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Tips for Managing Global Projects

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 10/31/2010

If you have been looking for a solution to help make managing global projects easier, you've come to the right place. Learn tips and tricks for making your global projects more manageable and having these ventures come off successfully!

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    Why is Managing Global Projects Tricky?

    Managing Global Projects Doesn't Have to Spell Failure Managing global projects is a tricky business. This is because your team is spread out around the globe, everyone is on different time schedules, and cultural norms and communication barriers may pose unforeseen challenges. While global project management is tricky, at the same time, trends are leading companies to manage more global projects more frequently. Because you will be dealing with individulas on a team who have sometimes radically different cultures, traditions, values, etc., one of the biggest arenas where you will have to display deftness will be in communication. For these reasons, global projects are often a cause of project failure.

    The good news is that while it can be difficult to manage a global project and while global projects are far more complex than localized projects, your company will be more competitive in the market if you can pull this venture off successfully. Not only will a successful global project limit your costs, but pulling off a successful global project will increase your project management problem-solving skills.

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    Understanding Global Projects and Managing Global Projects Successfully

    When managing a global project with remote teams, it is important first that you understand the nature of the global project. Here are features of global projects that you will need to keep in mind when working with your team:

    • Team building will be more difficult, because your teams will not have face-to-face time. You will need to find a way to cultivate trust outside of traditional team building strategies. In order to build a kinship between team members, you will need to practice conference-call team building strategies.
    • Your employees will be on different time-zone schedules. Keep this in mind when scheduling meetings! Try to alternate times so that no one is always meeting during times when they would otherwise be asleep. If your team members in India are consistently meeting at three a.m. their time, it may be more difficult for them to be productive. If meetings in the middle of the night are necessary, be sure that you rotate who is meeting in the middle of the night.
    • There will be language barriers. Cultural differences may be a source of team conflict. When managing global projects, conflict resolution is key. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, you will be communicating with others for whom English may not be the first language. Because of this, it is vital that you annunciate clearly and speak slowly. Make sure to pause often for questions and clarification.
    • Did I already mention conflict resolution? Make sure that team members do not withdraw from the project - sometimes, rather than confront an issue, individuals will avoid the issue through withdrawal. By keeping open a line of communication, you can stave this problem off.
    • As a project manager for a global project, you will need to coach others from a distance. Because you are not locally situated to help when problems come up (and because you may be asleep when a crucial issue comes to the forefront on the other side of the globe), you will need to train team members to be self-reliant.
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    The Global Project Manager's Lifesaver: Collaborative Software

    Finally, imagine that instead of scheduling daily meetings to find out what the team on the other side of the world has completed that you are able to open your dashboard and see exactly what was completed, what needs to be completed, and what issues were encountered while you were asleep. Enter, please, the collaborative software solution. Collaborative software really does make managing global projects much easier. Here are some options to get you started:

    By using software that allows users to post on a forum, check off completed tasks, and upload progress, you allow team members more autonomy. If someone has a pressing problem and posts it in the software, someone else may have a solution before you even come to your desk. This encourages your team members to be independent, and team members will be kept more abreast of what is happening in the project.