One of my global clients recently called me about a problem her team was having implementing a process change within her organisation. After a long conversation, during which I gave her some tips on global project management, she was happy to continue the work with renewed enthusiasm.
If you are facing a similar challenge at the moment, you should find these five ideas I shared with her, to be of use.
#1. Involve the markets
This particular client works for a leading consumer packaged goods company in their London headquarters. One of the biggest challenges a global organisation can face when introducing process changes, is getting market buy-in, even when centralised.
My suggestion was to invite five to ten market representatives to work on the project team with her. Whilst a face-to-face meeting or two will be needed in the beginning, the project can usually continue with conference calls or webinars once it is under way. I also suggested taking a selection of markets from her different regions and not just the major ones, which always seem to be chosen due to their importance. This will reduce, but perhaps not totally eliminate a “it won’t work in our market” type of reaction which could slow down or even exclude adoption, especially by emerging markets.
#2. Allow for culture
When working in a global or regional environment, we often wrongly assume that everyone is making allowances for cultural differences. For this reason it is vital to double-check underst anding and agreement at every major milestone and before each new step is started. Although there is often an over-simplification of cultural differences made, such as Asians tend to always agree, Germans are not flexible, or Americans are opinionated, it still remains true that people think differently. The advantage of a diverse project team is that it includes people with differing perspectives, so make sure everyone appreciates the diversity, listens and adapts to it as appropriate.
#3. Involve different departments
I am amazed at just how many projects can be running simultaneously in large organisations. Whilst this should not be surprising with today’s dem and for rapid change and continuous innovation, I am always disappointed that in most cases, only the members of the department working on the project are aware of it. This may appear normal until one realises that most projects have impact beyond just departmental borders and sometimes can in fact actually be redundant. Let me give you an example.
I was once developing a proposal for a customer information integration programme and I discovered that there were four separate projects that were already running on similar areas to my project. And none of the departments were aware of the others’ projects! R&D was developing a st andard customer complaint classification; finance was harmonising category and br and definitions; market research was developing a tool for analysing customer call content and customer services were updating their platform.
I am sure you can see the value there would be in the departments collaborating together in order to avoid duplication of effort. Luckily, I was able to integrate and prioritise all five projects, making each department responsible for their specific part of the whole development. Everyone felt good about it because they saw the implications of the integration, and realised that the impact of the combined project would be greater than that of each separate plan alone.
#4. Think forward
Even when different departments are collaborating, there can still be an issue with taking the bigger picture. This is particularly important when planning for future expansion. I have witnessed several projects fall short of their potential, by not considering the future needs as well as todays. Are all areas going to exp and? Will customers have different needs? Will the company have different needs, different partners, or different categories and br ands? All of these can impact a project’s system and platform in the long-term and need to be considered before anything is developed.
Especially when the project team is spread across the world, it is vital to keep everyone informed about progress. In addition to the conference calls and webinars mentioned above, status reports with input from all areas on a regular basis will ensure that everyone underst ands how their part builds into the whole. It also shows that they are responsible for the success of the total project, as they will see the impact of delays or changes they initiate.
These are just five of the tips that I shared with my client and I am looking forward to hearing from her soon, that the project is now back on track and advancing successfully.
What other tips would you have given her? Please add a comment below.
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