Managing projects across geographic lines and cultures is becoming more complex as companies expand their workforce options. Project teams can span multiple countries as companies choose offshore resource pools.
Each country and organization has their own set of rules and assumptions for they way they work, and it’s up to the PM to help the team understand that and provide those guidelines back to the team.
Here are some tips for managing IT projects that combine offshore and U.S. workers:
Culture. Depending on the country, there will be a social order within the workplace that should be respected and followed. Do your best to understand that prior to your first engagement with any member of that team. It will definitely set the standard for your working relationship going forward. If you are able to exhibit that knowledge, new teams will appreciate your understanding of how their team works.
Standards. Set clear expectations for team communications and work. In the kickoff meeting, provide a set of standards you expect the team to follow. Provide examples, templates and other documentation to enable the team to be successful with the requirements.
Flexibility. Depending on location, workers may be up to 12 hours ahead. Be sensitive to this. While the expectation can be that they flex to a U.S. workday, it may not be feasible because of transportation and other limitations. Be sure to understand those limitations before placing expectations on the team abroad.
Resource allocations. Define the resource allocations needed. Some companies will float your resources depending on the demand for the day. It’s always good to ensure the resources you are leveraging are consistent on your project. This will provide continuity and context for your team going forward. Play special attention to this as you manage the budget and the work. It’s not something that may show up immediately, but it can impact your code quality.
Types of resources. What types of teams are you using? Are they testing teams, code teams or is everything off shore? That will impact your overall project plan: schedule, budget and management style.