Virtual Project Management

Virtual Project Management

Trends And Challenges

Virtual collaboration is already in great demand today and will continue to increase in the future in the context of technology and digitization. Due to its novelty, virtual project work seems to be a great challenge for teams.

In this series, we delve deeper into the world of virtual PM and bring you closer to challenges, opportunities, best practices and tips about virtual project management.

But how did virtual PM even come about? The trend in the last few years was mainly caused by the following three factors:

Digitization Enables Exchange Over Long Distances

On the one hand, in the course of digitization, an exchange over long distances became possible. This means that companies nowadays have the opportunity to use all the know-how available in the world. If the online marketing expert would be an asset to the new project lives in Australia, this fact represents a challenge for modern companies but not an obstacle. The expert can still be integrated as a full team member with the help of technical means and enrich the project with his know-how.

Economic Development Of New Markets

Furthermore, some new markets are currently developing, which are also becoming more and more important economically. Examples are China or India. Companies need to be present and on-site in these markets to grow further.

Especially since, in some cases, the countries’ laws require cooperation with local companies to be allowed to operate in these markets. This leads to widely distributed project teams that are also dependent on virtual collaboration.

Outsourcing Is The Trend

Outsourcing is the outsourcing of the value creation activities of a company to an external supplier. The use of qualified or specialized sub-suppliers usually reduces a company’s production, development, or service overheads. Outsourcing is the trend as companies are increasingly critical of their fixed costs.

In contrast to specialized departments in the company, suppliers can be set up and dismantled much more quickly by drafting contracts. In cooperation with external cooperation partners, teams also often become virtual teams.

Challenges

As part of these three factors, some advantages of virtual teams, such as cost savings or a high degree of specialization and know-how of the individual team members, have already been addressed. But of course, the virtual collaboration also brings with it some challenges.

Virtual project work leads, among other things, to a divided process. This is because of communicative, geographical and cultural barriers that team members and project managers have to overcome in every step. This will be a great challenge, especially at the beginning, and maybe minimized in the collaboration when the members have adjusted to each other.

In addition, cultural and professional differences can lead to misunderstandings. Language barriers alone make collaboration difficult, but cultural differences are more critical, as not all project staff have intercultural skills. If the virtual team is somewhat larger, another challenge can be identified: the members rarely all meet in person. As a result, developing a “we-feeling” and team cohesion turns out to be very complicated.

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