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Technology advancements and globalization are changing the way the engineering and construction industry executes projects, with an ever-pressing need to implement geographically distributed virtual teams. Technological changes are creating a new global economy in which CII member companies must adapt their work processes to keep up with the rapid changes and execute projects more quickly and efficiently. Today, delivering a successful project often depends on the team’s ability to maximize its virtual performance.  The Construction Industry Institute (CII) created Research Team 326 (RT 326) to examine: “What can the construction industry do to maximize the performance of virtual teams?” To explore this question, the team examined current and emerging virtual team practices and evaluated the current performance levels of virtual teams in relation to their Technology, Team, and Process attributes.

RT 326 developed and distributed a survey questionnaire within the engineering and construction industry that evaluated virtual team’s Technology, Team, and Process components, along with the team’s overall performance. Following this survey, RT 326 conducted several case studies among CII member and non-member companies, both from high-performing and low-performing virtual team members in the industry. Within the three categories of Technology, Team, and Process, RT 326’s research found a correlation between virtual teams that achieve high performance and the implementation of 21 Virtual Team Key Performance Indicators (VT KPIs). Using the Analytical Hierarchy Process, the team then specified priority weightings for each VT KPI to clarify the relative importance of each KPI for team performance. Through validation surveys, RT 326 found that Technology measures, while necessary for virtual teams, did not have strong associations with performance; however, virtual team performance was strongly correlated to having Team and Process VT KPIs in place. By implementing corresponding KPIs, project teams can overcome barriers characteristic of virtual work, including inadequate hardware, uneven participation, and a lack of virtual team procedures, among others.

The VIRTUOSO tool: High Performance Virtual Team Equalizer, is an implementation resource developed by RT 326. Project managers can use VIRTUOSO to evaluate their virtual teams for each of the 21 VT KPIs. Analysis of the responses determines the virtual team’s strengths and weaknesses in each of the categories and key performance indicators included in the VIRTUOSO. VIRTUOSO identifies areas that need improvement and provides implementation guidance to enable higher levels of performance that include links to associated CII best practice documents. By using this tool, project managers can execute virtual teamwork more effectively. In a business environment where fewer and fewer distributed teams can afford to co-locate or even hold in-person meetings, VIRTUOSO enables the development of adaptive and responsive teams.

Mohammadi, N., Taylor. J., and Javernick-Will, A. (2016). “Determining Virtual Team Performance in the Construction Industry.” Research Report, RR326-11, Construction Industry Institute, Austin, TX.