HSC IPT‎ > ‎2008-09‎ > ‎Classroom Work (2008 Term 4)‎ > ‎

3 November

Consequences of dysfunctional teams

When teams do not function properly together (e.g. by failing to make use of appropriate communication skills), it can result in financial loss, employment loss, or missed opportunities. How do these result from dysfunctional teams?
  • Financial loss. If an ineffective system is developed, it will be functionally (and therefore financially) inefficient. Additionally, additional time required for the amending of such errors (or for a system that is not completed before its deadline) is costly.

  • Employment loss. In a competitive world with a saturated market for teams developing information systems, a dysfunctional team will soon be removed and replaced with a more cost-effective alternative.

  • Missed opportunities. If a sub-standard system is developed, fewer people will make use of it (in other words, user numbers and participation will be reduced).

Project management tools

How do each of the following benefit teams developing systems? Alternatively, what disadvantages are there for teams developing systems without these tools?
  • Scheduling of tasks. In order for inter-dependent sub-groups within a system-developing team to function effectively and use their time efficiently, a detailed scheduling of tasks is vital. It assures that all team members are active on the most chronologically important tasks. Additionally, in a long-term project that has several distinct stages, it ensures that team members do not spend disproportionate amounts of time on earlier stages, leaving insufficient time for later tasks.

  • Gantt charts. While a task schedule would suffice for a team of computers, for humans who think visually, it is very useful to have a graphical representation of the time required for each task, the sequence in which they must occur, and the dependence of some tasks on others. All this can be distilled and displayed effectively using a Gantt chart.

  • Journals and diaries. Regular, detailed records of individual team members' tasks, achievements and struggles are a helpful tool in enabling team members to understand each other and the work that they are assigned. If two team members must work together on a single component of an information system, their journals will serve as a ground for discussion of issues, problems and for weighing potential solutions. If one of those team members must leave the project and be replaced, that member's journal would serve as the starting point for the new team member to understand their predecessor's work and progress. Without such a tool at their disposal, it would be much more difficult to integrate into the in-progress project.

  • Funding management plan. Wherever chronological/financial budgets are involved, funding management is vital. Who will receive money and for what purposes? What resources must be purchased, and will these be accommodated by the budget or must a more cost-effective alternative be sought? These questions can only be answered with accuracy and confidence with the aid of a plan that manages all the team's funding.

  • Communication management plan. We have already established that team communication is vital to effective teamwork. Defining structures to manage internal and external communication (such as deciding beforehand what should be the main means of communication, and under what circumstances different means should be used) is preferable to allowing communication to develop ad hoc. If communication methods must be improvised every time communication is required, then the team will be plagued with inefficiency.