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May 16, 2020

A Survival Guide for the Time Zone Warrior

You have just been handed your assignment – lead a sales and marketing engagement for a new solution. You are unfamiliar with the products and this is highly technical stuff. There’s a tight deadline, but you’ve done this before. So no problem, right?

As you look at the list of project team members you realize this project is different. Very different. You realize your Subject Matter Experts are scattered all over the globe. You will never meet them face-to-face.

Don’t panic. Weave these guiding principles into your PMO and you will you deliver.

1. Get off to a fast start

Set the tempo and create project momentum on the very first day. Use The World Clock to find a good time for everyone to attend the kick-off meeting – or several if APAC and EMEA are both involved. At the first meeting, the SME’s engagement may be at its peak. It’s absolutely critical to use this time to your advantage. Collect and catalog a baseline set of source materials. Identify the reviewers and approvers of each deliverable upfront. Then schedule and confirm review meetings for the rest of the project and get their commitment to attend.

2. Treat every meeting like the last meeting

Distance causes distraction and disinterest. When you’re on another continent, meetings are easy to blow off. So when you have their attention, use every minute wisely. You may not get another chance. Preparation is key. Use the SME to address unanswered questions from your research, not bring you up to speed. Do your homework and learn everything you can about the products before your meetings. Then, record every meeting and review later, especially if you unfamiliar with the technology.

3. Be flexible but relentless

When the success of your project relies on the participation of people around the globe, it doesn’t pay to be rigid. Be willing to bend to their schedules, even if that means scheduling meetings in the middle of the night. Sure it’s no fun when your 3 am meeting is canceled at 2:59. But it happens. In fact, expect this to happen. You may have to reschedule but stay flexible and understanding. Remember, the people you are working with tend to be the best the world has to offer -- and that means they are busy.

When you start fast, prepare rigorously and stay flexible, you will deliver world-class results together with your worldwide team.

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Jeff Betts

Jeff is a leader in The Spur Group’s executive communications and marketing communications practice with over 12 years of industry experience. Jeff has led and managed teams responsible for comprehensive rebranding and marketing efforts for fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft and Cisco.