Relationships

IT enterprises, especially those with a global delivery model and offshore presence, are not looking for partners who offer single-service solutions. However, they are looking for integrated, broad-based service programs that fulfill many, most or all of their requirements in the field. Their partners must add value, while increasing effectiveness, offering a real competitive advantage. Top project managers emphasize the close working relationship between their company as global service provider and the enterprise customer’s IT organization as a critical factor in project success.

The close bond between two companies with similar strategic goals leads to the trust and openness needed for a successful and profitable long-term relationship. To strengthen this bond, the global project manager profile has evolved to stress the interpersonal and relationship-building skills formerly left to the domain of the company executives. The positioning and high reporting status of the executive program manager in global service companies, usually with a direct line to the CIO, is evidence of the value placed on the function.

Communication

It would seem obvious, when talking about a technology rollout to 100+ countries within a market window, that effective communication would be the highest priority. Project teams are dispersed around the world and need easy access to project information. When asked, global project managers say they rely on all varieties of electronic means (conferencing, e-mail, pagers, telephone messages, etc.), as well as face-to-face conferences to keep on top of the situation and to keep the customer in the loop. In the 1990s, sophisticated suites of automated tools were developed to aid the project team in estimating, planning and coordinating activities.Today, most project management software offers some level of web enablement, but it has been only in the last several years that these tools have begun to be linked with the corporate resource management systems to commit and track people in matrix organizations. Service companies, or application service providers, add specially tailored interfaces to these combined tools to bring their clients into the decision process providing them the same information the project team sees. Several companies specializing in IT deployment go a step further by offering suites of web-enabled tools and interfaces. It serves as the central repository for the collection and sharing of all project tracking, design and implementation data, including digital photos of actual site survey locations. These new-generation project management tools provide a definite competitive advantage in the global IT marketplace.

Today, most project management software offers some level of web enablement, but it has been only in the last several years that these tools have begun to be linked with the corporate resource management systems to commit and track people in matrix organizations. Service companies, or application service providers, add specially tailored interfaces to these combined tools to bring their clients into the decision process providing them the same information the project team sees. Several companies specializing in IT deployment go a step further by offering suites of web-enabled tools and interfaces. It serves as the central repository for the collection and sharing of all project tracking, design and implementation data, including digital photos of actual site survey locations. These new-generation project management tools provide a definite competitive advantage in the global IT marketplace.

Up-Front Processes

Although sophisticated tools and trained specialists are the critical factors in global IT deployment, as we all learned in our basic project management training, the key to success is still “preparation.” Global projects, considering the added complexity of disparate cultures, languages, laws and accessibility, require even more emphasis on requirements specification and planning.

Most companies specializing in technology rollouts have developed over the years a “cookie-cutter approach” to rollout planning. Their project managers use pre-defined templates in the initial phase to specify as many of the steps as practically possible, allowing the project manager, the customer and representatives in the various countries to identify and estimate the resources needed. These companies have the benefit of previous experience to be able to come up quickly with accurate preliminary estimates, freeing them up to concentrate on special items and contingencies well in advance of contract negotiation.

Resource Matching

Top IT companies are looking more frequently to other established IT vendors with a worldwide service presence. Many of these companies already have large contingencies of customer engineers strategically placed around the globe and recognize that they are perfectly positioned to compete in the rollout niche.

Of course, the key is to find partners whose specialists are already trained in the technologies required. Once the resource match is found, the key to getting a jump-start is rolling out education on the new products and filling the holes in the resource matrix through sub-contracting or setting up new offices.

Global deployment imperatives and Best practices

Companies that are doing global IT deployment well spend a significant effort integrating their corporate best practices to create a common procedural “language” understood by everyone inside and outside of the project team.

In addition to project management, the service portfolio contains other services that are critical to successful deployments. Examples would be staging, installation and hardware procurement. In addition, best-in-class portfolios are found packaged as web-based sets of tools and interfaces giving a single face to the enterprise customer.

Staging

The importance of staging cannot be over-emphasized. Many a rollout, international or otherwise, has ended in disaster and lost business because of poor preparation. Imagine if a single error that could have been found during staging made its way into many thousands of installations across the world.

It is conceivable that it might take an entire company’s resources to handle the rush of complaints from irate customers. Staging involves the construction and validation of the configuration to be deployed in a closed facility where different customer environments can be simulated. Staging engineers are able to perform connectivity and interoperability testing of the network without affecting normal business activities. The tested systems are then shipped as installable “packages” to the remote locations.

Installation

Local installation teams, linked via the Internet to the global PMO, follow proscribed procedures and certification techniques. The team, trained in the target technology, unpacks and inspects the equipment, configures it according to the project plan and the site survey and performs acceptance testing with the users.

The system is then certified for operation. Subsequently, the old equipment is de-installed and disposed of according to local environmental regulations with minimum disruption to customer business operations. For more complex installations, a “tiger team” approach may be best where a regional team travels from location to location overseeing and assisting the local engineers.Many global service company executives see the timely rollout of education to local teams and customers as a key differentiate. Advance training minimizes installation cycles, increases customer satisfaction and is necessary for the later maintenance and support of the equipment.

Many global service company executives see the timely rollout of education to local teams and customers as a key differentiate. Advance training minimizes installation cycles, increases customer satisfaction and is necessary for the later maintenance and support of the equipment.

Hardware Procurement

An essential part of most global IT deployments is procuring the hardware. In some cases enterprise customers decide to purchase the hardware directly from the supplier. These companies have the internal resources to ensure the hardware gets into the appropriate countries.

In most cases, however, companies turn to partners with global experience and strong geographic coverage to manage the procurement process on their behalf. These partners will utilize their legal presence to manage the import/export, customs clearance, currency conversions, collection of various taxes, etc. This frees up the customer’s legal and procurement staff from getting involved in local issues related to an IT deployment project