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Monday, 31 October 2011

Virtual Team Success Factors

Virtual Team Success Factors

Author: Exforsys Inc. Published on: 28th Apr 2009

A Virtual Team that emphasizes the following factors can successfully complete any project. Due to the falling costs of virtual team technology and the growing power of networks, more virtual teams are being formed all the time, and will continue to be formed in the foreseeable future.

Even though all virtual teams may be able to access the same technology, this does not mean that they will have the same results when it comes to the successful completion of their projects. Because many organizations don't understand the advantages and disadvantages of virtual team networking, they will be unable to successfully take part in this emerging technological trend.

When it comes to virtual teams, the most important thing to keep in mind is that just having access to computers and communication technologies is not enough for the team to successfully complete projects. While the proper equipment is necessary, there are many other factors that go far beyond the mere construct of technology.

Many virtual team managers have assumptions about virtual groups that may not be quite accurate. For example, most people believe that the costs of travel fall when virtual groups are implemented. However, this is only true if the team is small. In truth, as the team becomes larger and more successful, travel costs may actually increase.

Some of the factors that virtual team members must pay attention to if they wish to succeed are organizational culture, cohesion, and coordination. What is most interesting is that these three factors are not restrained or related to technology. These factors are just as relevant in traditional teams as they are in virtual ones.

If a group is not cohesive, this team will not succeed. The most fundamental step in group cohesion is group communication. All members of the team should be able to speak their minds freely without fear of retribution or isolation on the part of the other members. The leader should communicate with all members evenly, and the issue of "playing favorites" should never be allowed.

Coordination and Group Cohesion

Many virtual managers make the mistake of thinking that just having accessed to advanced communication technologies is enough for them to successfully build a virtual team. This couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, this is just the "starting point" for a successful virtual team. When you build a virtual team, always keep in mind that the technology should be the beginning, not the end.

The end of the process should always be the human factor. When I say the "human factor," I'm referring to good old fashioned human psychology. You see, why technology may change, humans rarely do. If you can understand this, then you have the foundation which can allow your virtual team to thrive while others fail.

It may be argued that a virtual team is only as good as its leader. Regardless of how advanced the tools of a virtual team may be, if the leader is incompetent, the team will fail before the project even starts. Many of the principles that are used in traditional leadership roles are equally effective for virtual teams, particularly when it comes to building and maintaining group cohesion.

An effective leader will make sure he communicates with their team members effectively. While the opinions of the members may be considered, in the end, it is always the leader who should have the final say. The team must also be capable of coordinating tasks in a highly efficient manner.

Organizational Culture and Coordination

Each organization has a culture, a form of behavior that is shared among all members of the group. Of all the factors mentioned so far in this article, organization culture plays a critical role in the success of the virtual team.

All members of the team must speak the same language, meaning that methods of behavior should be established early on. Once again, it is the leader of the team who must be responsible for establishing these methods of behavior. All members of the team must behave in the same manner in order for group cohesion to be maintained.

Virtual Team Success Factors

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