Managing a "virtual team" on a project

The main reasons for the use of virtual teams. Software development. Areas that are critical to the success of software projects, when they are designed with the use of virtual teams. A relatively small group of people with complementary skills.

Рубрика Менеджмент и трудовые отношения
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Язык английский
Дата добавления 05.12.2012
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Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic Kazakhstan

International Information Technology University

Managing a "virtual team" on a project

Done by: Rysbekov Nurym


Globalization of business drives organizations to increased usage of virtual teams. The “virtual team” represents a fundamental component of these new organizational infrastructures. These teams are also known as dispersed teams. Main reasons for using virtual teams are taking on projects that are not in local geographical areas, skills required for the project are not available locally, companies need to cut costs, etc. Usage of virtual teams influenced project management paradigm that has begun to change due to the increasing number of distributed projects involving team members from different locations, organizations, and cultures.

In a global marketplace, companies need more and more international presence; therefore the need for establishing virtual teams exists with much significance .The software development work is now performed by geographically distributed organizations, teams, or individuals. In the Software Industry, projects and products are increasingly crossing the boundaries set by a single company, or country. This evolutionary process allows individuals or even teams from different locations and cultures to work together. Usually they have different expectations and goals but are working to achieve the success of project.

The purpose of this research paper is to investigate and identify the areas that are critical for the success of software projects when they are developed using virtual teams. Some of these areas are communication, team management, planning and quality of software project and product.


Main part

Team can be defined as a relatively small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. A virtual team is a group of people that uses electronics means to communicate with each other more often than in face-to-face meetings. Virtual team can work across space, time and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technologies. In other words, virtual team members use the internet, intranets, and other networks to communicate, coordinate and collaborate with each other on tasks and projects even though they may work in different geographical locations and for different organizations .Throughout literature virtual teams are also referred to as distributed teams. Virtual teams primarily rely on information and communication technologies to support many of the communicative and collaborative processes that traditional teams take for granted. Communication links are what distinguishes virtual teams from traditional collocated organizations. These links define the `virtual' part of the team. It is the degree of online communications not the dispersion or displacement of the team that primarily characterizes a team as virtual. Real team member is defined as someone whose primary focus is on that particular project. Real team members and virtual team members make up the project team. Virtual team members then use electronic communication to interact with the rest of the team. For business growth, many companies may take on projects that are not in the local geographic area. Also some of these projects require resources and skills that are not available locally within the company. A way to solve this problem is the establishment of virtual project teams. Some of the reasons for using virtual teams include:

· Team members may not be located at the same place

· It may not be practical to travel to meet face-to-face

· Team members may work different hours

· Employees with the necessary expertise may be located in offices around the world

· Workers life style preferences, social and family commitments may prevent relocation

· Workers tend to be more productive - less commuting and travel time

· Possibility of providing a global workday of 24 hours

Not all projects are suitable for virtual teams. Projects requiring a lot of face-to-face meetings or hands-on physical or site work would not be suitable as the project team members have to be physically available on location for such meetings and tasks. Projects that require significant intellectual endeavors would be more suited to a virtual team arrangement. Team members' contributions are mainly their knowledge and experience. As information can be easily transferred electronically, the project team members can deliver via electronic means from anywhere in the world.

Result of Literature Search

virtual team software development

Source #1: “Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance” (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley), there are 6 lessons for creating successful virtual teams:

1) Focus on people issues

2) No trust, no team

3) Soft skills and essential

4) Watch out of performance peak

5) Create a high-touch environment

6) Virtual team leadership matters

Source #2: Managing a Virtual Project Team

Written by Gary Hamilton, Jeff Hodgkinson, Gareth Byatt

They contend that there are five primary aspects in which a project manager should direct their efforts to ensure effective project management of the virtual team:

1) Manage Goals

2) Manage Communications

3) Keep People Motivated

4) Regularly Assess the Effectiveness of the Remote Communications, and 5) Use Collaboration Tools.

Source #3: Keys to managing a Virtual project team

Written by Bruce McGraw

In this article: “Keys to managing a Virtual project team”, Bruce McGraw describe and reveals in detail most important keys of managing a virtual project team.

Observations and analysis

I chose 2 key points which play main role in managing with a virtual team. There is Communication and Planning, from my point of view without them managing with a virtual team is impossible.

Communication is the most of important keys when managing a virtual team. And you need to know upfront that communicating with a virtual team will take more of your time as project manager than working with a local team. If it is at all logistically possible, you should try to have your first team meeting face-to-face. In teleconferences, even video conferences, the socialization and trust building that happens face-to-face is missing. As project manager you must assure a coherent representation to the entire team of the mission, customer needs, tasking and schedule. You accomplish this through written and verbal communication at the kick-off meeting and every day after that. Communication at weekly staff meetings should include an agenda that is distributed before the meeting, facilitated interchange during the meeting, and summary/action items distributed to the entire team quickly afterwards.

Planning in the context of a virtual team requires more thought on task assignments. To the extent possible, tasks should be independent with clear goals for input, process, and output. Encourage team members to communicate frequently with others whose work integrates with theirs. Serve as a role model for this in addition to active reminders and feedback.

In the book of Jossey-Bass and A. Wiley “Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance” written about how to working and leading with virtual team and they contend 6 lessons fro create successful virtual team. I try to explain these 6 lessons briefly.

1. Focus on people issues. It is easier to succeed when the whole team is engaged and communicating

2. No trust, no team. Sometimes in virtual teams trust is more at a task level than at an interpersonal level. It is important that the team meets face-to-face early in the team's formation.

3. Soft skills are essential. Virtual teams who have been through team building and interpersonal skill development perform better.

4. Watch out for performance peaks. Many virtual teams face a performance peak after about 12 months. For virtual project teams this could be after shorter periods like 6 months. After that performance tends to decline.

5. Create a high-touch environment. Virtual team members need to meet at least once a year and for project teams regularly throughout the phases of the project.

6. Virtual team leadership matters. Leadership is the factor most important to the success of virtual teams. Team leaders in a virtual environment must be especially sensitive to interpersonal communication and cultural factors.


In conclusion, virtual teams are increasingly prevalent in today's world, and a lot of high quality information exists on how to work effectively as a team. As well as the economies that can be achieved from virtual teams, this style of project offers great potential for harnessing talent from many locations. Managing a virtual project team can be richly rewarding, and requires many of the same core competencies as managing a collocated team, with the added element of being highly sensitive to communication styles and ensuring appropriate styles are used depending on the occasion. The elements we discuss above are all part of effective communication needed to mitigate the project risks associated with not being collocated. . The project manager should assess their own ability to be a virtual team worker, as well as being able to assess their team members. When project communication is working well, high-performing project teamwork can be achieved.




3. “Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance” (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley).

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