Managing International Projects in IT

Main challenges in international projects

The main challenges in international projects are related to intercultural differences. People from different cultures have different approaches to communication, hierarchy, time, trust, making decisions or persuading. This affects the way they work.

Participants of the webinar on this topic shared their point of view.

How should we start managing international projects

First, ask yourself a question: When you start a new project, do you…

    • focus on tasks so that you deliver soon, and your colleagues see that you are trustworthy? ​
    • focus on getting to know your colleagues to understand who is who in the project and around, so that you know what they need to feel that you are trustworthy? ​

The answer shows if you are more task-based or relationship-based in terms of building trust.


Why building trust matters

​In case of launching IT project building trust: ​

  • improves problem-solving 
  • builds psychological safety
  • improves comfort in the workplace 
  • empowers ethical decision-making
  • creates goodwill (and minimizes miscommunications)
  • increases loyalty and the willingness to stay with a company
  • gives you the power to get things done

Now when we know that it matters, let’s learn how to do it.


How to build trust in international projects

Tips for the more task-oriented:

  1. Be less on-guard and more „true self” after hours or on hobby channels​
  2. Do not regard the time talking about cuisine as wasted – this is what makes work more efficient in relationship-oriented cultures​
  3. Think of the deep value social value beneath relationship-orientation – not all legal systems are trustworthy…

Tips for the more relationship-oriented:

  1. Do invest time in building relationship – but if it extends over presenting a person’s role, explain the reason and benefits. Tell them why you need that part, what it is for.
  2. Do not take offence if your task-based colleague wants to get down to business sooner – it is their way of understanding things
  3. Choose any medium for your communication that is the most efficient. Underline the important part of the message.


Approach to time

As people we have very different approaches to time. Especially if we come from other parts of the world. So how do we plan, schedule, and enforce deadlines together?

Before we move to solutions, check your approach to time! Choose the statements that fit you and add or subtract 5 points (depending on whether the sentence is on the right or left side of the table):

The more points you have the more flexible your approach is. The less points – the more linear you are in terms of scheduling.

Now we can look for tips on how to get along in terms of time.


How to plan and execute? ​

Tips for the more linear:

  • Report delays without delay!
  • Be as detailed and specific on progress as possible 
  • Plan ahead (even if plans might change) 
  • Keep strictly to appointments 
  • Focus on one activity at a time

Tips for the more flexible:

  • Discuss things generally first
  • Give relationships precedence over schedules 
  • Be open to new inputs at all times
  • Use schedules as guidelines
  • Allow plans to evolve
  • Keep in close contact with colleagues (ask for status reports) 
  • Build in extra time (“buffers”) 
  • Accept interruptions
  • Confirm meetings and other business arrangements with short notice


How to address needs of all counterparties? 

Because the fact that it needs to be done is probably clear! Take a look at some tips:

  1. Know your own preference – it’s a good starting point
  2. Map your team – get to know each other and your approaches
  3. Adjust your approach – this will help in better cooperation and you can do it with the guidance you’ve already received
  4. Discuss preferences or solutions with your team – they know best! 
  5. Look for culture experts – getting support from an objective outside person is always a good thing and can help more than you can imagine.



If you want to learn more about this topic, check the full webinar: Managing International Projects in IT


Run your training with us!

If you want to work on your competence and skills needed to manage intercultural teams, ETTA Leadership & Culture specialises in and provides training on development programmes for leaders and teams. See the offer.


​Photo by Eden Constantino on Unsplash