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Case Study -The Russians Join Us Late at Night Dragan Z.

Milosevic, Russ
J. Martinelli, and James M. Waddell

“Communication is the key,” says Sri Rastogi. Sri is a project manager on a project that is
geographically dispersed, with part of the team in Portland, Oregon; part in Houston, Texas;
and part in Moscow, Russia. The following shows how Sri views communication when dealing
with geographically dispersed teams.

HOW TO DEAL WITH A DISPERSED TEAM


“Someone said that communicating with the team from Houston is tough. I said, ‘Let me tell
you the story,’” says Sri. “There is an eleven - hour time difference between Portland and
Russia, so finding a good time to communicate in person is tough. One of the things the
Moscow team has done is to shift their workday. They now come in about 10 or 11 o’ clock in
the morning, then go home anywhere between 8 and 10 o’ clock in the evening. We now have
overlap at the end of the day where we can usually find people in the office. “Instant messaging
technologies have also helped a lot,” says Sri. “I log in from home for an hour each night and
turn on my instant messenger. If anyone in Russia needs to contact me during their morning,
they can do so, and I’ ll respond immediately,” he says. MY WAY “I don’ t know how it is for
the rest of the company, but the fact that I make myself available at 11 o’ clock at night on a
daily basis during the development cycle is a necessity to help communication channels stay
open on a geo - dispersed team. It’ s not rocket science, but it works!”

Discussion is based on the below questions-

1. Do you agree with Sri’ s approach in dealing with team members in different time zones?
Why or why not?

2. Would Sri’ s approach work if he leads multiple projects, say if he also leads another project
where the team members are in New Zealand?

3. Suggest a better way to promote communication among team members of different time
zones.

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Abstract
Today Business has become globalized; mainly due to the reason that many organizations are
handling geo-dispersed projects by using effective communication tools. Therefore, being able
to communicate effectively even though the employees who are directly involved with the
project are in different locations will directly influence towards the success of the overall
project. The above case study will reflect the modern trends of effective communication
methods including new social networking platforms for an instance instant messaging which
will eradicate the time barriers in the modern 21st century world of globalization. Overall,
considering Sri as an effective project manager is a good communicator who is successful when
communicating with people from different countries and cultural backgrounds including
Portland, Oregon; part in Houston, Texas; and part in Moscow, Russia even with an eleven -
hour time difference between Portland and Russia. Sri as a committed communicator stays at
11 o’ clock at night on a daily routine throughout the project life cycle to maintain
communication channels effectively.

Further the discussion related to the above case study has elaborated under main 3 topics
including Sri’s approach in dealing with team members in different time zones and will this
approach effective when leading multiple projects with team members of New Zealand and
most importantly, implications of better methodologies related to the effective communication
among team members involved in different time zones.

It is important to notice that when communicating via communication channels sensitivity to


another country’s culture, norms, and values should be considered carefully since the outcome
will have a higher likelihood in leading towards misunderstandings, frustration, and lack of
motivation within geo dispersed projects. Therefore, this case study will provide an insight into
best practices which is related to the global operations conducted within a project where
employees are engaging from different time zones and locations. The theoretical approach of
project communication management has also elaborated in the latter part of the discussion
related to the implications of better ways in promoting communication among team members
of different time zones.

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1.0 Introduction

With the technological advancements in the 21st century, the current workplace infrastructure
cannot be being no longer defined by its brick and walls since the boundaries have expanded
towards reaching every part of the world. Simply stated to the point, time-zone differences will
not become an issue to the organizational productivity, mainly because of the new
technological communication channels which is capable of reaching the receivers in a small
time period in a blink of an eye. According to the case study given above Sri as a project
manager takes the advantage of the 24-hour clock in meeting expectations of employees within
different time zones. It is apparent that managing a global workforce is challenging task and at
the same way it is interesting and rewarding as well. In addition, as the project manager Sri
also should consider about the cultural backgrounds related to the relevant countries as a
successful project manager. Further, in the second question related to the case study where the
capability of coordinating multiple projects of geo-dispersed projects is taken into account; it
should be noted that this will be very challenging since the first project itself is conducted
within many employees over different countries and therefore, the same strategy will not be
applicable in handling the multiple projects since there is a higher probability of the outcome
being non-effective due to improper co-ordination and high work load related to two giant
projects which will be handled by a one project manager.

2.0 Research Methodology


The theoretical view related to project communication management related geo dispersed
teams were searched referring to Project Management Body of Knowledge e-book written by
project management institute. The secondary sources related to the study was also based on
book research and internet resources including e-journals to gather additional information.

3.0 Literature Review


The theoretical approach related to the subject scope project communication management
including the better implications of improving effective communication methodologies and
professional elements of project communication plan strategies related to overcome barriers of
time zones has discussed by the book Project Management Body of Knowledge while new
trends of effective communication channels has elaborated in internet sources related to the
new trends of effective communication in geo dispersed teams-“Managing a geographically-
dispersed team”.

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4.0 Discussion

4.1 Theoretical approach related to Geo-dispersed teams

01.

Global teams simply mean people from different cultures and from different time zone
backgrounds who will consist of unique experiences including different cultural
communication styles. According to the above case study; Moscow employees have shifted
their work time in order to compatible their schedule with other employees within the project.

On the other hand, geographically dispersed teams will increase efficiency, cost-effective while
enhancing the ability to select team members with the best skills and competencies, not
considering their different locations as a barrier. Most importantly, ensuring the strong
communication technologies are vital in effective performance of the geo-dispersed teams even
related to the case study above. Therefore, Sri as an effective project manager should Unite
team around a team charter which will communicate objectives in a clear ordered manner and
in a frequent process. Sri has effective ways of handling the geographically dispersed
employees including new trends of communication platforms such as instant messaging and he
is committed even in the night to be compatible with the schedules of other employees in
Russia. Employees from diverse backgrounds in different time zones will be handled including
Portland, Oregon; part in Houston, Texas; and part in Moscow, Russia. Therefore, the Sri’s
approach of dealing with diverse range of employees in different countries can be stated as a
modern strategy of handling team members in the theme globalization and I agree with his
approach since it is effective and overall, will enhance the productivity of the project. In
addition, Sri should provide frequent, fair, and relevant feedback to employees in order to
ensure the effectiveness of the team members.

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02.
But it should be noted that under the project managerial level, simultaneously leading multiple
projects can be a significant challenge. According to the case study above Sri is the only project
manager and if he tries to manager two geographically dispersed projects at once will not be
productive since in project management one project manager should co-ordinate a one project
in order to gain the maximum productivity.

In dealing with multiple projects at the same time, a multiple-project manager leads several
teams for projects of different objectives. A multiple-project manager also faces a challenge of
switch-over from project to project (Fricke & Shenhar, 2000).

It is apparent that this statement clarifies the idea that under the theme of handling multiple
project handling the project manager should cope up dealing with different teams of different
objectives. Therefore, according to the above case study; since the 1st project itself has to
committed with massive co-ordination strategies of dealing with different time zones managing
another would be less effective.

While multiple-project managers share many characteristics with project managers who lead
one project at a time, with the aforementioned challenges, the assumption that managing
several concurrent projects is no more than the sum of managing individual projects may
appear to be incorrect (Levy & Globerson, 1997).

According to Levy & Globerson in 1997; some instances the assumption of managing
concurrent projects at once may have a higher likelihood to may incorrect in decision making
due to rushing with the limited amount of time.

In addition, it should be noted that one of the complexities related to social networking
platforms and other E sources including mails should be managed properly. For an instance
receiving bulk amounts of emails on daily basis will lead to improper communication.

Kotter (1999) stated that leadership is about coping with change, especially in today’s
competitive and stressful economy.

Therefore, even in dealing with geographically dispersed teams’ good leadership skills should
be implemented.

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03.
In the latter part of the discussion which is related to the better ways of promoting
communication among team members of different time zones modern ways of communicating
trends should be analyzed.

Emails and online chats can be sometimes unclear of sending the proper message to the
receiver. Audio conferencing and video conferencing from the desktop and from the designated
rooms including conference rooms can be implemented as an effective communication channel
within this project. Therefore, conference calling also can be considered as an effective
communication method.

But now with modern technological implications; audio, video, asynchronous e-mail, and
synchronous instant chats are also available.

When it comes to a project, e-mail can be considered as the first choice for team communication
since it is a universal tool to overcome the barriers which the distance creates.

Moreover, the Internet is an important communication tool including file transfer protocol
(FTP) which is capable of sharing files, web conferencing for visual communication, also
includes search engines for finding information rapidly. Further, there are Internet sites which
will be essential tools related to collaboration. In there, each team member can add or change
a shared document also may conduct a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) conversation, and
participates in an online blog or wiki which facilitates ongoing thought sharing.

3.1 Implications related to effective communication strategies

Even though the technological tools are available it is important to consider effective strategies
which will facilitate clear communication.

Technology simply aids in communication facilitation, but if the people who are conducting
communication procedures do not have the proper skills, overall quality of their
communication will not improve. It should be noted that the communication is the most
valuable component in related to the managing projects and global teams. Therefore, there
should be a proper communication plan in order to reach the right information; at the right time
towards the right audience.

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Project communications plan strategy includes the following:
 Planning the kickoff meeting
 Developing clear roles and responsibilities
 Identifying project status meetings and frequency
 Identifying project communications
 Determining the level of detail to the level of management
 Developing communication standards
 Developing a plan for transitioning
 Debriefing the project.
 The following chart will represent the strategies of a clear communication plan.

Exhibit 1 - Technical Project Communications Plan (Mayer, 2010)

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To improve the communication within the employees in different time zones; the real-time
meetings should be carefully coordinated, while constraints such as time of day and day of the
week should be considered carefully considering language and cultural backgrounds as well.
In addition, build effective relationships within employees and establishing streamline
communication, managing the project deliverables. Involving in frequent performance
management activities and leveraging technology to the up-to-date 21st century is some of the
main strategies which can improve the communication process effectively.

5.0 Conclusion
Managing a global team needs effective communication techniques and leadership skills to
enhance the productivity of the overall project. According to the above case study;
geographical dispersed teams are highlighted and hence developing a communication plan to
identify who, what, when, and how communications and the modern trends of communication
techniques have been addressed in depth. It is also important to Become sensitive to other
cultures related to communicating by understanding their environment and how they interact
with each other in handling geographically dispersed team members. Therefore, by organizing
online sessions via technology tools, which includes project repository or website will allow to
point out the vision, goals, directions, and the project plans effectively.

Global project teams are more complex than leading domestic teams. Therefore, a global
project manager should possess skills including well organized and supportive, strong and
collaborative. According to the above case study Sri as the leading project manager can
improve him as a good communicator, facilitator, and as an effective problem solver.

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6.0References

 A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). 2013.Pennsylvania:


Project Management Institute.