|Part of the Solution
Four global professionals
reveal how they have become better problem-solvers since
earning the Project Management Professional (PMP®)
obtaining the PMP credential in 2003, Suhail Iqbal has received
frequent requests for advice from his colleagues. Luckily,
Mr. Iqbal says, the skills he learned during the PMP certification
process—and from studying the PMBOK® Guide—taught
him to step back and look at problems from a clearer vantage
Recently, when asked for guidance on a troubled construction
project, Mr. Iqbal took a closer look at the various process
groups and knowledge areas to assess how things should have
been done versus how they were actually being done. “We
were, in a way, doing the variance analysis between the two
approaches, and that led us to the key errors and omissions,” he
After spelling out what had been done incorrectly on the
project thus far, Mr. Iqbal and his colleague were able to
determine the best ways to control the damage and find the
shortest route to success.
“The solution we finally came up with was very logical,
methodological, and was a surety for getting us out of trouble,” Mr.
Iqbal says. “Understanding and following the PMBOK® Guide has
made me more proactive, thus [able] to plan for contingencies
in the future, which I would otherwise have never considered
|Europe, Middle East and Africa
Profile: Theofanis C. Giotis, PMP, co-founder, CEO, CTO, president of PMI Athens, Greece Chapter
Company: ITEC Solutions SA, Athens, Greece
Quick Take: Pick your battles: It's important to have proven strategies for dealing with problems, and to also know which problems to focus your attention on and when.
PMP credential holders can focus on stakeholder interests and use proactive risk management to prevent problems from happening in the first place, says Theofanis Giotis, PMP. “The
PMP drives you to use proactive risk management in order
to identify and eliminate as many potential threats to the
project as possible, and then to reduce the negative impact
of the remaining threats on the project,” Mr. Giotis
In June 2006, Mr. Giotis was faced with a difficult problem
while working on a project that entailed moving 2,000 users
from one e-mail system to another. It became clear from
the beginning that the two systems were not communicating
correctly. So, Mr. Giotis took a proactive approach, creating
a schedule that called for moving addresses in small chunks, as
opposed to moving them all over at once. When initial problems
arose, his team was able to move all e-mail addresses back
to the old system while the technical glitches with the
new system were being fixed.
“Without the PMP certification, I wouldn’t
be able to do proper risk management and adequate problem
solving. I wouldn’t be able to develop fallback plans
and effective contingency plans,” Mr. Giotis says. “That’s
why gaining [the PMP] was a significant milestone in my
For Myles Lawless, the most important question a PMP credential
holder can ask is, “Why are we doing this project?” Too
often, he says, project managers get so caught up in the
daily details of their work that they fail to fully understand
the business objectives of their projects.
When Mr. Lawless took over an internal project management
program for Roche Global Informatics in June 2005, he quickly
realized that many of the company’s projects shared
similar goals: improve the organization’s overall project
success rate and build project capabilities. The problem?
No one had developed a plan to integrate all of Roche’s
projects and capitalize on potential synergies.
To get the projects back on track, Mr. Lawless returned
to the lessons he had learned years before when studying
the PMBOK® Guide before his PMP certification
exam. “Based upon guidance provided in the PMBOK® Guide,
we conducted stakeholder interviews—talking with the
project sponsor, senior management and future users of the
Now guided by this stakeholder input, Mr. Lawless was able to identify, and begin integrating, six key components—namely training—that crossed all of the organization's project management areas. By leveraging a PMI-recognized training provider rather than creating its own internal training, Mr. Lawless says Roche provided consistent, quality training.
Luz Montejano Alonso, PMP, has spent a portion of her career
managing large-scale industrial construction projects in
Mexico City, Mexico. One project in particular—the
remodeling of a detergent facility—faced some challenges.
For one, production at the plant continued while construction
was taking place. Not to mention that the project was planned
and developed in the United States, with little to no consideration
for the local conditions.
When the project’s scope continued to grow and change
with each passing stakeholder request, Ms. Alonso had one
solution in mind: create a project management office (PMO).
this instance, a local [PMO] had to be set up to completely
customize the project plan to deal with local conditions.
The PMO organized, authorized and monitored the scope, time,
cost and quality.”
Aside from customizing and organizing the project plan,
the new PMO also helped establish methodologies for request
submissions and communication, which were then used throughout
the project’s life span. In the end, the project was
delivered on time and the company was able to launch its
product before a direct competitor—translating to a
larger market share and a commercial advantage.
“Prior to obtaining my PMP credential, I didn’t
apply the guidelines in the PMBOK® Guide to
plan and control projects using of all the tools and techniques
that I currently employ,” Ms. Alonso says. “I’m
really happy now and feel comfortable because all the knowledge
that I have [as a PMP] will improve my development in projects.”