Cultural Differences Can Wreak Havoc with Your Project

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    Enterprise Systems has run a useful feature that shares the challenges you can face in a project when cultural differences exist — such as those that come up in outsourcing to India or Russia.

    "Four Strategies for Communicating with Outsourcers," by Adam Kolawa shares four areas where you can run into trouble.

    1. Being oblivious to cultural differences.

    How can this hurt you? Dr. Kolawa offers this example. Americans typically assume that laws are generally obeyed. People in other countries see them as "guidelines that are not necessarily followed." Your adherence to the strict tenets of a contract may simply be construed as suggestions by others.

    2. Not choosing the right words.

    As Dr. Kolawa explains:

    When working with a Russian outsourcer, refrain from saying, "This could be better." While an American would interpret such a statement to mean that you could, should, and will improve the delivered product, a Russian interprets it to mean that the delivered product is good enough and his/her work is done. Instead, you should say to a Russian, "This is absolutely broken. Fix it." The same goes for India…

    3. Not confirming your requirements

    . Document them, then insist that your service provider do the same, then have the service provider create a prototype so that it proves it knows what you want.

    4. Not setting deadlines. Dr. Kolawa’s advice: "Make it crystal clear that you will not pay if your product is not delivered by the specified date."

    Worth the read.

    While you’re at it, make sure to read, "Working with India: What To Know before You Go (18 Practical Tips To Prepare You)." Cultural expert Dr. Karine Schomer shares her take on the differences between Indians and Americans.

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