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Topics: IT Project Management, Leadership, Virtual Teams
Virtual Teams - Pros and Cons
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What are your greatest challenges working on a remote team? What techniques did the project manager use to make sure everyone on the team was engaged?
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I was working on a project where the vendor was in a different country and in a different time zone and had appointed a project manager to represent their deliverable
Communication on Project Progress was a key challenge.
The options used by me to overcome these challenges were leveraging the available technology like WebEx and Video Conferencing having weekly/fortnightly progress meetings.
I even tried to schedule a face to face by flying over to where they were located but unfortunately was not successful in convincing the management to fund this key travel from the Project Budget
Accountability was another challenge. Had to rely on the Project Manager at the remote site to motivate the team and keep them focused.
Another challenge I faced was that defect remediation cycles took forever as the limited resource pool was supporting several other projects.
One of the steps I had to eventually take was to escalate to their senior management on the delay in progress, poor performance/lack of accountability.
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Deepesh:
What were some of the pros with the project. It sounds like communication was occurring but just not in alignment with the schedule, resources were constrained, travel was not a option and you took the initiative to escalate. What lessons learned did you walk away with?
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1 reply by Deepesh Rammoorthy, PMP®
Feb 21, 2017 7:40 PM
Deepesh Rammoorthy, PMP®
...
Lessons Learnt :-
1) Elaborate and justify from the learning of this project that for future projects, Allowance for either Co-location of vendor resources with the Project Team or allowance for travel to the remote site to establish a rapport and relationship is a must for Project Success, especially where an overseas vendor is involved.
2) Tighten the Accountability for the remote team by putting more rigor into Vendor Management and more legality into the Scope of Works, including penalty for significant delays and poor performance.
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Communication is the greatest challenge when it comes to virtual teams. The PM should make sure everything is communicated clearly and effectively. Continuous communication is very important as well to ensure all parties are on the same page especially if it involves design.
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1 reply by Naomi Caietti
Feb 21, 2017 7:05 PM
Naomi Caietti
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Yes, true on any project. Any personal experience with a remote project lately?
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Feb 21, 2017 7:03 PM
Replying to Rami Kaibni
...
Communication is the greatest challenge when it comes to virtual teams. The PM should make sure everything is communicated clearly and effectively. Continuous communication is very important as well to ensure all parties are on the same page especially if it involves design.
Yes, true on any project. Any personal experience with a remote project lately?
...
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Feb 21, 2017 7:40 PM
Rami Kaibni
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Yes, I am currently experiencing this in one of my projects where the Architect is remotely located as well as the project and communication is very difficult so I almost spend twice the amount of time on communication more than I normally do on other projects.
Network:8662



As Rami commented, communications are key. I develop a little my experience regarding communications.

- Scheduling meetings. With time differences sometimes keep all the teams' members happy with the schedule is a nightmare.

- Language Barriers. Yes, yes, all us tried to do our best to speak in English...but sometimes, native speakers forgot that there were team members (as me) that don't understand "game A" expressions. (After few projects, I know what it means, but, hey, always there are some word that I need to look at google)

- Virtual meetings...Rami has joined the conference, Mayte has left the conference, Mayte has joined the conference...Technical issues, another challenge.

Pros&Cons...in IT outsourcing is something very common. Depending on the organization and the teams, I found different pros and cons.
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2 replies by Naomi Caietti and Prateek Gupta
Feb 21, 2017 7:56 PM
Naomi Caietti
...
What kinds of pros and cons with IT outsourcing? Let's discuss so others can learn...
Feb 22, 2017 5:19 AM
Prateek Gupta
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Adding to what Mayte said; -

- As leaders you also need to have sensitivity to local dynamics for your remote team - like Bangalore (which has bad traffic - so the team time has to be planned properly), sociopolitical environment of your remote team, festivals etc

- Visit your team at a regular interval and utilize that time to connect with the people on ground and understand their concerns

- Align the remote time to the overall project objective - as Rami said - communication is the key. You can chose daily stand ups, leads meetings, full team meetings etc,
Network:358



Feb 21, 2017 7:03 PM
Replying to Naomi Caietti
...
Deepesh:
What were some of the pros with the project. It sounds like communication was occurring but just not in alignment with the schedule, resources were constrained, travel was not a option and you took the initiative to escalate. What lessons learned did you walk away with?
Lessons Learnt :-
1) Elaborate and justify from the learning of this project that for future projects, Allowance for either Co-location of vendor resources with the Project Team or allowance for travel to the remote site to establish a rapport and relationship is a must for Project Success, especially where an overseas vendor is involved.
2) Tighten the Accountability for the remote team by putting more rigor into Vendor Management and more legality into the Scope of Works, including penalty for significant delays and poor performance.
...
1 reply by Naomi Caietti
Feb 22, 2017 12:46 PM
Naomi Caietti
...
Great to capture lessons learned to carry them forward to apply or reflect on for future projects.
Network:69515



Feb 21, 2017 7:05 PM
Replying to Naomi Caietti
...
Yes, true on any project. Any personal experience with a remote project lately?
Yes, I am currently experiencing this in one of my projects where the Architect is remotely located as well as the project and communication is very difficult so I almost spend twice the amount of time on communication more than I normally do on other projects.
...
1 reply by Naomi Caietti
Feb 22, 2017 12:58 PM
Naomi Caietti
...
Yes, this is an issue for virtual teams but there are many solutions.
Network:1747



Feb 21, 2017 7:33 PM
Replying to Mayte Mata-Sivera
...
As Rami commented, communications are key. I develop a little my experience regarding communications.

- Scheduling meetings. With time differences sometimes keep all the teams' members happy with the schedule is a nightmare.

- Language Barriers. Yes, yes, all us tried to do our best to speak in English...but sometimes, native speakers forgot that there were team members (as me) that don't understand "game A" expressions. (After few projects, I know what it means, but, hey, always there are some word that I need to look at google)

- Virtual meetings...Rami has joined the conference, Mayte has left the conference, Mayte has joined the conference...Technical issues, another challenge.

Pros&Cons...in IT outsourcing is something very common. Depending on the organization and the teams, I found different pros and cons.
What kinds of pros and cons with IT outsourcing? Let's discuss so others can learn...
...
1 reply by Mayte Mata-Sivera
Feb 21, 2017 8:16 PM
Mayte Mata-Sivera
...
Naomi, I think that maybe is a little sensitive topic, because based in my experience when a company decides to outsource some IT services the key point to the decision is a cost reduction.

Based on my experience, I will share that first time was very challenging.
Network:358



Cons :-
Poorly designed contract may be exploited by the vendor to whom the service is outsourced, either inadvertently or knowingly.
Frequent communication may be difficult to achieve if the vendor is offshore, especially in a different time zone.
If the vendor gets taken over by another company or changes it's delivery team drastically, the Intellectual property may be lost and will affect the level of services provided
The Customer often has a single point of contact or failure , which is the Project Manager on the vendor side and the customer's view of the vendor's world is solely through this conduit and the communication then depends very heavily on that Project Manager
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1 reply by Naomi Caietti
Feb 22, 2017 12:57 PM
Naomi Caietti
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Very going point; certainly highlights the importance for PMs to have good knowledge of vendor and contract management. Know what you are buying or contracting before you sign on the dotted line.
Network:8662



Feb 21, 2017 7:56 PM
Replying to Naomi Caietti
...
What kinds of pros and cons with IT outsourcing? Let's discuss so others can learn...
Naomi, I think that maybe is a little sensitive topic, because based in my experience when a company decides to outsource some IT services the key point to the decision is a cost reduction.

Based on my experience, I will share that first time was very challenging.
...
1 reply by Naomi Caietti
Feb 22, 2017 12:54 PM
Naomi Caietti
...
Organizations have many choices when it comes to providing a solution, build, buy or stay with the status quo. Many times its a trade-off of cost vs value/investment, benefits, innovation and often times risk to stay competitive in the marketplace. The return on investment, improvement of processes and procedures and redirection of staff for strategic initiatives play into the considerations in making a decision to outsource. Many times the talent does not exist internally and impacts the time to get to market, implement the investment, competition and budget cycle. It is the price of doing business in the global economy.
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