3 lessons learned on how to successfully deliver a programme in more than 20 different countrieS

19 abril 2019

For the last 20 months I have taken part in the international team that has achieved compliance with the rebranding and identification of 3,200 Opel sites all over Europe. Quite an impressive figure considering that this is the 96% of their whole network, which is an amazing percentage for a roll-out programme!

Obviously, there are many obstacles when working in such a delivery. Which would you say is the biggest challenge?

If you have worked in a similar type of project, you may agree with me that the biggest issue is communication among people from diverse regions. Even though we all spoke in English, I found there to be a huge difference in the way of communicating and approaching the tasks of our job depending on our cultural backgrounds.

So how did we succeed with a team formed by people of more than 10 different nationalities?

One of the pillars has been the strategic team structure with complementary roles distributed across the different locations. My role started as “Country Project Coordinator”, which means I was responsible for supporting the Project Managers in several countries, collecting and collating programme level information and analysing the data for reporting purposes.

Accurate reporting was another key component for our client’s satisfaction: in a project like this it is very important not only to deliver the contracted service but also to be able to inform the customer at all times about the status of the different markets.

What has this experience meant for my career?

Working in the Opel Programme has been a great learning experience for me. When I first started, I had to learn a lot of things very quickly, not only about the details of the project but also about the complexities that lie in an international project. As I have already explained, this has definitely been the most challenging part but the most fun too! I love the fact that my job involves speaking other languages and working in multicultural environments.

During this time my role has developed, and I have gained more and more responsibilities. It has been truly demanding! This has also led me to be more self-sufficient and I feel that my managers trust me to deliver good results.

Earlier this year, the whole team gathered in Rüsselsheim (Germany) for a final workshop in which we shared our experiences, lessons learnt and of course to celebrate the successful completion. Furthermore, for me it was the chance to speak face to face with my colleagues after months of skype sessions!

To summarize, my 3 main lessons learnt are:

  • Never take anything for granted: always make sure that your counterpart has the same understanding that you have.
  • Little things matter: paying attention to the details is what makes the difference between an average delivery and a great delivery.
  • And a very basic one: if you aren’t sure about something, just ask! It is always easier to progress if you allow yourself to be supported by the knowledge of your more experienced colleagues.

I will always be thankful to Arcadis for giving me the chance to colaborate in this enriching programme! Learn more about the Opel total project management programme here.

By Olga Donoso