Global Project Management.org

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The framework: 25 knowledge areas

Created on 17 August 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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Last Updated on 04 August 2012
 

Distributed programs, virtual projects and global projects

Created on 27 January 2008 Written by Jean Binder
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Distributed programs and virtual projects

Evaristo and Fenema (1999) proposed two dimensions to classify internal projects: The number of locations and the number of projects. The level of complexity is related to managing multiple interdependencies across time, space and projects. The complexity level of traditional projects is lower, increasing on traditional programs (multiple projects, single location) and on distributed projects (single project in multiple locations). According to the classification, the most complex types are distributed programs (multiple project, multiple locations), as shown in Figure 1 below.

Distributed Programs

Figure 1 – Typology of projects within organizations


A second classification, based on the analysis of knowledge management by Katzy, Evaristo and Zigurs (2000), adds a new dimension to the classification – affiliate dispersion. Figure 2 shows one possible representation of this typology (valid for both programs and projects), considering the organizational affiliation of the stakeholders. It is also possible to represent the cultural and social associations in a similar typology. The most complex situations are found in the virtual programs and projects, where the stakeholders are dispersed geographically and work in different organizations.

Virtual projects

Figure 2 – Typology of programs and projects across organizations

Global projects

The Global Project Management Framework addresses the combined challenges of the international, distributed and virtual projects, being mainly dedicated to global projects. This novel category can be defined as a combination of virtual and international projects, which includes people from different organizations working in various countries across the globe.

Dimensions of global projects

Figure 3 – Dimensions of global projects© Jean Binder 2007

You can use the following dimensions (see figure 3) to evaluate the level of complexity of your projects, and identify if you are experiencing the same challenges than other global project managers:

· Number of distant locations: The project team can be in a single room (project war room), in different rooms and in multiple locations. When all stakeholders are in geographical locations near at hand, face-to-face meetings can be easily organized and the positive influence of body language and social interaction on the efficiency is clear. In global projects, the team members are located at least in two different countries. When the distance among the team members is such that travel is required for physical contacts, the use of phone and videoconferencing becomes essential, requiring the application of communication strategies to ensure a high effectiveness level.

 

· Number of different organizations: Project team members can work for a single department in one company, for multiple departments, or even for multiple companies. The project managers must adapt their people and leadership skills to the multiple policies, procedures and organizational cultures. The complexity of commercial and contractual processes is also increased, although outside the current scope of the Global Project Management Framework.

 

·Country cultures: Beyond organizational culture, the customs and traditions of different nations and regions can bring more diversity to the work environment, reducing the group thinking and improving the collective creativity. Motivation is often increased, as many people prefer to work in cross-cultural environments because of the rich information exchange. Nevertheless, this diversity can sometimes be the source of conflicts and misunderstandings, and project managers must apply some basic rules and practices to take advantage of the cross-cultural communication, and to avoid its pitfalls.

 

· Different languages: International companies usually establish a common language for the exchange of information, although the way people communicate is highly dependent on their own native language. For example, if the common language is English, the effectiveness of communication by most non-English speakers will be limited by their knowledge of English expressions, vocabulary and often by their ability to make analogies and tell stories or understand jokes. On the other hand, native English speakers would need to limit their vocabulary to clear sentences and essential words, and carefully confirm the understanding of their ideas by foreign colleagues. The use of online meetings and visual communication are examples of practices discussed in the Global Project Management Framework that can be adopted by project managers to avoid misunderstandings and obtain a high commitment level from all stakeholders, independently of their native language.

 

· Time zones: The whole project team can be based in the same location, or in different locations in the same time zone. In the other extreme there are project teams with members in completely different time zones, being difficult (or impossible) to organize meetings in common office hours. The effect is twofold. Program and project managers can bring the different working times into their advantages, by creating a “follow-the-sun” implementation, reducing the duration of sequential tasks by a half or a third of the time. The procedures and communication rules must be perfectly defined among people in “complementary” time zones (when there is low overlapping of working hours). On the other hand, important delays can happen, if the exchange of simple information can sometimes wait for a week to be completed, instead of a single day. Global organizations can implement standard communication rules and templates across locations to reduce the possibility of these problems to happen.

The above dimensions can be represented by a radial chart where the centre represents the lower complexity levels: single department, location / time zone, language and cultures (Figure 3). The combination of medium and high marks shows the higher complexity of projects across borders, with team members from different cultures, languages, and organizations working in different nations around the globe: the global projects. Organizations can use the scale above to establish comparisons among different projects, to decide when to apply the best practices, and for risk management. 

Sources: 

Evaristo, R.,van Fenema, P.C. (1999) 'A typology of project management: emergence and evolution of new forms' in International Journal of Project Management Vol. 17, No. 5, pp. 275-281, 1999

Katzy, B., Evaristo, R., Zigurs, I. (2000) 'Knowledge Management in Virtual Projects: A Research Agenda' in Proceedings of the 33rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences - 2000  

Last Updated on 04 August 2012
 

The framework: change management and five categories

Created on 02 July 2007 Written by Jean Binder
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There are many literary sources that make recommendations on virtual teams, virtual projects and international management. They cover a significant amount of knowledge on virtual projects but do not address all the challenges and recommendations for global projects.

Organizations may need to adapt their cultures, procedures and technological environment when moving from co-located to virtual and global project management1. Some authors argue that project managers and team members also need to change the way they communicate and interact with each other2.

Organizational change principles might be used to obtain participation in the change process and increase the acceptance of the new working dynamics from all stakeholders. This suggests the usage of basic organizational change variables to analyze the literature and form a basic model for best practice: people, tasks, structure and technology3.

The Global Project Management Framework©suggests good practices required for global projects, grouped into discrete knowledge areas

·         Global teams: the knowledge on people management can cover the stakeholder management challenges and recommendations for global projects. 

·         Global communication: the project management tasks that suffer more from the dispersion of stakeholders are those associated with communication(meetings and one-to-one discussions).  

·         Global organizations: the knowledge area that will contain all recommendations on organizational structurefor successful global projects.  

·         The vast amount of knowledge in the technology area, available in the literature, can be grouped into two different categories4. At first there are many recommendations for the evaluation and deployment of hardware and software to facilitate communication over distance, covering the central implementation of the collaborative tools within the company and their installation and setup by project managers and team members. One example is the ‘identification of basic criteria for evaluating products and services for virtual teams or globally dispersed projects’5.  

·        The second category of technical knowledge describes the usage of effective collaborative techniques in order to achieve efficiency, with practical recommendations to be followed when employing the tools. For example, the establishment of common rules and tips for e-mails6.  

These five knowledge areas are interdependent, thus a more effective implementation would be expected by following a holistic approach.

Global Project Management Framework - Categories

The framework is explained in details on the book (Binder, 2007), and throughout this website. A forum was created to allow a structured exchange of knowledge on the topic, aiming to fill the framework with experiences coming from different countries and domain areas. 

Notes:

1 - Goncalves, 2005, p.355; Pauleen and Rajasingham, 2004, p.274

2 - Staples, Wong and Cameron, 2004, pp.170 & 175; Pauleen and Rajasingham, 2004, p.275

3 - Clark, 1972, pp.26-30  

4 - Mullins, 1996, p.87

5 - Goncalves, 2005, pp.185-198

6 - McMahon, 2001, p.139; Fisher and Fisher, 2001, pp.171-179

 

Sources:

Binder, J. (2007) 'Global Project Management: Communication, Collaboration and Management Across Borders' (Gower, UK) 

Clark, P.A. (1972) ‘Action Research & Organizational Change’ (Harper & Row, London, UK)

Fisher K. and Fisher M. (2001) ‘The Distance Manager’ (McGraw-Hill, USA)

Goncalves, M. (2005), ‘Managing virtual projects’ (McGraw-Hill, USA)

McMahon, P. (2001) ‘Virtual project management software solutions for today and the future’ (CRC Press LLC, USA)

Mullins, L.J. (1996) ‘Management and Organizational Behaviour’ (Pitman publishing, London, UK) 

Pauleen, D. J., Rajasingham, L. (2004) ‘Mediating complexity: Facilitating relationship building across boundaries in start-up virtual teams’ in Pauleen D. J. (Ed) Virtual teams: Projects, protocols and processes (Idea Group Publishing, London, UK)

Staples, D. S., Wong, I. K., Cameron, A. F. (2004) ‘Best practices for virtual team effectiveness’ in Pauleen D. J. (Ed) Virtual teams: Projects, protocols and processes (Idea Group Publishing, London, UK)

Last Updated on 04 August 2012
 
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