Globalization means more project management professionals are needed around the world, and they need to be armed with methods and tools that can be used in more than one country. They face a range of challenges that their colleagues who manage home-based projects do not. Working globally means dealing with multiple languages and dialects, different legal systems, fluctuating exchange rates, unpredictable climatic or political environments, cultures and work ethics — and each of those can at any time throw up barriers to the success of a project.
The more that people involved in the processes know about these issues locally, the better it will be for the teams and organizations as a whole. To get it right, organizations should know that at the heart of all good project management training are five key process groups:
• Initiating • Executing • Monitoring and
• Planning • Closing controlling
These key process groups are very appropriate for global projects. An essential part of the initiation process is to recognize the importance of cultural awareness training for employees in both directions, as sometimes it is just not possible to get things done the way you are used to. And in some countries, people do not necessarily accept, or will take for granted, that they should anticipate negative outcomes.
The project manager (PM) needs to understand the context of the project he or she is initiating. This involves researching the reason behind the selection of the project, a study of the country, a study of the industry and an assessment of the feasibility of the project. Doing this study thoroughly is key in gauging the extent of the local risks and opportunities, and all necessary avenues of research should be followed to ensure that thoroughness.
A simple checklist to aid the development of a global project plan would include:
• Form a global project team with local experience.
• Work with stakeholders to understand the project requirements
• Develop a global work breakdown structure (WBS).
• Estimate preliminary costs and develop a schedule.
• Develop global subsidiary plans.
Every factor unique to a specific project needs to be considered when developing the subsidiary plans that feed into the global project plan. But there will be no successful implementation if the plan isn’t well-constructed and documented — and that depends on the leadership of
a culturally sensitive, highly skilled global project manager.
The execution of the project depends on that vital cultural awareness, awareness of how to anticipate and negotiate issues and crises, and on communication skills in terms of knowing what to communicate and how to communicate it. Monitoring and control also need similar skills so everyone involved understands what is expected. The control of global projects is necessarily complex because they involve geographically dispersed team members, time and currency differences across borders and varying cultural and national characteristics.