These are the views of Malcolm Noyce, Executive Director, MPA
Rationalisation of one business to deliver global services has achieved significant benefits, including schedule reduction, reduction of costs through less travel, better workforce and workload balance, quicker response times and access to specialist skills. Key challenges though are to keep everyone using specific processes, and constantly re-aligning support, thus ensuring consistent execution globally.
Communication and motivational techniques have to be adapted to suit different cultures. Leadership has to be culturally open.
Another company’s business model has found that separation of production from the client facing teams can lead to difficulties in managing expectations. Conference calls do not always resolve conflict resulting in the need for face to face meetings.
A third business places great emphasis on its people and expects to change the team as the project evolves. People issues are critical risks and project language requires careful attention.
This theme was developed in tracking a greater acceptance of virtual teams where research has shown that most barriers are now overcome with the exception of decision making. Many different cultures were explored and training of all team members in global virtual teams was felt to be necessary to educate everyone in the different team environments that could be expected. One of the key concerns for relocated staff is their feeling of isolation. It is critical to engage regularly and help them manage their careers.
A significant problem for global teams is the location of information and access to it. 85% of information is unstructured and teams spend 30% of their time researching that information. Hence there should be a single version of the truth and building this data base should be treated as a project in its own right. Correct and up to date information can then drive efficiencies.
Global charities have very limited funds and with on-going projects often operate in locations with no continuous supply of power or good hygiene. Experience has shown that unfocussed energy becomes activity with sometimes damaging outcomes. For emergency disaster reaction it is necessary to give attention to the stages of the responses which may require different approaches and changes of personnel. Keys to success are recruitment of the right people, communication, absolute shared clarity of purpose, trust and governance. They can’t afford for willing people to get things wrong.