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She is implementing a project for an Australian company working from Portugal
An interview with Joanna Kowalska from Kogifi Digital, who talks about the interesting backstage of Project Manager's work in an international and intercultural environment.
Asia, what do you do at Kogifi Digital?
J.K. At Kogifi I work as an IT Project Manager. I deal with providing services and business products based on new technologies.
That sounds very serious. How can this be translated into specific daily work?
J.K. It's nothing terrible, he deals with, among others: - work organization and communication management in the project team - preparing the scope of work and schedule and managing the project budget - organizing and conducting meetings with the client, presenting project progress and planning further activities.
Recently, you have had the opportunity to implement a very interesting project at Kogifi Digital. Can you tell us about it?
J.K. Yes. We work with one of the Australian digital marketing agencies, which in its portfolio has the largest and most recognizable brands from its country.
What exactly are you doing for them?
J.K. We are implementing a website development and optimization project for one of the Australian universities.
Can you describe the project in more detail?
J.K. We work on the project, which is carried out in the Agile methodology, in an international team of several people. On the Kogifi side, there are two Sitecore developers in the project team, besides me. One is responsible for Backend activities, the other for Frontend, while I deal with the entire project. On the client's side, there are two managing managers in the project team.
How long will this project take, and what is its business purpose?
J.K. The final length of the project is not yet known as it includes, inter alia, designing new functionalities that are implemented during two-week sprints. The business goal is to optimize the performance and usability of the website, which will translate into business effectiveness.
What is your role in the project?
J.K. I coordinate project activities related to work planning and team performance, and I take care of delivering solutions on time. In addition, together with the client, I analyze and plan activities aimed at the development of the website. In addition, I present and report the results of the work done by our team.
What is it like to work between two different time zones? How do you deal with the time difference?
J.K. Despite the different time zones in Poland (CEST) and Australia (AEST), which results in an 8-hour difference, we found a compromise on the convenient time for regular meetings. With this type of project, the key is to set project priorities and organize your and your team's work. In fact, we only have one convenient time to meet and discuss current issues in the project. In Poland, it is the beginning of my working day, 8 a.m., while in Australia it is 8 a.m. 16, which is the end of their working day. Every day, at the end of my working day, I prepare a summary of the activities in the project for the client, thanks to which I receive information on a regular basis right on the next day. The biggest challenge was to kickoff the project, assemble the team, and organize work in such hours that would be convenient for the client. Thanks to well-organized processes in the project, work runs smoothly.
What are the pros and cons of such intercontinental cooperation?
J.K. I treat each project as a professional experience and an area for gaining new skills. The advantage is that due to the limited immediate availability, I try to plan better and use my time optimally. On the other hand, this limited availability can also be a big obstacle to quickly and efficiently solving problems that we have not had yet.
What do you need to pay attention to when running projects in a different time zone and working with a different culture?
J.K. When working in an international environment, first of all, you should consider how people from a given culture or country approach work, timely implementation of tasks, understanding the methodology of project management, and their sense of time.
At the very beginning, it is necessary to establish common principles of cooperation and tools for task management and communication. This allows for easier building relationships and planning work in the way our contractors are used to.
As a PM I have experience in working with various cultures, but mainly European ones.
Based on my experience, I can say that in the Scandinavian, German or Dutch teams, many activities can be planned in detail in advance, while in the case of the Italian team, many things changed suddenly.
In different countries there are also different needs regarding the organization and nature of meetings, e.g. in Sweden, Great Britain, or the Netherlands, frequent and quick meetings with a report on what is happening in the project are preferred.
One more important thing is communication in an international project, it always takes place in English and you have to bear in mind that not always the same words will have the same meaning. In order to have full understanding and certainty, you need to ask about the context.
Our client also employs people from all over the world, which means that it communicates with everyone differently.
Work is planned for each week and progress is verified at meetings held twice a week.
In my opinion, this is a dynamic, well-organized business environment.
Interestingly, you recently moved to Portugal, from where you are implementing a project for a company from Australia. That sounds intriguing!
J.K. Yes. I currently live and work in Portugal. At Kogifi Digital, we work remotely, and I am eagerly taking advantage of this opportunity. Thanks to this, I combine my work with getting to know new places, people, culture, and I am gaining new experience in organizing working conditions in an international environment.