Managing International Projects – Part 6

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.

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