Project Manager

7 Tips to Avoid Failure as an International Project Coordinator / Dispatcher



The 7 tips I share below are based on my own professional experience, I hope you find them useful.  

As an international project coordinator, I manage technicians remotely which perform on-site installations of switches, routers, cabling, racks, Wi-Fi, cameras for retail and network troubleshooting.

Why 7 tips?


I’ve picked 7 because I like “seven”, it’s a powerful number, seven “days a week”, seven seas, seven continents, seven colors of the rainbow, 7 also sounds “official”, and smart, and even cool like “007”

Let’s check one by one these 7 important points: 

1. Master and communicate the scope

You need to know all the important requirements, starting from the “scope of work”, including tasks and deliverables as a key part when starting  to plan your project, clearly communicate all aspects of the project to the technician-s and other parties involved, including the customer.

The Coordinator can easily provide guidance on the tasks to onsite engineers when he/she possesses the right visions. 

Network technician working in a datacenter or server room

2. Document

 Everything must be in written. Use an intervention form (Work Order) that contains all required information for the technician performing the work. The form should contain: Date & time, address, tasks, deliverables, tools required for the job, software required, remote contacts, local contact who can authorize the technician to leave the site after the job has been completed and verified, and provide a place for the customer to sign… “super important!”.

3. Customer involvement

The dispatcher has to clearly communicate to the customer -what is expected from him to ensure an optimal and successful intervention-. Often the dispatcher and technician have all information related to the job sometimes however they do not communicate accordingly with the customer… “a potential recipe for disaster!”

Two typical cases: 

  1. A customer is not aware that he has to give access to the technician (to the IT Room or to a particular rack), this results in the technician wasting time until access is granted.
  2. Customer is not aware of the arrival time of the technician. This is potentially damaging for everyone involved as small jobs depend on a limited budget, time wasted is potentially billable. To avoid this situation, communicate with your customer the technician’s expected time of arrival ETA and what is required of him/her for the project or intervention to be successful and minimize impact on time/budget. Time is money!

4. Communicate with all parties before & during the job 

Successful communication will pave the way for a “flawless” intervention. You must properly communicate and clearly provide the required information and expectations to all parties involved including, team members- third party providers (e.g. Telecom company), about any incoming dispatch, this will ensure that the onsite technician gets the required support needed to accomplish his job and help to identify any possible hurdles in advance. It is also good to double check on availability and send periodic reminders before the job starts and during the intervention ensuring everyone involved in the process is kept up to date. It is important to be aware of the different time zones when setting up conferences. ….

Project manager overwhelmed

    Project manager communicating project details

”Communication is an ongoing process which can takes over 50% of the project coordinator’s time”

5. Ask help when needed, don’t panic!

2 minds are better than one!, if a problem arises make sure you seek help from another peer or from your manager. It is always important to remain  calm when dealing with issues involving customers, partners and technicians. You will need to gain as much information as possible to provide a clear picture and discuss it within your team. In most cases a solution is found within your team without the need for escalation or unnecessarily getting the customer involved (PMP).

6. Evaluate Risk  

Ask yourself… What can go wrong?….  Following the 4 points above will help you reduce unwanted scenarios.  

Come up with a contingency plan for risks, always have a “plan B” for including different scenarios e.g. a, b, c, and how to deal with them.

For those using Prince2 there may be a “learn from experience” 

For those using PMP/PMI, the key phrase to check for is “Lessons learned”  while the names are different the principles are the same, based on past experiences of what when wrong in previous projects and how to prepare for it. 

For the risks you do not know or cannot plan for, it is good practice to allocate potentially needed resources and budget. Keep your eyes focused and your team who may be able to resolve issues on the spot.

7. Submit a good report

As we recommended on the first bullet point, document everything. Make sure you complete a report and send it to the customer after the visit including a summary of the visit, the actions performed, deliverables, and the resolution. This report ensures that you have completed your intervention in a professional manner. You can “close the ticket”…. go home and take a break. Good job!

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