30 June 2012
Team Site Visits
Site Visits are an essential component to Vertical Teaming. It is highly recommended that teams find a way to orient the entire team, including the PDT, Vertical Team, and Review Team to the site.
Benefits of Site Visits
The following are some of the benefits of site visits (in person or virtual).
- Gives the entire team the same starting point. This is valuable during the early steps in the planning process when the team is inventorying the existing conditions. It gives the virtual members of the team a geographic context for the problem.
- Creates a common goal for the entire team to achieve. Seeing the site together highlights the need for undertaking the study.
- Creates a common language for the entire team. The virtual team members become familiar with the correct pronunciations of place names and the locations of major landmarks.
- Fosters a trusting environment. The virtual team members have seen the site in person and know that the PDT is accurately describing the situation during the report development.
- Provides an opportunity for the team to meet and interact with the sponsor and stakeholders. Everyone on the team has a "face with a name" which proves productive during the many conference calls that will follow.
- Adds a human aspect on the study. For example, a tour of flood-damaged areas can increase the understanding of the extent of the impact to humans.
- Builds camaraderie within the entire team. Field trips can provide an informal way for the team to get to know each other.
Virtual Site Visits Options
Virtual site visits can be a useful alternative to the expense in traveling for a site visit.
- Video – A video of the study can provide a low cost means for orienting the team. Both the virtual members and the PDT members that haven’t been on site can easily be brought up to speed with the members that have been. It is recommended that the video be viewed as a group so that the viewers can be provided with a narrative of what is being shown. Teams looking to add an extra touch to the video could add a voice-over narrative. This would allow easy repeat viewing.
- PowerPoint Presentation – A site orientation presentation can be prepared that includes bulleted narrative and photos of the study area. Video clips can also be added to the presentation. Teams that have used this option have found that the presentation can be used throughout the study to orient new team members.
- Photo Album – An album with photos showing the study area cross referenced with a map can provide a cost effective way to orient the team. Photos should include captions explaining what is shown.
- Google Earth – Many virtual team members already use this program to visit the site from their desks. A GE tour presented via webinar can give a quick overview of the site without a lot of preparation.
- Sponsor Websites – Sponsor that have already worked in the study area usually have websites that virtual team members can readily access. These can be found via a Google search but most sponsors will bring these to the PDT’s attention.
- Past News Stories – Complex studies undertaking to solve a critical problem can utilize past new stories that chronicle an event such as a flood or hurricane.
- Virtual Tours – The technology used to provide tours on Real Estate sites can be used to take 360-degree photos.
- Map – At a minimum teams should provide an overall location map of the study area and detailed maps showing reaches if the area is large. These maps will provide the basic framework for most discussions that team will have throughout the study.
Standard Site Visits
In a standard site visit, the entire team would be invited to travel to the study area for a tour. For complex studies, taking the time to do this early in the study will pay dividends throughout the study. Because of the expense in traveling for a site visit, the PDT will have to make a decision balancing the value of on-site participation vs. study costs, consider timing this visit with another scheduled IPR or planning charette, etc.