Project Management Institute

Leveraging project management expertise globally

BY MARISSA PETERSON

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Marissa Peterson brings more than 20 years' experience to her roles as Sun Microsystems' chief customer advocate (CCA) and executive vice president of worldwide operations. As CCA, Peterson works across organizational boundaries to drive a “customer first” focus throughout the company and to prevent and resolve customer issues at an executive level. Sun Microsystems Inc. is a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services.

With more than 35,000 employees in 100 countries, Sun Microsystems is performing project management on a truly global scale. We're challenged to define project management “best practices,” leverage the work of hundreds of project management experts around the world and in every part of the organization, and develop processes for ensuring repeatable, measurable project management that adds value to what we do.

Within Sun's Services organization, Sun Professional Services has responsibility for developing internal project management expertise. Sun Professional Services has a network of approximately 500 project management leaders and coordinates the development of best practices and continuous process improvement. They employ Sun Sigma, Sun's adaptation of the Six Sigma practices pioneered by Motorola in the 1970s.

Project management expertise within Sun Professional Services is organized around its primary competencies: the Project Management Performance Model, project quality activities, Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) and Sun Sigma Activities, and the Quality Feedback Loop.

The Project Management Performance Model is our tool for applying appropriate performance metrics. We continually refine the model in response to customer and stakeholder feedback and organizational changes; this monitoring allows us to take advantage of improved project management practices. We also build Sun Sigma quality processes into the model.

Everything we do must meet the customer's business needs while developing our project managers. Processes, best practices and tools exist only as a means to this end. Our project managers adhere to industry standard and Sun-specific project management methodologies and principles. All of the methodologies we employ are driven by three principles: customer business case, quality and risk management.

Our project managers use a variety of the “usual suspect” tools to enhance their performance. The latest addition to our tool chest is the implementation of accounting software and an automatically generated project management practices survey that triggers our customer loyalty survey.

Quality Startup, Delivery, Closure

Sun Professional Services is rolling out and perfecting our project quality activities based on the recent implementation of accounting software.

The customer feedback component has been online for several years, but the capability to generate the project management practices survey as a component of this is a huge step.

During startup, a Sun project manager is selected based on the skill sets required for the project. Quality assurance begins at project conception. The project manager works with the project team (which includes the customer) to develop a plan to measure the success of the project. During the course of delivery, the team evaluates project products as well as the project delivery against this plan.

Quality review checkpoints include document reviews and interviews with the team and the customer. Findings are recorded and appropriate corrective actions are taken based on the quality plan. (This information also becomes part of the quality feedback loop to the project manager, technical team and engineering.)

When the project is closed, a project management practices survey is generated, and the project manager answers questions about the project and best practices used. The completion of this survey triggers a Voice of the Customer survey that measures the CLI. An independent third-party firm manages this process.

About 250 CLI surveys are generated per quarter. The CLI survey program is supported by a Web-based application that offers survey design and maintenance, analysis, and reporting of CLI results.

Other project closure activities include creating a lessons-learned report and harvesting project management data for cleansing and reuse in our knowledge management system. This information also provides a component of our quality feedback loop.

CLI and Sigma Activities

Once the project closure activities are completed, the Project Management Expertise Center and Sun Professional Services Worldwide Quality Office analyze data from the project management practices survey and CLI responses. The outcome of this analysis may trigger a Sun Sigma quality initiative. The CLI and Sun Sigma activities provide improvement information to the Project Management Expertise Center.

Everything we do goes back to what we call the “Voice of the Customer,” which resonates loudest within Sun. The Project Management Performance Model is tied closely to quality and customer loyalty metrics, with numerous points for measurement and “course correction” to assure that we meet these metrics. The performance model, managed on a companywide basis by our 1,000-plus project management leaders, is a powerful tool for global project management. 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.

PM NETWORK | JANUARY 2003 | www.pmi.org

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