Managing projects was never an easy task. It’s a constant fight to meet the deadlines with limited resources. Nowadays, the situation becomes even more tense. In a modern global world, various elements of a project can be scattered around cities, countries and… continents. It’s not uncommon that, for example, managers must connect efforts of a design team located in San Francisco and a development team located in Cracow, Poland.
There’s 5959.2 Miles between those two locations and problems grow with the distance. You might of course say: “There’s nothing to be afraid of! Internet offers various means of communication, everybody’s online”. That’s partially right – we use online communication tools extensively and they are a lot of help, but when you’re an experienced project manager that deals with global endeavors, you will fast realize that there is some over excitement about the state of our “global village”.
Learn the key difficulties of a project management that have risen in the era of global endeavors.
That’s the mother of all aforementioned problems. You’ll long for the good old times, when passing information to a team member required getting up from your chair and making a few steps to the next room. In global project management, when part of your team is offshore, apart from the occasional trips, you have to depend on tools that connect you online. The connection alone is not a problem, but the geography is. For example, time zones can greatly influence the overall workflow. When you set up a meeting remember that for some offshore team members it can be the beginning of day’s work and for others – the last thing to do. Everyone won’t be at their top notch performance and lack of focus or fatigue will affect the outcome of the meeting.
Even if the meeting goes as planned and all the topics have been covered, you should stay alert. Even at face to face meetings there can be some misunderstandings. When you talk about serious stuff during a video conference, multiply that risk by ten. No, make it twenty. In my experience, I don’t even treat misunderstandings as a problem – it’s a completely normal occurrence, during a global project management. You have to e.g. plan some extra time for making sure that each team member really understood their tasks and goals.
It’s a popular saying that „English is a universal language of the world”. You start working global, you will reshape your opinion on that notion very fast. English is a living, adaptive language that sounds differently in various parts of the world. You’ll encounter crazy accents, misused idioms and even words that have a different meaning! In casual talk, such differences don’t matter, but when precision is needed (and that’s business talk) things get tough. So, listen carefully.
You have to realize that you are cooperating with people that not only talk differently, they also think differently. There are some similarities, but globalization can’t fix everything. Your offshore partners come from different cultures and societies that shape their behavior, values and even thought patterns. If you downplay those, there can be trouble. Empathy should be one of the greatest assets of a modern project manager.
Don’t be scared. All mentioned problems can be dealt with, however they demand some extra time and effort. Want to talk some more about global project management? We would be more than glad to provide you with assistance and/or information.