“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. – Bill Clinton

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    Language and misunderstanding have a way of taking on a life of their own and can undermine the success and progress of a project quickly.

    I was recently engaged for some project troubleshooting and review for a multi-national client doing a major global system upgrade while also undertaking a merger. I uncovered many issues which highlighted the criticality of precision communication when dealing with diverse project teams.

    Frequently a single workflow or deliverable can involve several teams across multiple time zones as well as off-shore development teams on different continents. There are cultural and language issues as well as the general time coordination issues not to mention semantics.

    In this day and age of multiple time zones, languages, cultural differences and different management styles, it is imperative that the foundation for communication be established very early. It is critical to establish a common general foundation for communication. Some of the tools I’ve used to assist have been:

    • Definition of a common ‘Project/Program Glossary of Terms’
    • Precision of timing measures such as using specific times and not terms such as Close of business (COB), “First thing in the Morning” or “later today” as those can be vague and open to interpretation relative to one’s time zone.
    • Clarity around expectations when terms such as Initial Draft, Production Ready, Ready to Discuss & Brief Presentation are used.

    What are some other kinds of terms that readers might put into this category?

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    For more resources, see the Library topic Project Management.

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