Project Management Institute

A new chapter


photo by ŁUKASZ KRÓL

Seweryn J. Spalek,

Ph.D., is chief project officer of Helion S.A., a Gliwice, Poland-based publisher of IT and modern business concept books.

A New Chapter

Four years ago, Helion S.A. started expanding. Primarily known as a publisher of computer books, we wanted to break into the modern business genre. This expansion of titles meant more work and more clients and made improvements to the company's overall organizational culture a necessity.

The decision was made to introduce project management principles into the company. An organizational change project was planned and implemented after approval from the board. The primary goal of the project was to align the company's strategic objectives with its operational and financial objectives. We also wanted to take the company from a functional to a composite organization, which gives us greater flexibility in running different kinds of projects.

Our approach to project management was designed during a six-month planning phase. Actual implementation took only 16 weeks. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) was, and still is, the basic set of rules on which the system works.

By introducing project management principles into the company's organizational culture, Helion has seen significant improvements.

One of our main challenges is to build an IT system that supports work on both a strategic and a day-to-day basis. Right now we're in the process of improving the system so we can share knowledge from past projects and continuously improve and develop current ones.

Helion's new structure is based in portfolio management with project management office principles that provide both support for project managers and strategic direction for the board.

We now operate in a multi-project environment with different levels of complexity, scope, budget and schedule. This provides Helion with substantial hands-on knowledge of project management benefits.

And the benefits have been substantial. By introducing project management principles into the company's organizational culture, Helion has seen significant improvements, including:

  • A 20 percent reduction in operational costs
  • An increase of 60 percent in the market share of computer books
  • An increase in new publications to 400 per annum— or an average of two new titles every working day
  • A 30 percent reduction in the amount of time it takes to launch a book.

By building up the company's position in the modern business niche, we have created a brand image in a potentially lucrative market and undercut our competitors' share of the industry. And we've managed to do it in a short time. We also are able to exceed client expectations by offering them a more professional, higher quality product. None of these activities would have been possible without the use of the project management principles that now operate within the organization. PM

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