The world is getting smaller. Well, it’s not getting any smaller physically but that’s one way of saying that global communications have become so fast-paced that the world is in fact one community in many ways. With the advent of the Internet, email, instant messaging, and VOIP, it has become entirely possible to do business with business partners all over the world without ever leaving your office.
For many companies that are at the forefront of new business models, the concept of geographically isolated businesses is outdated. It is quite possible to form a trade association or a project team made up of dedicated experts spread in all time zones and from all over the world. In fact, this type of decentralized management of business projects has become the norm rather than the exception in the business environment of the twenty-first century.
So just as those who work in marketing, product development, and investments have already learned how to maximize a project team separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, a project manager must also adapt project management methodology to accommodate a similar approach to getting things done.
Traditional project management is a systematic method of moving a project from scope to execution that has been proven successful in thousands of companies. We have no reason to give up on this cutting edge methodology. But with the emergence of new business models, we have to adapt a normative approach such as project management to fit the way business is done in this century.
Communication is the key to any successful project. This is the challenge of using a team from across a large geographic gap. It’s entirely possible to do the whole project with team members you never see. To facilitate frequent and up-to-date communications, we must exploit the technology at our disposal such as…
§ Blogs, wiccis and co-working environments. Group sharing environments on the web are becoming more and more popular. By setting up an online tool where team members can post status reports, leave emails, update project management software, submit expense reports, and stay in touch with each other, you facilitate the kind of communication that keeps the team moving forward successfully. Blogs, private message boards, and wiccis are also excellent mediums with which to have an ongoing “conversation” among team members so that anyone can check them out and see what content has been done and what is planned for the project.
§ Controlled email trees. As the project manager, email is an obvious way to stay in touch quickly with team members. However, it can get messy trying to keep up with fast-moving email trees. This could be a good reason to hold all the email trees within the online project management software so that the contributions of everyone on the team can be captured for further review.
§ IM team meetings. IM can be expanded to not only bring in two participants. You can schedule weekly team meetings using the IM meeting room and capture the entire action in the IM log thus reassuring yourself that anything that has been said will “fall through the loopholes.”
By becoming proficient in using cyberspace as the primary “location” for your project team interaction, you can literally create a team of highly specialized talent that can be found from anywhere in the world. This greatly expands your ability to utilize the best minds for your business and simplifies the project management process. It will take time to get used to and there will be some bumps along the way. But if you can beat global team management with online tools, it will be a valuable skill to successfully implement global projects for your business.