Managing a project requires focus and attention to three key areas including: schedule, cost and scope. All three of the constraints play pivotal roles in the successful completion of the project (Dobson 2004). While project management focuses on specific best practices to successfully meet the goals and objectives outlined by the project charter, it does not directly outline the best practices for managing variables such as cultural diversity, foreign laws, regulations or environmental factors impacting availability resources. Doing business in a foreign country can provide multiple advantages including access to resources and financial incentives by the host country. There are also disadvantages of using a foreign country for a business venture that can range from communication breakdowns to political, religious or cultural barriers that remove the benefits of the business through direct or indirect forces. The core business drivers which would cause a company to take resources and allocate the effort to execute a project outside of the country of origin ranges from expanding the market of the good or service for future sales opportunities or searching for talent or natural resources that do not occur in the business’ home of record. Although advantages and disadvantages exist regarding the conduction of business in other countries, there is also a decision on the method to perform the project management activities and if the project is feasible based on the foreign country selected versus the home country of the business.
A project is by definition a temporary endeavor to produce a unique deliverable at the conclusion of the endeavor (PMI 2008). Just as the foundation of a house supports the entire home, the definition of the scope of a project establishes the entire trajectory of the project and determines what resources and schedule will be needed to accomplish all of the requirements of that project. During the planning process of the project there is also the time to determine what is within the scope of the project and what risks are associated with that scope. When scoping a project, there are multiple deliverables that need to be understood in order to create the framework of the project and to accurately understand the methodology and process of achieving those requirements. There are also certain deliverables that must be used to incorporate the best practices of project management which include the scope statement, project charter, requirements and risk identification. The risks of the project can determine if the project is feasible and what resources may be required to mitigate those risks. Due to limited resources of the company’s country the business may look globally to meet the needs of the business project. If the scope entails business ventures into other countries there will be an associated risk with that plan as well as a level of effort that will be required to learn, understand and execute key tasks to fulfill local and global rules, regulations and policies.
When crossing the borders of other countries to conduct business, there are positives and negatives associated with the implementation of those business efforts. Some of the most common and visible differences include cultural differences, language barriers and time zone disparities. While there are some large hurdles to overcome when conducting business that are known risks there are also other difficulties that are not easily identifiable and as easy to quantify into a risk measurement tool. These unknown or misunderstood risks will also need to be mitigate and incorporated into the project plan. Some examples of areas of risk that could potentially be harmful to a project’s successful completion include geographic disparities, climate or weather impacts, logistical infrastructure, information technology integration or other hazards that will need to be addressed when they occur during the project’s life cycle. The laws and regulations of the foreign country as well as the treaties and policies between countries play key operational and strategic planning points for the project manager. The project manager will need to manage the relationships between the project teams at home and abroad as well as understand and abide by the policies and treaties between countries. This is an additional effort on the entire project team and should be considered in the cost/benefit analysis.
The key point for the project manager to act upon is to ensure the requirements for the project are aligned with the scope of the project and that each requirement can be met on time, on budget and within the scope of the project. Managing the external forces and variables will take deft knowledge of the project management process but an understanding and awareness of the benefits and potential roadblocks that would face the project. By understanding these factors the project manager can take the necessary actions to mitigate the risks and successfully implement the project.
To fully understand the risks and rewards choosing to either move business to other countries or establish project to utilize foreign countries resources it is necessary to look at two different countries. The first is the United Arab Emirates or UAE. The UAE is in a unique position in which they are creating an environment to be conducive for foreign investors to come into their country and enhance their global economic model. The UAE and specifically Dubai offer tremendous opportunities for foreign investors to conduct business in their location. The prerequisite for the business or conglomeration of investors is to have a steady and ample capital backing. If the group has enough capital and is willing to work overseas, Dubai is a great location to provide high quality goods or services and take advantage of the conducive and entrepreneurial environment instilled by the country. The benefits of doing business in the UAE include tax benefits offered to startups and large investment companies, free trade zones and distinct markets that cater to varying business types such as financial districts, manufacturing zones and other areas tailored to business growth. The country provides the vessel to conduct business and the project manager’s role is to understand exactly what is required and the cost associate with meeting those requirements. The benefits of project management would come from the general culture of the area including the established business culture for change and grow regarding business ideas and implementations as well as the focus on driving success. The UAE wants the companies to become successful in order to increase the benefits experience by their citizens and economic prosperity.
The UAE has a clear focus on growth and building opportunities for new ventures but they also seek to build upon their foundation to develop a sustainable and profitable economic business model for the entire country. These objectives are a balance between riskier new ventures and the less risky focus on established businesses looking to increase their market visibility globally or looking to take advantage of logistical or skill based benefits.
The disadvantages mostly reside in the same core areas that would be experienced by doing business in any other country that has a difference language, beliefs system, laws, business models or geographic separation from the other country looking to conduct business activities. Language, customs, politics and religion all play a role in project execution but there are some other areas that also are limitation to project management in the UAE. The hyper-competitive process of resource allocation for the project must be accounted for as a risk to the project. Since the area of the UAE is conducive to new ventures there are limited resources available for new countries looking for a part of the market share. The project manager must ensure that the resources required are readily available based on the needs of the project timing and implementation project schedule.
Another country that provides a multitude of business opportunities for business projects and ventures is Japan. Japan provides resources that are technological savvy, industrious, intelligent, and highly educated. When projects are implemented in Japan it is the people and logistical placement within the globe that make the attractiveness so great. Japan is limited in size but is strategically located in the East and provides the democratic governance that is advantageous to free trade and business growth. Key benefits of expanding opportunities to Japan include the established business partnership between the United States and Japan as well as the forged path of success that has been blazed by other companies over the past few decades. There are lessons learned and knowledge available for the project team to learn and understand about Japan’s cultural differences and other high impact low probability risks. Mitigating the risks of outlined above is fairly simple and Japan is welcoming of businesses as long as they adhere to the rules, processes and regulations which are outlined for the business transaction. The formidable and highly capable workforce in Japan allows the project team’s efforts to be centrally controlled and decentralized executed which is tremendous benefit to the project manager considering the full utilization of the project team for key action to complete the project (Gray & Larson, 2011)
The downside to Japan includes more than limited physical resources of land. Japan’s culture is risk averse when it comes to new business ventures or non-established business models. This risk is mitigated through thorough and copious documentation on the specifications, quality, quantity, purpose, project schedules and a plethora of other documentation. This level of bureaucracy, while surmountable, can place a strain on resource allocations on the perceived non-value add project tasks. This could become an issue that limits the ability to meet the scope, cost or schedule of the project. This same risk aversion stance by Japan plays a critical role in the process of implementing new technology or goods into the market. The requirements are more stringent for implementing new items into the market and require a high degree of testing, evaluation, regulatory compliance and other country specific requirements to successfully launch. Understanding the needs and requirements of the Japanese counterparts and allow for appropriate budgeting of resource and all the cost of the project to be fully understood prior to moving business effort to the foreign country. .
Project management opportunities should be taken advantage of in both countries if the benefits realized by moving the efforts to the foreign country outweigh the risks. The benefits will outweigh the risks if the risks are properly mitigated and fully understood. The key to doing business in any country is based on knowing exactly what the company needs to meet the strategy laid out by the leadership and effectively and efficiently communicating those needs to the intended parties. When adding other countries into the business plan an entirely new set of risks present themselves and must be understood. Once the risks are know there must be a plan to mitigate those risks and align that mitigation plan with the project plan. All of the potential risks of international business ventures can be mitigated if those risks are limited to culture, politics, religion and business practices. The EAU and Japan business and investments environments are not hostile to foreign investment and are firmly established in globalization efforts. Both are viable for project management opportunities and both would allow for growth and expansion business prospects.
Dobson, M. (2004). The triple constraints in project management. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts.
Gray, C. F., & Larson, E. W. (2011). Project management: The managerial process (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Templar, R., Herring, J. J., Thompson, L., & Fadem, T. J. (2012). Negotiating to win: strategies and skills for every situation (collection). FT Press. Retrieved from: http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=tPBSj1WlQpIC&oi=fnd&pg=PT1&dq=The+Truth+About+Negotiations+by+Leigh+L.+Thompson&ots=CrLodMnsdL&sig=Lgik2nUr2f21s8wEI_9SsPtNk5w
Project Management Institute. A guide to the project management body of knowledge. 4th. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, 2008. Print.