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Global Considerations And Trends

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Global Considerations and Trends

Project management is constantly a practice as organizations seek to be successful in an ever-changing business world. "Research shows that whilst 90% of large companies are conducting global projects, less than one third of them have effective, established practices to help project managers and team members working over a distance"(Global Project Management, 2005). Project managers must know and understand the trends and conditions that exist on a global level and domestic level and more so, those that interfere with the proper management of projects. The challenges that project managers face in a virtual environment are many. Team E has evaluated such challenges while identifying those that deem critical to the success of project management.

Similarities and differences between domestic and global project management

In general, the concept of project management is similar throughout the world whether it is conducted in a domestic setting or international/global environment. Project management encompasses: team, budget, timelines, and deliverables. They each require attention and skill to manage. When projects cross multiple geographic areas and time zones and teams are dispersed in different locations, it becomes even more challenging. "Global trends are reshaping the competitive dimensions in the world and are driving the need for increased use of "borderless" project management" (Roundtable, 1999).

International projects are faced with added complications. The project manager and individual team members must be aware of key factors such as language, culture, local customs and norms and financial risks. Projects must be managed based on varying conditions of infrastructure and technology. Although technical systems are becoming more compatible around the world, high capacity computers and broadband technology are not always as readily assessable or reliable in foreign countries. Political systems around the world vary in stability and in their interest and support of foreign business entities. In some countries, policies and regulations are not always conducive to doing business, and it is critical to have high-level relationships in order to accomplish business transactions in an effective and timely manner. Transportation systems are not always reliable and safety and security factors are becoming more of an issue in today's world.

Project management is becoming more complicated due to competition in the global marketplace. In today's environment a project manager needs to have an array of skills and qualities in order to manage projects on a global scale. Additionally because of the growing complex issues an international market may present, the project manager and team members must understand and work on minimizing the inherent risks of doing business on a global scale.

Challenges of managing projects involving teams with members from multiple ethnic and sociopolitical backgrounds

According to Richard Beckhard (1996), leaders of the twenty-first century will face greater and more complex demands than they did most of the century just ending. Until recently, leaders had the power to shape their organization and projects in ways that supported their personal values, assumptions and style." In a diverse country like the United States, changing demographics are creating workforces that are no longer homogenous. The increase of ethnic minorities and women in the workforce requires sensitivity to different norms, traditions, and sociopolitical backgrounds as well as the ability to help overcome these differences and build a cohesive team. The situation is magnified by the fact that in order to succeed in today's economy companies need to compete on an international scale.

To manage diverse teams, project managers must have a world perspective and embrace differences as an opportunity to recognize and build synergies among team members. They must be integrators that are able to bring people of diverse beliefs and backgrounds together. Project managers must be inspiring leaders that are able to build a common vision among team members and guide them in a unified direction. Project managers must be diplomats that can skillfully resolve conflicts and help people learn how to work together. They must be passionate and articulate team builders that help team members build a relationship of trust and open communication. This can be difficult enough when team members have preconceived perceptions, stereotypes, prejudices and political differences. When teams are located in different offices, states and even countries, project managers must find creative ways to build a team that does not require physical presence. It is essential that team members get to a level of understanding and personal relationship and are encouraged to bring the team together on a regular basis and to develop open and direct dialogue. This is critical in order to establish cultural context among team members and to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to a failed project.

Challenges of managing a virtual (remote) team

As communication technologies improve, employees often exchange ideas and information with distant colleagues. Most workers can benefit from this ability to touch base with people beyond a particular set of walls. But what happens when a project or task depends on the ongoing cooperation of employees who are miles apart? According to Kimball (n.d.), "Organizations have become more distributed across geography and across industries". It has therefore become necessary to form teams that are situated in countries all over the world.

Managing people is not easy but managing remote people is much more difficult. Managers will be faced with many challenges as organizations use virtual teams to get the job done. Among the challenges of managing virtual teams are:

* Effective communication, since it is more difficult to communicate remotely. Nonverbal communication and miscommunication are more common with a virtual (remote) team.

* Identifying the role of each team member. Managers must ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands his or her role and responsibility.

* Developing strategies to keep the team focus. Since teammates do not see each other on a regular basis, project managers find it challenging to ensure that team members feel connected to the bigger picture.

* Keeping the pace of the team's virtual environment. It is important to keep everyone informed

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