Virtual teams are on the rise and the world is embracing it wholeheartedly. The obvious benefits of this strategy is being recognized and given its due place in corporations around the world.
And just as a review though, let’s take a look at the difference between a virtual team and a traditional one from an Electronic Journal Information Systems Evaluation white paper:
A virtual team has its own unique set of challenges and its own strategies to work through. More so because in the document creation world, virtualization is becoming a norm rather than an exception.
And a big part of managing virtual proposal teams is to identify and weed out these challenges.
Challenges Faced by Virtual Teams
In a nutshell, this study aptly sums up the challenges in the virtual world and the impact of each:
We will look at two of the top challenges here and how effective team management can help.
Communication and Coordination
Communication can solve half and more of humanity’s problems or so it’s said. And a ‘team’, virtual or otherwise, comes with ‘communication’ and ‘coordination’ written all over it. Miscommunication can really limit a team’s effectiveness and if 38% of virtual teams agree, there must be some truth to it. In the survey above, Coordination of tasks takes a big chunk with 40.6% and Computer-mediated communication comes in soon after 34.4%! These two challenges are what we will talk about here. In a virtual team, these are the prevalent communication problems:
41% say poor task management is a major roadblock to working effectively as a team. When creating a proposal, we know there are numerous tasks and different teams working on each task. Writers, editors, approvers, consultants, internal departments and project managers to name a few. So deadlines getting mixed up, processes going haywire, file versions getting confused, all lead down the wrong path
How XaitPorter helps:
1) Eliminates file sharing – The hazards and confusion of sharing file cannot be overemphasized. We’ve had a whole blog devoted to it. The obvious solution is a database driven document creation system. It empowers your virtual team to work on the same document in real time. With the master content (data) management (MCM) and composite document management feature, all data is stored in a single-source repository and use the content dynamically in real time.
2) Versioning issues are gone – Which file has the original content? Which has been edited and approved? Which stored files have the approved format? But with XaitPorter, changes are saved as they are written on the same single document. This means that at any point of time there is only one document, which is always the most recent “version.”
3) Scheduling – Tasks can be assigned, scheduled and teams notified, which ensures everyone with their hands on the project is aware of each phase during the project life cycle.
Managing virtual teams
As a manager, we know you have a heavy load and knowing the challenge and developing the process of working through it. Here is an excellent article from Erin Meyer, an adjunct professor of organizational behavior at INSEAD.
1) Managers need to have a highly centralized approach and provide clearly defined direction leaving no room for ambiguity.
2) Leaders of virtual teams need to focus on identifying members who they can trust. They must create a highly defined process where specific results are delivered in a repeated sequence, thus building reliability over a few cycles.
3) Managers with geographically scattered teams working in a virtual setting need a much broader skill set and need to be able to switch between skill sets taking into account the diversity of their team members and the distance between them.
“Virtual teams” is a term that will probably just fade away as we move closer and closer to our all digital world. Soon virtual teams will just be known as “teams” and when we hit that landmark be sure your “team” is ready.
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