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Management Tips for Navigating Global Outsourcing
03 Jul 2014 | No Comments

When it comes to Global Outsourcing, every new time zone added to your team adds a new level of complexity to your project. To effectively deliver global projects, organizations must adapt their management techniques to address these complexities. Global outsourcing engagements require additional management focus on the cultural differences, scheduling challenges, and team member communications.
Cultural awareness will enable an organization to adjust its management style to address each of the cultures on the project. There are many sources to obtain information on the international cultures of each team. Some of the most helpful sites include The World Factbook (on the CIA web site); Global Business Etiquette: A Guite to International Communication and Customes; and Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries. Key cultural considerations include: business culture, business hierarchies, meeting etiquette, social culture, gift etiquette, and business negotiating styles. Take the time to document and share this information with each international project team.
When managing a global outsourcing project across multiple time zones, it is critical to establish and publish core working hours. If the time zones are too challenging to have overlapping hours for the entire team, at a minimum the project should have overlapping schedules for the leadership team. Use these overlap hours wisely. This time should be used to do daily status meetings and to work on collaborative deliverables. The goal of setting core hours should minimize the amount of time each team will need to work “off” hours and will increase employee satisfaction. Occasionally there are situations that require outsourcing partners to work the same hours as their client. Although sometimes necessary, if these conditions become long term, organizations risk decreased team morale and possible turnover.
Provide a way for the teams to put a face to the names. Ideally this could be accomplished by utilizing teleconferences or web cameras. This media allows the team members to observe body language when conducting meetings. If an organization does not have video capabilities available to them, there is still value to bringing a face to the name. Be creative, and make a game out of it. Send out pictures of clients and outsourcing teams to the entire team. Have everyone on the team try to match all the team member names to the pictures. This is a fun exercise that helps bring the team closer.
Take every opportunity to communicate with remote teams. It is almost impossible to over communicate when teams are not co-located. At a minimum, there should be daily communications between local and remote teams. Use this time to review status on open action items, discuss new risks, and ask new questions that have come up that day. This daily communication will develop and enhance team relationships and increase awareness of the project status. Make sure each session has a clear agenda, that content is relevant and useful to everyone on the communication, and that detailed notes are kept for anyone unable to attend.
Doing business globally opens a world of new challenges and opportunities. If you take a diligent approach to managing cultural differences, scheduling challenges, and team member communications, you will be able to safely navigate your global relationships.