Challenges of Offshore Project Management

Every document management systems provider has their own methods and processes for converting client’s data.  Some handle the entire conversion in-house, or onshore, while others outsource all or part of the process offshore.  It’s important to weigh the pros and cons against your unique requirements before deciding which method is better for your conversion project. Although it’s ultimately the service provider that is affected by discrepancies with an offshore team, the business itself can also feel the heat.  Knowing what you’re signing up for when agreeing to offshore project management is important.

Don’t look at onshore versus offshore as dollar signs and value.  There is much more to consider than the cost of the project and turnaround time.  From geographic distance to cultural gaps the implementation of any project can get complex, deciding what’s most vital to the efficiency of your project helps determine whether it’s best to carry it out onshore, offshore or a combination of both.  Here, we’ll specifically discuss the challenges relating to offshore projects.

One of the most prevalent is language barriers.  Communication is the key to a successful project, and language barriers pose a huge risk.  General misunderstandings, problem solving techniques and differences in etiquette are just some of the challenges that result from language barriers.  This offers a transition into cultural challenges as well.  Differences in culture like beliefs, prejudices and practices can affect project management.

Time zone differences are another set of challenges. Everything from normal working hours to holiday schedules varies when partnering with an offshore team. Not only is it the general time variance that causes differences in a mixed onshore/offshore team, but the communication challenges that ensue from them can provoke missed deadlines and quality concerns.

Organizational culture is an area oftentimes overlooked in the decision to outsource projects offshore.  Mismatched values and norms, workplace hierarchies, management issues, work styles and processes are just several examples of how workplace culture can affect the end result.  Offshore teams may not be as vocal when it comes to critical issues, so it’s necessary to have the right policies in place to catch these types of concerns before they become actual problems.

Security and privacy standards are a major factor especially considering points of failure increase dramatically when moving data offshore.  This happens everywhere from information in transit to the policies practiced by the offshore team.  Anytime information travels oversees, or to any offsite location, security and privacy are a concern.   An offshore team may also want IP rights and access to sensitive information for project purposes.   Knowing what access to provide and how to get it to the offshore team is vital to securing the safety of information.

It’s all about what makes the most sense for the project.  There are ways to overcome all of the aforementioned challenges associated with offshore teams.  For example, a team can utilize various e-tools for discussions or quick chats with the offshore team to further enhance communication.  Setting up specific expectations and routinely meeting to review progress is imperative to on-time, on-budget project completion without any hiccups.  Understanding the challenges to dual-shore projects helps better prepare those involved for any challenges along the way.

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