Joint research between Accenture and the University of Cologne indicates that managing the social aspects of new IT delivery models is a crucial success factor in software innovation. In my previous post, I shared the highlights from this research, including the twelve management activities that can help you mitigate “soft” factors and make the most of new interdisciplinary, cross-geographical and cross-cultural software development models. Now I’d like to share how you can apply the insights gained from this research to manage cultural differences within your software development and delivery process so that you can accelerate your IT innovation efforts.

A three-step process

Mitigating cultural barriers is a three-step process, grounded in a cultural diversity assessment that identifies weaknesses and areas for improvement. After all, you can’t fix what you don’t know about. This assessment involves a complete analysis of your development environment’s cultural complexity—including the applicable nationalities, organizations and teams—as well as the effectiveness of any current cultural management activities. This undertaking requires both quantitative and qualitative data. A key focus should be on client-vendor relationship quality and the level of satisfaction with any current projects, from both the client and vendor perspective.

Once deficiencies or trouble spots have been identified, the next step is to apply select management activities to any areas in need of improvement, at all three levels—national, organizational and team (as described in my previous blog post).

The final step is to benchmark your status and progress against other entities. This will give you a sense of where you stand in terms of cross-cultural management performance as well as identify additional potential for improvement, so your firm can stay competitive.

Strengthening your business through a cultural mitigation framework

In today’s diverse and virtual work environment, many firms are challenged to effectively manage the cultural complexity that can impact IT development and delivery projects. It is not atypical for software developers to work in virtual teams with team members from all around the world and with various backgrounds.

By taking a good look at the distinct cultural patterns that exist in all three domains—national, organizational and team—you can develop cross-cultural team management practices that focus on mitigating any barriers so you can help your firm improve communication between groups and pro-actively solve problems, before conflicts arise.

By using this framework, you can:

  • Ensure your projects run more smoothly
  • Reduce the amount of rework and miscommunication
  • Drive efficiencies that will make your business stronger and more competitive

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