What's in it for us?


Melissa Herkt
is president of Emerson Process
Systems & Solutions, an
automation systems provider in
Austin, Texas, USA.


Project management is not an ancillary responsibility but rather a profession that requires skills distinct from normal line management. To capitalize on these skills, Emerson Process Systems & Solutions created a global project management office in August 2005. The goal was to implement best practices in project delivery and transfer that knowledge across our worldwide operations in more than 85 countries.

Good project management is an insurance policy. It prevents project disasters.

The need for a common way of working arose five years ago when we began experiencing an upswing in our services business. After growing largely through acquisitions of engineering service provider companies that emphasized project management and delivery skills, we incorporated some of those methodologies to deliver our own services in a timely, standardized fashion.

Effective project management begins with an understanding of customer needs. Our job is to be aware of the technology across the process management business group and create a solution that meets those customer needs. We develop a feasible project plan, mobilize the necessary global resources and work with process domain experts to assess customer operations, define projects and calculate the ROI. From there, we deliver the solution, emphasizing quality, technical standards and performance metrics.

One thing we've learned is that in implementing business change, people must be able to recognize their original work in the final operation. I call this practice WIFM, “What's In It for Me?” To ensure a smooth cultural transition, there has to be something in it for everybody, whether it's helping team members automate a process or facilitating monthly reporting with a new tool. Buy-in to our change was supported by the development of virtual teams-subject matter experts representing best practices from all parts of our organization selected the set of standards we now use around the world. These people have the recognized expertise that inspires confidence, creating a liftoff for our business change process. The change is then sustained through training and communications, such as webcasts, to share success stories.

Good project management is an insurance policy. It prevents project disasters. For me, project management is about predicting the future in time to do something about it. Further, minimizing variability is a project management and Six Sigma concept that enables the move toward best-in-class performance. Without these concepts, we wouldn't be able to deliver what our customers demand: predictable project cost, schedule and quality. PM

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