Delivering Global Projects

Craig Borysowich’s post on special considerations for international projects (here) IDs some important factors.   Also, I have to like a guy who went for the Modigliani image (see here).  Here is his list and my comments:

Impact of Distance — The extreme distance between “home base” and the customer site can be extremely costly to the project.  Make sure there is enough money in the budget to cover the level of effort that is required to travel and live in the customer environment (including the costs of whatever trips home are to be provided for the members of the project team).

This point gets glossed over when budgeting, it is critical to have co-location early in the project, but some projects try to economize by cutting out early travel, which compromises team and trust building.  An early investment in co-location will also allow remote collaboration techniques — calls, Webex, videocon, etc. — to be more effective.

Make sure that the number of resources required to do the job has been estimated realistically. With projects that are operating out of home base, it may be possible to conduct a site acceptance test, for example, with two people working for two weeks. If anything unexpected were to occur in this scenario, it would be relatively easy to bring in back up personnel.

Our experience is that many projects try to manage globally-delivered projects with the same amount of project management resources.  This strategy ends up being penny-wise and pound-foolish, often to the extreme.  The cost arbitrage for technical and business resources has trade-offs in efficiency (which Craig notes).

Impact of Culture — Another key difference with international projects is that you will be operating in a totally different culture in which many of the “rules” and “norms” that you are used to (e.g., ideas, beliefs, value systems, and the thinking that motivates behavior) may no longer apply. 

Completely agree…Craig has a link to his useful Assessing Cultural Values Checklist (here).  I’ll also share some results from a cultural awareness workshop in a later post.

Learn from Experience — Undertaking international projects requires a whole new level of thinking and planning. The best advice is to seek out individuals who have worked in similar project environments and bring their additional experience into the project planning process.

This suggestion is unobjectionable; however, I’d emphasize that such experience needs to be codified in methodologies, training, good practice documents, etc.

Hat tip: PM Blog Carnival #21 (here) at The Girl’s Guide to Managing Projects (here).

4 Responses

  1. On the same note, I would like to propose this series about Managing multi-cultural projects

  2. I appreciate that you are talking in more general terms, but I have just written about some specifics of a particular international project on my blog here:

    Hopefully this may be of some interest.


    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for the comment… I appreciate the details. BI is a particularly interesting topic for global projects and communications. One of the scenarios we talk about in cross-cultural workshops is “How does an India-based SAP project manager talk to a Manhattan-based marketing analyst about an analytics project”. Multiple dimensions of understanding — or misunderstanding — to juggle.

  3. It can be fun can’t it?

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