What Does It Take to Run a Virtual Team?

As more and more companies and teams are going strictly virtual, there are a whole new set of issues to consider and challenges to address. Using my own virtual social media marketing team as an example, I’ve identified a number of needs that require some kind of technology solution, but at the moment, we are “patchwork quilting” our tech infrastructure to accommodate all of our needs.
Here are some needs virtual teams face daily:

Communications Management Archiving Interaction
Conference Calls
Video Conferencing
Virtual screen demos
Virtual meetings
Virtual PBX
Project Overviews
Task Assignments
Time Tracking
Document drafts
Small files
Large files
Knowledge Base
Document Collaboration
Team Member Integration
Status Updates
Watercooler Socializing

Here is a diagram of what we’re currently using as our solutions and which issues and needs each solution addresses. The software we currently use is in orange. Yellow designates the software we are considering.

Where do we go from here?

It seems that Socialtext and GoToMeeting are the next solutions we should integrate. However, how many more SaaS products will we need to cobble together with our current infrastructure in order to meet immediate and upcoming needs as our team continues to grow? I think it’s better to go with solutions that can meet multiple technology needs. When each solution we adopt only tackles one or two functions, there seems to be no way to avoid a technology patchwork quilt. Is there even a system out there — that we just don’t know about — that can provide us with a completely integrated solution. And if so, can we afford it?

In my mind, adding Socialtext and GoToMeeting will certainly meet some immediate needs, but integrating it will take two things that go beyond me simply adopting and paying for the services:

  1. We’ll need to define how the new software fits into our overall process and multiple solutions;
  2. We need to somehow encourage adoption from the team.

The latter is a key problem. With all of these disparate solutions brought together to make up our tech infrastructure, we are all suffering information overload. Learning and adopting yet another app seems unbearable.

Next on our plate is a virtual PBX system that can accommodate international team members or at least some stitched together work-around to keep a PBX system affordable for a far-flung team.

What systems and software do you have in place to run your virtual team? What other issues are you facing where you still haven’t found an appropriate solution?