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... roject team. The two approaches they put forward are an attempt to avoid breakdowns due to language use and unfamiliar style of carrying out conversations. The first approach is to give the benefit of the doubt. That is, the members of the team must understand that other team members do come from other cultural backgrounds and may have unique or different methods of communicating. The second approach is to avoid using language / expressions that remote [team] members [are] not familiar with, or which may be misinterpreted.
Haywood (2000, p. 59) provides a list of key points in relation to minimising the effects of time and distance. One, which takes into account differences in time zones, is to allow enough time for the actual transfer of deliverables. That is, it should not be expected that information is transferred and understood in "zero time." Adjustments in expectations must be made by the team members. A second point is to arrange some overlap in working hours. This may require some adjustments to standard working hours, but it may be necessary when conference calls are to be held. Perhaps the most important point that is raised is the need for periodic face-to-face meetings (Gezo, Oliverson & Zick 2000, p. 6; Maznevski & Chudoba 2000, p. 473).
This is especially true at the commencement of a project. The intention is to build and establish relationships between the team members. However, it must be stressed that an over riding factor in providing face-to-face meetings will be the cost, especially if team members are located in different countries. Therefore, there needs to be balance in the timing of face-to-face meetings, with consideration given to the outcomes of such meetings.
Audio and video conferencing facilities and email can be used as a supplement to face-to-face meetings (Carmel & Agarwal 2001, p. 27; Gezo, Oliverson & Zick 2000, p. 6). However, these methods do have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, email can be an inappropriate means of communication where a fast response is required (Carmel & Agarwal 2001, p. 27). To assist in determining the most suitable media, Maznevski and Chudoba (2000, p. 485) have proposed a set of guidelines. Essentially they propose that if the message to be communicated is highly complex, then a richer form of medium is required. Where the richness of a medium is described as the ability to [effectively] convey knowledge and information, with the richest form of medium being face-to-face communications and email as a relatively lean medium (Kock 1998, p. 296).
However, there still exists the need for a greater level of coordination and collaboration in a dispersed team. Gezo et al (2000, p. 6) state that the capabilities of a dispersed team can be greatly enhanced through the use of collaborative tools, such as project management software applications. 3. Software Tools 3. 1. Requirements The selection of any project management software tool will require an outline of a basic set of requirements. However, technical and functional requirements should not be the guiding. The focus should first be on satisfying the business objectives (Schmaltz 1990, p. 8).
Clearly stating business objectives, such "[lowering ] long-term maintenance [development] costs", may lead to differing sets of technical and functional requirements. Some of the proposed objectives will be to minimise communications costs through the use of existing infrastructure and to reduce the incidence of rework caused by incomplete documentation. Combining these objectives and elements of the BBRI Software Evaluation Checklist (Shtub, Baird & Globerson 1994, p. 573), a basic requirements was developed (see appendix B). 3. 2. Options A search of available project management packages which might meet the proposed requirements, was conducted using the Internet.
Before applying some of the requirements, the choices were narrowed by selecting those sites which information online, including case studies, technical documentation, software demonstrations and white papers. Some of the short-listed options, and the information that was found, included: mySAP Product Lifecycle Management - web Brochures & White Papers, including an overview on how the application works and its benefits. Demo. Online demonstration and evaluation of application. Customer reviews. Broken down by industry, including pdf documents and streaming video.
Project rak Project Manager - web Screen snapshots of the applications various menu options. Online support, including a helpdesk, an FAQ page and knowledge-base. Case studies and client list. Pmoffice - web Articles on the application and on distributed project management. An overview of the processes behind the application. Giga Plan - web An overview of the application, including the processes and screen shots.
Downloadable trial version. To further assist in the evaluation process, it is helpful to seek independent advice or reviews of the selected options. For example, Fiona Powell's (2001, p. 32) review of Giga Plan and a presentation given by Ajenstat and Benchimol (1999, p. 1) review on Pmoffice, as part of their investigation on enterprise wide projects management applications. 4. Conclusion A final evaluation of the proposed applications is not within the scope of this proposal, as the purpose was to present and discuss some of the issues in relation to distributed project management.
Outlining these issues is actually more important than selecting any tool. As Gammack and Poon (1999, p. 1) state, introducing a tool does not always guarantee success. A number of "non-technological issues such as user acceptance, trust in joint operations and overcoming cultural differences" must also be dealt with. Therefore, it will be imperative for the organization to formulate processes to deal with these issues. In particular, the issues of time, location and cultural differences will require the most attention. How these issues are addressed will impact on the successful coordination and collaboration of any future efforts in managing a highly dispersed or distributed project.
However, by understanding the issues of time, location and cultural differences, this organization is well on the way to success in managing any future projects. References Ajenstat, J. & Benchimol, J. 1999, 'NSS in Project Management Enterprise Wide Technologies: The Case of Pmoffice', in Proceedings of the 32 nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, pp. 1 - 9. Carmel, E. & Agarwal, R. 2001, 'Tactical Approaches for Alleviating Distance in Global Software Development', IEEE Software, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 22 - 29. Dafoulas, G. & MacAulay, L. 2001, 'Investigating Cultural Differences in Virtual Software Teams', Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Systems, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 1 - 14.
Fritz, M. B. W. , Narasimha m, S. & Rhee, H. -S. 1998, 'Communication and Coordination in the Virtual Office', Journal of Management Information Systems, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 7 - 28. Gammack, J. & Poon, S. 1999, 'Communication Media for Supporting Distributed Engineering Design', in Proceedings of the 32 nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, pp. 1 - 7. Gezo, T. , Oliverson, M. & Zick, M. 2000, 'Managing Global Projects with Virtual Teams', Hydrocarbon Processing, vol. 79, no. 1. Haywood, M. 1998, Managing Virtual Teams: Practical Techniques for High Technology Project Managers, Artech House, Boston.
Haywood, M. 2000, 'Working in Virtual Teams: A Tale of Two Projects and Many Cities', IT Professional Magazine, vol. ? ? , no. ? ? , pp. 58 - 60. Kock, N. 1998, 'Can Communication Medium Limitations Foster Better Group Outcomes? : An Action Research Study', Information & Management, vol. 34, pp. 295 - 305. Lee, J. -N. , Huynh, M. Q. , Chi-wai, K. R. & Pi, S. -M. 2000, 'The Evolution of Outsourcing Research: What is the Next Issue?' in Proceedings of the 33 rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, pp. 1 - 10.
Marcolin, B. L. 2002, 'Managing Operations', in Information Systems in Practice, 5 th edn, ed. Sprague, R. H. , Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Maznevski, M. L. & Chudoba, K.
M. 2000, 'Bridging Space Over Time: Global Virtual Team Dynamics and Effectiveness', Organization Science, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 473 - 492. Mcfarland, F. W. & Nolan, R. L. 1995, 'How to Manage an IT Outsourcing Alliance', Sloan Management Review, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 9 - 23.
Powell, F. 2001, 'Software Review 116 ', Project Manager Today, pp. 32 - 38. Server, S. & Say, S. 2002, 'Information Systems Development by US-Norwegian Virtual Teams: Implications of Time and Space', in Proceedings of the 35 th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, pp. 1 - 10. Schmaltz, D. A. 1990, 'Simply Seeking Software', Journal of Systems Management, vol. 41, no. 8, pp. 7 - 9, 18. Shtub, A. , Baird, J.
F. & Globerson, S. 1994, Project Management: Engineering, Technology and Implementation, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
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Research essay sample on Distributed Project Management A Proposal For Change