PMSRC

Project Management System resources Center

Module 4: PMS for Virtual and Global Project Management

This portion of the Project Management System (PMS) Resource Center is about the tools and automated technologies enabling effective project management in a virtual and global environment. This segment emphasizes the unique requirements of project teams and other stakeholder engagement in a geographically disbursed project management environment including virtual collaboration, project reporting, and other issues related to global project management.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Integrate collaboration in project management via PMS.
  2. Integrate project management communications plan via PMS.
  3. Explain PMS considerations for global project management.

For Your Success & Readings

This module will tackle the logistics of managing projects at a distance. Effective communication, collaboration, and reporting are all considered in this lecture. Be sure to review the recommended reading, the videos, and the interactive content to maximize your learning.

Recommended

  • Part 1: Chapter 2 (section 2.4) in A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (6th ed.)

1. PMS for Virtual Project Management Collaboration

three clockwise arrows, leading from one to the next: collaborate, communicate, connect.

The composition of project teams includes individuals representing a cross-functional enterprise perspective and, in some instances, external contributors. Project teams collectively take ownership in and perform the project work, while other project stakeholders contribute to, evaluate, and receive the benefit of the project outcomes. Project team members and project stakeholders may be located together or be geographically dispersed. Unlike co-located project teams and stakeholders, it is impractical for geographically dispersed projects to physically meet and collaborate (PMI, 2017b). However, project communication and collaboration are critical factors that directly correlate to project success.

Spurred by increasing globalization and enterprise project-related strategic initiatives, which has impacted the size and complexity of projects, more project teams and stakeholders are geographically dispersed, and this has been made possible by virtual collaboration capabilities (PMI, 2017a). Virtual collaboration supposes that two or more individuals work together to accomplish a work activity or task without being physically together. Moreover, virtual collaboration, which may be performed synchronously or asynchronously, is facilitated by specific information technologies and software used to exchange information among remote project stakeholders.

To facilitate virtual collaboration in project management, virtual collaboration technologies have been integrated into or co-operate with project management systems’ (PMS) functionality. The types of PMS virtual collaboration technologies include:

  • audio/video conferencing (with archive recording features),
  • asynchronous discussion/blog forums,
  • interactive chat or messaging,
  • project document and project artifact sharing and/or updating, and
  • secured access for project information exchange. 

Virtual PMS capabilities are facilitated via various platforms including internet-based social media, web-based portals, cloud-computing (SaaS) applications, mobile-device applications, intranet or enterprise platforms, and other shared technology platforms.

For example, in Module 3 a Lynda.com video titled “Learning Slack” introduced Slack’s productivity foundation for teamwork collaboration, which emphasized simplified communications and streamlined workflows in a virtual environment. Slack envelopes all of the team's communication in a shared workspace where conversations are organized and accessible while integrating with nearly every enterprise and productivity product available to streamline the teams’ workflows. A few of the productivity applications integrated with Slack for streamlined workflow include Google Drive for shared file management, Zoom for virtual meeting, Zendesk for customer support, Jira Cloud for project management, and InVision for collaborative design.  A key feature of Slack and other virtual project management applications is the interoperability with mobile devices, thus, functioning where and while the work happens.

Additionally, software-as-a-service (SaaS) project management and collaboration applications such as Asana and Basecamp3 assist project teams and stakeholders to work virtually and efficiently while concentrating on items of importance. These and other project management software applications provide workflow tracking capabilities that notify the next work group of pending WBS tasks assigned to them, and the agreed amount of time allocated for their completion. Moreover, this workflow tracking ability is useful to allow reworked items to go back quickly to a previous group for additional work or clarification if it is something that cannot be checked for integrity, as in the case of a project milestone stage gate.

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What is Asana

Summary: This tutorial video introduces Asana as an online project management and collaboration tool by describing some of its key functions for setting up teams and projects and tracking progress in a collaborative environment.

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Learning Basecamp 3

Summary: This tutorial video introduces Basecamp 3 as an online tool that assists with the organization of projects, team member collaboration, and project performance reporting.

2. PMS for Project Dashboard and Reporting

screenshot of virtual dashboard with eight boxes of data, most in bar, line, or circle chart format.

Enterprise-level project management—as experienced in program management, portfolio project management (PPM), and in the context of the project management office (PMO—requires additional considerations for enterprise and beyond stakeholder communication and reporting. In this project framework, enterprise executives, customers, vendors, partners, and regulatory agencies may stipulate specific project-related performance information requirements that are typically disseminated in the form of project metrics. The PMBOK® Guide (PMI, 2017a) described metrics as measures that demonstrate benefits realized; traditional project metrics emphasize time, cost, scope, and quality for determining project success, while project stakeholder metrics are concerned with both financial and non-financial business value impact. 

Some project management software applications, such as Microsoft Project, offer customized and graphical project reporting capabilities beyond the traditional reports. Although reports are useful for understanding if projects are on track, project data is more easily understood when visualized in a graphical format. 

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Mastering Microsoft Project Graphical Report

Summary: This tutorial video introduces making custom reports and a presentation dashboard in Microsoft Project.

For optimal project outcomes, the metrics used to assess project success should be captured in the project charter and incorporated into the PMS’ monitoring and controlling functionality as key performance indicators (KPIs) for assessing critical project performance and success (Kerzner, 2017). The KPIs and other project metrics are disseminated at the enterprise level to designated stakeholders via the PMS’ project dashboard. Providing a specialized subset of the PMS’ functionally, the project dashboard displays, often in a graphical format, consolidated critical project-related performance insights that can be quickly and easily assimilated to identify problems or looming issues while offering the capability to drill down and around for further information and decision-making understanding as well as for related reporting as needed (Kerzner, 2017). The project dashboard’s decision-making or business intelligence support relies on the PMS’ knowledge management capabilities based on its repository of archived project performance metrics and project lessons learned.

Although many project management software applications offer basic project dashboard capabilities, specialized software such as Tableau is often integrated into the PMS for more robust reporting capabilities.

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Creating a dashboard

Summary: This tutorial video describes making vital information easily accessible by creating dashboards with Tableau.

Additionally, more common desktop software such as Microsoft Excel® can be used create a basic project dashboard portal.

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Creating a basic dashboard in Excel 2016

Summary: This tutorial video explains how to create a dashboard using Microsoft Excel®.

3. PMS Issues in Global Project Management

spherical word collage with ‘organizational culture’ in the middle, surrounded by words like goal, strategy, mission, culture, business, plan, etc.

Continuing innovations and lower costs of virtual collaboration technologies in conjunction with increasing globalization are challenging organizations to raise their performance amidst intense global competition. External issues experienced in managing global projects include diverse cultures and religions, government regulations, political controls, language barriers, time zone differences, geographic distances, and other factors.  Beyond these considerations, PMS issues in global project management include international technology integration factors and interpersonal dynamics associated with virtual environments and team working. The PMS technology integration requires interoperability and connectivity of disparate applications, databases, and communications protocols to achieve homogeneously effective tools in a virtual space while addressing the real and growing cybersecurity threats. For example, because there may be many legacy systems associated with the PMS, data integrity becomes a critical interoperability issue. Additionally, the virtual environment introduces behavioral and ethical concerns related to organization and team culture and operating considerations. 

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Communicating across cultures

Summary: Although technology enables collaboration all over the world, this tutorial video examines cross cultural issues virtual teams experience related to communication.

Review the front and back of each card below, based on Kerzner’s (2107) Table 8-8 Technology and Culture, which is featured in Figure 1 and identifies cultural factures associated with technology considerations.

As we conclude this module, take a moment to check your understanding of virtual and global aspects of project management with PMS in the short quiz that follows.

Check Your Understanding

References

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (12th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Project Management Institute (PMI). (2017a). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (6th ed.). Newtown Square, PA: PMI Publications.

Project Management Institute (PMI). (2017b). Agile practice Guide. Newtown Square, PA: PMI Publications.