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Best Practices for Managing Global Technology Projects : Page 3

Managing global-scale technology demands practices and skills beyond traditional local project management.


Suggested Project Management Models

This section introduces two project management models suitable for different global project management situations.

Cross-Functional Model:

This applies typically to product-based companies. Imagine Zulu Inc., which has offices across both Europe and India. Zulu's consulting arm works with its customers to deploy solutions for their customers. These project engagements typically last for 100 hours; Zulu's consultants can be engaged on more than one project at a time.

A suggested example setup is to have a local project management in the customer's region who is from the same culture, and to have a team of delivery consultants in India. This provides a team of diverse project managers in the Zulu offices in Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy who can meet and interact with customers, while a technically competent team of pooled delivery consultants in India work with the local project managers. Note that there can be more than one delivery consultant per region, but only one project manager. This achieves a balance between cost efficiency and local responsiveness, thereby allowing the project manager to focus on customer satisfaction by giving them local presence, and to maximize cost efficiency by having delivery done remotely.

The key challenges in this framework are that Zulu needs to respond quickly, the projects have short turnaround time, and the need to be available for consultation. Any delay in responding can cause the loss of a complete day. Some best practices to overcome this and other challenges in this framework are:

  1. When the team is created, the team leader should arrange for a kickoff call.
  2. Before having the kickoff call, send a kickoff email sharing business jargon and other useful information that all team members should be aware of.
  3. During the kickoff call, introduce everyone to build up the foundation for a good working relationship. Then, describe the project, the team organizational structure, and briefly take questions on the information shared via email.
  4. State the vision and goals of the project clearly, and over-communicate at every point of the project if needed. Over-communication can be overdone, but that's a good problem to have when working across geographies.
  5. Respond to email before leaving for the day and first thing in the morning. On both ends, this improves responsiveness and helps keep the other party aware that work is in progress, so they aren't left wondering what's going on.
  6. Be sensitive to time zones. Wake up early, or extend hours a bit in the evening on a rolling basis.
  7. In all meetings, set agendas before the call, send action items after the call, and place both and all other shared documentation in a centrally accessible location, such as on the intranet. Assume you will spend one third of the total meeting time preparing for the call, one third for the actual call, and the last third on following up the call.
  8. Schedule one-on-one meetings with important stakeholders to be in proper control of the project management.

Offshoring Model

Project: Hula Inc. is a services company. It has a large office in India for offshore development. It undertakes large-scale projects that typically last for a year, where one person is dedicated to one project. For one two-year project, Hula was hired to create a B2C application for Waldart Inc.

The suggested setup is to place an experienced local delivery manager from Hula on-premise at Waldart's IT office. This person maintains relationships with the Waldart's IT department management. The development team is located in India, while the project manager visits Waldart as needed to gather requirements and perform analysis. This setup works, because it provides the large team based in India maintains technical competence while providing cost benefits, yet maintains local responsiveness because the delivery manager and project manager are available locally to work with the customer.

To make this model successful over the long term, it's useful to:

  • Have a well defined project methodology framework
  • Implement integrated systems and metrics for governance and control
  • For large projects, identify certifications that provide a mechanism to assess skill levels, and enable personnel to develop skill sets to meet expected qualifications
  • Focus on metrics to document progress and uncover problems
  • Have domain expertise
  • Get commitment from senior management
  • Implement a strategy for knowledge management

In short, learning is a permanent change in behavior that occurs over time. Successful global managers will actively adopt these best practices rather than only reading about them, and focus on learning during projects.

Puneet M. Sangal, Practice Manager, has 12 years' experience in global management, project management, selling services, consulting, and software development in Europe, Pacific, India, and the U.S. He has studied executive management at IIM Calcutta, and holds an MS from Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and a BE from BIT Ranchi.
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