Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Virtual Tool Time at #PWWCBA

The final afternoon at PW&WCBA allowed us to fill up our PM & BA toolboxes with some new ideas.

James Franklin, P.E., PMP, Project Manager, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure gave several examples of PM uses for mind mapping, including building a presentation or PMP study guide.A mind map is a diagram, used to represent word or ideas graphically and can be used for improving brainstorming, collaboration or creating content. By creating these documents using mind mapping software teams can improve collaboration and prevent the rework of having to manually create diagrams or documents.
Mind mapping
In "Realizing the Full Potential of the Virtual Team" we learned that a higher level of early organization is correlated to a direct positive impact on the team's productivity, quality & interaction.  In addition to this, in a virtual team you need to be explicit and transparent throughout the project, providing self-service information that is available at all times.

Anyone can be trained to work virtually, but it involves a different skill set than co-located teams (an ability to ask questions and clarify and work independently, amongst others). Communication skills can pose a challenge on any team, but in a virtual team the problem can be exacerbated as modes of communication are removed and communication is often not real-time.

Lindsay Chamberlain suggests several tools for better managing a virtual team:
- Create a team charter that includes information such as expected review/lag times,  scheduling conflicts
- A workload and priorities log to track
- Virtual meeting technologies that prevent confusing conference calls (however, using computer-mediated communication every single time will lower effectiveness, aim for 10% or more person-to-person communication using face-to-face, webcam, or voice-to-voice)
- Regular communication of the vision and goals
- Determine training needs and comfort with virtual environments as soon as possible (first month)
- Open conversations about the virtual environment
- Avoid unintentionally privileging co-located team members

Lastly, Maryann Burns, Senior Project Director, The Travelers Companies, Inc asked "Are your PM Tools Keeping up with the Latest Innovations, Trends and Techniques?" Saying, to know what tool you need, you need to first look at what your purpose is (both today and for the future).  First conduct a current tools assessment and report findings, then design guideposts and develop a road map for implementation.

 Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at 

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