Built to scale


Howard Bruck, PMP, is CIO of Hudson Valley Bank, Yonkers, N.Y., USA.



To stay a contender in the competitive New York, USA, commercial banking market, Hudson Valley Bank (HVB) is increasingly challenged to expand and upgrade our products and services. Implementing these products and services requires the deployment of sophisticated technology, interaction with multiple third-party providers and reengineering of internal operations. As HVB launches these initiatives, we are tapping into more robust program and project management practices.

Because we are a mid-sized company, each project investment has a significant impact on the organization. With so many important projects, we must evaluate the financial benefits, strategic urgency and execution risks of each one. We have recently introduced a more formal program management process to ensure the organization is fully aligned to meet the identified goals.

Every month, a senior management committee meets to review, evaluate and prioritize the project queue. Each candidate initiative is evaluated against competing projects using criteria such as strategic importance, current market demand and internal financial value. Equally important, these meetings ensure all the relevant department heads have the same expectations. A quarterly board-level committee provides ultimate decision-making policy and direction.

One of the primary benefits derived from our program management approach is the ability to obtain unambiguous direction from the executive management team. Having that clear course of action ensures the company's resources are all moving toward the same goals and that project management strategy is aligned with corporate objectives.

The board of directors and senior management recognize the value of program and project management because they see a better orchestrated approach delivering completed projects with the timeframe, budget and quality they expect.

Once HVB established its process for lining up various initiatives for implementation, we turned our attention to the projects themselves. This increased emphasis is being managed primarily from the technology department, but management is encouraging the broader organization to actively embrace the project management approach, too. Because many of our projects involve vendors, we have increased our focus on detailed project management to properly select vendors and monitor the execution of our initiatives.

Without the resources of a large company, mid-tier firms need highly efficient management practices. Our approach to program and project management is to use a methodology that works within our scale and, just as importantly, within our culture. We use a streamlined set of project management tools and techniques that our teams understand, and which directly drive action and results.

One of our most effective tools is a one-page status dashboard produced weekly for each project. This document is distributed to key stakeholders and identifies the current set of activities, the people responsible, the known risks and any significant deviations from the project plan.

Our approach to project management facilitated its adoption by matching the value derived with the additional effort required to implement. By tailoring our methodology to our company's size and culture, we're able to keep projects on track and demonstrate the value of project management. PM




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