Managing a project when everyone is in the same office is difficult enough. When managing a project remotely, there are even more challenges associated with keeping everyone on the same page. If you’re trying to do this with a team that’s located in different time zones across the world, it takes a special approach.
On the surface, global project management sounds next to impossible. While it was a giant undertaking 20+ years ago, a lot has changed since then. Most importantly, you now have access to a variety of technologies—including software and tools—that allow team members to work collaboratively.
How technology has changed global project management
Think back to the days when communicating with team members meant relying solely on the telephone, fax machines, and in-person meetings. You can even fast forward and include email on that list.
Managing projects was a monumental challenge, as you were forced to share information in a an environment where communication channels were few and far between and the exchange of information was slow, especiallly if you were communicating with workers in a different time zone. Nowadays, sharing project documents with a co-worker across the world via fax would be so inefficient that it wouldn’t be considered.
Technology has made managing international projects easier than ever before. Here are just a few ways:
- Communication tools: From Skype to Slack, there’s no shortage of communication tools that connect remote teams around the world.
- Project management tools: Asana, Trello, and Monday.com are just a few of the many project management tools you can use to maintain consistency and transparency throughout your team.
- Calendar applications: can do a lot for the success of any project. Every team member—regardless of location—can use the calendar to manage and schedule events on their own time, making scheduling across time zones is much more efficient.
Top challenges of managing a project across multiple time zones
Even with modern technology leading the way, there are still challenges in managing projects across multiple time zones. Here’s what you need to think about and plan for:
The fact of the matter is that you won’t always be able to communicate in real-time with every team member. Fortunately, asynchronous tools — such as those offered by Oyster — allow you to maintain a clear and open line of communication.
2. Scheduling meetings
Even though meetings are not nearly as plentiful as they were in the past, there are still times when they’re necessary. The best way to approach this is to use scheduling software that allows you to schedule meetings at the times when the most people can attend.
Additionally, take advantage of tools that record and document meetings for those who are unable to attend.
Benefits of managing a global project
Despite the challenges, there are benefits to managing a global project.
1. Cultural diversity
When everyone lives and works in the same location, you can miss out on benefits gained from cultural diversity. A large majority of your team may share common ways of thinking.
When you manage an international project, however, you bring together a mix of cultures. When that happens, new ideas and perspectives are brought to the forefront too.
2. There’s always someone working on the project
With team members scattered throughout several time zones, there’s likely to always be someone—if not multiple people—working on the project. This is particularly useful with projects that require communication with outside resources that are not available 24 hours a day.
3. The opportunity to learn
Global project management can be an invaluable learning opportunity. It will teach you how to get along with people from other cultures, how to work in a remote environment, and how to use new tools and software that can help you in the future.
5 tips for managing global project teams
No two companies, teams, or projects are the same. Even so, there are some tips that can assist with managing almost every global team or project.
- Know where everyone is located. This information will help you better manage employees and the project as a whole. If you don’t know where someone lives you also don’t know what time zone they are in.
- Be aware of cultural differences. For example, there are religious holidays associated with large populations throughout the world.
- Be sure that everyone is using the same software. Everyone needs to use the same software at the same time. If you’re using Zoom but another person is using Skype, you’ll fail to connect.
- Let everyone work however is best for them. Not everyone has the same working style. This is particularly true when considering team members in different countries.
- Prepare for language barriers. Language difficulties can arise, so do your best to find a solution. This can mean communicating via email, live chat, or messaging tools as opposed to on the phone.
With this information, you should feel better about your ability to manage a project across multiple countries. If you’re ready to take your project management strategy and skills to the next level, Oyster and its long list of global employment services and tools are ready to help.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
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