Many global companies are wanting to realise the benefits of capturing timely and consistent information and processes across their sites — to allow timely decision-making, to realise efficiencies and to provide ability for team members to have the opportunities to work in a variety of global settings.
The planning and implementation of multi-country roll-outs of corporate models (i.e. processes, technology, new roles) has challenges in finding that balance of corporate consistency versus limited localisation. However, many corporates have found this balance and are reaping the benefits.
Various authors have written about such global projects (e.g. Michelle Symonds), and the following is a list of key tips for project management of such programmes:
- Establish effective lines of communication and motivation from the on-set. In one of my projects in Japan there was the painting of one eye of the Daruma doll in the start-up meeting which included all participants. The Daruma doll symbolises perseverance and good luck. The second eye was painted at the completion of the project. (Also, this is the time to set up the right methods of communication and formal reporting requirements).
- Address the key cultural issues proactively. This requires some expertise in identifying the key cultural issues and the ways of addressing — and at times leveraging the differences, especially regarding preferred methods of communication.
- Proactively plan and develop the global project team. Interviews with the teams in different locations can help identify the key drivers and motivators for the teams. Also, setting up expectations about obtaining accurate progress information and making this simple is important. This also involves providing candid and honest feedback on every completed work package. On my projects I utilise simple but effective “traffic lights” to be clear on the actual status of tasks and deliverables.
- Effectively control the work flow. This includes assigning tasks to the most relevant teams (with cost-benefit rationales as appropriate), managing dependencies (including management at the same location if possible), and proactive global team and stakeholder management to catch differing expectations early.
- Proactively control change and risks. The handling of potential “scope creep” and requested changes to requirements must be done according to explicit governance processes and procedures with sign-off. Similarly, the risks and risk mitigation actions and status should be identified and easily communicated to relevant global teams and stakeholders.
Global and regional projects certainly have their challenges, but with the appropriate planning and collaborative implementation can result in transformational benefits for all.