Tips for Managing Your Virtual Team
Written by Keith L. Scott, PMP, MBA
Today’s workforce is global. Obsolete are the days when team members sat in the same cubicle row in front of their manager’s office. Today’s project teams are working from home, across the city, on the other coast or even in another continent in a different time zone. In the past, it was believed that to be an effective and efficient organization, team members should be located together. However, what is more important is that team members understand the project goals and objectives regardless of whether or not they interact and communicate in the traditional face-to-face manner.
Though everyone can work independently, it is important to constantly communicate the team’s objectives. Failure to do so can be catastrophic for the success of a project.
Set the tone early. At the beginning of the project it is crucial to let the team members know what is expected of them. Status reports, participation in conference calls, set hours of availability, and deliverable schedules are essential parts of managing virtual teams.
Understand and respect different cultures. This is very important if you are managing team members of different religions and/or in different countries. Honor your team member’s right for personal and religious practices.
Choose the right technology to foster communication. The anchor of every virtual team is the technology used to support communication. As gas prices soar, flying the team in for a meeting each week is not realistic. So in lieu of that online chat, conference calls and webinars are ideal. There are a number of technologies available such as AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft LiveMeeting, GoToMeeting, and many other tools that support video and web conferencing. In addition, there are collaboration tools that allow team members to share and collaborate on documents such as Microsoft SharePoint.
Be specific about time commitments. Never leave something to chance. Make sure that all team members know when deliverables are due. You never want to remind them the day before and have them scramble to get something done before close of business the next day. In these instances, the quality of the deliverable almost always suffers.
Get the team together on occasion. Although it is expensive to bring remote teams together, it is a necessary element to managing a virtual team. In order to build and continue team chemistry, gathering the team together strengthens personal relationships and working partnerships in both the short and long term. Never underestimate the importance of team camaraderie and rapport.
360-degree communication. The bottom line is quite simple – get out of the way. Trust your team to make proper decisions by working with each other and not be the bottleneck by insisting that all communication be channeled through you – the project manager.
About the Author: Keith L. Scott is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Novel Management Group (www.noveladvisors.com). Novel is a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) management and technology consulting firm. Novel is headquartered in Atlanta, GA with an office location in McLean, VA.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.