, you might want to discuss things over the phone but also send an email(s) with some basic info the VA will need for the task. This way your VA will have something to go back and reference if she needs it while working on the project.
Dropbox – This little gem has become more and more popular and more than likely you’re already familiar with it, maybe even using it to move files between computers. Dropbox makes it easy to set up a main folder that you and your VA can work from – giving you each the ease of adding documents, editing them, etc. One of the great things about Dropbox is that you can work on a document and when you save your changes, it will sync with the other person. So you’ll immediately be able to see any changes made – no more having to edit a document, email it and then wait for your VA to email it back to you.
You can use Dropbox in conjunction with email – simply upload files to the Dropbox folder and then email or post a note in your project management system to your VA with project-specific instructions. Or better yet, if you prefer (and yourVA is okay with it) skip the email step and just write out the instructions/log-in information/etc and upload that right into the Dropbox folder as well. Just make sure your VA is checking the folder for changes on a regular basis.
Project Management Systems – Some VAs prefer to work with a project management system. If this is the case, she’ll set you up as a client in her system and you will be given login information to access your client area. It is in here that you will communicate with the VA and send projects, add tasks to her calendar (which she can check off as they are completed), upload and share files, etc. One of the more common project management systems out there, and the one I use, is Basecamp.
I use Basecamp a little differently though because I’m the one that has the system, and not my VA. Which is a really important thing to have as your team grows because then you have one central place for all your people and projects (and it makes it easy for a project manager to manage everything).
In Person – If you’re lucky enough to find a VA who lives in your local area, you can always set up a time to meet face-to-face and discuss projects for the week/day/month – whatever you decide. But even if she doesn’t live locally, a lot of business owners like to set up in person team meetings a few times a year to connect and grow the business. But it really comes down to your own personal preferences.
These are just a few of the common ways that you can work with a VA in your business to send them projects. Most likely, you and your VA will decide together the combination of systems that works best for both of you.