In today’s world of international relationships and trade, project teams may be scattered throughout the world. Team members might be located across regional, linguistic and cultural boundaries. For instance, your corporate office might be in Washington, D.C., and team members might work in regional offices in Japan, China, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Germany and France. According to a recent study, nearly half of all employees of leading international businesses reside outside the locale of the company’s headquarters. When these businesses embrace new technologies, as they must to remain competitive, they will evolve into mobile enterprises that can operate any aspect of their business from any location.
Bringing project teams together for meetings becomes complicated and expensive when members are geographically dispersed. One solution is to form virtual remote teams that use collaboration software that allows remote members to participate from anywhere reliable telephone and internet service exists. This type of technology is often called groupware. It consists of the following tools.
Conferencing tools consist of utilities that drive virtual meetings, webinars, messaging and chat applications, discussion boards, video conferencing systems and teleconference solutions.
Coordination tools consist of project management tools that that schedule, track and chart the miscellaneous resources and costs of a project. Other tools that can plan and coordinate team efforts include applications like Microsoft Outlook, which allows team coordinators to send meeting invitations and schedule conferences.
Communication tools include applications for virtual meetings in addition to tools that offer instant messaging and e-mailing functionality. Other types of communication tools can include intranets, private file sharing services, wikis and intranets.
Services such as Microsoft Yammer provide social media experiences that allow employees to connect, share and engage others throughout an organization. Yammer lets employees stream videos, provide feedback, post updates and ask questions.
Collaborative Writing Tools
Traditionally, wikis have been used for collaborative authoring, since they make it easy to add, edit and remove content. However, new features in Microsoft Word, Google Docs and other word processing tools also facilitate collaborative authoring. Using collaborative writing tools, all members of the team can be involved in the content creation process. Since members can review documents and comment on their own time, the number and length of scheduled meetings can be reduced significantly, as well as the number of back-and-forth e-mail chains to discuss changes.
When team members speak different languages, you will need an experienced translation services company to ensure accurate understanding among all involved. Some companies offer 24 hour translation services with expert translators and interpreters who can help your team communicate and reach its objectives. Translators can join your virtual meetings, ensuring that the ideas of each member are communicated accurately. These services are often available at very reasonable costs.