Virtual TeamWorking (September 1999)

How do you collaborate on a project when half the team is in Kazakhstan and the rest in London? Paul Cleverly believes that his company, Flare Consultants has the answer in Virtual TeamWorking.

The Karachaganak Integrated Organization (KIO) is a multi-national joint venture comprised of staff from Agip, BG, Texaco and Lukoil dedicated to the development of the Karachaganak field in North Western Kazakhstan. In late 1998 Flare Consultants was awarded a contract to work closely with KIO to define their information management strategy. Virtual TeamWorking was found to be the most effective way to disseminate and co-ordinate information amongst the project team members, many of whom operated on non-overlapping rotations and in different time zones.

Virtual TeamWorking?

Advanced communications networks and software have removed the traditional barriers of time and space, allowing complex project work to be undertaken electronically by workers in different time zones. Virtual teams can be assembled to address a particular problem without the need for people to meet. This approach provides greater flexibility for companies and workers, reduces overall costs and cycle times and ensures optimum use of scarce or specialized resources.


Flare has consultants in both the UK and North America serving clients located world-wide. Well-defined processes are coupled with robust groupware (in this case Lotus Notes) to develop an effective Virtual TeamWork methodology for project working. All the information created during the course of a project is shared with the client by means of electronic 'project books' accessible using the Web and secured through 32bit encryption. The 'project book' can contain documents, presentations, faxes, questionnaires, executables, indeed, any pertinent information. This allows access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week enabling the client to review documents quickly and easily, as well as tracking how the project is progressing in real time. Remote access also enables individual consultants to contribute specialist expertise allowing people from different geographies with different skills to work on the same project.

on-line library

Consultants can find reference material in an on-line library that is managed in the same way as 'project books'. This material can be accessed at client sites - offices, field bases or offshore platforms. Procedures ensure regular telephone and personal contact at appropriate times during a project to cement the VirtualTeam together. The virtual world can never replace all the aspects of human interaction. .


Administrative needs are also addressed using virtual team technology Timesheets and expenses can be electronically submitted from any location with automated currency conversions. Clients can verify the status of their project or check billing details at any time and can reduce overheads with electronic invoicing electronically. Virtual TeamWorking processes can provide responsive geographical and domain coverage with a relatively small number of consultants. It also allows overhead costs to be kept to a minimum whilst providing exceptional working flexibility. More from and

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