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How to successfully manage a construction project overseas

Managing any operation overseas is a challenging task, perhaps none more so than a construction project. With so many moving parts and stakeholders involved, managing the whole project can be a logistical and operational nightmare. Add on to this language, time and legal barriers and you’ll be fortunate if you can follow a cohesive timeline. However, with extensive planning and preparation, you should be able to navigate these challenges and successfully complete the construction project overseas. Below are some tips to help you succeed.

Familiarise yourself with the location

One of the challenges of working overseas is being in an unfamiliar environment. As a project manager, it’s essential that you spend some time in the region both before and during the project. This will help to give you an idea of the potential obstacles your team may face, but also fundamental factors such as the local work and industry environment. For example, spending a few weeks in one of Singapore’s serviced apartments will give you the chance to visit and evaluate the project site, as well as meet local connections and suppliers.

Establish relationships with trusted local partners

To have any chance of completing a construction project, anywhere in the world, you need to build strong and trusted relationships with local suppliers and contractors. This will help to ensure that you deploy effective cost control, as well as give your team a better chance of meeting deadlines and project milestones on time. Furthermore, strong relationships with local networks will be vital if any unforeseen circumstances arise during the course of a project – meaning a quicker and more effective response.

Gather the right team

Building the right team to support your project management is fundamental to any operation. You’ll want team members with the appropriate skills to manage processes in the local region and back home, whether they be financial, strategic, operational or language based. If you don’t plan on staying abroad for the duration of the project, it may be best to designate someone to manage operations on the ground while you are away. Otherwise, miscommunication and misunderstandings could threaten the project.

Understand laws, regulations and etiquette

Working overseas is as much about navigating the legal and cultural barriers as it is the fundamental operations. Ensure that you understand the local trade and employment laws, health and safety regulations and business etiquette when you meet with partners or clients. Accommodating the local way of working will help to ensure a smoother project and a greater chance of success.

These are just a few key areas that you should look to consider when taking on a construction project overseas. There are several risks and barriers but these can be mitigated with proper planning, preparation and execution.