Project Management Institute

Intel, Chandler, Arizona, USA

CHANDLER, ARIZONA, USA

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Deborah Meyer, PMP and Kelly Stinson, PMP, Intel

PHOTO BY KAREN SHELL

A peek in side Intel reveals a project team empowered to get the company up to speed.

INTEL SELLS SPEED.

Staking its claim as the world's largest semiconductor company, it's out to make computers run faster. But Intel's back-end processes weren't quite living up to the company's mantra of “better, faster, cheaper.”

In October 2007, the company launched a project aimed squarely at changing that. To get there, Kelly Stinson, PMP, program manager at Intel, was charged with a multimillion-dollar initiative to convert all existing data from Intel and its supply chain partners to a predefined standard.

A worthy strategy, certainly, but Ms. Stinson couldn't tackle it alone.

She turned over the initiative to Deborah Meyer, PMP, a project manager based in the same office. Ms. Meyer, in turn, passed on parts of the project to other team members. Success would ultimately depend on the delegation acumen of both project leaders.

“As the project manager, I can't do what everyone else can, so I have to trust people to be experts and do their jobs well,” Ms. Meyer says.

But that meant parts of the project would be shipped off to team members across the United States, China, Malaysia, Costa Rica and India.

“We're a global company and we don't draw walls,” she says. “We pick our best available people who have the right skill set and assign them to projects. So most of our teams are diverse and scattered across the globe.”

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I was visible on this project even though I was working from a different country. When each phase ended, the project manager recognized me for my achievements.

—Mageswary Jaiballan, Intel, Penang, Malaysia

THE STARS COME OUT

To maintain control of the project while also giving people freedom, Ms. Meyer relied on frequent communication and a sound project structure. She stated her expectations about roles and responsibilities at the beginning of the project and managed the team according to those expectations.

One team member who consistently exceeded expectations was Mageswary Jaiballan, instructional designer at Intel's site in Penang, Malaysia. Based on past project experience, Ms. Meyer knew Ms. Jaiballan was capable of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating employee training material—and that was just what the project needed.

“Training is key to customer acceptance, so it had to go over well, have the right information clearly presented and be easily available online,” Ms. Meyer says.

For the project to work, though, Ms. Jaiballan was going to have to conquer time-zone issues. To accommodate global schedules and maintain work-life balance as much as possible, team members alternated meeting times.

“The pain was shared as a group but at the end of the day, it worked very well and seemed to be the most fair solution for everyone involved,” Ms. Jaiballan says.

Establishing that sense of fairness from the ground up helped foster a bond among the team members—including Ms. Meyer. Just because she'd delegated part of the project didn't mean she wasn't involved.

“We had some people who straddled time zones and I was doing that as well, because I feel it's important that, as a leader, I show solidarity and show that I wouldn't ask the team to do something I would not,” she says.

But Ms. Meyer also left Ms. Jaiballan in charge of setting her own timelines and deadlines.

“I had the freedom to request meeting slots whenever I needed to present ideas to the team,” Ms. Jaiballan says. “I was visible on this project even though I was working from a different country. When each phase ended, the project manager recognized me for my achievements.”

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As the project manager, I can't do what everyone else can, so I have to trust people to be experts and do their jobs well.   —Deborah Meyer, PMP

EMBRACING THE NEW

When Ms. Jaiballan met with stakeholders to present and secure approval for the training plan, the result was impressive to both Ms. Meyer and the company as a whole.

“The stakeholders were amazed, and I was astonished,” Ms. Meyer says. “I have rarely worked with a training lead that could work so well so independently.”

For Ms. Jaiballan, the project served as a way to build her skills and inspired her to keep working toward her Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification.

And having Ms. Jaiballan take on the training tasks let Ms. Meyer focus on reducing redundancies in the data approval and entry processes. At the project's onset, Ms. Meyer looked at the process flow and clearly saw that lowering the number of approvals and making a change in data ownership would streamline the overall process.

But it was less obvious to others.

“Getting the various business units to come to the table and agree to changes was a challenge,” Ms. Meyer says. “The people who had been engaged in a certain way of thinking about the process were more reluctant to change.”

By facilitating requirements gathering and process re-engineering sessions, the team worked together to influence key stakeholders. In the end, six of the 15 required steps were removed, reducing the data-entry cycle from two or three days to one hour.

“We were also able to eliminate the equivalent of one person's time worth of non-value-added data-entry tasks,” Ms. Meyer says. “Now those impacted can put greater focus on the more important tasks.”

In the end, the team reached Ms. Stinson's initial goal of processing more data in the same amount of time and avoiding bottlenecks—without hiring additional people.

All it took was some delegating.

—Libby Ellis

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK DECEMBER 2008 WWW.PMI.ORG
DECEMBER 2008 PM NETWORK

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