International Project Management – Part II

Insights | 28 June 2010

Risk Management Planning

When taking on an international project, risk management planning becomes an imperative consideration to mitigate possible extra costs or loss of control of the project.

Investigate the Differences in the Legal System

How does this affect the ability to own the rights of the finished product?
If labour and materials are insufficient at any time to complete the project, what are the workaround alternatives? Create a backup plan, including possible companies for additional outsourcing of labour and/or supplies.
When working in a foreign environment, determine the inherent risks in the country, including possible political tumult and processes and insurance that will be invaluable in the case of political revolution or terrorist attack.

Cultural Awareness

A recurring point in the project should be the importance of cultural awareness. This will facilitate a clear communication of expectations and a higher potential of having your project delivered in a timely, high quality manner.

Make sure that you and the supplier are on an even playing ground. Do you really understand what the other is saying?
Acknowledging different negotiation styles upfront will help the project manager and team be successful with their project. Does “yes” on a decision really mean yes, or is a manner of avoiding the question? Do not put all of your assets into a decision that is actually a ‘no’ or a ‘maybe’, because then you will be right at the beginning, with less budget and time to spend.

Bribery. What are the methods to get thing done? Must you buy gifts or large dinners for those involved to make their final decision? Must you pamper them, or merely tantalise them with metrics? Is bribery acceptable to your home business practice? Are you allowed to do this overseas on behalf of your home business or not? Have you budgeted for these ‘extra’ expenses? Luxurious dinners can run into the thousands!

What are the cultural trends for vacations and national/religious holidays? Know your timing upfront and plan ahead.

Define Project Success Criteria

Defining success criteria for an international project is more than delivering the project on time and within budget. Define what “quality standards” means not only within the United States but in the foreign country as well. If the end goal is to expand a product into other markets, consideration needs to be made as to what is considered “a quality product” in another country. Likewise, you can build something in another country in order to save money but if it does not meet local quality standards the end product will not go too far.
Determine your end control of the project. Is the company that you are outsourcing to, outsourcing to yet another company? What will the quality of the final output be?

Select the Project Team

For international projects, a trusted and experienced legal resource is a necessity, followed by at least one ‘in-country’ representative, who will ensure contact, communication and quality standards from the supplier. Such a representative should be able to move between both worlds with ease, speak the local language, and serve as a critical liaison for the local workforce so that they feel that they are understood.

Legal representation on international projects is crucial to address contractual issues and items related to the government such as import/export regulations.

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