Project Management

Global Projects, Local Problems

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

A little while ago I was asked for some advice about a project that one of my customers was facing. It was going to involve multiple business units and offices spread around the globe, and my customer was very concerned about the issues that this would raise. They had done some work and had strategies for dealing with language barriers, the communication challenges presented by different time zones, etc., but they wanted me to review their plan and ensure that there wasn’t anything glaringly obvious that they had missed.

In discussing the project with them, it was clear that they had done a great job of identifying the issues involved--but hadn’t considered just how wide reaching the impact of those issues could become. If you are managing a global project. then you may well be facing the same challenges. There is no way that in one short article I can flag all of those issues and impacts for all of your projects, but in the next few paragraphs I would like to look at just how significant some of these issues are.

Let’s start with something that has the potential to cause many a sleepless night--language differences. My customer had identified that they would have people on the project for whom English wasn’t their native language. They had built in additional time to allow for translation/comprehension, and had even arranged for …

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"Love your enemy--it will scare the hell out of them."

- Mark Twain