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India and US Outsourcing/Multi-National Solutions: People, Process, Product

by Brandi Moore on January 24, 2011

After an extremely successful webinar last week (you missed it? Replay it here: http://theglobalmanager.com/webinar/) I have been coming back to the 3 p’s again and again during private consultations with participants. I am going to share some insights here on the 3 p’s for all of my readers to enjoy.

This feedback goes both ways – its helpful to Indians AND Americans working together across internal or external teams. No matter who the boss is, this thinking works.

When I work with a client they are typically looking for CONTROL of bottom line results. In ever situation this is the case. They want to avoid surprises and deliver. This is delivering a team that is effective, delivering a manufactured product on time, delivering a software application…you get the picture.

This control is possible.  It will happen when you start thinking like a global manager. I focus my client on success by looking at how they are managing the three p’s: People, Process, Product. Take up this thinking and you will be surprised and thrilled with the results.

People

If you read this blog, you already know that India’s business culture is different from Americas.  Very different. In fact, on almost every preference available to cross-cultural experts, like myself, India displays opposite preferences than the US. Working between these two cultures must be people oriented. Two top considerations:

  • How will you manage globally? When managing inside a different culture one specific choice needs to be made: will you use your approach or theirs? There are considerations on both side of this conversation. Will you be able to get commitment and incite loyalty by using something “foreign”? Will you be able to effectively manage using a different set of parameters? The global manager must consider all the options and decide on a concerte management approach. This needs to be specific. If you are a multi-national or in a M&A situation this needs to be documented.
  • How will you message this to your teams? This is essential. Employees need to understand  how to be effective and what the organization values…otherwise employees will not know what to do. Documenting how you want employees to act, what critical behaviors are important to the organization and how these will be rewarded should be specifically stated and trained across the organization.

Process

I just finished interviewing some of the leading outsourcers about process across different localities. Outsourcers are growing globally at a rapid rate expanding into new markets causing them to think about cultures both with respect to clients and workers. Process is the heart of outsourcing and it must be consistent to be efficient. .But this will not happen without understanding how the underlying communication differences can effect end results and actions. A few questions to consider:

  • How should employees communicate about problems? Leading outsourcers know that everyone must think about problems and report them in the same way if a global supply chain has any chance of success. Many of the outsourcers I spoke with talked about instilling specific actions into their staff to ensure they report asap. As an organization decide how to report and message that across the population.
  • How should employees document action and interaction? Culture shows up at meetings causing people to miss-understand each other and head off to work on the wrong thing. Institute a process for getting common understanding on what is what and who is doing the what. Exchanging notes is effective here, have each side exchange notes and someone hold responsibility for distributing the “right” version to the whole team.

Product

We are all focused on the end product, this is why we started to engage with India in the first place. In our fast paced world products change and ideas change. The most effective project manager inside multi-national companies know they must explictly understand what is happening with their product.  Ask yourself:

  • How is the schedule? If you don’t know the answer this is a big, giant, flashing, neon sign pointed at you. You should know exactly where everything is in the process.
  • Can you have a business conversation? Most teams can’t have effective business conversations because they don’t know the status of the product. They know a little, but not a lot. This leaves discussions that focus on possible changes happening in a vacuum. Do your best to develop a plan for your product that delivers something frequently so your organization can make effective decisions based on real data.

This sounds easy but its not. We must constantly focus on the three p’s and check in on our ability to do so. When we don’t decide to point in a specific direction with a specific goal with a specific set of documented plans we fail in any endeavor. When crossing cultures this only gets worse…

Thank YOU to http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/ For the picture of the P!

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