A group of Drexel LeBow undergraduate students made some new friends both near and far during an MIS outsourcing class that connected them with students at Pennsylvania State University’s Mont Alto campus, between Chambersburg and Gettysburg, and at Ahmedabad University in Gujarat, India.
The course, MIS 347 – Domestic and Global Information Systems Outsourcing, required the students at all three sites to collaborate to create deliverables, including project management dashboards and social media platforms.
The students worked in teams of eight to complete the projects for their clients: teams Global Dragons and Ready Solutions created projects for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office; Team Legacy and Team Alpha created projects for consulting firm Grant Thorton.
The students learned firsthand that coordinating project deadlines with professionals abroad can be difficult due to language and cultural barriers and time-zone differences. For one team, deadlines were missed due to circumstances that LeBow students were unaware of when assigning deadlines – for example, the Indian students did not have access to their University facilities on the weekends. Server crashes and other technology-related problems, such as issues with Skype, also caused deadlines to be missed.
Drexel students who worked with the students at Penn State reported that even without language or cultural barriers, setting up times was still challenging due to busy schedules.
“This class has taught us the necessity of building trust-driven relationships, and then reinforcing this bond with regular communications that provide accurate progress descriptions,” says student Michael Krystofinski. “We have learned to deal with real-world problems associated with setbacks in a project’s development.”
Student Sarah Mathew says the experience proved useful during a recent co-op interview, where she was asked what to do in a scenario where someone else missed a deadline. “After taking this class, I knew the right answer was ‘don’t panic.’” Samir Shah, Ph.D., associate clinical professor of management, who developed and taught the course, says he knows of at least two students in his class who talked about it during recent co-op interviews – and both landed the co-ops they wanted.
The projects culminated with a presentation and the delivery of the students’ deliverables to their clients on March 11. The students’ counterparts in India and Mont Alto joined in the presentation live via videoconferencing.
A representative from the Governor’s Office who attended the presentation said she was delighted to see functionality in the dashboard that was delivered to her beyond the scope of the project request. “Just so you know,” she told the students, “we have clients asking for these same products, so this project was very much a real-world experience.”