Project Management Practices and the Performance of Virtual Project Teams in a Case of Upwork Global Incorporated
Mumbua, Ng’etich Lydia
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The way we work in our fast-paced world is quickly changing. Skilled but unemployed Kenyans are seeking and finding work on online platforms on contract and full – time basis. They are part of virtual teams that rely heavily on collaborative software applications to work. Their performance is gauged by how they meet project goals within the set costs, time and scope. Unfortunately, some teams are unable to meet the goals and this compromises their performance. This is the problem addressed in this study by investigating the effects project management practices have on the performance of virtual project teams in Kenya. The specific objectives were: to establish the effect of project management strategies; managerial experience, collaborative technology and risk management on the performance of virtual project teams in Kenya. The study was anchored by the control and contingency theories. The research design was descriptive. The target population was 574 Kenyans who are virtual freelancers on the Upwork Global Incorporated platform. Using the simple random sampling, the researcher got a sample of 172. A semi structured questionnaire was used to collect primary and secondary data. The data was then analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The regression model summary analysis revealed that 85.4 per cent of the independent variables explained the virtual teams’ performance and 25 per cent by other factors not filtered into the study. Regression analysis showed that changes in the independent variables had an effect on performance, notably managerial experience and risk management. The study revealed that each of the identified practices had key areas/tasks that played a major role in virtual project team performance. The findings based on the first objective of the study determined that all four project management strategies had an effect on the performance of virtual project teams in Kenya. The findings of the second objective of the study established that keeping the team motivated was the managerial experience variable that had an effect on the performance of virtual teams in Kenya. Findings based on the third objective of the study established that a common set of communication guidelines, software compatibility, and a common suite of collaboration tools were the independent variables that had an effect on the performance of virtual teams in Kenya. The findings of the fourth objective of this study established that ill prepared team members and risk management were the risk management variables that had an effect on virtual project teams in Kenya. Based on these conclusions, the researcher recommended that organizations identify the project strategy that works best for them and build their virtual team around it. This would ensure that it would be a high performance team. Also recommended was training for virtual project managers on virtual project team management; the development and application of risk assessment and management plans; and remote collaboration tools.