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Assessing Inter-Cultural Communication Challenges in the STANBIC Standard Bank S.A. Core Banking Replacement Program – Part 7


Part 2 (4.2.4-4.2.12)

4.2.4 In your view, what is the impact of the perceptions on the success of the program and how would you evaluate it?

R#1 only asked rhetorically “Wrong perceptions are created by?”

R#2 “Massive issue”

R3# “Massive, very serious. The facts are usually from the ground and not shared, which causes the wrong actions to be taken. Payments split fusion; this is a learning experience, and gets the team to focus on a common goal. Do this bi-directionally.”

#R4 The impact of the perceptions – “it is perceived that issues reside on the side of Finacle; resources (employees) do not assist in resolving issues. Often the issues are not Finacle related, and this then causes delays in issue resolution, there is no shared ownership. (Must start) to work together as a team.

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R#5 “Face-to-face discussions and being sensitive to others are two needed actions. Discuss pain points and have open communications. Users need to respect senior managers and they respect you. You have to break down the barriers; otherwise they will not provide feedback.”

R#6 “Lack of listening with limited facts and these create the wrong perceptions and we are wasting time and effort. Communications from peripheral into program and from program out not as good as it should be and communications strategy put in place in 2010-2011 and restarted now. Concerns with elements outside the program. Communication challenges - we require senior guys must be able to build communications and have the correct mechanisms in place.”

R#7 “There is the perception that we are not building to meet the needs of the country. Although we are while at the same time building a common V2 (Africa) base. Requested changes to feel ownership, and this is not possible. That is why the process is required and may not be a valid perception. All this causes time and cost impacts.”

R#9 “Inertia is caused, inert energy that needs to be overcome and these hurdles demand attention. The risk is in misdiagnosing the hurdles. We have to be sensitive to this and get to the root cause. Also wear the other hat (how would I like to be treated). SA is the COE, we are all competent in Country, but may not be aligned to centre expectations. The program is causing this demand and effort.”

R#10 “The way they see us and they are then not always forthcoming and transparent due to the above perceptions (misperceptions).”

4.2.5 What according to you are the reasons for these perception challenges?

R#1 suggested that the reasons are “embarrassment (which means that people) do not ask questions in forums.”

R#3 “Superiority and inferiority, status and positional authority.”

R# “Sharing time together. The biggest challenge experienced with implementing a new system, is not the technology, but the resistance from business (change management) must be overcome.”

R#5 “Not understanding cultures and people and what drives them.

R#6 “Different agenda’s and ego’s and different challenges. Different focus and views. We need to align resources and teams. Within teams we do but within existing teams, they may not align.”

R#7 “Country management building the perceptions. NG, NA, UG. UG is a roll out. UG as all functionality is there. Historical view and experience when countries were supported from centre (Oracle) and now they have to build it themselves.”

R#10 “We need to try and get down to their level, and understand their challenges. Every day engagements and show appreciation.”

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4.2.6 Do you believe the experience and knowledge of the various teams (Centre, Country and Infosys) affect the way Centre (SA) and Country engage and communicate?

R#2 “A definite issue, he is himself guilty of this. You become the expert (experience), and we assume they understand it. Always communicate as if people have never done this (do not know what is going on), bit contradictory from previous statement (they know a lot). Maybe ask “what is your understanding of this…”, and they are reserved and feel you are trying to catch them out or think they are stupid. It is crucial to set the scene and why you are asking the question. The way we communicate with Africa is crucial. Set the scene, why you ask the question and then ask. The easiest part is the installation, hardest is the users to use the system (users do not like change), adoptions are hardest.”

R#3 “Definitely. Have the experience you acquire. Understand new country and use the experiences as a validation and where you have differences deal with them with passion and sensitivity. The level of understanding, and communication style is adapted to ensure communications are successful (challenge is technical understanding and knowledge) “Information balance is not the same, causing info overload.”

R#4 “Absolutely. Finacle framework versus Standard bank “framework More specific information sharing (use summarizing to ensure understanding).”

R#5 “India resources move on and IP is list as resources move on. Risk of burning out and do a skills/knowledge transfers. Mix teams new and existing experienced resources.”

R#6 Standard briefing pack used for each new country and non-technical. Communicate reasons why the refresh is required and the success criteria. Driving countries to try and take ownership of resource and operational challenges as well. Countries still have challenges to really understand the challenge and size they will face. A serious wake-up call happen at some stage, and assist them to cope. The country will go through different stages; Denial, - etc.”

R#7 “Definitely seen. Botswana for example. SD docs were written. Send it to them and send it to them. It was hard for them as they did not have the context and reference point. Explain info as if it is the first time they see it irrespective of how many times it has been sent. This is done indefinitely”

R#8 “Yes. Countries coming in cold do not have the right understanding. It is crucial we do a flight plan and walk through with them asap, to get them to understand the various component and get the right understanding.”

R#9 Examples: Bots Want an integrated plan… no flight plan shared. From Country we are seen as not being as organized as we should be. From center to Country we also have expectations on them which is also not there. Nobody is aligned, not necessarily miss communications, but due to speed and size of the program. Inside and outside track. Communications always takes time.”

R#10 “Nigeria, Namibia, Uganda – we have already engaged other countries. But each country is different and we need to look at all of them separately. Had sessions with Botswana and Uganda there were hard issues to understand each other. They do not understand each other. They have preconceived ideas about the other African Countries. The needs are different for different cultures and people.”

4.2.7 What according to you are the reasons for these challenges?

R#1 suggested that taking the steps of 1) “Communications,” 2) “Adaptor,” and 3) “Implementation” would be helpful. R#1 also noted that “previous experience and knowledge creates common ‘jargon’” that helps employees communicate with each other.

R#3 “Knowledge, style of communications, and ability to adapt communications styles. Do a “soft landing” creating a framework for communications (commonality), this assists with future communications and details as there is a common understanding and purpose.”

R#5 “Resource leaving”

R#7 “Assume people are on the same level and have the same understanding”

R#8 “Not communicated earlier. Walk then run through it and assume they do not know anything. From infrastructure they built an introduction pack and slides taking countries through the basics.”

R#10 “Background and personal challenges.”

4.2.8 In your view, how can these communication challenges be addressed?

R#1 said that “involvement from the Country is needed as soon as possible because there are no clear communications for the deployment of a roadmap and there are not communications on reasons for reshuffling (on projects) and delays. R#1 was also unhappy that there is “no visionary work.”

R#3 “Creating common base, keep stakeholders on the same page with the goals and information required. Like sessions les currently is doing (setting program expectations). And allow people to prepare before the time.”

R#5 “Teams sitting together and documentation at the meetings”

R#6 “We have to encourage country ownership and take this approach.”

R#7 “Communications must be reduced to a basic level”

R#8 “Presentation packages, walk through with all parties. Identify correct people in the country. Training. We can take people from future countries and place them in countries going live, but as there are skills shortages the program is doing the opposite at present.”

R#10 “We need more personal relationships; technology components are easy. Change management is the bigger challenge.”

4.2.9 Do you believe there are limitations affecting you that other key parties (Country, Centre, Infosys), have not considered, which affect effective program communications?

R#1 agreed that this is “definitely an issue, I suggest that all communications are followed up with emails. When engaging people directly it is crucial to read other people’s body language. The body language differs per culture.”

R#3 India teams are a challenge. Ugandan’s move out of their comfort zone to understand what Indians understand. Example of driver communicating in past tense, but not affecting communications (can still get the valuable info), but not necessarily the way it is communicated.”

R#4 “Communication styles… define a structure and mechanism Frustrations and misunderstanding of data supplied.

R#5 “Always. Engineer swings”

R#6 “Definitely. We talk in hieroglyphics and expect everyone to be up to speed. We talk past each other technical AND business. We have to be sensitive to it and cater the communications to the audience. Must create an environment where people can ask questions, without feeling silly. We do not appreciate each other and challenges; everybody is only focussing on their own. Intercommunications between internal teams is also a challenge. Why surprises happen. Communications challenges in hierarchy. Town halls are not necessarily effective. Communication sessions currently in place is not always good. Cannot substitute for one-on-one discussions. Keeping our ears closer to the ground. And understand what makes people tick and to know them even outside the work environment. The whole individual, (studies, family)”

R#7 “Must spend time in India to resolve this. Same as in country. Namibia to understand how they think. Approach problems and when they get stuck, and on what they get stuck. Allow us to resolve issues quickly, their frame of reference was crucial even after the trip. It made communications more effective. Limited to face communications. Telecommunications – cannot understand what they say. Do not expect it to resolve issues.”

R#8 “From technical perspective no major challenge. Relationships already established in previous implementations. (Country to SA). From Infosys side more of a challenge as resources are rotated, and hand over not always done to acceptable levels. As now make sure there are proper handovers by implementing a forced hand over between Infosys resources for 1 month.”

R#9 “Less cultural language issues. More issue operating in different places. Because of the pace we are working we are making these assumptions and we communicate to fast, instead of going into each level of detail. We need to assess when we need to go to the detail, otherwise there will be drag. Risk management and associated speed and communications. System of triangulation, Reemphasize the communications, and that is the safety net. Post conversation: Minutes after, Detail design”

R#10 “A lot. Depend on resources on resources. More senior and resources that have previous exposure helps, or you need an entrepreneur. Client facing resources and resources in background, and IT resources have challenges when client facing resources are not available. Africa countries, the accent and understanding was more challenging. Face to face session make it possible to understand voice calls better.”

4.2.10 In your view, what is the impact of these on the success of the program and how would you evaluate it?

R#1” The biggest issue is communications.”

R#3 “Information communications breakdown the right things cannot be done and we will move in the incorrect direction “.

R#5 Cost and schedule impacts, and management challenges around the grizzlies Experienced everywhere. Across all countries; do proper walk through.”

R#7 “Saves costs. Understand the product, and speak to them off a base. And understanding the product better than they do”

R#8 “Time delays = costs. Errors in implementation that then require rework”

4.2.11 What according to you are the reasons for these challenges?

R#1 suggested that “the reasons for these challenges are: (a) not enough people and (b) tight timeframes. The above causes people to get too busy, or forget to communicate, relay, or share information. It is crucial to include all parties in the planning phase. Roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined up front, and action items and planning is not done to a detailed enough level. The plans must also include the country resources tasks and incorporate their views and challenges.”

R#4 “Conflict, frustration lack of progress”

R#8 “Communications and changing of resources. What is helping infrastructure is the detailed planning sessions, and the hardware components are common. More time is spent on planning and designs are valuable to align teams.”

4.2.12 How can the program address these communication challenges?

R#1 shared that “There are resource constraints in country. These resources are also having a dependency between various streams, affecting their availability. Planning seldom take this limitation into consideration. Let Country resources take ownership of running sessions. Decisions made in Centre and on top management do not filter down. These place resources in difficult situations (because) they are not aligned, and often feel embarrassed.”

R#3 Start that the focus should be on a common goal, and building the social interactions. Build the relationships and ability to “understand” each other from all aspects including language barriers.

Mix of teams from Country and Centre.”

R#4 “More communications, offline and online, the more time is spent together in a common location. Same challenges in India, body language (shaking head), concern around the feelings of others, feel stupid, afraid of rejection. Ask people to come as one-on-one to ask question or concerns.”

R#6 Large team of very clever people and intense about what they do. And not good at soft skills, communications are about getting the job done, and must be balanced by introducing more people skills. In-countries have variety of silent assassins (he agrees and does nothing) and Nigeria is the opposite. They are not malicious. Communications gap from sponsor to team. And levels of confidence are not built (Andre du Plessis). And disconnect between technical and business. Because Andre is in business they will have more leverage. Not enough air cover of senior people. Fear of retribution and the ability to deliver.”

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R#7 “Now will be more a country focus. Not really and Infosys challenges anymore. We figured it out because we had a bunch of matured people. Have to be the adult sometimes. Provide a platform for feedback regardless. Get country involved as early as possible. Two aspects: (a) person with knowledge but cultural shortfall or (b) person with cultural knowledge with knowledge shortfall. We have a bigger challenge with the first. Country has cultural knowledge but not the system as it sits in centre. Engage country earlier. Send team, working with country, to country for a week to understand cultural gaps and vice versa. The more country guys we can get to centre the better as Country needs to take ownership.”

R#8 “Joint planning sessions and joint design session. Early identification of team members and their roles”.

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