US-based programs express a high appetite to expand globally, based on Staffing Industry Analysts’ most recent survey of 239 programs. Twenty-one percent of the programs are looking to expand services to APAC over the next four years and 16% are looking to expand services to Europe and/or South America. Before they make that move, though, there are some key questions they need to ask themselves to be able to effectively grow a program geographically?

Every global program involves a level of standardization and compromise on what is global/local and if this is not effectively managed, it can cause friction, limited program adoption and poorly managed expectations. Often, there are winners and losers in any global alignment. Mismanaged local and regional expectations can undermine adoption and challenge the program’s ability to fulfil corporate needs. Delivering a program successfully in one location does not mean you have the requisite skills or resources to launch a global program. But you can develop simple practical considerations to increase the likelihood of global alignment and program expansion.

As with all programs, be sure you have a clear executive sponsorship as well as a clearly documented program vision with benefits that apply to all countries in scope. Further, clearly understand the business case and drivers for global expansion. Once this is firmly established, only then can you move to operational performance and accountability.

Here are some key questions to help you assess your global readiness, based on our Global Readiness Indicator Report:

  • Why do projects succeed or fail in my company and how successful have other global expansion programs been? Is this the first time this company has expanded a program globally and if so, what structures/resources are put in place to support this expansion? Have you reviewed all the lessons learnt from other global program expansions in the company?
  • What is the culture of the organization (autonomy vs. directive) across the countries and divisions that will be in scope for the program and how difficult will the change be? How much are you selling versus telling? (mandated vs. optional)
  • How have or how will global policies, reporting, processes, data and rules be decided and how will these decisions stick? Testing the concept against high-risk countries as well as small-country solutions are commonly considered during the “build phase” of a global design. Thereafter, when the implementation team is challenged on rolling out global standards, do you have enough breadth of experience in your team to assess if you need to push back or if you need to make concessions? How do you decide what you can live with to get the global program up and running versus forcing a global standard?
  • What will you do to ensure regional teams don’t simply build regional solutions in parallel to a global solution and how will you know about it? Will you engage one global supplier or multiple suppliers? Having one global technology will support global alignment.
  • What inflight programs are underway in the countries that are in scope and have you done enough due diligence to understand volumes, landscape, local suppliers and change impact before committing scope, finalizing design and suppliers?

At an early stage, engage a dialogue with targeted country executive management and conduct roadshows to understand their business as well as educate them on understanding the potential of your program’s value and benefits.

My next article will look at key components of a strong governance team; Part 3 will look at how to manage change to make it stick.