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SNHU - IT-515 - Innovations in Information Technology
Written by: Chris Bell - November, 2015

Creating and Managing Virtual Teams - Technical Communication



Introduction


Creating and managing a virtual team will require technology such as VoIP in order to create the feeling of collocation because emails and phone calls will not create a promising team or product development. Creating lightweight and heavyweight teams within a single location can prove to be difficult never mind managing virtual teams that may not meet or communicate enough throughout the project. There needs to be a plan for virtual teams to meet on a regular basis in order for the team to be effective, and time zones in different parts of the USA need to be considered. Furthermore, teams that are grouped together from different countries need to consider time zones, language barriers, and technology that might not easily transfer spreadsheets and documents to one another. Constructing a virtual team takes a solid plan of how to create a form of collocation through VoIP-type technology.

Creating and Managing Virtual Teams

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Effectiveness of Virtual Teams


When I think of virtual teams I think of the popular show, Homeland, which is about a team of USA spies working in the CIA that travel to different countries quite often. They constantly communicate through VoIP software in order to have face-to-face interaction to discuss the plan of attack. Companies with multiple locations within the USA can easily utilize VoIP software to meet regularly and discuss the development of the project. A project charter will include milestones of the project that require another meeting. For instance, there can be a meeting with all of the team members to discuss and create the project charter, at which time each of the members can agree to a specific time of day that meetings will be held. Then, after certain milestones, there can be another meeting held. The project manager, or communications manager, will need to facilitate strong communication in order to benefit from the saying, "Two heads are better than one." Brainstorming to include creativity and diversity will be conducted before the project charter, then the project charter will be followed closely to stay within the time frames and budget.

Geographical Communication


Virtual teams created in different countries will need to consider language barriers first, appropriate times to meet second, and technology third. Some of the team members will need interpreters and off-hours meeting in order to be effective, but otherwise, the first two issues are fairly straight forward to solve. However, it's important to consider the software being used between countries so that it conforms to a standard for that project. Perhaps everyone will use Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets because they are cloud based and work nicely with team projects. Team members can sign in to the same spreadsheet and work on it together so that multiple emails with updated information can be avoided. Also, when non-cloud-based software is used team members might duplicate efforts since much of the time will be spend working alone on a portion of the project.

Team Structure


Virtual teams need specific titles involved that create solid communication, management, budgets and deadlines. Diversity will be included based on members being in different locations of the USA, or possibly different countries, but it still needs to be examined in order to push creative thinking throughout the development of the project. With a project charter it will be easier to allocate assignments and create deadlines. Deadlines are very important because a new portion of the project follows each and every deadline, which may also involve a new team member. VoIP software will be used to conduct a group meeting after each milestone is complete, which also means deadlines were met and new deadlines are set. Emails and phone calls can be utilized in between each milestone when communication is needed, and it's important to include the group in each email so that they each know when changes are made.

Conclusion


Virtual teams have advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered before the project development begins. Using VoIP software and cloud based documents attempt to fix the possible disadvantages, but nevertheless, problems come up in every team project. The project charter should clearly state each member's assignments in order to limit certain members from feeling as if they are contributing more than others. But again, knowing these disadvantages allows us to manage more effectively to be sure they aren't in fact disadvantages at all. Being able to take advantage of the skills of employees in another country are priceless for innovative companies. Actually, VoIP is literally priceless for the company to utilize while the advantages of the software and endless in opportunity.

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