The workplace has changed dramatically during recent years, and so have the tools. In earlier practices, it was easier for managers to keep track of everything going on, because team members were physically located in one place, and closely managed. However, today’s teams are:
- More distributed – Businesses often spans multiple cities and global boundaries to access top talents
- More empowered - Top down management practices have been replaced by a culture where employees make decisions and interactively task each other in a matrix environment
- More dynamic –Team members interact in a fast-paced, flexible environment that reacts swiftly to change
This paradigm shift has caused information to become more decentralized. Managers can no longer keep their arms around everything going on in an organization. Work-related information is exchanged by email, outside the perimeters of the structured workplace, where it cannot be accessed or reported on.
New methods and technologies are helping organizations cope with these trends. Top-down project management tools have been extended to accommodate interactive task management.
Collaboration tools support live remote communications, such as chat and whiteboards. Content management tools provide for information sharing. Organizations typically implement an array of these support tools, leaving knowledge scattered between unrelated systems. Most significantly, a new breed of software is emerging, referred to as “virtual team” solutions, especially created for the changing workplace. This white paper introduces virtual teams, and describes how Team Leader is used to reunite disparate teams, facilitate teamwork and make organizations much easier to manage by keeping related information in one place.
A “virtual team” is defined as a geographically disperse group of individuals, working across time, space, and organizational boundaries, linked together by technology. More and more organizations are leaning on virtual teams as a means to re-establish the structure and dynamics of the once physical workplace. By definition, these teams are primarily enabled via software technologies. Unlike many breeds of software, Team Leader was created from the ground up, especially for virtual project teams. As such, Team Leader not only encompasses the most common communication functions, but also maintains a link between related information, so that important project files are no longer scattered between emails, file systems and spreadsheets. With one click, managers can access a project-wide rollup, which presents all activities, in-progress documents, performance history, notes and other relevant information for the project. This is especially impressive when the project is supported by a distributed team.
At the highest level, Team Leader provides a virtual workshop,
where distributed employees can work together as an integrated team. Geographic
boundaries become transparent and information becomes much easier to manage.
1. The Virtual Workshop 2. Sending a Task From within the virtual workshop,
team members perform interoffice tasking, document and form routing, brainstorming,
and various work-related activities. Collaboration is task-centric and result-oriented.
Sending a task is as easy as sending an email. Simply indicate a due date, attach
forms and documents, and assign it to a team member. 3. Email Notifications
à 4. Tracking and Reporting
Team Leader sends emails to managers and team members throughout the day, as task status changes. Dozens of tracking and reporting tools keep managers in the loop. Regardless of how distributed the team or complex the project, Team Leader keeps information together… so, you always know where to find status, performance history, documents, forms, web pages, discussion notes, contact information, etc.
Team Leader is readily distinguished from other products by a uniquely integrated approach, advanced feature set, and an enterprise-enabled architecture that can support thousands of users.
Virtual Workshop - Employees feel like part of an integrated team - Serves as an information portal for the entire business
- Web and Windows interface - Users have two options, for fast access or remote access
Outlook look-and-feel - Low training costs and faster implementation
- Subtask tracking - Keeps task details together, even if the work is performed by distributed team members
- Customizable Interface - Change labels and tables to reflect your specific business needs
- Programmable Interface - Extend functionality and capture additional information for your specific business
- Form designer - Design, route, and report on forms, with no programming or database experience
- Electronic signatures - Track management approvals
- Checklist designer - Guide team members through repeatable processes
- Workflow features - Configure life cycles and custom routing
- Templates - Simplify data entry for common task activities
- Historical audit trail - Always know who worked on a what or when something was completed - Employee performance history for annual reviews
- Document and content management - Share and track documents, forms, checklists, contacts, binary files, memos, web pages
- Version tracking - Tracks the date that documents were changes, and allows users to roll back to previous document versions
- Email Notification - Stay in the loop as to when tasks are completed, reassigned or when due dates change
- Time tracking - Track and report on time for each task. Great for contractors
- Calendar - Automatically keeps your calendar current as you work
- Security - Control access based on the team structure or individual
- Business intelligence for performance analysis - Display graphs of which team members are consistently timely or late. This also serves as a great tool for annual performance reviews.
- Contact management - Share and manage contact information Database replication for offline synchronization - Work offline and synchronize with the database later
- HTML reports - Report on status, late tasks, upcoming tasks, etc.
- Scalable Architecture - SQL Server support for enterprise teams - Teams within teams
- Outlook import and VCard export - Helps keep Outlook and Team Leader synchronized
- Discussion board - Employees can brainstorm about a project or activity, and notes are neatly filed away with the task folder
- Live chat - Send informal messages to team members
- Batch notifications - Send targeted email alerts about all late tasks, upcoming tasks, etc.
- Plug-in generator - This VB source code generator makes plug-in development easy
Team Leader offers various organizational benefits, including but not limited to the following:
As the virtual teamwork market is relatively new, most organizations still rely on a combination of technologies to support their teams. This section summarizes the relationship of these tools to the specific issues faced by virtual teams.
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