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Paper w78-1996-253:
Virtual teams, project management processes and the construction industry

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Guss C

Virtual teams, project management processes and the construction industry

Abstract:Process is the "action of going through, a progressive forward movement from one point to another, with the goal of reaching an end point" 1. Project managers in the construction industry tend to regard process as the completion of separate technical tasks to reach an end. What project managers do not ask is, what happens in the process of communicating that contributes to a successful or poor project. The answer remains elusive because project managers expend energy finding better management tools and techniques, not communication processes to help expose and overcome limitations and inefficiencies of projects. Some tools provide a means to examine overall project success, but typically discrete time phases are examined in projects. Deming’s teachings are clear in that improvement in the quality of projects demand improvements in processes. One of the key process improvements that the construction industry needs to make is the area of communication to facilitate the transfer of knowledge between teams and projects. In the future, the industry will find it more difficult to rely on tacit knowledge (on the job know-how) of organizations or individuals in virtual environments.movement from one point to another, with the goal of reaching an end point” 1. Project managers in the construction industry tend to regard process as the completion of separate technical tasks to reach an end. What project managers do not ask is, what happens in the process of communicating that contributes to a successful or poor project. The answer remains elusive because project managers expend energy finding better management tools and techniques, not communication processes to help expose and overcome limitations and inefficiencies of projects. Some tools provide a means to examine overall project success, but typically discrete time phases are examined in projects. Deming’s teachings are clear in that improvement in the quality of projects demand improvements in processes. One of the key process improvements that the construction industry needs to make is the area of communication to facilitate the transfer of knowledge between teams and projects. In the future, the industry will find it more difficult to rely on tacit knowledge (on the job know-how) of organizations or individuals in virtual environments. Global trends to outsource work and downsize employee pools combined with the widespread availability of telecommunications devices continue to push organizations into considering ‘virtual employment’. Despite knowing that additional full-time employees often cause greater negative utility, the construction business continues to lag behind in use of communication technology and in the development of virtual teams. In the future, a shift to virtual teams will be a consequence of the need for high speed communication of new ideas among experts world-wide, for a competitive edge. Challenges are in using telecommunications tools to overcome geographic and psychological distance in managerial and technical communication. This paper discusses the future need for virtual teams in the construction industry. Some useful communication processes and technologies that facilitate a transition to virtual teams are introduced. These include: desktop videoconferencing, public video networks, Group Decision Support Systems, and the Internet. Advances in procurement capability is discussed to show impacts on the construction industry.

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Series:w78:1996 (browse)
Cluster:papers of the same cluster (result of machine made clusters)
Class:class.education (0.033332) class.communication (0.027279) class.social (0.025990)
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by the University of Ljubljana. The assistance of the editor, Prof. Ziga Turk, is gratefully appreciated.

 

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