Mitigating Virtual Proposal Teams

by Gwyn Allred

In the current work climate, telecommuting is increasingly more common, and virtual proposal teams are on the rise. Having team meetings and completing tasks via electronic interactions does not change your goal of preparing a winning proposal. It simply changes the mode of communication and increases the need for clarity.

Clear as mud

When you are managing a virtual team, you must clearly define expectations, tasks, and team roles. Roles for virtual proposal teams are subtly different than typical proposal team roles, so it is vital to establish who is doing what within a virtual environment.

A virtual proposal manager must also establish tasks clearly as well. To determine if your tasks are clear, ask yourself questions like, “Is the due date precise?” and “How will you verify task completion?” If you and your team can answer these questions accurately, the tasks are clearly defined.

A virtual proposal team still requires meetings to develop the proposal. There are many disadvantages to virtual meetings, like poor video or transmission quality. Setting virtual meeting rules can help combat these disputes, such as appointing a note-taker and timekeeper, having an agenda for every meeting, and polling participants for acceptance after each agenda item. Expressing clear rules for virtual meetings may be challenging, but it is well worth the effort when the result is a winning proposal.

Choose your technology wisely

Variety is one of the many benefits of technology. Since technology is always improving, there is an infinite number of software and programs to choose from. Match the technology your virtual proposal team uses to task complexity. Small teams can be managed using e-mail, scheduling, and word processing.

One common disadvantage to virtual teams is incompatible software. Virtual proposal teams need access to all team members’ files, which can become problematic if software is not uniform. Since file-sharing is vital for success, select task-appropriate software that provides secure file-sharing. And be sure to back up these files daily. The key to using technology in a virtual team is to choose user-friendly, familiar technology.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Since your team communication is completely dependent on technology, communicate frequently. The mode of communication should already be established if you have successfully and clearly defined virtual meeting rules and channels.

A proposal is a living document that may change as you gain information about competitors or customer preferences. This type of information is vital for your team to have, so communicate quickly. The greater the urgency, the greater the number of technology channels to employ.

Working with a virtual team means less time team members have to chat around the water cooler during breaks. It is already a challenge to stimulate comradery in a virtual setting, so make the conscious effort to regularly acknowledge your team’s performance. This can boost team spirit, which in turn stimulates a high-trust environment.

A blessing if used effectively

When you manage a virtual team, you must mitigate the technology your team uses. While distance comes with its own set of challenges, establishing clear communication for your team can maximize your work and help you produce a winning proposal.