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What is International Project Management?

International Project Management, in a nutshell, is managing cosmopolitan projects effectively by overcoming the barriers posed by the boundaries of nations. These barriers involve Cultural differences, Time-zones, law, and many other techniques and tools used in various countries. 

One of the breakthroughs of globalization is that anything is available in every look and corner of the world. Have you ever wondered how these services are managed and maintained? International Project Management plays an important part in this process.

“You can’t take a global approach without knowing what it takes to be successful, and a big part of that is project management,” Chris Miller, PSNI.

 There are many courses to enlighten you in this arena, one such course is Henry Harvin’s Project Management course. This course gives excellent training in the domain as well as exposure to live projects. 

Let us look into what international projects are with examples.

What is an International Project? 

International projects are proposed and planned undertakings that are not confined to the boundaries of a Nation, but rather are spread beyond and in many parts of the globe. Globalization resulted in new investment opportunities and international markets for many companies. Also, These projects build a cordial relationship between nations and utilize the variegated resources and brain power available in different nations as well. 

The major aspects of International projects are: 

Limited resources-

Since International projects carry more weightage and are more complex compared to their domestic counterparts, the amount of resources needed to keep up the standards is huge. These resources include time, money, coordination, and skills, that overcome the barrier of boundaries and cultural diversity.

Complexity- International Project Management

 Different time zones, topography, cultural diversity, and many other factors add the element of complexity to these International projects. The International Projects Management team, therefore, is obliged to put to use the resources available to structurize and streamline the projects facilely.

Dynamics-

The projects are mostly long-term and involve evolving factors and changes that may put these projects at risk. Again, the International project management team should be adept at mitigating these risks and ensuring a smooth completion of the projects. 

Uniqueness-

These projects are unique on multiple levels as it involves the most assorted features and characteristics.

Risk-

There are scads of risk factors in International projects. For example,over running budgets, changing rules and laws in different nations, etc, and many more.

Diversity-

Different nations call for diversity in culture, work hours, skills, languages, organizational structure, etc. To put together all these into proper use in the most skillful manner is the responsibility of an International Project management team.

Characteristics of International Projects

           

The above picture sums up all the features and characteristics of these projects and International Project Management. As an example, The Rural Electrification Program in India which started in 2006, is an International project wherein many organizations like General Electric, Winrock International, USAID, etc have pitched in with their resources.

Role of International project managers

An International Project Manager develops, establishes, and maintains international projects in an organization. He/she is responsible for a proper flow of communication among the team members, executives, and other project managers. So, expertise in the domain is a prerequisite for the role of International Project managers.

Challenges in International Project Management

As aforementioned, the International projects and Management of these shouts for many concerns and challenges. The main challenges in the International Project management domain are: 

Communication: Knowing a language is not enough when it comes to International Project Management. Communication standards differ from nation to nation. Some nations use a direct method of communication, while some employ euphemisms.

Language: International projects involve discussions o complex issues and intricate details. So, language can be a huge barrier to effectively conversing among teams. This is overcome by employing a common language like English or using translators.

Time Differences: Different longitudes equals different time zones. An International Project management team must be able to coordinate with the working hours of different teams from different time zones. Proper planning and coordination are the keys to overcoming this challenge.

Cultural Dimensions: Cultural differences between various nations are not bound to eating habits and traditions, but it also reflected in projects as well. The International Project Management team ensures that account for all the participant’s cultural and social norms with support from the team,. This is an important challenge among the others and this can be better understood by analyzing the six dimensions developed by the famous psychologist Geert Hofstede.

In addition to these, Political agenda, Laws, economic stability, etc are a few of the other challenges in the International Project management domain.

Let us explore the Hofstede 6-D model in detail. There are 6 key areas to differentiate cultures among nations, and these are called the 6 dimensions. This is an imperative tool employed by Project Managers in the International Project management domain.

Hofstede 6-D Model

The 6 dimensions are cast up on a scale of  0 to 120. They are:

Power Distance Index -PDI

PDI is the extent to which the lower strata members accept equality in power. The higher the PDI, the ranking in power is established and executed clearly, while the lower PDI indicates that the less powerful always question the authority. PDI is high for Latin American, African, Asian, and Arab countries and it is low for Germanic countries.

Individuality-IDV

This indicates how well people work in groups and as a team. Individualism in certain countries displays that the employees in an organization work for individual benefits rather than for the team. On the other hand, Collectivism indicates that the people work as a team for the betterment of the organization. IDV is high in the USA, Australia, and Britain, and low in Malaysia, Portugal, Hong Kong, etc.

Tolerance of Uncertainty- UAI

This indicates tolerance to enigmatic situations, and how well people tackle unexpected and unknown situations. High UAI equates to rigid rules, laws, and regulations whereas low index points to a more liberal and resilient society and people. Germany and Belgium have high UAI while Sweden and Denmark have comparatively lower UAI. 

Masculinity Vs Feminity – MAS

Masculinity depicts, materialism, achievement, and pleasures while Feminity represents modesty, cooperation, empathy, and quality of life.  Some societies still consider feminine society forbidden. Masculinity is high in Hungary, Austria, Japan, etc. while it is very low in Nordic countries.

Long-Term Orientation vs Short-term Orientation – LTO

This shows how the past connects and influences the present in society. Long-term indicates the traditions are still followed while short-term honors traditions but they appreciate resoluteness. Long-term countries tend to develop better as compared to short-term countries. Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea have the highest LTO index while it is moderate in Latin America, and Africa.

Indulgence Vs Restraint- IND

IND is a measure of how society lets you enjoy the freedom and indulge in pleasures without restraint. On the other hand, a Restraint society has rigid rules and regulations when it comes to freedom. Indulgence is high in parts of Africa and Latin America, though we do not know much about this index, It is quite low in East Asia.

Cultural dimensions for International Project Management

            

While Hofstede’s 6-D model helps in understanding society and consequently, a nation, it doesn’t help understand individual values. It doesn’t account for the fact that women’s culture is different from men’s culture and it greatly influences society. 

Let us now look into the process of execution for International Project Management.

Execution of International Project management

International markets are prone to economic as well as structural changes over time. A good International Management team must take into consideration all the factors to ensure a smooth as well as effective completion of the project. 

This is divided into phases like the Selection phase, the initiation, and planning phase, the Execution phase, and the Close-out phase.

Selection Phase-

This is not funded by project funds and is not considered a start to the project yet it helps define the Lead project manager, key Stakeholders, and open accounts for funding the project, thus creating a Project charter.

Initiation and Planning Phase-

This is an important step in International Project Management as a lack of involvement and consideration at this phase may lead to a failure in the Project. More than 75%  of the success of a project depends on this phase.

Execution and Control-

They do the real work during this phase, and project managers ensure that the tasks are done efficiently and within the planned timeframe. Project monitoring and control are the main components of this phase. The project manager should also anticipate any changes that may occur during this phase.

Close-out-

During this phase, the team completes all the activities related to the International projects and formally closes the project. Lessons learned, best practices, etc are into the pockets of the International project managers as assets.

When it comes to international projects, a proper management structure needs to be planned as it is a conglomeration of skills and talents.  It involves many departments of management like Risk management, Time management, quality management, Procurement management, scope management, etc, and project leaders oversee all the work. So, They choose leaders based on the characteristics and duties they need to perform for the efficient completion of the projects. 

A prospective career in International project management

A career in the International project management domain depends on educational qualification and exposure. For example. Engineers can start their career in this domain as project engineers in International organizations. On the other hand, Business management professionals can start as global purchasing managers. An International Project manager acquires on an average around INR 25 lakh per as remuneration.

How to Study International Project management

There are many certificates as well as degree courses in the International Project Management field. There are four levels of certification and you can learn the concepts relevant to each level Examinations, interviews, and assessments are a few of the prerequisites of the proficiency certificate.

Conclusion

Globalization results in more International Projects and calls for immense talent and skill pool. A career in International Project Management requires years of experience and expertise in the domain. But, aspiring professionals can start their career in this domain as a consultant or Project Engineers. The main purpose of this post is to get an idea of what the International Project management domain is and how it works. 

FAQ

Q 1. What is the scope of International Project Management?

Ans: International Project Management has immense scope in IT, Business, Product development, etc., and is a highly rewarding field.

Q 2. What is an International project?

Ans: International projects are projects that involve many countries other than our own. An example is an Italian company starting a Healthcare unit in India with funding from Latin America.

Q 3. Are Cultural Dimensions helpful in International Project management?

Ans: Cultural dimensions help the international Project managers to plan and execute the projects efficiently. But it has limitations as well.

Q 4. Is time zones a challenge in International Project Management?

Ans: Yes, different time zones pose a challenge in working and completing the projects in the designated time frame.

Q 5. Can I advance my career with a project management course?

Ans: Yes, you can advance your career with a Project Management course. It helps develop teamwork and leadership skills.

2 Comments

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