When you select and engage with an international partner for the execution of your projects, whether internal or external, what discussions do you have regarding strategic alignment of your goals, desires and organisational requirements? If you don’t have such discussions, have you considered, or even experienced first hand, the impact of any misalignment on the delivery of your project? Even well planned and structured projects can resemble herding cats, so the more planning that is done ahead of time the better the likely outcomes.
Strategic Alignment of Project Goals
Do you agree your aims and goals prior to executing the work so that you are both focused on the same outcomes? Do you just agree your project goals? or do you have a comprehensive strategic alignment planning exercise so that you understand not just why you are doing this project but how this project fits to your overall corporate targets.
Our recommendation is that, at the very least, you undertake a strategic alignment session for your project to get all of your project team focused on the common goals, but ideally, your strategic alignment planning should also include corporate goals, corporate challenges and long term relationship plans and desires. Specifically such a conversation with your virtual team partner, whether internal or external, domestic or international, will encompass at least the following;
- Financial goals, how do your and your virtual team partner’s cost models compare, is your business as important to them as the business from another client? because if it is not, you may well find that your level of service from them is not all you expect, particularly if they are able to make substantially greater profits in performing work for the other client.
- Deployment of personnel, continuing from the point above, if your work is less valuable to your international partner than that of another client, you will most likely struggle to get access to the personnel you so dearly desire, potentially resulting in the quality and/or schedule of work suffering.
- Agreed scheduling and quality of deliverables, Have you agreed what will be delivered to you, when, and at what quality level? getting the right work but three months late may completely destroy any benefits from engaging the international partner, equally, getting the work on time but incomplete for your needs will have a similar impact since there will be substantial levels of remedial work required to bring the work up to your required level.
- Standards, either national or industry driven, that must be complied with, will the work delivered be accepted in your country of delivery? I have seen several projects where equipment or designs were of a standard not accepted in the host country, resulting in substantial levels of project delay, additional, unplanned expense, frustration and loss of reputation while the work is re-performed to an acceptable level.
- Do you and your virtual team partner share common values? you need to ensure that any labour issues, safety requirements etc are held at a common level between partners otherwise you may find yourself losing reputation through poor safety records, environmental issues, low rates of pay to local labour forces, etc.
- Do you have a corporate cultural fit? If your corporate cultures align, you will find working together much easier than if they do not. This alignment can be as simple as having a common approach to raising issues encountered during the execution of the project, and how these issues are resolved. In some cultures, both corporate and regional, it is common to have open and frank discussions over issues, in others, these discussions are either not held or held at a specific level within the organisation. Having a common approach will avoid any embarrassing surprises as time goes by.
Share your experiences
Do you have any experiences with strategic alignment of virtual teams you would like to share? If so, we would love to hear from you.
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Ulfire specialises in supporting organisations plan, establish and run high performing virtual teams. We combine extensive practical experience from decades of involvement in virtual teams, with current, real world, academic research into the way members of virtual teams collaborate. Please contact us to discuss ways we can help your business, or sign up using the form below to receive our regular newsletter.
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