At ASM, we implement project management standards in every European Union project we acquire at the international level, within the framework of the European Union’s Horizon Europe Program, which is the largest in the Union’s history in terms of scientific research and innovation.
Managing EU research projects is a comprehensive process that includes planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling the activities of research teams working on an international scale. This type of management requires consideration of various factors, such as cultural, linguistic, legal, and technical differences.
International projects are most often implemented in cooperation with entities from different countries as part of a consortium managed by a project coordinator, whose primary task is to ensure the project is carried out according to the grant agreement with the European Commission. This coordinator is supported in project management and the implementation of substantive activities by a qualified multi-disciplinary staff. Besides managing the EU project, ASM is responsible for conducting all kinds of market, social, marketing, and biometric research, as well as business strategies related to product commercialization, promotion, and entry into specific target markets.
Here are some key aspects of managing international research projects:
At the project proposal preparation stage:
- Defining the objectives and scope of the project.
- Identifying key research issues and describing the research methodology.
- Creating an action timeline (Gantt chart) and visualizing dependencies between tasks in the project (Pert chart).
- Developing a budget.
- Identifying potential project-related risks.
- Creating a diverse team with partners from different countries.
- Managing cultural and linguistic differences.
During project implementation:
Finance and Budget:
- Managing project finances, taking into account differences in international costs.
- Financial controlling – meticulous monitoring of the project budget.
- Preparing financial reports on the project implementation, sending them to the European Commission, and final settlement.
- Building trust and effective communication between team members.
- Establishing an effective communication system between research teams.
- Taking cultural differences into account in communication.
- Ongoing communication with the funding institution – the European Commission.
Law and Regulations:
- Understanding and adhering to local and international laws and regulations.
- Establishing agreements and understandings between project partners and the European Commission.
- Developing a document related to quality maintenance in the project, including setting quality standards in terms of technical, substantive, ethical aspects, and data management norms and procedures.
- Regular monitoring of project progress and research processes to ensure work is carried out according to established standards and to quickly detect potential quality-related issues.
- Effective management of research data, which requires meticulous tracking, documenting, and storing data according to established norms and procedures.
- Ensuring high-quality publications and final reports by implementing appropriate preparation and verification procedures.
Change and Risk Management:
- Developing a risk management strategy and taking preventive actions.
- Monitoring risks associated with the project.
- Identifying, planning, implementing, and controlling changes in the project (e.g., in terms of schedule, budget, resources, technology, procedures, or other significant elements).
Technology and Innovation:
- Ensuring access to necessary technologies and resources.
- Promoting innovation and technology transfer between project partners and among other partnerships and initiatives implementing projects on similar topics.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
- Regular internal monitoring of project progress.
- Preparing substantive reports on project implementation and sending them to the European Commission.
- Evaluating the project and adjusting the project plan if necessary.
There are many different project management methodologies, each with its unique approach and application depending on the type of project, its scale, and industry specificity. However, in international projects, we are increasingly implementing hybrid solutions, particularly combining the Waterfall methodology, which provides a general structure for well-understood, predictive aspects of the project, with the Agile methodology, whose techniques are used for iterative, more unpredictable elements of the project, e.g., in projects containing IT components.
Managing international research projects is a challenge that requires flexibility, problem-solving skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to work in a team composed of people from different cultures and specializations. Effective project management through the implementation of developed methods and project management tools and good international cooperation is crucial for achieving research objectives and project success.