by Jim Vaughan

How To Manage Global Projects With Remote Resources

Aug 30, 2010
IT Leadership

In our global, outsourced world, we need to learn to manage far-flung resources to improve project management.

There was a time when the resources on a project were, for the most part, co-located. I recall managers fighting to have all their resources in one room or even in the same row of cubicles. (I hear there may still be some of this going on.) Having “all your ducks in a row” so to speak made it easy to keep track of what your people were doing and allowed easy collaboration amongst the team.

Today we would be lucky to have our entire project teams located in the same area code, let alone the same row of cubicles. The age of electronic communications, the Internet, web meetings etc. has created an environment where we can now work quite effectively remotely, as people communicate through e-mail and text messages. As a result, many projects extend beyond the U.S. into other countries.

But global projects present their own challenges. Culture, language and time zones become some of the largest obstacles to completing projects successfully.

Addressing these challenges requires sound project management practices. There must first be a solid plan with clear responsibilities defined. As described in one of my previous blogs, the project must be broken down to the desired levelto which you want to manage. Then project managers must manage to that plan and hold project team members accountable for their actions. Managing far-flung project teams all comes down to accountability, accountability, accountability. (You can see my three previous posts on accountability by clicking on the three preceding links.)

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if project team members sit right next to you or on the other side of the globe. (Projects can still fail even if all team members speak the same language and are located in the same office.) Regardless of where team members sit, accountabilities for each of them person must be defined, tracked and managed. This is the responsibility of the project manager and the value that project management adds to the organization.

What challenges do you face managing global project teams, and have you discovered any effective ways to address them?

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