| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Get control of your email attachments. Connect all your Gmail accounts and in less than 2 minutes, Dokkio will automatically organize your file attachments. You can also connect Dokkio to Drive, Dropbox, and Slack. Sign up for free.

View
 

Best tools for your Virtual Teams

Page history last edited by AnuR 9 years, 1 month ago

 

This Wiki outlines the criteria that must be considered when selecting a collaboration tool for a virtual team, various collaboration tool categories, types of tools and lastly, how to select from a set of candidate tools. The primary reader of this Wiki Page will be a new project manager who needs assistance with selecting virtual collaboration tool(s) for their virtual team, but in general the target audience of this Wiki Page will be anyone interested in learning how to pick the best collaboration tool for the work being performed by a virtual team.

Table of Contents:
1 Requirements & Needs
 1.1 Introduction
 1.2 Types of Teams
 1.3 Define your Project and Team
    1.3.1 Four Ps
       1.3.1.1 Purpose
       1.3.1.2 Place
       1.3.1.3 People
       1.3.1.4 Process
 1.4 Current Technologies
 1.5 Selection Criteria

2 Types of Tools
 2.1 Collaboration Tool Categories
   2.1.1 Communication
   2.1.2 Organization
   2.1.3 Information Sharing/Ideation
   2.1.4 Product Development

3 Select & Evaluate Tools

 3.1 Compare and Contrast Features

 3.2 Reviews, Ratings and Test Drive

 3.3 System Compatibility

 3.4 Accessibility, Flexibility and Usability

 3.5 Cost and Budget

 3.6 Maintenance, Training and Support

 3.7 Security

 3.8 Decide How Many Tools are Required

 3.9 Conclusion

 

4 Project A

5 References

6 Annotated References

 

 

1 Requirements & Needs

 

1.1 Introduction

With the onset of rapid technology growth, globalization has all but demanded a shift in work styles to remain competitive. The standard reliance on data mining and knowledge sharing through hard- copies and documentation has been replaced by a focus on individuals and information sharing to get ahead (IBM, 2008). The ability of individuals to form teams, collaborate and self-organize means that information sharing can take place on a greater scale, in shorter time and with less cost (IBM, 2008).  Global access to experts and specialists, reduced costs, and non-stop operations are just a few of the many reasons why organizations are shifting towards a person-based virtual teaming and collaborative work style (IBM, 2008).

 

The success of a virtual team is dependent on many variables, one of which is technology or more specifically, collaboration tools. Collaboration tools give a virtual team the means to manage work, share information and lastly, communicate. Griffith, Sawyer, & Neale (2003), maintain that through collaboration tools, virtual teams can be just as effective as co-located teams because distance and time are no longer obstacles in executing work. Collaboration tools are the lifeline of a virtual team and it’s imperative to approach tool selection as one of the more important decisions to make for a team, one that should be approached with careful thought and consideration.

 

1.2 Types of Teams3

A multitude of factors must be considered when selecting a tool for a virtual team, the first of which is to identify what type of team has been constructed for the work (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). In this step one must also list the characteristics of that team as those often become the requirements that guide the tool selection process (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). The table below is a good example of some common types of teams and the associated characteristics that influence tool selection (Duarte and Snyder, 2006):

 

As seen in the table above, the team typology should ultimately speak to the why, what, when, where, who, and how of the work being performed (Duarte and Snyder, 2006; Lamont, 2009). These characteristics can be gleaned from a team by examining the Four Ps of Collaboration (Lamont, 2009). From there, one must investigate what tools and technology the team currently has access to so that the gaps and constraints of what is already in place can factor into the decision (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). Consideration of these factors will produce a set of criteria that will ensure the tool(s) selection search results will meet the needs of the team and allow them to be effective (Duarte and Snyder, 2006).

 

1.3 Define your Project and Team

 

1.3.1 Four Ps of Collaboration

Understanding what type of team has been brought together for the work helps to unveil the requirements a virtual team will have for a collaboration tool. Defining the team type helps to uncover what Lamont (2009) refers to as the Four Ps of collaboration: Purpose, Place, People and Process.

 

1.3.1.1 Purpose

Defining the project or team purpose is very simply to state why the team exists and what must be achieved by the work. Being explicit about the purpose enables the team to understand what the end-goal of the team is and what type of work must take place to achieve success. The purpose of a team varies according to the organization; some common purposes have been listed below as examples (Duarte and Snyder, 2006; Topchik, 2007):
 
  • Solve problems or generate solutions
  • Develop a new product, artifact, system or process etc.
  • Consult on existing products, processes, or approaches
  • Improve existing products, systems or processes
  • Provide services or data
  • Manage work or personnel

 

Once the purpose of the team is identified, it will be easier to isolate the kinds of tasks that will need to be performed.  For example, if the purpose of the team is to develop a new product, it’s likely that the team will be comprised of multiple experts (e.g., engineers, managers, designers) who will perform different tasks dependent upon their role. Engineers will develop and document technical decisions, managers will work cost and schedule, while designers will generate graphic designs and share visual concepts. Already three different types of tasks are emerging and that is not even representative of all the work that will take place. The tasks performed by a virtual team will likely fall into one of the following categories (Ramirez, 2010):
 
  • Communication and Messaging
  • Manage Progress, Tasks, Assignments, Meetings, Calendars and Scheduling
  • Share Information and Ideas, Share and Store Files
  • Work Collaboratively to Develop Artifacts

 

1.3.1.2 Place

Place describes the when and where of collaboration.  Interaction between team members may be synchronous, meaning they occur in real-time or asynchronous, meaning they do not occur in real-time. The interaction types are defined by place (i.e., location) and time. These Interactions are categorized into four types (Duarte and Snyder, 2006):
 
  1. same time, same place (e.g., face-to-face meetings)
  2. same time, different place (e.g., teleconference)
  3. different time, same place (e.g., discussion board)
  4. different time, different place (e.g., email)

 

If the virtual team needs to discuss a topic at the same time but are distributed across various locations, a face-to-face meeting is obviously not feasible but a teleconference or videoconference would support that interaction. Identifying what types of interactions will take place between members of a team should include understanding the task and whether it needs to be executed by bringing the team together at the same time and place or not. Understanding when and where collaboration will take place helps to refine list of potential tools required by the team.
 

1.3.1.3 People

People describes the who component, or members that comprise the virtual team. Knowing each team member’s affiliation, role, and skill-set is helpful in further identifying requirements for tool selection. It is important to be thorough here because sometimes the membership on teams can change or be intra-organizational which adds even more factors to consider (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). If the membership on a team is fluid, it’s important that the selected tool be easy to learn or already be familiar to most of the organization. If members of the team are from other organizations, the tool must be compatible with their hardware and software and be accessible to them around the clock.
 
The role of a team member will indicate what function they serve on the team and potential tools that may be required to support that work (e.g., a manager needs management tools). The skill-set of team members is also another consideration that cannot be overlooked because even the best tool can’t be of much use to someone who doesn’t know how to use it. Polling the team on this information is a great way to get them involved in the tool selection process. After all they are the end-users of the tool so their characteristics, experiences and inputs should be used to influence the requirements and criteria used to select the tool as well.
 

1.3.1.4 Process

Process describes how the work and interactions on a virtual team will take place. Process is vital to the success of a virtual team but unlike the other three Ps, it is not as easily extracted from the composition and context of the team. Process varies by organization, team and work being performed which means it is more difficult to categorize. Like the team’s purpose, it is essential that the process be made explicit and distributed among the virtual team. According to Duarte and Snyder (2006), parallel, project and network teams most frequently have standard process in place that cover things such as:
 
  • Requirements Engineering
  • Cost Estimates
  • Procurement
  • Team Charters
  • Project Planning
  • Documentation
  • Reporting
  • Controlling

 

Process addresses such things as how technical work is executed, documented and shared, how projects and personnel are managed and lastly, how communication and collaboration occurs between individuals. For example, if there is a standard process for scheduling a meeting that requires the attendees to approve the agenda when accepting the meeting, then a tool that allows invitees to vote or comment on invitations is necessary. Tool selection must account for processes which are currently in place for the team so that the tool can enable and not work against existing processes.

 

1.4 Current Technologies

Using the Four Ps of Collaboration makes it easier to understand the requirements and needs of a virtual team. However, another consideration that must be made prior to selecting a tool is discovering the team’s current access to technologies. In order to know what a team needs, there needs to be an inventory of what is already available or in use. According to Duarte and Snyder (2006), at minimum, one should expect the following basics to be in place and accessible to members of the team:

 

  • desktop/laptop
  • telephone/voicemail
  • teleconference system
  • electronic mail
  • scheduling and meeting systems
  • collaborative authoring tools

 

If they are not in place, add them to the list of tools that must be acquired for the team because these are essentials.

 

Assessing those technologies currently available to the team also entails making sure whatever tools are selected can be supported by the current hardware, software, network and staff. According to Duarte and Synder (2006), the following conditions must be present in an organization before acquiring collaboration tools:

 
  1. Information Technology (IT)/Information Systems (IS) staff have funds, a good reputation and are familiar with the installation and support of collaborative tools
  2. Employee computer systems are up-to-date with the latest releases to avoid costly upgrades and technical failures
  3. Network is consistently maintained, expandable, and flexible enough to manage additional users and system complexity

 

If the organization cannot meet the conditions, it is likely that no matter what tool is selected - problems will arise. To avoid making a costly decision, be thorough in taking an inventory of what technologies and tool are currently available. Remember that what the organization can support now, in the future, and what constraints or limitations currently exist -all will impact the type of collaboration tools selected for the virtual team (Ramirez, 2010).

 

1.5 Selection Criteria

Defining the Four Ps and access to current technologies should result in a clear set of project or team requirements. These requirements and needs should translate into the selection criteria used to investigate tools. Understanding the types of tools will make it easier to map functions and features back to the team’s selection criteria, allowing the team to select a tool that meets their needs and requirements for the project.

 

2 Types of Tools

 

2.1 Collaboration Tool Categories2

During the second step of selecting a virtual collaboration tool it is important to bring forward the types of tasks or work the team must perform to reach their goal. Collaboration tools are categorized by the types of tasks or work they support. The four collaboration tool categories encompass the majority of work performed by virtual teams and are listed below (Datta, 2010):

 

  • Communication: Email, IM, Video &Tele-Conferencing, Whiteboarding
  • Organization: Project Management, Project Planning, Calendar/Scheduling
  • Information Sharing/Ideation: File Sharing, Wikis, Web Forums Blogs,
  • Product Development: Collaborative Authoring and Modeling

 

Each tool category is discussed in further detail below and includes examples of collaboration tools which fall under the four categories.

 

2.1.1 Communication

 

Enhanced Voice Communications (Audio/Video conferencing) 2, 10

Voice Communications today have come a long way from making a standard phone call with a clunky phone to making calls with both streaming video and audio. Now, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications allow users to collaborate by making calls with their computers. These VoIP applications can be just audio or audio and video which often help to make discussions more realistic as individuals can see one another. One example of this tool is Skype, which is extremely popular and used by millions around the world.  The main reason a tool such as Skype is popular, is because it is free and has the ability to record conversations.  Enhanced voice communications have made a major shift in collaboration by introducing newer ways to communicate and share (Datta, 2010; Lomas, Burke, & Page, 2008).
 

Instant Messaging (IM)

IM is another form of collaboration in real time which allows users to communicate via chat. IM allows multiple users to chat synchronously to share ideas and is great for brainstorming. IM tools today are more than the simple text chat; they now support audio chat, video chat, and even file transfer. Many other applications and tools have also integrated IM into their own collaboration tools. Applications such as Facebook and web-based email such as Gmail and Yahoo all have integrated IM into their features. IM is also popular mainly because it’s free and the speed of communication is instant.
 

Whiteboarding19

Whiteboarding allows multiple users to draw and mark-up in real time on a single screen, image or document.  Digital whiteboards can be used during a meeting, a document review, or a brainstorming session to communicate (Kolabora, 2006).  Users can mark-up or annotate on the screen which allows all users to give inputs regarding a document.
 

Web Conferencing18

Web conferencing is a tool that is used for meetings and presentations (Whatis.com, 2008).  It is presented via web-browser in real-time so all the users at the conference can see the same screen. This tool is especially helpful for dispersed teams who are unable to come together in one location for a meeting.  Typically, one user will be the main presenter and has the capability to share screens and the desktop with other users. A more robust web conferencing tool allows control sharing so that others can take over and drive the meeting as well.
 

2.1.2 Organization

 

Project Planning6

Project Planning tools are similar to project management tools except that they help plan or map out the project (Haughey, 2008).  Projects should be mapped out by the goals, deliverables, schedules, and plans.  These tools can help in planning out the project in terms of documents, schedules, charts, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), budgets, and information sharing.  Project planning is the first step in the project before one goes on to manage the project as a whole.  These tools are effective for teams so that they can detail the project before proceeding with the activities of the project.
 

Project Management

Project Management tools are complete managing tools that can help teams coordinate a project.  Some of the features that might be included in project management tools are file sharing, program management, time management, and communication.  These tools help project teams effectively run a project by utilizing the many features in these tools.  Teams can share information, assign tasks, set milestones, complete tasks and manage time and tasks.  Some tools might have project planning and project management features but it is always better to choose one tool that is either best in planning or managing.
 

Group Calendaring/Event Scheduling17

Group Calendaring/Event scheduling allows users to create calendars based on their availability and share these calendars with other members.  Based on these calendars individuals can find availability for meetings and organize events.  This is an effective tool for virtual teams or non-virtual teams.  The calendar can be essential because it can help the team take note of deadlines and delivery dates. Most online calendars can be updated by every team member which is a good thing and helps avoid bottlenecks (Webwiseways, 2010).
 

2.1.3 Information Sharing/Ideation

 

File Sharing/Document Repository17

The next step in evaluating tools to use for a project/company is to figure out which primary features are important for the project.  File sharing allows individuals to share their documents with other team members.  Most collaboration tools have this feature. It allows for the easy storing and retrieving of files. Using email is a more complicated way of managing and editing files, and maintaining order is almost impossible. Online file sharing allows users to upload files to one central repository for many users (Webwiseways, 2010).
 

Web Forums/Wiki15

There are many online tools that allow a team to collaborate together or share information, like web forums or blogs. Though those tools are good idea sharing tools, the most useful kinds allow users to work on simple word documents or even modify whole websites. One such tool is the wiki. A wiki allows collaboration of a document over the internet, meaning users don’t have to download software. The wiki works on the idea that information is never complete (Todorov, 2009). It can also be used as a documentation tool for web development. A small group of people working on a unified subject is the best fit for a wiki, and as such is the best fit for a small company or project interested in knowledge sharing.
 

Public Sites

Public sites allow users to communicate or even share files on a public scale. Users do not have to log into the website to discuss, and the forums are open to anyone. They can put their name on a form so that they can be identified when they comment, but other than that, there is no real hindrance to communication. Similarly, anyone can download files, and many FTP sites use this public format. Security is an issue at public sites and that is something important for many virtual teams to take into consideration.
 

Private Sites

Private sites are the opposite of public sites: only a selected few can access the content that is posted. Information can be posted behind a login/password screen, requiring authentication. This type of site is better for private individual or company sites. Many forums and FTP sites are private.
 

Blogs15

Blogs or weblogs are another online tool that is ideal for information sharing (Todorov, 2009). Blogs allow users to post articles or opinion pieces that other blog users can answer or comment on.  Blogging allows users to help solve problems and help out other users with the information that is posted by one author. The author or blogger posts an article on a Blog where other users can read the article for better understanding of a topic or comment about the content.  Blogs can be valuable tools for teams who are working together for a specific goal. Blogging allows team members to posts articles or documents that can be helpful to other team members and can enable effective collaboration and sharing of information.
 

Microblogging8

Microblogging is a form of communication that allows a user to state their opinion or current position in short posts, ranging from a short paragraph to less than 200 characters (Java, Song, Finin, & Tseng, 2007). Microblogging can be distributed by instant message, text messaging by mobile phone, email, or the Internet to friends or casual observers. Reasons for using microblogging range from talking about daily activities to sharing information. Microblogging is a faster form of communication, and since it encourages shorter posts, it forces the poster to be more succinct in their messages.
 

Voting and Polling1

According to Cheng, Zheng & Van de Wall (2001), voting and Polling tools can be valuable to a virtual team as they facilitate the generation of ideas and the decision making process. These tools provide metrics on whether individuals on a team support a particular idea, product or approach. Some voting and polling tools allow users to keep their identity separate from their vote which allows individuals to respond without worry and makes each vote equal in weight. Additionally, voting and polling tools help a team isolate the potential reason for their inability to reach a consensus. Voting and polling tools are good for collaborative teams because they can be used anytime, anywhere, are a quick and simple way to get a feel for the entire team.
 

2.1.4 Product Development

 

Document Construction

Allowing multiple users to collaborate and edit a single document synchronously has changed how teams work today. Traditionally peer editing consisted of one person starting off the document and that document being passed on to others through multiple drafts. The current technology allows multiple users to write and edit a shared document in real time. Such tools are useful for brainstorming and articulating ideas. This tool is similar to working on a document in Microsoft Word except it is online and is accessible from anywhere there is Internet access. After an individual creates a document they can share it with multiple users, who can then edit, add and share in the same document in real time.
 

Collaborative Authoring

Collaborative writing or collaborative authoring, refers to situations where multiple people work with one another to write a document. Collaborative writing tools allow users from different locations to jointly collaborate on their projects. Users have the ability to modify text as they see fit with the advent of the internet, virtual collaboration has become a bigger occurrence, with people in different physical locations being able to work on a project. A decent collaborative authoring tool should at minimum have version tracking and track changes, otherwise the authoring effort can get confusing quickly. It is also not a bad idea to locate a collaborative authoring tool that allows users to post comments or vote in a way that does not affect the document.
 

Collaborative Modeling and Mind Mapping4, 14

Collaborative models and mind maps are very similar as they allow a virtual team to jointly brainstorm, create and share graphic based models or concept (Fitzpatrick, 2009). While mind maps are primarily used to brainstorm or develop ideas, they can also be used to build basic models. Models and maps are used to communicate design concepts, processes, structures and relationships that are not as easily understood in text-based format. Network diagrams, business process flows, and site maps are common examples of collaborative models or maps which may be created by a virtual team. Depending on the tool, models and maps may be created synchronously or asynchronously (Rouwette, 2009). While some tools require expertise or formal training in a specific modeling language, there are also many tools available that can be used by individuals without technical experience and still produce the same results of facilitating the understanding of a model or concept (Fitzpatrick, 2009; Rouwette, 2009).

 

3 Select and Evaluate Tools

 

3.1 Compare and Contrast Features

Every week, new collaboration tools are released for public consumption over the Internet. As a result, it is difficult to decide exactly which collaboration tool to use for a project or for everyday use in a company, especially since they all have the same basic features, ranging from file sharing/storage to task scheduling. However, each one has something that sets it apart from the rest. At this stage of tool selection, the project manager should have a general list of desired or required features that would benefit a team with the tasks they need to perform. Therefore, each collaboration tool that is examined must be compared to the short list of feature requirements generated during the first step when the team’s requirements and needs were identified. If the product has most, if not all, of the requirements needed, it should be considered as a possible collaborative tool candidate.

 

3.2 Reviews, Ratings and Test Drive

The best way to choose what collaboration tool is best for the virtual team is to try it out. To start, make a small list of collaboration tool candidates andevaluate the software to see what works for the given situation by looking at product reviews and ratings (Ray, 2010). As a rule, one generally wants to check out consumer reviews as opposed to company statements; consumer reviews tend to be the most truthful, while company statements tend to minimize or overlook certain problems. Narrow down the list of tools to get the ones that fit. Once requirements have been satisfied with the small selection of tools, the next step is to try the products. If possible, try a live demo or download the basic setup file for evaluation. If an application costs money, sign up for a free trial.

 

3.3 System Compatibility

Another factor to consider is system compatibility. A web based collaboration tool can be accessed by most everyone because it only requires an Internet explorer to access the website, as long as that Internet explorer is supported. Some tools have applications that can be launched from the desktop or even mobile applications that can be accessed on the go, but not all of these applications are compatible with certain operating systems or mobile devices. As a rule, it is always important to check and see what version is available for the correct device before a purchase or download has been made and it’s recommended to get IT involved here if needed.

 

3.4 Accessibility, Flexibility and Usability

 

Accessibility

When implementing a new collaboration tool it is important to make sure that the employees or the users of the tool will be able to comfortably access the tool. Whether the tool is hosted on the Internet or based on a computer desktop, each project manager should consider the rest of the team and understand what type of access is beneficial. It’s also possible, in some cases, to gain access to a project anytime or anywhere, which is when mobile access becomes a factor.

 

Some collaboration tools are accessible from mobile devices such as cell phones or tablets. This provides users anytime, anywhere access to project information, files and documents. Typically, these mobile devices must have access to the Internet so that uploads and downloads are possible and the application can perform as it would on a desktop device (Webwiseways, 2010). While this may not be the most optimal form of working on a project, it does allow individuals to stay in touch with team members, monitor progress and contribute to work while on the go.

 

Flexibility and Usability

Having features that allow a company to customize the tool to their liking will gain more acceptance in the organization.  Allowing the tool to adapt to the company’s working environment, such as changing the color scheme or translating to different languages, will make tools more acceptable to users.  The tool won’t feel like an off-the-shelf tool that has been haphazardly implemented company-wide, but a tool that has been well thought out as a useful addition to a project.  Although this feature might not be included in every tool, having flexibility will only be a benefit to the adaptability and usability of the tool (Pullur, 2011).

 

In terms of Usability, it’s important that the functionality, look and feel all meet user expectations, needs and skill-level. If a tool is too difficult to use, individuals may not use it or work around it. Understand the users and make sure to select a tool that is not overly complicated, unless the team is highly technical and needs a wide range of functionality. Often times the reviews and ratings of a tool will have some content that speaks to how simple or complex a tool is, be sure to check those out so as to avoid paying for a tool that will never be used by a virtual team because it is way more power than is required or too intimidating.

 

3.5 Cost and Budget3

Cost and budget for virtual teams should cover the costs of both hardware and software used during the project or task. Collaborative tools are an investment and the benefit of their purchase is not immediately seen as the price of acquiring a tool and training employees can be an undesirable up-front cost. However, the success and productivity of virtual teams helps to reduce the cost of on-site operations and that ultimately ends up saving the company money (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). Make sure to pick a tool that is within the budget of the project. Not considering all the factors discussed can lead to a poor decision and possibly a costly one.

 

3.6 Maintenance, Training and Support3

Access to tools, training materials and technical support for virtual workers is extremely important and should not be overlooked. Requiring or providing the members of a virtual team standard equipment and hardware can minimize the range of issues that may exist when accessing collaboration tools. Training people on how to use collaboration tools ensures the financial investment pays off because employees have the knowledge required to effectively leverage the tools. Employees from technical backgrounds and disciplines often grasp or master a new technology more quickly than those who lack the technical familiarity (Duarte and Snyder, 2006). It is important to make sure all employees are proficient enough with the tool that they do not feel left behind or tagged as less competent. Without that knowledge, it’s likely that the tools will not be extended to their full-capabilities. Lastly, twenty-four hour accessibility to tools, training and technical support allows the virtual team to work round the clock with little down time and the latest versions of all materials and tools (Ramirez, 2010).

 

3.7 Security

Security in a collaboration tool is very important, and it should be a major factor in considering a web-based collaboration tool. Collaboration tools need to have the right security features that can limit the content that is viewable to a particular individual. One possible security feature is the ability to assign group or individual permissions. Assigning access by individual or group can reduce security issues. High-level information should only be viewable to the project owner or project manager whereas non-confidential information can be viewable to any user in the team.  This will eliminate any privacy issues that might come with using collaboration tools.  Another solution would be to create separate groups based on project or department.  This will limit the confidentiality of important information on the tool (Pullur, 2011). Finally, all files should be locked behind a security system that is only accessible with a password, making users secure in the knowledge that their data is safe when uploading files, especially if the documents they are uploading are sensitive (Webwiseways, 2010). This ensures that only the people with access to the account are able to see the documents posted.

 

3.8 Decide How Many Tools are Required

After considering all the above factors, the project manager should have a short list of tools that meet requirements for the project and team communication. Care must be taken in the selection of an appropriate tool so that the tool ends up as a helpful addition to the project.

Even though a single tool is typically ideal, it is highly unlikely that a single tool will be able to meet all the requirements of the team. In this case, it is recommended that an alternate tool with the necessary feature be selected. There should already be some possible candidates on the short list of tools. The project manager should select a supplemental tool that is relatively simple to use and utilize it to fulfill the remaining business need.

 

3.9 Conclusion

Selecting the right collaboration tool for a virtual team is something that requires care and consideration. First and foremost, it’s imperative to understand the team’s requirements. Secondly, one must capture the range of tasks and work a team must perform to meet their goals. This eventually becomes the driver for narrowing down particular categories of tools. Finally, these tools must be compared to similar tools and a more detailed investigation into features and benefits must be performed to reveal which tool(s) are the best for the virtual team in question. Selection of a collaboration tool can really make or break a project and if one is not careful to take the rights steps in approaching this decision, it can end up a costly and wasteful investment. While the right collaboration tool does not ensure the success of a virtual team, it can facilitate and enable their success which is well worth a little extra work on the front end.

 

4 Project A

Learning how to select the right collaboration tool for a virtual team should not be rocket science but it does require reading a little between the lines to understand what a team needs. In order to get some practice, access the activity PowerPoint presentation slides provided at this link. While the exercise is typically for an entire team, it can be performed by an individual and the time limit is adjustable. Read the instructions, scenarios, and review the screenshots of the two collaboration tools found in the presentation. If necessary, spend some time researching each of the tools on the web to better understand the features and other selection criteria noted throughout this Wiki. Although answers are available on the scenario slides, be sure to try before checking. The more acquainted one becomes with the process of tool selection, the easier it becomes to recognize team types, requirements and which tools are likely the best fit. Be thoughtful and approach collaborative tool selection as one would any big decision because it is much more important to a virtual team than many would like to admit. Having the right tools, processes and people in place makes it much easier to be a success and this is just another process to help reach that goal.

 

5 References

 

1. Cheng, Kung-E; Li, Zheng; and Van de Walle, Bartel, "Voting in Group Support Systems Research: Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities" (2001). AMCIS 2001 Proceedings. Paper 52.<http://aisel.aisnet.org/amcis2001/52>.

 

2. Datta, Lokesh. "A Taxonomy of Collaboration Tools – All Collaboration - allcollaboration.com." All Collaboration - allcollaboration.com. 19 April 2010. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://allcollaboration.com/home/2010/4/19/a-taxonomy-of-collaboration-tools.html>.

 

3. Duarte, D. and Snyder, N. (2006). Mastering Virtual Teams: Strategies, Tools, and Techniques that Succeed, Third Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, USA.

 

4. Fitzpatrick , Jason. "Hive Five: Five Best Mind Mapping Applications." High Five. Lifehacker, 29 Mar 2009. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://lifehacker.com/5188833/hive-five-five-best-mind-mapping-applications>.

 

5. Griffith, Terri L.; Sawyer, John E.; and Neale, Margaret A. (2003). "Virtualness and Knowledge in Teams: Managing the Love Triangle in Organizations, Individuals, and Information Technology," MIS Quarterly, (27: 2).

 

6. Haughey, Duncan. "Project Planning a Step by Step Guide." Project Smart: Project Management Templates Articles and Events. 2008. Web. 28 May 2011. <http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/project-planning-step-by-step.html>.

 

7. IBM (2008). The new collaboration: enabling innovation, changing the workplace, Armonk, NY, January 2008, White Paper.

 

8. Java, Ashay; Song, Xiaoden; Finin, Tim; and Tseng, Belle. “Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities.” (2007). Joint 9th WEBKDD and 1st SNA-KDD Workshop ’07. August 12, 2007. Web: May 28, 2011. pp. 1-10.<http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/_file_directory_/papers/369.pdf>.

 

9. Lamont, Steve. "The Four Ps of Effective Collaboration." All Collaboration - Allcollaboration.com. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, 15 Dec. 2009. Web. 15 May 2011.<http://allcollaboration.com/home/2009/12/15/the-four-ps-of-effective-collaboration.html>.

 

10. Lomas, Cyprien, Burke, Michael and Page, Carie L. (2008). “Collaboration Tools,” EDUCAUSE LEARNING INITIATIVE (pp. 1-11).

 

11. Pullur, Jay. "Collaboration tools: 6 aspects to consider during evaluation - Qontext.com." Enterprise Social Collaboration Platform - Qontext.Com. N.p., 22 Mar. 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.qontext.com/blog/2011/03/22/collaboration-tools-6-aspects-to-consider-during-evaluation/>.

 

12. Ramirez, Courtney. "How To Choose Office Collaboration Software?" Virtual Office Space & Live Telephone Answering - Cloud Virtual Office Solutions. 2010 Cloud Virtual Office, 09 Dec. 2010. Web. 15 May 2011.<http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/2010/12/09/how-to-choose-office-collaboration-software/>.

 

13. Ray, Ramon. “Collaboration Software: How To Choose What’s Best For You.” Smallbiz Technology: Tech Insight & News for Small Business, 24 Feb 2010, Web: 15 May 2011<http://smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2010/02/collaboration-software-how-to.html>.

 

14. Rouwette , Etiënne. "Track: Collaboration Systems and Technology." Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. HICSS, University of Hawaii at Manoa, January 2009. Web. 23 May 2011.<http://www.hicss.hawaii.edu/hicss_42/minitracks/cl-cmo.htm>.

 

15. Todorov, Valentin. (2009). “Virtual Teams: Practical Guide to Wikis and other Collaboration Tools,” Research and Statistics Branch, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (pp. 1 - 33).

 

16. Topchik, Gary S.; The First-Time Manager's Guide To Team Building, New York, AMACOM 2007.

 

17. Webwiseways, “5 Key Features of a Web Collaboration Tool for Virtual Teams.” Webwise Ways to Work Smarter. Almost Organized. 04 Dec 2010. Date Accessed: 15 May 2011.<http://www.keepandshare.com/blog/2010/12/04/5-key-features-of-a-web-collaboration-tool-for-virtual-teams/>.

 

18. "What is Web conferencing? - Definition from Whatis.com." Unified Communications information, news and tips - SearchUnifiedCommunications.com. N.p., 2008. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/definition/Web-conferencing>.

 

19. "Whiteboarding Tools And Technology: A Mini-Guide." The Online Collaboration Authority, Web Conferencing, Live Presentation Tools: Kolabora. With Breaking News, Forums, Reviews And Expert Advice. N.p., 2006. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.kolabora.com/news/2006/11/02/whiteboarding_tools_and_technology_a.htm>.

 

 

6. Annotated References

 

Comments (2)

AnuR said

at 3:05 pm on May 30, 2011

We created another page for the Annotated references which can be accessed by clinking 6. Annotated References. We weren't sure if you wanted the annotated references on the same page so we created a separate page for them.

terbush@... said

at 10:02 am on May 11, 2011

don't need the collaboration overview, jump right in on the collab requirements. I don't see any sources (that was supposed to be part of this deliverable). I like where you are going. don't try to build a list of tools (it will be outdated before it is published) but list characteristics that will be important for the various tasks/meetings/collaboration patterns you discuss.

You don't have permission to comment on this page.