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Initiating a Global Project

Take these key first steps to increase your success!

Global projects are, by nature, complex initiatives to manage. You are working with a variety of individuals, from a variety of cultural backgrounds with differing expectations around the initiative. Time zones alone are a significant challenge when trying to schedule meetings!

When challenged with leading a global project, before you even start the project – take these initial best practice steps to help increase the success of the initiative and ensuring a successful team experience for all team members.

  • Learn about your team members
    • Roles and responsibilities within the business currently or at the vendor if they are part of a vendor team
    • Years of experience within the company or at the vendor
    • Educational background, specific skills/knowledge
    • Types of projects they have worked on in the past
    • Roles they have had on projects
    • Whether or not they have worked on global teams and, if so, types of global teams

I find out this information via an initial email, phone call or brief online survey. I note that I’m interested in learning more (and certainly I share this information about myself) in order to enable the team to get to know each other and learn how we can work together effectively on the initiative. I also am capturing this information for use in a team introductory activity.

  • Inform them about the project

Tell them the details of the project – share the charter with them. Explain clearly the business justification for the initiative, an overview of what will need to be done to meet the project objectives and ask them to think about how they fit in – what role can they fulfill on the project based on their experiences, capabilities, and own personal objectives. I will initially do this via an email or a conference call.

Even when I have team members coming from all over the world, I make the case to get everyone together for at least 2 days for a team kick off meeting where we get to know each other, determine how we’ll work together and kick off the start of the project. You can make a good business case for investing in getting everyone together when you focus on the increased success of projects when team members have the ability to get to know each other and learn how to work together prior to the start of the project.  When you absolutely cannot get the team together, set up a virtual initial team meeting and be sure the following is on your agenda:

    • Introductions by each team member covering: their experiences, past project team work, how they believe they add value to teams, and something about their culture, hobbies, etc.  Or you might have them answer a question such as:
      • If I could travel anywhere in the world, I’d travel to…..
      • My favorite weekend activity is to…..
      • If I didn’t have to work, I would….

Your goal here is to help them to begin to build relationships with each other. Strong relationships enable for improved teamwork overall.  When the team starts off by getting to know each other, it makes working your way through the initial stages of team development a less stressful process. I want everyone to learn about each other and, very importantly, understand our cultural differences and how those cultural differences add value to the team.

    • Review the project charter – focusing on the justification for the project (how is it tied to the organization’s long-term strategy goals) and the project deliverables. Ideally I want the Project Sponsor to participate in this initial team kick-off meeting.

With your team, in this initial team kick-off meetings, spend significant time getting to know each other and determining how you will work together effectively, including:

    • Assigning of roles and responsibilities
    • Determining tasks/timelines/milestones
    • Sharing of workload
    • Supporting each other’s efforts
    • Attending and participating in team meetings
    • How time differences will be handled
    • Making decisions
    • Managing conflicts
    • Reporting on status

The more the entire team is involved in developing the project plan and determining how they will contribute to the project overall, the increased likelihood of project success.

These initial key steps are a great way to enable the team to get to know each other and begin to build relationships. Strong relationships are essential to a global project’s (and frankly any project!) success.

Want to learn how to better lead your global, virtual teams? Contact us today to learn more about our 1 day workshop on Building and Managing Virtual Project Teams.

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