Ask Winnie: Column 3

Ask Winnie: Column 3

Dear Winnie,

I've just been assigned to a new project. It involves people from several of our divisions, scattered across the country. We won't be able to meet face-to-face until next month, but the project must be completed in six months.

Is there anything we can do to get started? We've been told that groupware might help. Management has agreed to buy new software if that would get the project done on time.

Our organization sometimes uses conference calls... but many times the people at the remote sites are hard to hear. And in this case we would not even have met the other people.

Got any ideas?

Waiting in Washington

Winnie Responds

Dear Waiting,

You are pushed for time, so I won't suggest some of the more elaborate groupware.

However, does your company have e-mail? If so, I suggest having all project team members use it to introduce yourselves to one another, share what you want out of the project, and discuss how you are going to communicate. If you don't have e-mail, it's time to talk your management into setting it up.

While you're at it, get them to buy a video-conferencing system. It's fairly quick to establish and learn how to use, and it will enable all of you to "see" one another and have effective "virtual meetings". It's a good investment, because everyone in the company can use it, it will likely save a bundle in travel costs, and project quality will probably improve.

Whatever you use, I urge you to insist on proper training for everyone involved. A lot of potentially valuable software and hardware gather dust because people don't know what to do with them.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but don't give up on the face-to-face meeting, no matter what technology support you get. You still need to do it -- soon.

Good luck with the project.


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