When it comes to managing your virtual team, one of the key things to keep in mind is that there isn’t just one key for every door. Managing a virtual team across various organizations is going to look different based on resources, team dynamics and the type of project.
However, there are three basic concepts to implement in managing a team virtually that will help deliver successful results: technology, organization and making it easy.
This is likely the biggest concept to adapt as you manage a virtual team. Finding a format to meet, preferrably video or at the very least audio, that can work across multiple devices is critical. Most organizations struggle with the fact that they have a platform internally they use, however that might not be accessible or work with an outside organization. Determining the platform(s) communication will occur in is a crucial first step to the success of a project.
There is a reluctance to use video conferencing, since it is still a bit new, however it is the closest thing to face-to-face communication you can get. Video allows you to see first-hand the reactions of your fellow project management team, in order to gauge their response to a comment or key idea.
This point might seem obvious enough, however in the age of cloud sharing and mobile access, it is often not considered with enough intentionality.
You must have ONE central location for all files, whether that be DropBox, Google Drive, etc. Whatever fileshare platform you use, it MUST be open to everyone across any network. And taking this point a step further, be sure there are no permission issues and that everyone can access files when they need them, especially if they are mobile.
Last component of organization is to be sure files and documents are easy to find. Keep things stored orderly and in a logical structure, so project constituents can find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
Making It Easy
This point reinforces the fact that the more barriers to entry, the less likely people are going to participate. Don’t create an environment where it is more work to integrate the team then actually need the team. If it’s too much work, then team members will drop-off and stop engaging, then causing the project to suffer.
Keeping these three concepts in mind when developing and managing your virtual team will significantly help in the outcome of any given project.
Now, there are limitations that can arise with particular organizations, such as healthcare or government agencies, where high security standards can make it more difficult for outside vendors or contractors to participate virtually.
However, you want to make the process as simple as possible. Also, as mobile-friendly as possible. Keep in mind, your virtual team, communication tools and project strategy will look different across organizations and across projects. As long as you keep on the forefront the importance of technology, organization and making it easy, you are on the right track to project success!