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Perspectives on Project Management from Abroad

In the New York Times blog, there is currently a series of posts by Paul Downs, the owner of a custom furniture company. Downs writes about his experience visiting the Middle East to explore the differences in our manufacturing industries. Along with lessons in running a business and competition, from Downs’ trip we can learn a lesson in international project management approaches.

Resources Affect Results

While on his trip to Dubai, Downs visits a furniture company which may be competing for the same custom boardroom table project as his company. The Dubai company could complete the project for $33,000 compared to Downs’ $45,000. This price difference can be accounted for by the cheap labor readily available in the Middle East.

But, when you just throw a lot of manpower into a project, it isn’t going to get the same results as when other resources are used.

Downs points out how his boardroom table would have a higher degree of precision and faster installation. Unlike the Middle Easterners, Downs can’t just throw a lot of cheap labor at the project to get the job done. Instead, he must utilize advanced technologies like cutting and sanding machines to keep labor costs down while meeting deadlines.go to for more additional information.

As Project Management Goes Abroad

I would have loved to see an article from each of the project managers taking on this boardroom table task. Their approaches would be entirely different, as would be their goal for the project. Since increasingly more project management jobs are being outsourced, like all those IT project managers working remotely with teams in India, project managers need to be aware of how cultural and economic differences affect project management approach.

Most Americans are upset about the state of the US manufacturing industry, which has mostly disappeared due to the cheap labor available in countries like China. Yet, Americans and many other Western countries are guilty for destroying their own manufacturing industries with technology. Instead of requiring 50 workers to do a job, we instead use advanced machines to get the job done. I’d honestly rather see a job outsourced to a developing country where it can give 500 poor workers income, rather than stay at home where it would employee maybe 10 high-earners. Yet, when you just throw cheap labor at a project, you typically end up with a cheap quality product as well.

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Project managers who are going to leap into this increasingly-global workplace will need a much broader perspective than their forerunners.

Resource management becomes an entirely different field when it involves management teams of hundreds of workers instead of just some money and machinery.

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