Even as more and more entrepreneurs are opening up to the idea of dealing with “virtual teams” involving advanced cloud technology, there still remain areas where they are hesitant during the initial process start-ups. One of the common concerns being the identification of “outsource-able” components of the business processes.

What could have been an easily closed deal usually become a lengthy process of decision making like the other day one of our prospective clients, after a long chat wrapped the call saying,”This was a useful conversation. But let me now review my accounting processes and identify those components that can be offshore outsourced to your team.” Even though we successfully closed the deal later on, but in other cases the business owners are convinced about dealing with virtual teams, but often get tangled in the process of sorting out the details of such set ups.

Most small and medium businesses today understand that outsourcing, an extension of virtual teams, can be of strategic advantage. What often stops them from moving forward to take this advantage is the inability to identify the ‘outsource-able’ components and set up the work flow.  Some give it a try and soon realize that the somewhat complex nature of their financial activity which is often low-volume and high diversity in terms of the financial transactions did not lend itself easily to outsourcing. And the question arises if the tasks that could be outsourced were of sufficient volume that it would result in a significant time savings to justify a long-term arrangement.

But I think we have already moved on from the outsourcing era into the virtual team era. Work flows that cross boundaries of location and geography are now taken for granted. Cross-cultural barriers may still pose some challenges, but technology has facilitated the functioning of virtual teams as never before. For example, in an accounts payable work flow, indexing and posting of vendor invoices can happen in a particular location and approvals from different other locations. The Internet provides for the work flow to sit on a common platform that each operator can access from anywhere.

In such a context, the art of setting up a virtual team outweighs the skill of identifying and outsourcing the “outsource-able” components. Most of us will agree that the competitive advantage of companies are influenced to the greatest extent today by the efficiency of their teams. It is going to be those organizations that excel in creating teams both physically and virtually that will have their noses in front.

Below are some key points to help entrepreneurs get a better understanding while setting up of their virtual team network.
In a blog by a professional consultant it was illustrated:
“Experts on this subject, including Yael Zofi, in her latest book, “A Manager’s Guide to Virtual Teams,” has identified eight key characteristics of high-performing virtual teams, which every start-up founder should understand and enable:

1. Members exhibit a global mindset – they look outward, not inward. Effective virtual leaders widen their focus from the local to the global, which implicitly creates an environment of respect. Respect engenders buy-in, without which members can’t take ownership of work product and work toward a common goal.

2. Members share responsibility for achieving the mission. High performing teams have a sense of purpose where members internalize their piece of the mission, thereby transcending the isolation that defines working in a virtual environment. Team members develop an understanding about their mutual dependence to achieve objectives.

3. A culture of openness facilitates trust and authenticity. Effective founders work to create and maintain an environment of team trust to defuse miscommunications. They focus on behaviors, not on personalities, because they know this engenders trust. Then they “say what they mean and mean what they say” to model authenticity.

4. Members engage in meaningful communication with each other. High-performing virtual teams establish and maintain standards on frequency and modes of communication, and hold members accountable for acting accordingly. They also regularly use synchronous communication at critical points to speak with each other.

5. An easy flow of information exists using various forms of technology. Everyone must have access to appropriate technology to enable reliable, current exchanges of information. The amount of “pushed” information (unfiltered e-mails and phone calls) to team members is lower than “pulled” data (e-bulletin boards and intranets).

6. A conflict management mechanism. Conflicts are inevitable, and when even simple miscommunications don’t get acknowledged and fixed, trust gets eroded. The founder or leader must actively engage team members early, and follow up to ensure appropriate resolution. When this happens, lengthy energy-draining confrontations are avoided.

7. Work systems produce deliverables within defined constraints. When team members are geographically dispersed, a rigorous effort is required by all team members to coordinate and align components of critical work systems to meet deadlines within time and budgetary constraints.

8. Members have a positive “can do” attitude that spans time and distance. They must all assume their efforts will lead to success. When conflicts and tensions arise, as they inevitably do, members hold these situations within the context of the larger picture and look to quickly find solutions, rather than assign blame.”

As present times witness the changing of virtual team networking into an everyday reality for business owners, it is important to focus on collaboration,innovation and team member satisfaction while engaging advanced cloud technology, interactive regularised communication and setting up of definite and measurable targets.