Project Management and Virtual Teams

Topics: Project management, Management, Team Pages: 6 (1841 words) Published: April 6, 2014

Managing Virtual Team in Projects

University: Athabasca University

Abstract
Due to advanced communication technologies, globalization and outsourcing most of the project management teams are based on groups of individuals called virtual teams who work across time and space using communication technologies. Members of virtual teams may be employees of same company from same country, or they can be contractors, suppliers and company employees around the globe.

Managing projects using virtual teams have some advantages and disadvantages. Also several studies have been done to try to determine the factors that are positively co-related to the effectiveness of virtual teams (Schwalbe, 2011). To manage virtual teams successfully in project management, the project manager must manage these factors successfully and also minimize the impact of disadvantages.

This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual teams in project management and outlines the factors that are positively correlated to the success of projects based on virtual teams. The paper also outlines some of the recommendations to successfully manage the virtual team in information technology projects.

Keywords
Globalization, outsourcing, virtual teams, video conferencing, telecommuting, Project Management, Trust and relationship, Advantages of Virtual teams, Disadvantages of virtual team.

Introduction
Imagine that you are a project manager in a multinational organization and managing a project to upgrade the server operating system and your team members are from different countries with different cultures and working in different time zones. To complete the project successfully that is based on virtual teams, project manager must understand the advantages and disadvantages of managing virtual teams and factors that positively affect the team members. Today most of the project management teams are based on virtual teams whose members work across time and space using communication technologies and project managers cannot rely on previous methods of project team management where they were able to build trust between team member by social interaction, face-to-face meetings, and direct observations of fellow team member commitment. (Kirkman, Rosen, Gibson, Tesluk, & McPherson, 2002).

Literature Review
Virtual teams do have some advantages and disadvantages. Some of the advantages outlined by Kathy Schwalbe are: 24/7 availability of workers increasing competiveness and responsiveness, lowering the cost of project as many virtual team members do not need office space and support, providing more flexibility and expertise as project managers have access to the talent around the globe and increasing the work/life balance for team members by eliminating fixed office hours and the need to travel to work. (Schwalbe, 2011).

Communication and trust are the most important factors that influence the virtual team performance. Saonee Sarker and others discussed the “theoretical linkages among trust, communication, and team member performance in virtual teams”. (Sarker1, Ajuja, Sarker, & Kirkeby, 2001). To prove their argument the researchers identified and tested three proposed models (additive, interaction, and mediation) describing the role of trust in its relationship. The results of the study indicated that the “mediating” model best explains how communication and trust work together to influence the performance of virtual team members. In simple words them study proves that “a communicative individual will be more likely to be trusted and will therefore be more likely to be a high performer”. (Sarker1, Ajuja, Sarker, & Kirkeby, 2001)

Radostina K. Purvanova reviewed experimental literature and emerging field research on virtual teams. Author compared the “results from both type of literature and found that experimental literature has largely reported negative results for virtual teams, whereas field...


References: Kirkman, B., Rosen, B., Gibson, C., Tesluk, P., & McPherson, S. (2002). Five challenges to virtual team success: Lessons from Sabre, Inc. Academy of Management Executive, 67-79; 13p.
Leonard, B. (2011, June 1). Managing Virtual Teams . HR Magazine.
Purvanova, R. K. (Feb 2014). Face-to-face versus virtual teams: What have we really learned? The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 2-29.
Sarker1, S., Ajuja, M., Sarker, S., & Kirkeby, S. (2001). The Role of Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams: A Social Network Perspective. Journal of Management Information Systems. , p273-309. 37p.
Schwalbe, K. (2011). Information Technology Project Management 6e. Boston: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.
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