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Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
Effective Virtual Projects
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Effective Virtual Projects

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The ability to execute virtual projects – projects where the team members seldom or never meet physically – is becoming an increasingly important capability for international organizations. This …

The ability to execute virtual projects – projects where the team members seldom or never meet physically – is becoming an increasingly important capability for international organizations. This presentation identifies five factors that determine the success or failure of virtual projects and discusses how to build the capability to execute virtual projects effectively, including those currently thought too small to be viable.

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  • Virtualization:Can reduce the minimum size of the project office to 2Makes global meetings much easier to organize (shorter timeslots needed)Reduces travel cost drastically, plus the associated time loss
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    • 1. EffectiveVirtualProjects<br />The ability to execute virtual projects – projects where the team members seldom or never meet physically – is becoming an increasingly important capability for international organizations. This paper:<br /><ul><li>identifies five factors that determine the success or failure of virtual projects
    • 2. discusses how to build the capability to execute virtual projects effectively, including those currently thought too small to be viable.</li></ul>Nick Fryars, September 2009<br />
    • 3. Powerful factors driving virtual workinginclude globalization, economic crisis and climate change<br />Competition<br />Globalization<br />Cost reduction<br />VIRTUAL WORKING<br />Economic crisis<br />Travel reduction<br />CO2 reduction<br />Climate change<br />Photo: Tandberg;WebEx screenshot: Cisco Corporation<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />2<br />
    • 4. No dominant model on the supply sideSignificant activity and competition has not yet led to coherent suites of technology to support virtual projects effectively<br />MAJOR ‘FAMILIES’simplified<br />Lots of market activity but:<br /><ul><li>Rapidly changing offerings & price levels
    • 5. No truly coherent suites
    • 6. Typically a rigid feature set in mid-market offerings</li></ul>Videoconferencing<br />Project Information&amp; Document Stores<br />Webconferencing<br />Common results:<br /><ul><li>Technology and work styles do not match
    • 7. Expensive technology initiatives do not deliver on business case
    • 8. Virtual projects fail</li></ul>Microsoft Office suite(and clones)<br />Images: Tandberg; Citrix Online; Cisco; Adobe; Microsoft; Sourceforge<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />3<br />
    • 9. The greatest potential is in smaller projectsThe dominance of traditional approaches to managing projects in large organizations creates an unnecessary ‘cost floor’ for global projects<br />Characteristics of Global Projects<br />Professionalization &amp; formalization of Project Management<br />Cost floortypically €1.5M<br />Minimum NPVtypically €5M<br />Physical meetings  logistic complexity, long lead times<br />Physical meetings,e-mail communications<br />$€<br />High travel costs<br />Minimum project office size typically 4<br />Cost floortypically €600k<br />Minimum NPVtypically €2.5M<br />Virtualization can reduce project expenses drasticallyand thus lower the ‘floor’ at which global projects are viable<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />4<br />
    • 10. So why isn’t everybody doing it?Recent experiences in several major organizations suggest thatfive factors can ‘make or break’ a virtual project<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />5<br />
    • 11. Clear criteria that candidate projects must meetFiltering criteria distinguish those projects that are promisingcandidates from those that need a different approach<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />6<br />1<br />
    • 12. Rigorously applied ‘rules of the game’Members of a distributed team have less in common thanmembers of a co-located team and thus need more steering<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />7<br />2<br />Differentpressures<br />Framework for awareness of others’ position, including:<br /><ul><li>Details on context: e.g. organization, role, targets
    • 13. See others as people: photo, video, personal stuff
    • 14. Training on handling cultural differences</li></ul>Differentpriorities<br />Misinterpretations<br />Culturalmismatches<br />Conflicts<br />Multiple different contexts<br />Reliable progress measurement &amp; reporting:<br /><ul><li>Detail & overview
    • 15. To all stakeholders
    • 16. Monitored by Steering Group</li></ul>Many stakeholders<br />Ease of ignoringcommitments<br />Explicit control of team‘rules of engagement’:<br /><ul><li>Make process explicit
    • 17. Confirm decisions clearly
    • 18. Monitor conformance& intervene proactively</li></ul>Team developmentmay not be synchronizedacross locations<br />
    • 19. An adequate and stable toolsetThe toolset should provide good visualization/collaboration capabilities, plus structured information sharing, and above all be stable<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />8<br />3<br />Mind map example from Biggerplate.com<br /><ul><li>Keep the toolset simple and stable
    • 20. Don’t change a good design for a trivial new feature…
    • 21. …and if you must make a change, tell everybody what, why and when</li></ul>Constraint: limitations of communication via computer screen<br />Use tools that provide good support for on-line meetings &amp; workshops<br />Issue – “yet another” environment for users<br />Tailor &amp; structure a project environment to be intuitive and ‘idiot proof’: limit the number of functions to be learned<br />Screen shots: Microsoft ® SharePoint, Projectplace<br />
    • 22. Competences to operate and supportSuccessful deployment of virtual projects requires additionsto the corporate skill set<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />9<br />4<br />
    • 23. Paths to successDemonstration projects ‘show the way’ by giving managers ofvirtual projects examples &amp; practices to follow<br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />10<br />5<br />Any ambitious project managerwants to succeed…<br />…by providing lessons learned by others…<br />Demonstration projects can help provide a clear path to success…<br />…plus proven approaches and templates<br />…and not crash and burn<br />
    • 24. Getting startedA tried and tested approach to developing almost any new capability uses five steps <br />© Nick Fryars 2009<br />11<br /><ul><li>The above is a standard blueprint and assumes starting from scratch
    • 25. Some organizations will already have some pieces in place, even if not reaping the benefit  tailoring will be required
    • 26. Whatever the start point, building the capability is key to future success</li></ul>An international organization that cannot master virtual projects is unlikely to survive long in tomorrow’s globalized, carbon-restricted and low cost world<br />

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