Virtual project management

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= References =
= References =
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<references />
[1] "Virtual Project Management: Software Solutions for Today and the Future", Paul E. McMaho.
[2] "PROMONT – A Project Management Ontology as a Reference for Virtual Project Organizations", Sven Abels, Frederik Ahlemann, Axel Hahn, Kevin Hausmann, Jan Strickmann.
[3] "Global Software Development: Managing Virtual Teams and Environments", Dale Walter Karolak, 1999.

Revision as of 15:35, 27 November 2014

Framework of virtual projects[1]



New dimension into project management appeared with the rise of the Internet and development of collaborative software.


Virtual program management (VPM) is management of a project done by a virtual team, though it rarely may refer to a project implementing a virtual environment It is noted that managing a virtual project is fundamentally different from managing traditional projects, combining concerns of telecommuting and global collaboration (culture, timezones, language). [2][3]

A Virtual Team – also known as a Geographically Dispersed Team (GDT) – is a group of individuals who work across time, space, and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. They have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location.[4]

Virtual team is an alternative to the traditional form of business organization, which is characterized by the presence of a physical office. However, in practice, more common is the mixed model, in which the company has a physical office, is used to solve most of the problems of remote workers, outsourcing or freelancing.

Virtual Teams

Types of Virtual Teams[5][6]

  • Networked Teams are generally geographically dispersed and may have members from outside the organization. Many times these are composed of cross-functional members who are brought together to share their expertise and knowledge on a specific issue or topic. Membership is fluid that is to say, new members are added when necessary and existing members are removed whenever their role is completed. The lifespan of a networked virtual team depends on how much time it takes to resolve the issue. The networked teams dissolve with the completion of assigned task. Networked teams are widely used in consulting firms and technology companies.

For example, Richard Maclean & Associates, an environmental, health and safety (EHS) management consulting firm located in Arizona serving both domestic and international clients relies on other academic and government research organizations like Center for Environmental Innovation, Air and Waste Management Association, Meridian Institute, to name a few to stay competitive at a low cost.

  • Parallel Teams are generally formed by members of the same organization. While delivering their primary assigned role in the organization, they take parallel responsibility, hence the term parallel team. Generally this team is formed to review a process or a problem at hand and make recommendations. Unlike networked teams, these have constant membership, which remains intact till the desired objective is achieved. Teams are generally formed for short span of time, they are very effective in multinational organizations, where a global perspective is needed.

For example, many consumer goods companies team up their sales, marketing, manufacturing and R&D professionals working at different locations into parallel virtual teams to make recommendations for the local adaptation of their product specifications.

  • Project or Product Development Teams are the classic virtual teams, which were developed as early as 1990s. These were actually the pioneer in the development of virtual teams. The project or product development virtual teams are composed of subject, matter experts brought together from different parts of the globe to perform a clearly outlined task involving development of a new product, information system or organizational process, with specific and measurable deliverables. Like network teams their membership is also fluid, but unlike parallel teams, these can take decisions and not just recommendations. These are typically found in R&D division of the product-based companies.

For example, Whirlpool brought together a team of experts from United States, Brazil and Italy for a period of 2 years to develop a chlorofluorocarbon-free refrigerator.

  • Work, Production or Functional Teams are formed when members of one role come together to perform single type of ongoing day-to-day work. Here members have clearly defined role and work independently. All of the members’ work combine together to give the end solution.

For example, in order to reduce cost many organizations are outsourcing their backend HR operations or even for that matter the recruitment agencies form functional virtual teams for their clients.

  • Service Teams have members across difference time zones, therefore when one member in Asia goes to sleep, the other member in America wakes up to answer your queries. This is the basic model of service teams, which are formed of members spread across widely distinct geographic locations and though each member works independently, but they together perform work in continuation. It is like relay race where one takes baton from the other and run the race. These are effective as technical and customer support teams.

For example, cellular companies, banks, software companies have call/support centre, which answer calls and help you to solve problems.

  • Action Teams are actually ad-hoc teams formed for a very short duration of time. Members of action team are brought together to provide immediate response to a problem and they disperse as soon as the problem is resolved.

For example, NASA forms a virtual action team consisting of leaders sitting in NASA headquarters in Houston, astronauts in space shuttle, engineers & scientists in different locations across the globe for a successful space mission.

  • Management Teams are formed by managers of an organization, who works from different cities or countries. These members largely get together to discuss corporate level strategies and activities. These are applicable to almost every organization, which has office in more than one location.
  • Offshore ISD outsourcing teams, they are independent service provider teams that a company can subcontract portions of work to. These teams usually work in conjunction with an onshore team. Offshore ISD is commonly used for software development as well as international R&D projects.

Pros & Cons[7]


  • Increased productivity: work is not limited to the traditional 9-5 work day as a ‘follow the sun approach’, it can results in faster time to market of products, technology and services.
  • Extended market opportunity: an ability to establish a ‘presence’ with customers worldwide. This can also enable small businesses to compete on a global scale without limiting the customer base.
  • Knowledge transfer: this enables companies to compete on a global scale by bringing together people with different types of knowledge into ‘online’ meetings from around the globe.


  • Communication deficiency: a failure to properly communicate due to the elimination of body language or the increase of incorrect assumptions based upon cultural difference or lack of understanding.
  • Poor leadership and management: the inability to communicate and deliver clear messages to the team.
  • Incompetent team members: lazy or individuals that lack expertise or knowledge can have a negative impact on the team.

Challenges of managing virtual projects/teams


  1. "The Practice and Promise of Virtual Project Management",
  2. Velagapudi, Mridula. "Why You Cannot Avoid Virtual Project Management 2012 Onwards" April 13, 2012
  3. Global Knowledge."Virtual Project Management (course)".
  4. "Definition of Virtual Teams",
  5. Management Study Guide. "Different Types of Virtual Teams".
  6. Management Help. "Virtual Teams".
  7. ExpathKnowHow. "Virtual Teams".

[1] "Virtual Project Management: Software Solutions for Today and the Future", Paul E. McMaho. [2] "PROMONT – A Project Management Ontology as a Reference for Virtual Project Organizations", Sven Abels, Frederik Ahlemann, Axel Hahn, Kevin Hausmann, Jan Strickmann. [3] "Global Software Development: Managing Virtual Teams and Environments", Dale Walter Karolak, 1999.

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