pProject managers have to go where the
projects are—and sometimes that
means setting up shop somewhere other
than the home office. Yet while globetrotting adds a certain flair to the
résumé, it also comes with a fair
amount of risk. Not only do project
managers have to contend with unfamiliar
surroundings and cultural differences,
they also have to find ways to make sure
all their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
That requires a clear line of communication between the team on location
and the one at home, says Joss Marsh, a
management consultant at Sovereign
Business Integration plc, an IT consulting firm in London, England.
Mr. Marsh is currently leading several
major projects for the International
Bank of Qatar. While on site, he keeps
the head office up to speed with the
project by establishing and strictly
maintaining a single point of contact
between the two locations.
“I talk to one person at headquarters
about everything, and likewise any
management communication from
headquarters to the customer comes
through me first,” he says. “That has been
really important for managing the customer account and the overall project.”
With boundaries set, Mr. Marsh and
his team can benefit from the full array
of resources—while at the same time
ensuring everyone back in the London
office is receiving the same message
about the project’s progress.
Of course, things can get more complicated as the borders expand.
Just ask Karen Jahnke, PMP, founder
and managing partner of Triumvirate
Consulting Group, Waukesha, Wisconsin,
USA. She led a project between
December 2006 and 2008 to deliver a
major IT and operational process
implementation for manufacturer
The team line-up was like something
out of a geography textbook. Her
employer was headquartered in Dallas,
Texas, USA, but Ms. Jahnke’s direct
manager was in Boston, Massachusetts,
USA. The client’s global headquarters
were in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while
the project’s actual decision-makers
were split between Cleveland, Ohio,
USA and Argentina.
To keep everyone on track, Ms. Jahnke
created an internal report card that
formed the basis of a weekly check-in to
her headquarters—and kept the project
and the team in the spotlight.
TIP Project managers looking to remain part of the
international jet set have to prove they can easily adapt to any
situation. “The [issue] is always the cultural element,” says
Michael Boyle, international project manager at BCD Travel.
Based in Vienna, Austria, Mr. Boyle has managed diverse
projects across Europe for the past decade.
“The key is empathy,” he says. “I spend a lot of time ensuring
I understand the local needs and making sure everyone within a
project understands the importance of this approach.”