There’s an iconic scene in The Princess Bride where the hero is faced with two cups laid before him by the arrogant, intellectual captor of his bride. One of the cups contains poison. After the captor, thinking he has outwitted our hero, invites them both to drink from their cups, he brays triumphantly: “You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line’!”
That first blunder he mentions is particularly funny because of its truth: Military history is full of failed conquests in landlocked Asian locales. But there’s also a general lesson that has some relevance to international IT deployments. To wit, “don’t start projects in a region you don’t know enough about.” Global field service organizations tend to have growth and expansion on their minds, but being ill-prepared for that growth can doom the strategy from the start.
Global IT presents a wide array of challenges for enterprises of any size. Let’s take a look at three ways to overcome the most common recurring stumbling blocks that pop up when executing international IT deployments.
1.Plan, plan, plan
The biggest challenge of any IT project—whether it’s a global, enterprise-wide endeavor or one happening just a few streets away from your headquarters—is lining up the execution with your vision.
So many variables can complicate the outcome regardless of location, from logistics and technician scheduling to scope definition (and its evil twin scope creep) and actual versus predicted cost. Suffice it to say, however, that those variables get harder to control in international deployments.
Coordination is the name of the game in global IT projects. International project coordination starts with the planning your organization puts in at the outset. A project’s viability and success relies on the thoroughness of the work you put in during the planning stages, before you even start any on-site work.
- Set project expectations and requirements through thorough documentation, creating a rigid project scope and clear delineation of responsibilities;
- Establish the ideal timeframe and cost;
- Set parameters to determine project success;
- Determine the number of technicians and their necessary qualifications for meeting deadlines and budget;
- Research logistics timelines for delivery and storage of project material and assets;
- Create communication plans for updating stakeholders and advising on-site workers; and
- Understand currency and regulatory differences in the region where the project is being executed.
That last point leads us to the chief difficulty unique to international IT deployments:
2. Understand regional differences
Global IT work requires more attention to detail because of the inherent differences in how business is done from country to country. It’s essential to understand time zone differences, economic regulations, cultural norms, and infrastructure of the region in which you’re conducting deployments.
First, you must overcome the challenges of language barriers and differences in approaches to work. Have translation solutions such as software or fluent speakers of the local language ready to handle the former. The latter may seem minute, but learning about work week standards and local holidays beforehand can save yourself some headaches when a project is already underway.
Also consider details of oversight and project coordination. Understand what partners and technicians in different countries are comfortable with in terms of conducting meetings, project management hierarchy, and communication methods.
Leverage your global partners, as well, to get a more comprehensive understanding of how international deployments will work from market to market. They provide valuable insight into regional specifics like how to invoice correctly, avoid tax penalties, manage contingent workers based in the area.
Above all, communication becomes even more important when executing IT deployments in other countries and dealing with global partners or vendors. Your organization, project stakeholders, and on-site technicians all need to be on the same page and working toward the goals you outlined in the planning stage.
3. Communicate and monitor remotely
The capability of modern online labor and field service management platforms allows you to coordinate international IT deployments in real time from anywhere. This provides a way to monitor deployment progress and communicate more effectively with everyone involved in the project, ensuring goals are being met and objectives are shared and understood by all.
Scope creep has a way of popping up more often in projects that aren’t as easy to oversee as those occurring in your backyard. It takes some vigilance to prevent that from occurring—even after planning out timelines, cost, and goals, scope creep can happen if you don’t keep a steady finger on the pulse of each international IT deployment.
Remote communication allows you to shape the communication plan you’ve established for the project and adjust it to the preferred communication methods of your global partners and contingent workers. Ensure that your platform integrates mobile connectivity for on-demand communication with techs, so that you can provide instructions when work is either stalling or getting off-track and also provide in-the-moment updates to all stakeholders at regular intervals. But also keep in mind the value of building up long-term relationships with your global partners. Don’t neglect the importance of face-to-face meetings to build trust and a lasting alliance.
This integrates well into your field service management platform, to support other ways of monitoring project health and progress. A clear line of communication from the job site to your project managers and coordinators is bolstered by remote check-ins for tracking technician scheduling, logistics and asset management, and cost tracking. All together, you can monitor any global deployment with the same confidence as you would a project delivered in the United States.
Though the challenges of international IT deployments are many and require a great deal of work, careful planning, thorough communication, and leveraging the technology of field service platform software are the accessible tools to prevent costly missteps in project execution. Through these, your organization can develop better processes for managing global deployments in the future, which in turn can ensure greater success rates and stakeholder satisfaction no matter where in the world the work is being done.