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Effective Project Management of Virtual Teams

PM ADVISORY

By Natasha Nuells 

USA
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In the traditional work structure, co-located teams are assembled to plan and launch projects. As more firms serve national and global markets, the subject matter experts within the company are dispersed in various regions of the country and world. New technologies make having members in different geographic locations no longer a limitation when sourcing for key projects.

The growth of virtual projects is forcing project managers to develop a new skill of managing across borders. The key aspects for leading a successful virtual project team are implementing effective communication plans and encouraging quality teamwork. Through all phases of managing the project, the project manager will need to be mindful of the challenges and success factors related to this unique type of team. Understanding the pitfalls up front can help guide the project manager as they identify potential risks, outline mitigation efforts and develop communication and project plans that provide a cohesive and productive work setting.

Virtual Teams

What is a virtual project team and why would an organization consider building one? “A virtual team can formally be defined as a group of geographically and/or organizationally dispersed coworkers assembled using a combination of information and communications technologies for accomplishing an organizational task” (Kuruppuarachchi, 2009, p.20).

In a matrix organization, functional managers from the business units are assigned to plan and execute projects. Virtual teams provide a multitude of benefits for organizations. The primary benefit of assembling a virtual project team is to use subject matter experts within an organization, regardless of location, to efficiently and effectively provide value on key projects. Leadership does not have the old limitation of selecting only the best talent in the area. The organization can also leverage the skills of their employees in remote locations who traditionally could not can add value in special projects and demonstrate their abilities. Teammates who don’t work together daily can interact and transfer knowledge on different topics, share best practices and identify cross-organizational opportunities to improve processes.

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About the Author

pmwj16-nov2013-nuells-AUTHOR IMAGEflag-usaNatasha Nuells, PMP

USA

Natasha Nuells is a Lead Internal Business Operations consultant at a large telecommunications company in the United States.  She is responsible for quantifying and managing the costs associated with launching large scale projects. Natasha has attained her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification and leveraged her project management knowledge more than 7 years project/program planning experience in various industries including telecommunications (AT&T), banking and education. Working in global organizations, she has participated in over 20 cross functional, virtual project teams within the past 2 years.  Natasha has dual bachelor degrees from The University of Texas at Austin: Bachelor of Liberal Arts (Sociology) and Bachelor of Business Administration (Marketing). She is currently a 2014 candidate for a Masters of Business Administration at Texas A&M Commerce.  She can be contacted at [email protected]