Emerging markets continue to be a promising area for many of America's most beloved companies such as Coca-Cola, Apple and more. This bodes well for project managers in the digital age as the expand operations overseas. However, as these companies become more global, the risk associated with their operation becomes more important. Understanding gender, ethnic and cultural differences can have a profound impact on the overall success of a project manager within the digital age. Our economies are becoming more global with each passing year. Currently, we are in the midst of a global recession, not a domestic recession. This is a testament to the magnitude and extent to which our U.S. operations reach other nations. This phenomenon reaches even into the global work environment as talent within specific nations is becoming more desirable. This talent is often placed in the charge of a project manager who rarely, if ever, interacts with that individual on a face-to-face basis. As more jobs shift abroad, project managers must be aware of cultural and gender differences. More importantly the manager must be aware of how those differences effect the overall business operations.
Evaluate the main areas of project management in the digital age, in terms of the successful delivery of projects.
Our society is becoming more global as technology advances. Companies themselves are now expanding across country lines in order to capture valuable market share and profits. These companies bring with them competitive advantages in terms of operations, product knowledge and human capital. It is this human capital component that will be the biggest force driving productivity gains in the future. As companies expand, so too does the need for product management. This is especially true within a digital framework as technology allows individuals to be everywhere at once. Products such as Skype, video conferencing, and more make management in the digital age more seamless and easy to use. As such, managers in the digital age must be cognizant of its benefits in regards to productivity.
Technology has now become a euphemism for the information age. As individuals, information rarely escapes our grasp as now anybody can have access to its vast array of knowledge. More importantly, in the midst of our global society, technology has a profound role on our nation's ability to participate in a more competitive environment. As the age old adage states, "Knowledge is power," and in many instances this statement is correct. Information allows project managers to make better informed decisions regarding projects that can have grave implications on society if the solution is incorrect. Further, information allows the project manager to obtain more convenience in regards to access and search of particular concepts (1). Technology allows humans to live longer while allowing them to live more productive lives, which directly correlates to a project managers overall performance. Less people are getting sick, and therefore are working. The benefits that technology derives are as difficult to enumerate as they are to fully comprehend.
The first main area of successful project management in the digital age pertains to collaboration. Interpersonal collaboration is extremely important as our society becomes more global. Working professionals in each team vary in skills, experience and expertise. It is the project manager's job to leverage these skills and abilities to further the ideals of the team. In order to be successful, the project manager must be engaged with each team member irrespective of his geographic location. Technology makes this point more difficult as many teams do not meet in a traditional fact to face manner. This fact is further compounded by the fact that many individuals within the group are from international backgrounds. As a global society, the project manager must overcome the differences in background for the greater good of the group. Asian individuals will have a different value system then that of an American interpersonal network. The benefits of having an interpersonal network are quite obvious to the laymen. However, the benefit of and limitations of such a network are almost entirely defendant are the underlying culture aspects. For example, an interpersonal network of Chinese or Asian social workers could quite possibly be very different then the interpersonal network of an American social worker. To overcome these differences within the digital age, managers should elect to have a common metric of success and actions that all individuals in the group can utilize. One such example comes from Macy's Inc. An American retail chain. Macy's currently operates more than 800 stores worldwide, with many stores located in areas such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Dubai. Macy's is indeed an international company in a traditional sense. In order to have successful project managers, Macys has incorporated a standardized system of both performance appraisal and behaviors. For example, Macy's utilizes a balance scorecard in order to keep employees motivated and inspired to perform. This scorecard tracks all members of the team and their performance relative to their peers. The form is the same regardless of location or nationality. This helps the project manager perform his job successfully as he or she can pinpoint exact areas of opportunity with his team. This is can be very successful in the digital age as team members can access the scorecard information themselves, in order to be more proactive in their corrective behavior. They also have a form of selling which is entitled "MAGIC." This is a standardized set of behaviors which allows for flexibility in their implementation. The meaning of MAGIC for international team members is outlined below.
M- Meet and make a connection
A-Ask questions and listen
G- Gather information
I-Inspire to buy more
C-Celebrate the purchase
All selling team members, no matter where they are located, are expected to use this standardized approach. These metrics are then rated by the project manager in terms of proficiency with the balanced scorecard. These results can then be used to view performance relative to the entire company, the region, or the district (2). This is allows the manager to pinpoint areas of opportunity within the context of the business operations. With this approach the project manager has valuable information he can use to leverage the success of his team in the digital age.
Another aspect that project managers must utilize for success is that of cultural sensitivity. In the digital age more jobs are being outsourced to other countries. As such the scope the project manager's responsibilities increase. Below is more evidence to support my claim. Technology does indeed provide jobs, but contrary to popular belief, it provides overseas jobs. The money generated in these overseas positions often is retained in the host country instead of repatriated back to the United States. Here is a chart depicting the percentage of jobs outsourced by industry segment. It is by no surprise the number one industry with jobs outsourced to other countries is the technology sector at nearly 45%.
Nearly half of all jobs in the technology sector are outsourced to other countries! Nearly a third of all manufacturing jobs are outsourced to other countries. As such the project manager must now manager associates and team members in countries hundreds of miles away.
As you can see from the above claims, dependence on technology can have a profound effect on the project manager role in the digital age. As our nation becomes more dependent on technology, jobs will be lost to overseas candidates. This will occur primarily in the technological and manufacturing sectors. Project managers must be aware of this shift in personnel as they continue to lead more culturally diverse teams. Further, by relying on technology, brick and mortar locations are now simply becoming showrooms for consumers who ultimately purchase online, again a negative effect on the project manager. As more jobs become outsourced the project manager must deal with multiple personality types and cultural backgrounds. This presents problems in regards to successful implementation of strategic initiatives. Some countries, such as America, place emphasis on individual accomplishments and merit. Other countries such as China emphasize collectivism and team building. What is the project manager to do with individuals with varying cultural backgrounds in his or her group to ensure success for the team? In essence, he or she must leverage the strengths of each to further the team's objectives.
Furthermore, the organization in which the project manager works must have a geocentric approach to management. Below are many multinational structures in which the project manager operates in. A project manager must be mindful of the organizations overall structure. A matrix organizational structure is effective for companies who have diverse product offerings across a wide range of cultures. Within a matrix organization many products or geographic regions are all separate units within the overarching business. These separate units then report the higher level project management in regards to their progress with certain predetermined criteria. As mentioned above, this further allows autonomy in regards to business operations outside the realm of the overall business. With this autonomy, businesses can better cater…