12

I have a project where the team members that I have to deal with are located in different continents than I am. This brings in issues such as time-zone differences, cultural sensitivities, and language issues.

Other than email, what communication media would be suitable for delivering information such as status reports and weekly meetings?

11

Out there in India, most important clients sit on the other side of the earth - namely US. So this is extreme example of Cross continent, worse timezone differences, critical project communication reporting and relationship management.

Here are a few things most IT companies here in India follows.

  1. There is at least 1 guy from India office tend to shift and be available to the other side - so he/she practically work on other side timezone.

  2. All primary communications are handled by this single point of entry so as to avoid any wrong requirements or misunderstandings. It becomes critical that all communication is logged and properly routed through all concerned.

  3. As regards to the language and cultural issue, if the project cost permits, they deploy one person or small team on-site. They are responsible for this core work and get true understanding and troubleshooting issues such that team at off-shore is driven in the right direction.

  4. Face-to-face or verbal (phone/ messengers) but still provide most valuable channels, yet, the primary coordinating people would tend to note down their conclusions/understanding and document it through emails. There is no better replacement for formal communication than emails. And it is always essential.

  5. Usually, timing of the other shore becomes chunk deadlines. Every morning - the US clients expect something ready to test/use. And by end of the day they communicate the issues or work for tomorrow. The more rythm and discipline you have in tracking of project and communication - the better it gets.

  • +1 - great answer for working with a client that is located faraway. However, my question was dealing more with an team that is multi-sited. – tehnyit Apr 17 '12 at 9:57
4

I don't think that there is a single "best" solution to this. What works for one team might not work for yours.

Video conferencing is a big plus. It really does help team-building if you can see the other members of the team. You don't have to do this everyday, but having a team video call as one of your weekly meetings at least once a month will help.

Having a group telephone call as your weekly meeting is probably a must. I'm currently working on a project where our partner team is in the US. Our weekly meeting happens in the afternoon UK time and first thing in the morning US time. You need to find a time that's mutually convenient - or at least not too inconvenient for all participants.

With regard to language - pick one that everyone knows and use that. It may even turn out not to be the first language of anyone in the meeting. I was at an international meeting once where the official language was English, but a Spaniard and a German conducted a side discussion in French because that was the language they could understand each other best in.

As for cultural sensitivities - education is necessary as is environment where everyone knows is OK both to raise an issue and (as long as it's not malicious) make mistakes without fear of too much backlash. If someone says something out of turn, say so straight away and move on.

If you encourage team members to talk on Skype (or other instant messaging system) outside the meetings then people will get to know each other and this should become less of a problem.

  • +1 - great suggestion on the video conferencing. I think with facilities such as Skype, the barrier is very low. – tehnyit Apr 17 '12 at 9:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.