Problems with cross-border projects

This is the last part of a 3-part series about managing multinational and cross-cultural teams. Are you missing the posts before? You can find the first and second posts here and here. This is not something that software programs can solve. It all depends on the emotional intelligence of project leaders, their leadership skills, adaptability, as well as their ability to train and inform teams.
Communication is also dependent upon the soft skills of project managers.
These include the ability listen, understand, and respond clearly to other people’s concerns and messages.
These soft communication skills can be put into practice with technology. Before project managers can use their emotional intelligence, they must be able to communicate with others in some way.
Technology can be used to solve cross-border problems. However, it does have limitations in terms the interpretation of messages sent.
There are many options for project managers. Instant messaging (IM) allows project teams to communicate informally even though they are online. This allows team members to ask questions quickly and easily, rather than waiting for a formal meeting.
Communication is key to building trust and understanding among colleagues. If it isn’t misused, this facility can be used to improve working relationships. It works only if all users are within the same time zone and the difference is less than a few hours.
Web conferencing is the next step in communication beyond one-to-1. Multiple people can join an online conference. Packages such as WebEx and Sametime Unyte allow for virtual meetings. Web conferencing allows you and your team to make changes to documents or show product demonstrations without having to be present in person.
Some packages allow you record meetings or presentations to be replayed later. This is useful for colleagues who are unable or don’t have time to attend the meeting in their native languages.
Instant messaging and web conferencing allow for synchronous communication. Asynchronous communication is important for building a cohesive international team. One option is to share a Microsoft Outlook calendar. This will allow everyone to see the project milestones as well as team meetings. Outlook will automatically show the meeting if you connect from a computer with a different time zone.
@task is a project-specific tool that will give you more options. Packages such as Primavera allow for collaborative working on fully online projects.
It is possible to create a project team workspace online, where you can store documents, track progress, and even upload photos. This can make it easier for your team to work efficiently. It is important that everyone follows the rules and understands them. The project manager will decide how the site should operate and make sure everyone understands it.
No matter which software you use to manage cross border projects, you will quickly realize its limitations. Poor workers blame their tools. But a good project manager will be able to recognize when to use them and when to leave them alone. He will also be able lead with insight and understanding. The world is shrinking and projects are growing. Successful international projects require savvy technology use and cultural awareness.