An increasing amount of work is conducted in projects in dispersed virtual organisational settings. Information is the raw material of virtual work and therefore an understanding of information processing and knowledge transfer is crucial.
Often in virtual projects the main communication method is e-mail. It just seems so easy to use and things get documentated while you write. However, using e-mail also causes a lot of misunderstandings, communications takes a lot of time, things tend to get lost and e-mailing even causes conflicts.
Ambiguity in communication often leads to inadequate information flow, which is caused, e.g., by misinterpretations of messages, different patterns in sending and checking messages and interpreting silence in different ways, which hinders development of trust. Consider using virtual collaboration platforms and webconferencing and remember to document at least these following issues.
Checklist for all projects
- A budget
- Short and long term goals, targets and timelines
- Description of stakeholder network
- Project members, their contact information and responsibilities
- Status reports and summaries
- Action points
- Version control and documentation format
- Lessons learned document
Additional checklist for large projects and for R&D organizations
- Risk management plan, constraints and impacts
- Product documentation and responsibilities (Documentation Plan)
- Assigned review teams and a Review Plan
Version control is mandatory. Documentation reduces uncertainty, because e.g. responsibilities and timelines become visual. It is beneficial to remember that informal and formal communication are needed, particularly in virtual projects. Otherwise project members do not learn to know one another and therefore information sharing becomes challenging. An organisation´s support for communication is particularly needed in coordination and building trust among project members.