Dear PM Advisor, I was just given a global project to manage and notice how you advise that all team members should be present during the planning session. But my management are notorious skinflints. How can I justify the expense of bringing the three Japanese and European team members to Chicago for the two days of planning?
Local in Chicago
It's been my experience that few global projects have a budget of less than $250,000; most run into the millions. But let's assume yours is worst case. Let's compare the cost of bringing in the non-local team members to the overall budget. Three overseas flights at about $5,000 each. Three night's accommodations plus meals and taxis in Chicago can't cost more than $1,000 each. You're talking about $18,000 total. That represents 7% of the budget, less if the budget is greater. That's the cost.
Now let's look at the benefit. Having the entire team present during planning is huge! The team building aspects aside, you get every team member seeing what each other does, seeing how their activities lead into another member's activities. They see the critical path being built in front of them, work together to refine the timeline to crash that path. They identify potential risks together and start on early problem removal, they identify all the tasks on the WBS, rather than forgetting those tasks the out of towners would have brought.
All of these things bring about a huge improvement in the planning plus the team building that takes place, the ownership of activities in front of their peers and the camaraderie, all bring about benefits that easily outstrip the 7% deficit you started with.
So run the numbers and determine the exact % of budget that this travel represents. Then show the benefits you will achieve as I've outlined above. If they still object, do the project anyway but keep track of each instance of misstep that could have been avoided if the planning had been done properly. Compile all these mistakes in your project's final report. Maybe your next project will be planned properly.
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