Just as globalization is a significant influence in the proliferation of virtual teams, another large component is the influence of technology and ease of communication in the business world. Members of such a globally distributed team rely upon information and communication technology to communicate their work in projects. The increased availability and ease at which individuals can communicate also provides teams with increased flexibility and responsiveness, which enables them to form a group of select and disperse experts who can work on an urgent project (Bharadwaj & Saxena, 2006).
Although teams have greater ease in which to communicate, Haenttonen and Blomquist (2005) state that technological change affects the organizational forms, processes and structures, and the components of relationship and trust and therefore organizations must be cognizant of these important characteristics when working within a virtual project team. In order to specifically meet the needs of the virtual project team, technological tools have also been designed to increase the quality of communication for remote groups.
One such technology is known as computer-mediated communication. The design of the computer-mediated communication is like much other technological advancement, which aim to provide better quality communication tools for virtual groups. Its design, described by Bharadwaj and Saxena (2006), allows team members to share relevant knowledge and coordinate team tasks in better ways. Specifically, this design allows team members the opportunity to interact in “real time” through teleconferencing, electronic meeting systems video and audio conferencing.
Additionally, this technology allows networked email, group calendar and schedule posting, bulletin boards, web pages, meeting minute databases and workflow applications. Human Element in Technology The trend of advancing software programs to assist remote project management teams is not only necessary for the technical requirements of a virtual team but also recognizes the predominant characteristics deemed important, in the software application, from a project’s team perspective.
The secondary characteristics which project teams and contemporary literature support in software applications is the ability of the sofware to represent primary tasks of group cohesion which are to assist in creating an environment of “social presence” and “information richness” (Bharadwaj and Saxena, 2006). These requirements demanded of software developers, while successful in extending inter-personal interactions beyond traditional communications, they highlight the need and desire of global project teams to have the most face-to-face and interpersonal working experience possible.
Project Management Trends Development of an Organizational Wide Project Management Culture The surge in the project management profession is following the track taken by the quality movement of the 1980s. Quality control evolved into quality assurance, by inspecting the process rather than the individual parts, and eventually into today’s total quality management. Project management has concentrated on managing single projects effectively. However, with the advent of enterprise project management (EPM), the focus has changed to the more holistic management of multiple projects.
EPM is the “centralized management of a portfolio of projects to ensure that the allocation of resources to projects is directed and balanced toward the strategic focus of the organization” (Gray & Larson, 2003, p. 518). Organizations are awakening to the applications of project management. In the future, companies will perceive themselves not as hierarchical, functional organizations but as fast tracking entrepreneurial ventures made up of a portfolio of projects, which are constantly changing and renewing (Gassmann & Von Sedwitz, 2003).
Moreover, compensation will be tied to project performance and project auditing will become the norm (University of Phoenix, 2004). Further, companies may outsource the recruiting of personnel for projects to companies which specialize in projects personnel (University of Phoenix, 2004). One of the important characteristics of the project management organization of the future will be the need for projects to move faster, more efficiently, and less costly. As a result, companies will embrace a project management culture.
Today, project managers have replaced, in many organizations, middle managers. Company teams, at all levels, will be versed in the basics of project management and will naturally apply the concepts for both single and cross organizational projects. Project management will be part of the organizational culture. This new organizational culture will be supported by the project management office, which will be the backbone for the different projects by providing information systems and organizational wide standardization.
The culture will be reinforced by institutionalized support in terms of integrated systems, trained personnel and a corporate culture which will perceive itself more as an enterprise than a traditional organization. Globalization The globalization movement will continue to shape businesses across the globe. The greater dispersion throughout the global marketplace makes the accuracy and timeliness of information essential. Globalization will continue to create cross cultural issues. The global perspective of management has created a need for global standardization.
The Project Management Institute is currently working with companies such as Siemens to create world standards (Project Management Institute, 2005). The concept of using project groups to improve functional effectiveness is relatively new and generally accepted information sources to draw conclusions have not been established. Benchmark organizations will be used as a model for others to emulate. Benchmarking will be useful, as long as the situations being faced by the companies are similar.
Further, project management organizations around the globe will tend to network even more to mitigate the challenges of globalization. The project manager of the future will look at the needs of the project and staff it from a global pool of company project human resources. (University of Phoenix, 2004). Databases of containing information on global resources and suppliers connected by intranets will revolutionize the field of project management (University of Phoenix, 2004). Quicker Turnaround
Projects are moving faster and deadlines are being met at different physical global locations, often simultaneously. The impact of this trend is that parallel activities are being conducted at the same time and there is a need for quicker response time. Today’s global companies are carrying projects around the clock – 24 hours a day. Thus, design can be performed in Canada, while procurement is carried in Argentina and fabrication takes place in China. These activities are analogous to the British Empire where the sun never sets.
This tendency will continue to grow as globalization is entrenched. These trends will continue to be supported by the growth of virtual projects and developments in telecommunications (Gassmann & Von Sedwitz, 2003). Enterprise wide systems will aid in the prioritization of projects and dovetailing the project to the organization’s strategy and resource availability (University of Phoenix, 2004). Technologies which help project teams collaborate will be further developed allowing workers in multiple time zones to coordinate activities (University of Phoenix, 2004). Conclusion
The relatively young discipline of project management is entering a new dimension of global project management. The enormous changes are obvious. Global teams can work on projects faster, cheaper, with greater flexibility, and more intelligently in terms of managing resources, risks, and changes. Nevertheless, international project teams are facing considerable challenges that require special attention. Language barriers, different cultural attitudes and values, biases, different working times and styles as well as problems of building trust without personal contact are some of those challenges.
Modern technology such as the internet and international alliances unquestionably support virtual teams and companies that never sleep. Nowadays technology enables teams to communicate via voice and picture effectively around the globe and makes personal contact redundant. Without question, global business will change our daily routines. How much those new trends will change our life will depend upon the people primarily and not just on the technical possibilities. Without acceptance technology is powerless.