When France's Alcatel and U.S.-based Lucent Technologies merged in 2006, one of the priorities was bringing together the two telecommunications companies' disparate project management career development paths.
Rather than favoring one plan over another and imposing it all on project professionals, the newly formed Paris, France-based company created an integration team to determine the best practices from each organization. The team then used those best practices to create a new professional development framework for project managers.
“The idea is to help people advance in project management, and to advance project management inside and outside the company,” says Rich Maltzman, PMP, senior manager, learning and professional development, in Alcatel-Lucent's global program management office. “It is crucial to recognize that improved project execution will result in a competitive advantage and improve customer satisfaction.”
Under the program, unveiled in July 2007, project professionals can be designated as:
- Project managers
- Senior project managers
- General project managers
- Senior general project managers.
Managers initially assign individuals to categories based on their training and experience, as well as the nature of the projects they manage. Each job profile is spelled out in terms of the competencies required—with precise definitions of what each competency means—and the euro or dollar value of the projects people should be involved with for each job.
To obtain recognition as a senior project manager, for example, a person must obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential and work on projects of a certain size and complexity. Those designated general project managers are honored at an accreditation ceremony in Paris each year, says Mr. Maltzman, who is based in Westford, Massachusetts, USA.
“In both companies, [career paths] were somewhat esoteric [before the rollout],” he says. With four clear-cut job profiles, project professionals know the training and experience needed to advance their careers, “as opposed to wandering through courses on project management and general management.”
With one system in place, it is also easier for project professionals to move among regions. “A general project manager in region one would do the same kind of work as a general project manager in region two,” Mr. Maltzman says.
PHOTO BY SHAWN G. HENRY
Leadership 2008 / www.pmi.org