The presented article discusses the issues and solutions of virtual project management. It specifically stresses the importance of technological tools to ensure a successful project process. However, it argues that e.g. videoconferencing may be more of a challenge than a helpful tool. How is it possible to make sure that the technological tools applied to a virtual project actually support tøhe project team and do not counteract it?
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The authors J.R Adams and L.L Adams present in their article Virtual Project Management: Managing Tomorrow’s Teams Today the new working environment characterising virtual project management. It has earlier been the tradition that the employees shared work place and work tradition, yet new challenges face the project manager when these physical bounders are broken down and new methods applied.
The conditions of managing projects in the virtual world are that organisations must be able to relate to constant changes in the globalised world concerning technological development and new software programmes for project management. Some of the challenges organisations meet are e.g. downsizing, outsourcing and employee empowerment as well as job security being part of the past organisational structure. This entails that for organisations to survive in this new environment, they must be able to change their structure, culture and products to match the demands of the environment.
The article outlines how virtual project management is both part of and a tool to manage projects in this new environment and leans on the factors presented by author Jaclyn Kostner on virtual project management who in particular stresses the importance of developing trust among the project employees. Besides developing trust, she stresses the importance of:
- Developing a group identity
- Sharing information
- Developing clear structures of the project
- Formation of subgroups
- Understanding information.
The article outlines suggestions for overcoming the above mentioned challenges, which include the suggestion of using modern communication tools to bring the teams closer together, e.g. through Skype conferences and use of instant messaging. This brings the project members closer together and thus may result in not only a common feeling of identity but also a greater feeling of responsibility encouraged by the mutual trust.
Though the article emphasises the importance of applying various communication tools to perform virtual project management, the usage of videoconferencing may lead to problems of a logistical character. This is due to the fact that the project members must be pre-arranged to transmit and receive the messages presented at the videoconference. Problems of software usage and people not being informed thoroughly are of greatest concern as this may lead to lack of information exchange and thus distrust. Problems of these kinds make the job of project managers even more difficult as they are expected to be able to navigate in the technological field.