Reporting vs. Processing Relationships

December 6, 2017

REPORTING VS. PROCESSING RELATIONSHIPS

You see Reporting Relationships on the organization chart.  They represent the conduit through which authority and accountability flow within the organization.

Processing Relationships dictate how work actually gets accomplished.  Each Customer-supplier transaction represents a processing relationship within the project system.

The figure below illustrates the difference between reporting and processing relationships.  The vertical line, connecting you, your boss, and any subordinates you might have, represents reporting relationships.  The horizontal line, connecting you with your Customers and suppliers, represents processing relationships.

Your role in a line organization may be linked closely to a set of reporting relationships.  In contrast, the most effective project teams focus primarily on processing relationships.  In fact, process management as a means to address non-project related organizations is gaining momentum in many industries.  More and more organizations are replacing departments with cross-functional processes as the conduit through which decisions and actions take place.

To illustrate Customer/supplier relationships, consider the following:

A project leader has to make last minute travel arrangements to present a proposal to a potential Customer.

The Scope Summary might be:

“Make a successful presentation to Amtec, Inc. Directors tomorrow”.

Given this outcome, the following roles exist:

Project Customer: Amtec, Inc. Directors

Supplier: The manager

Product: A persuasive and informative presentation

The project leader prepared the proposal based on calculations and estimates from Design Engineering.

Thus, these roles also exist:

Internal Customer: the project leader

Supplier: Design Engineering

Product: Accurate calculations and estimates

As this simple project illustrates, both external and internal Customer/supplier transactions are vital to the success of a project.

To identify the supplier, product and Customer, use the following questions for each task in the plan:

  1. Who does it (i.e., completes the step)? =  The Supplier
  2. Who gets it (i.e., received the output of the step)? =  The Customer
  3. What is it (i.e., the outcome of the step)? =  The Product/Service

Some examples of Customer/supplier relationships:

Customer:      Design Engineer

Supplier:        Programmer

Product:         Error-free code

 

Customer:      Accounting

Supplier:        Information Systems

Product:         Software

 

Customer:   Payroll Administration

Supplier:     Project Team members

Product:      Time Sheets

With these three questions, any project team can clearly define critical transactions within the project.

Just as important, any team member can use the mirror image of these questions to identify their own suppliers:

  1. What do I (we) need to complete this activity or operation?
  2. Who will provide it to me (us)?

By clarifying these Customer/supplier relationships up front, project team members can resolve potential confusion and conflict before it happens.  This helps the project team remain focused on the intended project outcome.

Advertisements

Customer/Supplier Relationships

November 1, 2017

Many projects require a well orchestrated effort by a large number
of people. Due to the high level of interdependence among so
many different functions, there will be many hand-offs along the
way. Understanding and managing the requirements for these
hand-offs is a key element of project effectiveness.

Satisfying the project Customer is the ultimate standard for
measuring project effectiveness. If the Customer believes their
requirements have been met, then you can consider the project
a success.

This same standard applies to the internal Customers involved
in the project. If you meet each internal Customer’s requirement,
then you have achieved the project outcome (and the project
Customer will be satisfied).

Everyone working on a project produces something (e.g., reports,
parts, data, etc.). These represent tangible products, usually
falling into one of two categories: objects or information. In some
cases, what is produced is a tangible service (e.g., machine repair,
proofreading, etc.).

For every product or service there must be a Customer. Otherwise,
there would be no reason to produce the product or service.
The resources required to produce a product could include labor,
money, information, material resources or some combination of
these. Resources usually come from both inside and outside the
organization.

Every person working on a project is both a supplier and a
Customer. The outcome of their work (product or service) is
provided to a Customer somewhere inside (or outside) the
organization.

To produce this product or service, they use resources supplied
by others inside or outside the organization. Thus, everyone is a
Customer and a supplier on the chain of events that leads to a
successful project outcome.

Knowing who the key Customers and suppliers are on a given
project helps to ensure that you open and use critical lines of
communication.

Plan versus Reality

October 12, 2017

THE PLAN VERSUS REALITY

The project plan in many ways is a best guess. It represents a set of actions that you believe (or hope) will result in a successful outcome. The times associated with each task are estimates of what you think will be needed, given a specific set of conditions. One key condition involves timely completion of predecessor tasks.

Given the fact that all task durations are estimates, it would be reasonable to expect that at least some of the tasks will take longer than expected. Unfortunately, you will probably not know which ones ahead of time. It is also reasonable to expect that other intervening variables (e.g., new requirements, quality problems, miscommunications, etc.) could further complicate things. Finally, it is unlikely, particularly with new project initiatives, that every necessary step will be accounted for (and in the proper sequence).

Once the plan is put together, it is up to members of the team to make it happen in spite of these formidable challenges. Specifically, it is up to each team member to manage his/her own tasks so that they contribute value to the project outcome. It is also up to each team member to test their tasks against the conditions that determine whether a task actually adds value to the plan.

Two conditions must be met for a task to be a value-added part of a plan:

  1. There must be an operational reason for the task to be there (i.e., the output of that task must be used somewhere in order for it to be considered a value-added task).
  2. The task must add value to some previous task(s) or resources (i.e., it must have one or more predecessors).

These two conditions tell us that the value of any task is connected to and dependent on the tasks that precede and follow it. As such, it is critical that tasks are connected to each other in a way that ensures value is added in a timely fashion. This is how systems thinking can be effectively applied to the execution of a project.

Succeeding In Spite of Reality

Hand-off management is the heart of any successful project. It is what turns the plan into a successful outcome, much like mortar is used to turn loose bricks into a wall. It involves connecting the people responsible for the tasks into a cohesive force that dramatically increases the likelihood that requirements and deadlines will be met. Specifically, it helps project team members to:

  • Achieve results that are clearly value added
  • Maintain a clear Customer focus
  • Develop and maintain positive relationships with peers
  • Clearly understand how their individual contributions are connected to the project

A project is a true test of our ability in each of these areas. The more people on your team that exhibit these competencies, the greater your chances for success. Building a plan is one thing; making it happen is quite another. The foundation for making it happen is having everyone on the team manage their own transactions with suppliers and Customers.

While projects are managed by project managers, hand-offs are managed by project team members. The difference between simply performing tasks and managing transactions (with internal Customers and suppliers) is what separates the successful project teams from the rest. Effective project managers are able to make this difference clear and explicit.

Managing International Projects – Part 9

September 5, 2017

This is the ninth in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with team effectiveness.

Tips for International Projects

  • Test the performance management system for multi-cultural issues
  • Test the multi-cultural implications of your good job/bad job definitions
  • In lieu of regular personal contact, provide a photo and short biography of each team member to all others in the team

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

A rule of thumb for team performance management in international projects might be: “A reward in one case can be punishment in another.”  In many high-context cultures, personal praise from an important authority figure may have more value than money.  In other cultures money talks and praise, after a certain point, may be seen as a hollow substitute for cash.  Success that brings more responsibility can be seen as a plus in one culture and as a liability in another.  Some cultures value and expect team rewards; others value and expect individual rewards.

The Four Variables should be used as a guide in developing and maintaining a team performance management system.  A visible performance management system also increases the team’s ability to coordinate effectively with other parts of the organization, including other project teams.

Are project team members clear on what is expected of them, do they have the resources they need to perform as expected and are they capable of meeting these expectations?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • Have the team expectations and resources been tested against the Four Variables of International Projects?
  • How are appropriate multi-cultural consequences established?
  • How have the concepts of “good job” and “bad job” been tested for multi-cultural appropriateness?
  • Do these rewards make up for many of the difficulties inherent in managing international projects?
  • Are there special rewards for successfully overcoming problems unique to international projects?

Do project team members understand how their work affects other people, groups and projects?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • Have potential international impact issues been identified?
  • How will these international impact issues be managed?
  • What measures will ensure that culturally appropriate linkages are made between individual performance, team performance and the needs of other parts of the organization?
  • What actions are in place to ensure that these linkages are made?
  • How will these actions be tracked in remote international locations?

Is the consequence system designed to promote effective individual and team performance?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • Have the Four Variables been used as a guide to identify appropriate team and individual consequences within a multi-cultural setting?
  • What is the plan to meet these multi-cultural team and individual consequence needs?
  • How will the consequence system be monitored?

Example:  You are the leader of a team that is executing an international project.  A variety of cultural perspectives are represented on the team.  You think all is well until one day, when a team member from Mexico complains to you in private that the team isn’t “pulling together” well enough in his view.  You check informally with other team members.  A representative from Norway says things seem fine to her.  A member from Korea thinks there could be more teamwork.  Three team members from the home office in the United States say they haven’t given the issue much thought.  You are concerned enough to make the issue the subject of a special team meeting.  You start the meeting by briefing members on the Four Variables of International Projects.  Then you divide the team into three subgroups with multiple cultures represented on each group.  You learn that there is a wide range of opinion about team versus individual rewards and consequences.  You assign a multi-cultural sub team to further study the situation and present recommendations for creation of a performance management system that meets everyone’s needs as much as possible.

 

Managing International Projects – Part 8

August 1, 2017

This is the eighth in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with risk management.

Tips for International Projects

  • Conduct risk assessment periodically
  • Look for risks specific to each culture represented
  • Insist on periodic issue summaries
  • Build cultural awareness into your risk management scenarios

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

Risk Management is one of the most important elements in managing international projects.  The Four Variables of International Projects can help project teams identify many of the risks they are likely to encounter in the international arena.  A Risk Management Plan is useful in high-context cultures, where communicating is best done on a personal more informal basis and in low-context cultures, where concrete data is valued.

The Four Variables can be used for establishing preventive actions and Risk Management Scenarios to assure that issues don’t happen, and for planning contingent actions to manage issues that do occur.  Potential risks aren’t always readily evident in international projects.  The Four Variables can help surface some of these hidden challenges.

What issues could impede progress toward the project outcome and how serious and probable are they?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What multi-cultural issues might be surfaced within this project by applying the Four Variables of International Projects?
  • Is there enough cultural diversity on the team to provide in-depth risk identification?
  • How can the Four Variables help identify the seriousness of possible risks and probability of them occurring?
  • How well is the team probing behind the obvious in identifying possible international project risks?

What can be done to prevent each key issue from occurring and what can be done if each key issue arises?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What is the team’s plan for preventing risks surfaced by the Four Variables of International Projects?
  • What is the team’s plan for managing those risks if they occur?
  • How do distance, communication challenges and other global factors impact the team’s risk management planning?
  • How will these challenges be managed?

Have the risk management elements been built into the project plan?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • How well have the international risk management elements been built into the project plan?
  • Are the Four Variables being kept in mind in communicating the risk management action elements?
  • How well have the cultural implications of the risk management action elements been assessed and communicated?

Example:  A South American Customer has asked your firm to help in designing a new product for consumers in their country.  Team members selected for their awareness of the Customer’s cultural perspective have met with Customer representatives.  In addition, a Customer representative is a member of the project team.  Much data has been assembled on the Customer’s needs, constraints and success criteria.  Assumptions have been examined—for the Customer and for team members.  Even so, you as the team leader, are still concerned about possible risks within this international project.  For this reason, you bring the team together to brainstorm possible risks beyond those already identified.  You take a few minutes to brief team members on the Four Variables of International Projects, with special emphasis on context and power/status issues.  You are glad you held the session.  It turns out that information paths inside the Customer organization are extremely complex.  In addition, the information needs and information paths inside a number of  your supplier organizations are also quite complicated.  Moreover, two new individuals are identified as strong influencers in the Customer organization.  You create a multi-cultural  sub-team to develop prevention and contingency plans to manage these risks.

Managing International Projects – Part 7

July 5, 2017

This is the seventh in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with communication.

Tips for International Projects

  • Establish and maintain an information distribution network
  • Use teleconferencing and video conferencing to augment personal contact
  • Respect time zone differences when scheduling meetings and responses to requests
  • Assign multi-cultural accountability for tracking performance indicators
  • Plan for the absence of key people at important meetings
  • Use the informal communication network when implementing project changes

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

Effective communication is simultaneously one of the greatest challenges in managing international projects and one of the most effective tools in ensuring success in such projects.  All four of the Key Variables of International Projects impact communication, with information paths being especially significant.  Informal communication can be an important factor in project management within high-context cultures, where great emphasis is placed on the sharing of information face-to-face through networks of long-term relationships.  Formal communication can figure prominently in sharing of project information within low-context cultures, where emphasis may be on the substance of messages rather than on how or from whom they are delivered.  Distribution Networks should be reviewed regularly for cultural appropriateness.  Information recipients should be polled to ensure they are receiving the information they need and want, in ways they consider appropriate.  Time, distance and media availability issues must be managed.

In the same way, proposed changes within the project should be monitored carefully for multi-cultural issues.  Actions should be developed that help support change initiatives.  Strong influencers, especially within high-context cultures, should be managed carefully.

How will we ensure that project team members get the information they need on time?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What are the unique communication needs for this international project?
  • How can the Four Variables of International Projects help us identify and manage these needs?
  • Who is accountable for identifying these needs and establishing plans to meet them?
  • Who are the strong influencers for the project and what are their multi-cultural communication requirements?
  • How do delivery issues, such as distance, global time differences, media availability (i.e., e-mail, video teleconference, etc.) impact development of a strong project communication network?

How will we promote appropriate formal and informal communication?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What do the Four Variables of International Projects tell us about the formal and informal communication needs of key project players?
  • What are the informal communication needs of stakeholders from high-context cultures?
  • What are the formal communication needs of stakeholders from low-context cultures?
  • What unique information paths must be identified and managed for formal and informal communication?

How will we know that changes to the project plan are being recognized and managed?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • How are change needs entered into the multi-national communication system?
  • How is effectiveness of change communication being monitored?
  • Who is accountable for identifying and managing gaps in the communication system?
  • What are the unique multi-cultural communication needs of strong influencers?

Example:  The Korean supplier of several key design prototypes for your project is consistently late with deliveries.  The project team regularly e-mails updated information to this supplier, including schedule changes.  The missed deadlines are causing problems with your Project Customer, a deadline-conscious Canadian firm.  You appoint a study team with multi-cultural representation to meet with the Korean supplier and seek remedies to the delivery problems.  During an orientation meeting, you brief study-team members on the Four Variables of International Projects, reminding them that Korea is a high-context culture.  As a result, members of the supplier organization may have strong needs for personal, relationship-driven communication.  You also suggest that the team carefully map information paths through the organization.  The study team reports that the e-mail messages to the Korean supplier organization aren’t consistently getting past senior middle managers to the necessary project planners and designers.  New communication systems are designed.  Several key people within the Korean organization are designated to be responsible for personally communicating scheduling information to appropriate individuals down to the operating level.

Managing International Projects – Part 6

June 1, 2017

This is the sixth in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with managing project metrics.

Tips for International Projects

  • Use multi-cultural teams to create performance indicators
  • Validate performance indicators with multi-cultural players
  • Ensure that strong influencers agree to performance indicators
  • Assign multi-cultural accountability for tracking performance indicators
  • Plan culturally appropriate responses when performance indicators reveal issues
  • Use measurement units (e.g., financial, distance, etc.) preferred by the Project Customer and/or sponsor

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

Establishing clear measures for project performance, agreed to by all players, is essential in successfully managing international projects.  The project team must ensure that measurements are appropriate to the cultures involved, are understood by all players and are effectively tracked over the lifetime of the project.  Team members must also ensure that good corrective action is taken when the measurements indicate that some aspect of the project is off track.  Prevention and contingency plans should be in place to handle such challenges as quickly as possible.  The Four Key Variables of International Projects should be consulted extensively in establishing tracking mechanisms and in managing issues surfaced by the tracking process.

How will we know that the project outcome and Customer requirements have been met?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What multi-cultural power/status issues may arise in establishing measures?
  • What plans are in place to manage these issues?
  • How clear are the performance indicators for international Customers and suppliers?
  • What multi-cultural responses have been planned to manage issues if performance indicators aren’t met?

For each critical transaction, what are the key performance indicators?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What multi-cultural strong influencers may have an impact on measurement planning for the critical hand-offs?
  • Who on the team is responsible for tracking performance measures within the relevant cultural groups?
  • Are these people well coached in the meaning and use of the Four Key Variables of International Projects?
  • What response systems are in place if measurements indicate multi-cultural issues within one or more of the key hand-offs?

Example:  Members of the planning team for an international project have identified the key hand-offs in their Network Diagram.  They know how important objective performance indicators are in ensuring that the project stays on track, especially among key players representing diverse cultures.  For that reason, a special sub-team with multi-cultural membership creates appropriate performance indicators, especially for critical hand-offs.  The group will obtain firm agreement on performance indicators from significant project players.  The group will also create and monitor tracking mechanisms.  As part of communication planning, key players will get appropriate tracking information.  The entire project team will ensure effective responses are made to issues surfaced by the measures.

Managing International Projects – Part 5

May 2, 2017

This is the fifth in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with managing project hand-offs.

Tips for International Projects

  • Encourage Customers/suppliers for all hand-offs to communicate with each other
  • Make deliverables for each hand-off explicit
  • Get strong clarity on performance indicators for international project hand-offs
  • Develop a network of people with multi-cultural insights

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

The Four Key Variables of International Projects can be extremely helpful in avoiding problems with key hand-offs involving multiple cultural perspectives.  By definition, key hand-offs are those critical transactions that are especially important to project success.  Because of their high visibility and importance, these same key hand-offs can be potential magnets for attention from strong influencers and others operating within a variety of cultural systems.  As is often the case in the international arena, the presence or potential impact of these strong influencers may not be readily apparent until viewed within the context of the Four Key Variables of International Projects.

Probing for cultural influences on key hand-offs before challenges occur can have substantial rewards.  Time and dollars can be saved in the long run, even though additional efforts may be needed in the short-term to detect cultural influences.  Team members should be especially diligent in establishing clear Customer requirements and performance indicators for all key hand-offs within international projects.

What are the key hand-offs (transactions) that must be closely monitored during implementation?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What ordinary transactions in the project might have key hand-off status in the international arena?
  • What measures have been taken to pay special attention to these international key hand-offs?

Have project team members clarified requirements with their individual suppliers and Customers?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What multi-cultural power/status issues may arise within any of the key hand-offs?
  • What plans are in place to manage these issues?
  • Who are the strong influencers in the critical hand-offs and what might be their cultural perspective?
  • What plans are in place to identify these strong influencers and manage their multi-cultural needs?
  • How clear are the performance indicators for Customers and suppliers within these key hand-offs?
  • What multi-cultural responses have been planned to       manage issues if performance indicators aren’t met?

Example:  A project team must get help from its organization’s locations throughout the world to meet the needs of a Customer headquartered in Spain.  The team has met to determine the key hand-offs and discover that several of them involve Customers from Germany and Sweden, who must depend on suppliers from France and Japan.  Because the team has been thoroughly briefed on the Four Key Variables of International Projects, several brainstorming sessions are conducted to identify potential issues within these critical transactions.  A sub-team is created to probe the context, power/status and information path requirements of the French and Japanese suppliers and their German and Swedish Customers.  Representatives from each of the Customer and supplier groups have agreed to help validate plans coming from the sub-team and later to help implement the resulting plans.  All parties to the process agree that special attention should be paid to establishing clear performance indicators.

Managing International Projects – Part 4

April 12, 2017

This is the fourth in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with plans, schedules and budgets.

Tips for International Projects

  • Pay close attention to multi-cultural issues impacting milestones
  • Allow for exchange rate fluctuation on international financial transfers
  • Allow additional time for steps involving delivery of materials through customs
  • Identify and assign actions that ensure support of strong influencers

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

Plans, schedules and budgets need special attention in international projects to ensure that concerns surfaced by the Four Key Variables of International Projects are addressed effectively.  Each step on the Network Diagram should be tested against the Four Variables.  Where concerns arise, additional risk prevention or contingency elements should be added as part of the Network Diagram.

The cultural diversity of the project team can be especially valuable in the Network Diagram testing process.  Team members must listen carefully to what colleagues have to say about the cultural needs of Customer and supplier representatives, strong influencers and other project players.  When problems occur related to the Four Variables, the team should immediately seek help from those with appropriate cultural insights, inside or outside the team.  Time and Power/Status issues should be monitored in international projects.  Customer and supplier views of deadlines are likely to vary according to cultural context.  The close relationship between money and power in organizations means the team should carefully test the cultural appropriateness of all budgeting decisions.

To implement this project, who should do what, by when?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • How well has the team tested for the multi-cultural impact of proposed actions?
  • What measures are in place to manage potential multi-cultural issues arising from action plans?
  • Has the team considered potential multi-cultural issues in estimating time duration for the action elements?
  • What prevention and contingency plans are in place to manage such time-related issues?

What actions should be taken to ensure support of strong influence stakeholders?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • Has the team tested for the presence of strong influencers, using the Four Key Variables of International Projects as a guide?
  • What plans have been developed to manage the involvement of strong influencers representing a variety of cultures?
  • Do those responsible for implementing the strong-influencer plans have the multi-cultural awareness needed to do an effective job?
  • What prevention and contingency plans are in place to manage the emergence of unexpected strong influencers across the life of the project?

What are the costs associated with this project plan and schedule?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What prevention and contingency plans are in place to manage multi-cultural cost-estimating challenges?
  • Do our procurement plans consider possible multi-cultural context, power/status, time or information path issues?
  • Does our cost planning consider multi-national currency exchange, tax, import/export and other international legal or monetary challenges?
  • What are our plans to handle such challenges if they occur?

Example:  A project for a Customer with branches in six countries on three continents has generated a number of challenges, especially in estimating time and cost for individual activities.  Time commitments for action step completion seem to have different meanings in different global areas.  Costs seem to rise in unexpected ways in some countries and regions.

Fortunately, the team leader has international project experience and is familiar with the Four Key Variables of International Projects.  He knows things are seldom what they appear to be when dealing with a variety of cultural perspectives.

For that reason he asks lots of questions about action elements, especially those involving time and costs.  He knows there will be unexpected problems, no matter how much advance planning was done.  When unexpected problems arise, he immediately pulls together team members with insights into the cultures involved.  When such expertise isn’t available on the team, he finds the right people from other parts of the organization, or from outside the organization if necessary.  The team keeps an especially close watch on cultural issues that might emerge around project milestones.

Managing International Projects – Part 3

March 14, 2017

This is the third in a series of nine blogs that provide insight and tips on managing international projects.  In this blog, we’ll discuss issues and solutions associated with project teams and stakeholders.

Tips for International Projects

  • Pay special attention to the cultural needs of strong influencers
  • Seek cultural diversity on your team
  • Use the team’s diversity for insights about project players
  • When you think you are sure about a player’s cultural needs, check further
  • Develop a network of people with multi-cultural insights

The information and recommendations in this blog reflect the Four Key International Variables as documented by O’Hara and Johansen in their book Global Work.

Selecting and obtaining the right team members for international projects can be especially challenging.  Maintaining good team and Customer communication across great distances is an obvious recruiting concern.  In addition, there are all the other international project issues—language, legal variations, logistics, and of course, cultural differences.  The testing questions provided here are designed to help team members explore these recruiting challenges and develop effective preventions or contingencies for potential problems.

Who will participate in implementing this project?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What cultural, geographic, or other international considerations are likely to impact this project?
  • What geographic and cultural representation will be needed on the team to best meet project planning and implementation requirements?
  • Who are the strong influencers in all aspects of the project and what are their cultural orientations likely to be?
  • What activities will be needed to ensure that strong influencer needs are managed in culturally appropriate ways?

Who will be affected by this project?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What individuals or organizations around the world are likely to be impacted by this project?
  • How do we know?
  • What is our plan to deal with these global impacts?
  • Who are the strong influencers that should be considered and what are their multi-cultural perspectives?

Who will be responsible for post-implementation support, maintenance, sustaining effort, etc.?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • What global resources will be available for post-implementation support?
  • What cultural challenges must be overcome to mobilize these resources?
  • Who are the strong influencers around the world that must be considered in developing the post-implementation plan?
  • How might each of the Four Key Variables of International Projects impact this post-implementation planning?

Who can significantly impact the success of this project?

Supplemental International Testing Questions:

  • Who are the strong influencers around the world who could seriously impact the success of this project?
  • Who on the team has sensitivity to specific multi-cultural issues, some of them not readily obvious?
  • Has a plan been crafted to ensure that all strong influencers of this project have been identified and their cultural concerns addressed?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring that this plan is successfully implemented throughout the lifecycle of the project?

Example:  The Customer for your project is a German company where plans, once submitted, are expected to be followed.  Your team’s plans for Phase I were recently submitted to the Customer team and accepted enthusiastically.  Now the head of an internal supplier organization in your Singapore branch has called with concerns about the buy-in of several of his key leaders.  He wants time to brief them more thoroughly.  You thought he had already communicated the Phase I plan to key members of his organization through an e-mail message.  You check with a Chinese member of the project and learn that simple e-mail communication to the Singapore leaders may not be sufficient to get needed buy-in.

Remembering the Four Key Variables of International Projects, you check with team members and others having good insights into the needs of strong project influencers from high-context cultures, where decisions are often reached on the basis of strong, time-tested relationships. You work out a series of compromises with your German Customers regarding delays resulting from the Singapore situation.  You then convene a conference call with members of your team, many of who are located at overseas branches.

During this conference call, the team reviews the Stakeholder Identification Template, and with the Four Key Variables of International Projects as a guide, identifies special context, power/status, time or information path needs of individuals associated with the project.   Special attention is given to strong influencers.