Thursday, June 18, 2015

Guide for Project Management Consultants in Dealing with Korean Engineering & Construction Companies (Part 1)

For those project management consultants who have dealt with Korean engineering and construction companies first time, the Korean business practices might seem perplexing. In reality, it is not. You just have to ride with the Korean way and reap its benefits.

As mentioned in the book of Thomas Coyner and for many westerners, Koreans are criticized for having their own logic. In fact, westerners are amazed that in spite of that, Korean firms are stunningly successful. 

Having worked for Korean companies, I can attest to the fact that indeed, Koreans have their own 'logic'. For many, that logic seems not sound nor practical but the underlying principle conforms to that espoused by western management. 

Why is that so?

Indeed, the Korean way of doing business is focused on RESULTS. So with RESULTS what do you expect? There is a good business. 

While it is true that there are a lot of challenges in working with Koreans, many of those can be tackled by prudent approach.

The way I see it, the major hurdle to overcome is communication. This is because many Koreans are challenged to communicate in the English language. 

The most obvious problem is on communication re-contextualization. Sometimes you say something and you mean it this way. But they understand it differently. This can be addressed by asking back how they understand your statement. If they understand your message exactly as you intend it, then you have no problem. Otherwise, you have to tell them clearly what you mean.

Coming from a hierarchical culture which values harmony, Koreans usually express themselves in a mild or subtle way. That is why, don't be surprised if they tell something indirectly. Like my boss in one of his answers to my email he wrote, 'there seems to be no problem.' For many of us, the use of qualifications such as 'seems' could mean something not certain. But for my boss, what he really means is that 'there is indeed no problem.' 

More on this topic in my next post. Please watch out!!!

1 comment:


  1. Tag: PM202A51. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

    1. Plan your day using time management techniques

    As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

    If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

    Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

    2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

    While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

    Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

    Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

    3. Regularly communicate with your team

    Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

    For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

    4. Anticipate project setbacks

    Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

    Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

    Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

    Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

    Related post: 92 free project management templates

    5. Stay focused on the details

    A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

    Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

    And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs



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