Management of offshore teams-Web based tools: Project

Management
of offshore teams-Web based tools:

Project
Management is the art and science of planning and leading projects. Project
management is even tougher than project development these days. Technical
skills – though important – are not enough for effective, multicultural
teamwork. In Offshore projects different developers from different regions of
world combine to give a single output. Every region has own cultures and
communications gap which effects on the development. Management of these
projects is quite tough than managing the projects being developed in a common
software house. To address these gaps and issues different web based models and
tools are presented. An openly accessible web-based communication model for
multicultural teams (comMCT) was developed which consists of four modules i.e
structural, functional, organizational and interpersonal aspects.

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Else
than the model there are number of tools used for the project management. Those
tools are mostly web based which allows the offshore team to register and
resolve the communication issues. Asana is one of the tools which is explained
in the work below. These models and tools are expected to enhance learner’s
knowledge, practice and reflection on communication issues and contribute to
more effective and satisfied offshore teams.

                           
 

 

                

 

 

Introduction:

 

Multiculture
communication is a
discipline that studies communication across
different cultures and social groups,
or how culture affects communication. It is used to describe the wide range of
communication processes and problems that naturally appear within an
organization or social context made up of individuals from different religious,
social, ethnic, and educational backgrounds. Intercultural communication is
sometimes used synonymously with cross-cultural communication.

We all communicate with others all the time
No matter how well we think we understand each other, communication is not
easy. Any moment that we’re dealing with people different from ourselves,
the likelihood is that they carry a similar list of hopes and fears in their
back pocket. Culture” is often at the root of communication challenges.
Our culture influences how we approach problems, and how we participate in
groups and in communities. When we participate in groups we are often surprised
at how differently people approach their work together. Our culture influences
how we approach problems, and how we participate in groups and in communities.
When we participate in groups we are often surprised at how differently people
approach their work together.

The problems are obvious: Peoples from varied
ethnic and cultural backgrounds must find ways of understanding and agreeing
with each other, and they must develop and respect their own identities.

Both large and small businesses often have a
global reach. If you have foreign clients, purchase raw materials abroad or
lead tours internationally, cultural differences and communication problems can
cause misunderstandings that harm your company’s bottom line.

Success of a project when developed by an
offshore provider is largely dependant on the way the project is remotely
managed from the client’s side. If you hope to make a project successful with
very little input from your end as a customer, it is unlikely that the project
will achieve success in the long term. The basic reason is very simple: you
know your business requirements best. Software services companies working in
another part of the world can only develop a solution based on the input
provided by you.
Fairly large projects have a dedicated project manager who interacts with the multicultural
team and acts as a virtual bridge between the business and the software
developers. If your project does not have dedicated personnel for it, there is
no need to despair.

To compensate for this shortcoming, and,
generally, improve communication in diverse teams, an openly accessible
web-based communication model for multicultural teams (comMCT) has been
developed as part of a doctoral dissertation of one of the authors. The model
is partitioned into four modules clustering structural, functional,
organizational, and interpersonal/behavioral aspects of communication. It
systematically describes technical, cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal
features of multicultural communication that have been found through a systematic
literature review  and structured
interviews with 20 international project-management professionals . Thus, the
comMCT model captures – in structured and accessible form – the wisdom of
hundreds of scientific articles. Moreover, it complements the scientific
findings by recent statements from experienced project managers. Once
implemented, comMCT was evaluated in an expert evaluation study, in which 15
international project managers estimated the applicability of the model for
their professional practice and for novice users.

                             

Project
Management Study:

SPM Phases:

There are different schools
of thought about the number of phases during a project. Some claim there are 3
phases, others say it’s 5. At the base of it, the PMBOK points-out
that the number of phases is determined by the project team and type of
project. Project management is solely based on the idea that a project goes
through a number a phases characterized by a distinct set of activities or
tasks that take the project from conception to conclusion. Projects
are big and small, with constraints like cost, time and resources. As projects
become more complex, it’s important to structure and define projects throughout
the entire life-cycle. That way, you won’t get lost in the hustle and bustle.
One way to organize a project is to sort it into 5 phases and here they are.

                                             

The 5 Phases of a Project

§ 
Project Initiation Phase – a project is
formally started, named and defined at a broad level during this phase. Project
sponsors and other important stakeholders due diligently decide whether or not
to commit to a project. Depending on the nature of the project, feasibility
studies are conducted. Or, as it may require, in an IT project – requirement
gathering and analysis are performed in this phase. In the construction
industry a project charter is completed in this phase.

§ 
Project Planning Phase – a project management plan is
developed comprehensively of individual plans for – cost, scope, duration,
quality, communication, risk and resources. Some of the important activities
that mark this phase are -making WBS, development of schedule, milestone
charts, GANTT charts, estimating and reserving resources, planning dates and
modes of communication with stakeholders based on milestones, deadlines and
important deliveries. A plan for managing identified and unidentified risks is
determined as this may affect aspects of a project later on. Risk management
planning includes: risk identification and analysis, risk mitigation
approaches, and risk response planning.

§ 
Project Execution Phase – a project deliverable is
developed and completed, adhering to a mapped-out plan. A lot of tasks
during this phase capture project metrics through tasks like status meetings
and project status updates, other status reports, human resource needs and
performance reports. An important phase as it will help you understand whether
your project will be a success or failure.

§ 
Project Monitoring and Control Phase – occurring
at the same time as the execution phase, this one mostly deals with measuring
the project performance and progression in accordance to the project plan.
Scope verification and control occur to check and monitor for scope creep,
change control to track and manage changes to project requirement. Calculating
key performance indicators for cost and time are done to measure the degree of
variation, if any, and in which case corrective measures are determined and
suggested to keep a project on track. To prevent project failure, consider why
projects are likely to fail and the ways to prevent failure.

§ 
Project Closure Phase – A project is formally closed.
It includes a series of important tasks such as delivering the product,
relieving resources, reward and recognition to the team members and formal
termination of contractors in case they were employed on the project.

 

 

 

 

SPM:

Complex projects are
always fraught with a variety of risks ranging from scope risk to cost
overruns. One of the main duties of a project manager is to manage these risks
and prevent them from ruining the project. In this post, I will cover the major
risks involved in a typical project.

1. Scope Risk:

This risk includes
changes in scope caused by the following factors:

§ 
Scope creep – the project grows in
complexity as clients add to the requirements and developers start gold
plating.

§ 
Integration issues

§ 
Hardware & Software defects

§ 
Change in dependencies

2.
Scheduling Risk:

There are a number of reasons why
the project might not proceed in the way you scheduled. These include
unexpected delays at an external vendor, natural factors, errors in estimation
and delays in acquisition of parts. For instance, the test team cannot begin
the work until the developers finish their milestone deliverables and a delay
in those can cause cascading delays.

To reduce scheduling risks use tools such as a Work Breakdown
Structure (WBS) and RACI matrix (Responsibilities, Accountabilities,
Consulting and Information) and Gantt charts to help you in scheduling.

3.
Resource Risk:

This risk mainly arises from outsourcing
and personnel related issues. A big project might involve dozens or even
hundreds of employees and it is essential to manage the attrition issues and
leaving of key personnel. Bringing in a new worker at a later stage in the
project can significantly slow down the project.

Apart from attrition, there is a
skill related risk too. For instance, if the project requires a lot of website
front end work and your team doesn’t have a designer skilled in HTML/CSS, you
could face unexpected delays there.

Another source of the risk
includes lack of availability of funds. This could happen if you are relying on
an external source of funding (such as a client who pays per milestone) and the
client suddenly faces a cash crunch.

4.
Technology Risk:

This risk includes delays arising
out of software & hardware defects or the failure of an underlying service
or a platform. For instance, halfway through the project you might realize the
cloud service provider you are using doesn’t satisfy your performance benchmarks.
Apart from this, there could be issues in the platform used to build your
software or a software update of a critical tool that no longer supports some
of your functions.

 

Using a
Project Management Tool to Help Mitigate Risk?

Many of the risks mentioned above could be
minimized or eliminated by implementing robust project management tracking and
communication through the many online tools now available.
We are trying to provide a web-based tool that establishes an iterative
approach to overcome the difficulties in Multicultural Communication.

Web-based
tool:

Asana:

Asana is software project management tool.
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work.
It was founded in 2008 by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer
Justin Rosenstein, who both worked on improving the productivity of employees
at Facebook. Asana is a web based application which provides ease to manage the
projects. It helps to keep track of team. It has multiple functionalities. It
provides platform to get all team at same place. It has feature of team
conversation where any member of team can text and keep in touch with others.
It also provide the calendar where events can be added a reminder gets set.

 

Pros

Dustin Moskovitz, the co-founder of Facebook, also designed Asana. True to the aesthetic and
simplicity of the most popular social network, Asana is an intuitive
task-management system that works best for teams seeking real-time interaction.

Asana allows its users to visualize their goals, track their
time, assign priority to their tasks, and get updates on the project right in
the program. It also has a calendar function to graph the team’s tasks
right onto the dashboard.

In addition, over the past year, it’s added an Android app, the
ability to convert a task to a project, conversations, and dashboards. It’s
been beefing up–last year, its biggest con was that it didn’t have enough
features.

Cons

Asana does not allow offline use. In addition, reviewers feel
that “sometimes it is not intuitive enough to find something,” and list a
number of frustrating conversations with Asana’s seemingly lacking customer
service.

A.
Genesis of the comMCT Model:

The comMCT model was developed as
part of a doctoral dissertation at the University of Vienna 6. The model
captures essential knowledge for communicating effectively in MCTs, and
provides a web-application to make this knowledge available in a systematic,
structured, and comprehensive way 19. Its contents draws upon a systematic, qualitative
literature study 7 followed up by a qualitative field study 8 aiming to
explore features of communication in multicultural teams.  In the literature review, a total of 159
studies on cultural differences, the effects of diversity on teams, and the
dynamics of multicultural teams were analyzed. In the field study, expert
interviews with 21 experienced project managers were conducted and analyzed
through a qualitative content analysis 8. The field study’s target group
consisted of project management professionals who have been working or had
worked as project managers in MCTs for five or more years, have managed at
least two MCTs, and preferably hold a project management certificate. Finally,
to approve the concept, the comMCT model was validated employing a structured,
webbased qualitative survey among 15 project management experts 6, 8-9.
The major findings of that survey are summarized in Section IV and related to
students’ evaluations in the Discussion section.

B.
The Structure of the Model:

 
As illustrated in Figure 1, the comMCT model considers the team as the
central element that functions flexibly within the classical project boundaries
of scope, time and budget. The arrows in the Figure indicate that the team is
influenced by the project and organizational culture and reciprocally
influences these cultures. The penetrating field of communication is clustered
into four modules, reflecting the structural, functional, organizational, and
interpersonal/behavioral aspects of communication. Each module encompasses
several elements addressing technical, cognitive, behavioral, and attitudinal
features required for effective communication in multicultural teams.
Particular emphasis is given to exposing both benefits and disadvantages/risks
of MCTs. The structural module includes the following seven elements: effective
communication plan, open communication structure, an interconnected
communication system, adequate communication procedures/processes, suitable
technical environment, ad-hoc calls with preparation, and using the right
communication tools. The model provides three kinds of details for each

element: definition/explanation, benefits/function, and which
advantages/opportunities – assigned with the MCTs – are to be utilized, or
which disadvantages/risks are to be overcome through the related element and
how.

                          

 

 

Fig. 1. The structure of the com MCT model  The functional module addresses features such
as effective goal and rule setting, work/time planning, monitoring,
controlling, decision making, and ensuring sufficient participation, all with a
particular emphasis on the multicultural composition of the team. Examples of
features of the organizational module are effective team building, training,
task-sharing, role and responsibility assignment, external support and,
importantly, employing an adequate leadershipstyle. The vital
interpersonal/behavioral module includes features such as forming a shared
vision, sharpening soft-shills, shared attitudes and values, and several
qualities articulated by the Person-Centered Approach 10, 13 such as
empathic understanding and respectful, genuine sharing.  Overall, the model is designed to provide an
encompassing and ubiquitously accessible resource for novice managers and team
members, and to serve as a checklist for experienced professionals who may want
to expand their communicative repertoire in multicultural teams 19. Visit
(http://www.3mpati.com/comMCTv2/index.php) for a webbased presentation of the
comMCT model and refer to 19 for a detailed description.

III.
EXPERT-EVALAUTION STUDY OF COMMXT:

A. 
Research Setting, Participants, and Methods:

 In 2015-2016, a qualitative online survey with
15 experienced international project managers stemming from 8 different
countries was conducted 9. This study served as a proof of concept and aimed
at gaining insights about the users’ perception of the comMCT model with regard
to seven core

criteria: completeness, structure, language, redundancy,
understandability, originality, and usefulness for the professionals as well as
for novice users. In order to elicit interviewees’ experience and knowledge
systematically and thoroughtly, a structured questionnaire with open questions
and closed, Likert-scale questions was employed for and made accessible via the
comMCT website: http://demo.moreit.com.tr/anket/index.php/438667/lang-en. The
questionnaire was used as a main source for the data analysis. The
interviewees’ responses to the closed Likertscale questions were analyzed using
descriptive statistics and participants’ responses to the open questions were
systematically analyzed.

B. 
Limitations:

 The evaluation study is limited due to the
number of participants. Nevertheless, it provides insight into comMCT’s  usability for project management
professionals. It also provides promising results regarding the envisaged
applicability of comMCT as an educational resource for novice users. Still, the
experts’ estimates regarding the applicability of comMCT for novice users and
students require future research and validation. The two case studies in
Section V address this educational concern within the framework of
person-centered education.

              

 

 

 

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