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Project Manager : Project Manager Apr May 2014
28 Project Manager •CAREER CENTRE WHEN 'REMOTE' MEANS 'FAR FROM THE CITY' SAMI ABOU-HAMDAN, AIPM SA CHAPTER PRESIDENT AND SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER, NOVA SYSTEMS While remote teams are often used on projects to connect far-flung people for the sake of efficiency, sometimes 'remote' means a project itself is entirely based far from an urban centre. Often in Australia, teams on these projects work alongside local Indigenous communities. There are a few ways to improve community engagement in and success rates of such projects, and central to these is community consultation. Successfully working with Indigenous communities requires project teams to: • undertake stakeholder engagement early in the project. • be culturally sensitive. • have a project manager who is experienced in delivering successful projects in remote and Indigenous communities. • capture lessons learned from previous projects and review them during the initial phase of the project. • plan ahead and double check that the necessary resources and materials are available. Effective community consultation is important to ensure: • Indigenous communities receive project outcomes and benefits that meet their needs (project delivery must also consider Indigenous beliefs and cultures). • both the Indigenous community members and workers travelling to the communities are confident of their safety. • deadlines are met through early planning and approvals. Project managers should: • learn about and respect Indigenous elders, cultures and customs. • identify sacred sites and prohibited areas through community consultation. • know what they should and should not do. For example, ensure police checks and permits are in place for all the contractors' personnel prior to accessing the sites. bit more appreciation and understanding, and sometimes you just have to work with people to get things right rather than expect it to be dead right the first time." The technical side It is not, however, useful to dismiss entirely the importance of technical skills. Remote workers can offer low-cost labour or a particular skill set, or both, which can lead to project tasks being divided between people and locations. Norman provides the e x ample of splitting the execution of work when certain skills are not readily available in the home market. He cautions, however, that this approach can muddy the scope of the project and make it susceptible to confusion and inefficiency. Alongside technical skills and emotional buy-in is a third important issue for remote teams: effective systems and processes. Norman's research highlights the importance of clearly defined roles and responsibilities, levels of authority, and divisions of labour. One PM he inter viewed commented: "there's been too much of a gentlemen's agreement rather than 'this is how it is'. "Gentlemen's agreements can be interpreted," the inter viewee said, e xplaining that problems arise when those running the project do the interpretation. When systems and processes are clear and str uctured, workers are technically proficient, and a team is emotionally committed, all the necessary elements to succeed are in place, Nor man concludes. Simonelli adds that the benefits of such well-rounded remote teams will only accr ue when information and transparent knowledge sharing is realised and conveyed to all participants. Norman agrees, encouraging PMs to share their experiences, both the good and the bad, to close the knowledge gap between theory and practice. ••• ALONGSIDE TECHNICAL SKILLS AND EMOTIONAL BUY- IN IS A THIRD IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR REMOTE TEAMS: EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
Project Manager Feb Mar 2014