Project Management Institute

Flight patterns

FROM THE TOP

Robert Majure, Honeywell Aerospace, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

In his 25 years at Honeywell Aerospace, Robert Majure has relied on rigorous project management methodology to get projects off the ground—literally.

“In the aerospace industry, doing things on time and on budget is the price to play,” says Mr. Majure, senior program manager for the company's aerospace core programs. “If you can't do that, you aren't considered a valuable player.”

He encourages innovation and even a little swagger—all while keeping an eye on the changing project landscape.

“We believe strong project management is the only way to get things done,” Mr. Majure says. “In this business and in this economy, people's careers depend on it.”

Why is project management important to Honeywell Aerospace?

The products we sell have complex development cycles that require participation by multiple functional departments, approval from the customer and regulatory agencies, tailoring to specific aircraft and vehicle platforms, and critical completion dates—all of which has to be done while synchronizing the effort with available development budgets.

The complexity of this type of effort requires strong project management methodologies, including carefully crafted work breakdown structures, detailed scheduling, earned value management and robust risk management.

I try to encourage an
edgy, performance-
oriented culture—
one where team
members push each
other to succeed so
they can be part of a
winning program
and have a bit of a
swagger
that comes
with a job well done.

How do you combine that kind of structure with the need for innovative design strategies?

Rarely do we have a straightforward project where we do not have issues that require creativity. I encourage innovation throughout a project but I also insist on rigorous scope control. I embed the life-cycle phases into the work breakdown structure so it becomes very clear what work is required in each phase. With this process, we can vet a new idea by modeling the change to see its impact on cost or schedule.

I also encourage the project team to understand the go-to-market requirements and financial expectations of the new product. Success for us is not just meeting a schedule milestone but also achieving commercial or economic success.

How has strong project management helped Honeywell weather the bad economy?

Robust project management practices help us be nimble. Our program plans are dynamic so we can constantly adjust to our circumstances and changes in our customers’ plans. This approach has helped us maintain customer commitments and deliver on financial targets while minimizing layoffs.

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What are the most valuable lessons you've learned while managing projects at Honeywell?

There are the obvious lessons for any experienced program manager: Plan well, look for the killer issues early and get those resolved or defined, have a bias for action and encourage transparency with the team. You don't ever want to punish the messenger or they will never tell you bad news again—and a program manager cannot manage without the truth.

I try to encourage an edgy, performance-oriented culture—one where team members push each other to succeed so they can be part of a winning program and have a bit of a swagger that comes with a job well done. PM

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.

NOVEMBER 2009 PM NETWORK

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