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Themes and theories for working in virtual project teams
Themes and theories for working in virtual project teams

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Glossary

activities
Some action, which may be ongoing, such as communication or monitoring of team progress.
asynchronous
Not existing or happening at the same time, i.e. happening at different times. See synchronous.
audio conferencing
Many-to-many communication using audio channels only, for example telephone conferencing.
basic life cycle
Association for Project Management (APM) definition of project life cycle from concept to handover and closeout.
blogs
Web pages (web logs) published by individuals containing their postings on different subjects that interest them as well as responses to their postings and links to other web content. Is one-to-many communication since usually it is posted by one person although others may be able to add comments.
boundary
Systems thinking term. The separation of what is within the system and what is outside of it.
business case
Outcome of concept phase of project life cycle so that ‘go’ or ‘no go’ decisions can be made.
cognitive abilities
Verbal, numerical reasoning, critical reasoning or the ability to follow a series of logical steps at an abstract level.
collocated
To be in the same physical proximity to other people and be there at the same time.
collocated teams
A team which is working in the same physical location and is working on the tasks at the same time. The context may influence the team members’ interpretation of the degree of collocation.
community of practice
A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
components
See subsystems.
concept
First phase in basic and extended life cycle.
cross-cultural teams
Usually refers to a team where some members are in different geographic locations to each other so that they are based within different social or racial cultures. May also be used to refer to crossing cultural boundaries which may exist between different generations or between locations which have different levels of technological development. There can also be considerations of organisational culture.
definition
Second phase in basic and extended life cycle.
deliverable
A product or outcome of a task, or series of tasks within a project, which may be intangible, such as test results, or a physical item, such as hardware, or a report or presentation, to be delivered at a specified time during a project or at its end. A project may have many deliverables.
dispersed team
In this course this means the same as a distributed team or a virtual team, although may have other meanings for others authors.
distributed team
In this course this means the same as a dispersed team or a virtual team, although may have other meanings for others authors.
emergent behaviour
Systems thinking term. In a system the behaviour arises from the interaction of the parts of the system.
emergent properties
The properties or attributes of a system which emerge from the holistic interaction of the parts rather than from the parts themselves. 
environment
Systems thinking term. What is outside of the system. It may influence the system but is little influenced by the system.
execution
See implementation.
extended life cycle
APM definition of project life cycle which goes beyond the basic life cycle to include operations and termination. Also known as product life cycle.
fast tracking
A project management technique whereby project phases may overlap.
forums
An internet forum, which is a discussion board accessed via the internet. A many-to-many communication channel based on text but participants may include diagrams, pictures and audio.
functional boundary
Systems thinking boundary that is drawn to include all components of a system which are needed to consider the system as a whole.
functional role
Management tasks related to the process of team organisation required to ensure the team works effectively together.
goals
A goal may refer to the purpose or aim of a project, i.e. what needs to be achieved. A team may also have a goal, or several goals. For a team working on a project achieving the project goal is typically one of the goals of the team, although the team may also have other goals. Other goals may relate to other projects or the way in which the team carry out the work to achieve the team goal.
group
People coming together for a purpose, with some interaction between them and some social structure.
handover and closeout
Final phase in basic life cycle and fourth phase in extended life cycle.
holistic behaviour
Systems thinking term. The behaviour of the system as a whole which is more than the parts of the system separately. Also referred to as the synergy of a system. 
implementation
Third phase in basic and extended life cycle, also referred to as execution.
industrial revolution
The period in UK history when there were rapid technological developments which moved production from being small scale, home based to larger scale and factory based.
interdisciplinary approach
An approach that draws on more than one academic area.
milestones
A project may be divided into smaller parts, and milestones are set to identify the end of each part. This facilitates monitoring of progress. One or more deliverables may be associated with each milestone.
operational activities
Day-to-day ongoing activities.
operational teams
An operational team undertakes ongoing activities that are required for the provision of goods or services. For example, the telephone service operated by a bank is provided by an operational team that are supplying a service to the public.
operations
The fifth phase in the extended life cycle.
physical boundary
Systems thinking boundary that depends on the physical objects.
product life cycle
See extended life cycle.
project
An activity to produce meaningful change which has a start and an end. It has resources, a budget, a schedule and some form of quality check on output. Project team members undertake allocated roles and responsibilities.
project management
An established profession and discipline with professional bodies that have developed bodies of knowledge.
project plan
Outcome of definition phase of project life cycle.
project teams
A team brought together to undertake a specified project.
reflective practice
Learning from experience by observing and analysing what happened and using what can be learnt from this review to improve performance. Reflective practice can be summarised as three steps: observe, analyse and make recommendations.
shared virtual storage areas
Shared areas which are stored virtually and access by members of a team or group or other given the necessary permission. This is a many-to-many communication method which facilitates remote access by many people to documents or other resources which may have been created by many people.
Soft Systems Methodology
The application of systems thinking to complex and messy problems which typically involve people and technology. SSM has seven steps which gives structure to examination of the real world problem to identify improvements and take steps to address the problem situation.
specialist collaboration tools
Software tools developed to support virtual collaboration.
subsystems
Systems thinking term. Also referred to as a component of the system. An element within a system which itself may be a system.
synchronous
Existing or happening at the same time, typically team communication is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous interaction.
synergy
See holistic behaviour.
system
A whole, which has purpose. See also systems thinking.
system map
A diagram used in systems thinking to show the system, its subsystems and factors in the environment. This illustrates where the system boundary can be drawn.
systemic
Using systems thinking.
systems thinking
A holistic approach to problem solving that involves analysing and modelling real world messy situations.
task
An action which is needed as part of completing a deliverable, or achieving a project or an operational goal. Some authors also use the term ‘activity’.
team
A [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] team is a group of people having a common purpose.
team environment
The organisational and technological surroundings in which the team works.
team role
Team roles are about the way team members interact with each other in order to facilitate team processes.
technical role
Role within a team with tasks which are required to achieve the team goal.
termination
The final phase in an extended life cycle.
time–space matrix
Grid which shows the variation of time (either same or different) against place (either same or different), so illustrates the possible variation between collocated and different types of virtual team.
unexpected side effects
System thinking concept of outcomes which are not as predicted usually because the problem has not been looked at holistically.
video conferencing
Many-to-many communication using video channel, so that participants can both see and hear other participants, the camera may be directed towards a screen so that presentation materials may be viewed.
Virtual Learning Environment
The virtual spaces available for teaching and learning.
virtual teams
A virtual team is one where there is a common task to be performed by people who are separated by distance and/or time so that their interaction is electronic.
virtual workspace
The electronic area in which the team communicate and collaborate. This may not be one particular tool but can be made up of the use of various tools and facilities.
virtuality
The degree or extent to which a team is virtual.
whole life cycle review
Undertaken as part of the termination phase of a project to reflect on experience and learn from this for future projects.
wikis
A user-editable website used for collaborative writing.