by Sarah Fister Gale
with additional reporting by Michelle Bowles, Kelley Hunsberger and Maureen Ryan
project professional who applies best practices within his or her organization can have a significant impact on the bottom line. But consider the amplified effect of project management when it's fully supported by the entire organization. The groups profiled here do just that, and are taking the profession a step further.
Ranging in industries and spanning the globe, these outstanding organizations have made project management a core component of their business. The for-profit, not-for-profit and governmental organizations spotlighted in the following pages have developed clearly defined career paths for project managers, pioneered best practices and demonstrated innovation in project management principles.
The call for nominations—which appeared in PM Network, in PMI Today®, on PMI.org, and in other publications and web outlets— began in May. The PM Network editorial team received a tremendous amount of applications from many noteworthy companies. And although those chosen to appear in this issue by no means represent a definitive list, they do offer a global snapshot of outstanding organizations in project management.
|Airports Company South Africa||South Africa||4|
|Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games||China||6|
|Central Federal Lands Highway Division||United States||23|
|Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation||Australia||12|
|Fluor Corp.||United States||18|
|Indra Sistemas S.A.||Spain||17|
|Intel Corp.||United States||20|
|MD Anderson Cancer Center||United States||13|
|Memphis Managed Care Corp.||United States||22|
|Missouri State Government||United States||16|
|Mutual of Omaha||United States||14|
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration||United States||8|
|Saudi Aramco||Saudi Arabia||14|
|TV Guide Interactive||United States||7|
|Workplace Technology Services||Canada||16|
Note: The order in which the profiles appear in the following pages is random and not indicative of a ranking.
WIPRO TECHNOLOGIES BANGALORE, INDIA
The 60,000 project staff members at Wipro Technologies probably thought they were finished with school when they entered the workplace. Not so—because when it comes to project management, the organization abides by the philosophy that learning should never end.
“Training and promoting future project managers at various levels within the organization assumes great significance in our business model, considering the rapid growth [we have] witnessed in the last three years,” says Venkat Subramanyam, PMP, general manager.
The company-certified Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI®) Level 5-has built a relationship with Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA, for an advanced program management course. So far, almost 100 employees have completed the program. Wipro is also partnering with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, to enhance its knowledge management capabilities.
Additionally, the company has an internal training program, the Project Management Academy, which offers potential project managers a series of focused courses on project management philosophy and methodology, including requirements management, project planning and monitoring, and risk management. “Not until the training is completed does a professional receive a project manager role,” Mr. Subramanyam says.
Junior project managers are also backed by mentoring facilitated by the supervisor to offer guidance and feedback on the job.
Wipro's investment in project management training is paying back dividends. The company demonstrates significant added value to its customers by reducing defects, decreasing schedule and effort variance, and increasing productivity, Mr. Subramanyam says.
Last year, productivity in fixed-price projects increased by 11 percent, and “bug fix” productivity-the number of fixes per person per week-improved by 25 percent. So far this year, 92 percent of executed projects had less than five percent schedule and effort variance. “Beyond doubt, project managers with requisite training, skills and prior experience have a positive correlation to the project success factors,” Mr. Subramanyam says.
“Beyond doubt, project managers with requisite training, skills and prior experience have a positive correlation to the project success factors.”
—Venkat Subramanyam, PMP, general manager
AIRPORTS COMPANY SOUTH AFRICA JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
With as many as 400,000 international visitors expected to flood into South Africa for the 2010 World Cup tournament, the pressure is on Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), owner and operator of the country's three international and seven domestic airports. But ACSA seems on track, thanks to its project management.
For more than 13 years, project management has been a top priority at the organization. In 1994, just a year after the company was established, top executives identified project management as a critical component to its growth and management of capital expenditure, says David Schoültz, group manager of the projects department at ACSA. “Project management receives full support from the board level. It is acknowledged at ACSA as core to the business to facilitate growth and development,” says Mr. Schoültz, who joined the company in 1995 as the first project manager of what was then called the Johannesburg International Airport (now O.R. Tambo International Airport).
To develop its own project management processes that would fit with its corporate policies, ACSA turned to both A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and to other airport management companies for guidance, he says.
Because ACSA encompasses 10 airports, a group manager project office exists to oversee all departments. Additionally, the company has created project management offices (PMOs) at its three international airports-O.R. Tambo, Cape Town International Airport and Durban International Airport. “Our [Durban] PMO is also managing developments at our six domestic airports,” Mr. Schoültz adds.
Within its PMO structure, the company has developed a clearly defined career path for its project management staff.
The path includes:
- Project administrators
- Computer-aided design administrators
- Project coordinators
- Project managers
- PMO manager (one per PMO)
- Group manager of projects (operating out of the corporate office).
“It is important to have a retention strategy for [project management] staff, as they have unique experience in the airport environment, which is very specialized,” Mr. Schoültz says.
And a committed, experienced and knowledgeable project workforce is even more vital today, as the company completes several high-profile projects. In preparation for the World Cup, ACSA is currently increasing the capacity of several airports’ terminal buildings, expanding international arrival and departure areas, and building new parking complexes.
“It is important to have a retention strategy for [project management] staff, as they have unique experience in the airport environment, which is very specialized.”
—David Schoültz, group manager of the projects department
AgênciaClick SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
Interactive advertising and online communications company AgênciaClick has spent the last five years driving project management skills and methodologies across the entire company-from the executive team down to all new hires. And the payoff has been big.
Since 2002, the company has seen revenues jump an astounding 132 percent and net profit increase from 1.8 percent to 17.4 percent, says Fabiano D'Agostinho, project manager and head of the company's project management office (PMO).
With those numbers, it's not surprising that London, England-based Aegis Group snapped up the agency.
“We realized the only way to manage multiple dynamic projects and deliver great products is to focus on project management,” he says. “One of the many reasons Aegis was interested in AgênciaClick is because of our strong methodology, and the tools and strategies we use to control our projects.”
Since the 2002 launch of the PMO, which aligns with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), AgênciaClick has offered project management training to employees at all levels, through both its corporate university-Click U-and a PMI® Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). And annually, the company chooses outstanding employees to receive specialized coaching and external training. These leaders are positioned by the company to rise up through the ranks with a deeper understanding of project management methodology.
Job candidates seeking employment with AgênciaClick's project management department must first complete an exam to be considered, even if they already possess a credential. “The company wants to be sure we are capable of understanding and applying project management strategies on very creative and technology-intensive projects,” Mr. D'Agostinho says.
from left, Fabiano D'Agostinho and Abel Reis
PHOTO BY PAULO FRIDMAN
“We realized the only way to manage multiple dynamic projects and deliver great products is to focus on project management.”
-Fabiano D'Agostinho, project manager and head of the PMO
On the job, employees regularly update a custom project tracking system, which automatically adjusts time and cost of the work performed. When they switch tasks or leave for the day, physical progress is calculated and an alert is sent out highlighting any schedule or cost issues. “By monitoring and controlling projects and programs more efficiently, senior managers can focus on issues within the portfolio that need more attention,” Mr. D'Agostinho says.
SERASA SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL
At Serasa, it's not just about doing projects right; it's about doing the right projects.
Since 2000, when the economic and financial analysis firm's project management office (PMO) was created, projects and portfolio status has been regularly analyzed by the board of directors. The group looks at potential new projects in the portfolio as well as changes in the budget, scope or deadline of existing projects.
”[As a result,] since there is more, better-quality information about proposed projects, as well as a criteria for approval by the board, the executives have better conditions to select and prioritize the portfolio,” says Maria Sol F. Marques da Silva, strategic planning and PMO manager, market dynamics and planning for Serasa.
The company has also aligned its methodologies with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and has applied best practices from PMI's Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®). This ensures there is a common language for project management within the company, Ms. Marques da Silva says. “There are now standard documents that must be fulfilled and milestones controlled by the PMO during the project life cycle,” she says.
Further, more than one-fourth of Serasa's 2,000 employees who deal with projects all receive training in the firm's project management best practices. All 100 project managers on staff must complete 60 hours of training with a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.).
Serasa is already reaping the rewards from its investment in project management. “We have noticed significant progress in deliverable quality and an improvement in the process of estimating closing dates and costs,” Ms. Marques da Silva says.
from left, Maria Sol F. Marques da Silva;
Renato Soto Vaz, PMP; Alessandra Rodrigues Almeida
“We have noticed significant progress in deliverable quality and an improvement in the process of estimating closing dates and costs.”
—Maria Sol F. Marques da Silva, strategic planning and PMO manager, market dynamics
And that success is garnering plenty of recognition. Recently, the company was invited to present the case study of how it implemented its PMO at such events as the PMI Global Congress 2006—Latin America and the VI Seminário Internacional de Gerenciamento de Projetos, organized by the PMI São Paulo, Brazil Chapter in 2006.
BEIJING ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Six years ago, when Beijing, China, was announced as the host city for the 29th Olympic Games, preparations immediately began. But the city faced a long list of complicated projects: construction on 12 new venues and eight temporary ones, the development of 264 kilometers of new roads, the improvement of Beijing's air and water quality, and the doubling of its public transportation system, including eight new subway lines.
“The whole preparation work contains thousands of projects in more than 50 functional areas,” says Lei Cao, PMP, project expert, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympics Games (BOCOG).
Less than a year to go until the games begin, BOCOG is making steady progress—and much of the credit can go to the project management principles implemented from the beginning.
Because stretching the deadline isn't an option, BOCOG places great emphasis on scheduling. “The project management department of BOCOG took project scheduling as the core of management, compiled comprehensive plans for the preparation work, and established sophisticated monitor and control mechanisms,” Ms. Cao says.
In addition, the committee uses a project management information system to compile plans and monitor schedules.
“The project management department of [Beijing Organizing Committee for the 29th Olympic Games] took project scheduling as the core of management …”
—Lei Cao, PMP, project expert
“It serves as a common platform for the communication and provided supporting information for the decision-making on the senior leadership,” she says.
The BOCOG also makes sure each functional area—venue construction, competition schedule, venue operation, power, finance, security, environment protection, human resources, medal ceremony, media services, etc.—has dedicated staff members responsible for project management.
Expanding the knowledge base of its project management staff has been a continuous goal. The project management department biannually offers fundamental and advanced training in project management. The committee has also hosted seminars on the requirements of different functional areas, and on the latest trends and technologies in project management.
“Through expanding the application of project management knowledge and improving our professional levels and techniques in project management, we are getting more and more experience with the preparation of the games,” Ms. Cao says.
TV Guide Interactive
TULSA, OKLAHOMA, USA
Convincing employees at TV Guide Interactive to view project management as a core business strategy required a serious change in programming.
“Before, people might have been called project managers, but they didn't embrace the methodology,” says Kris Reynolds, PMP, director of the company's brand-new project management office (PMO). “Now, senior management wants people to understand that everything they do is based in project management and has supported the change to get us there.”
So last year, Mr. Reynolds implemented a series of fun tools to educate the company about project management—and encourage a little friendly competition.
The PMO Board: Placed in a high-traffic area, the board displays hard-copy status on individual projects and quarterly success rates. “It's like a [fundraising telethon board], with red and green tacks to show what projects are on track and where the problems are,” he says. “It's caught the attention of many people outside the project management office.”
The Orientation Guide: Authored by the PMO, the guide briefs new hires and non-PMO employees on project management best practices.
The Process Train: A colorful display of train cars documents the daily procedures of different departments and how they affect the corporate project management strategy. The display allows the PMO to measure baseline metrics, recommend improvements and implement suggestions. “It has created a fun internal competition among several departments to document issues that impact such things as customer retention, revenue and cost savings,” he says.
Mr. Reynolds uses these tools—along with incentive programs and celebrations—to promote buy-in and help employees develop a greater understanding of project management methodology. “Instead of forcing it on them, we are trying to make it fun and interesting,” he says.
To measure the impact of these efforts, the PMO has set a one-year 75 percent success rate goal for all projects. Criteria will include whether project management documentation is fully completed, and whether milestones and end-dates are achieved. “Seventy-five percent may not seem like a lot,” he says, “but it's a pretty lofty year-one goal for a company that is brand new to formalized project management methodology.”
from left, Kris Reynolds, PMP; Bruce Jordan; Floyd Smith
PHOTO BY RALPH COLE
“Senior management wants people to understand that everything they do is based in project management and has supported the change to get us there.”
—Kris Reynolds, PMP, PMO director
STORK NV NAARDEN, NETHERLANDS
Finding the right champion is often key when implementing project management practices within an organization. Stork NV—a Dutch company that specializes in aerospace, technical services and food processing technology-learned that early on when, in 2004, it set out to ingrain project management processes throughout all of its operating companies. From the start, its management board and various executives backed up the effort, says Jan-Bart van Duinen, program manager.
“The support of top management was essential in guiding and helping convince the business lines that synergies were there for the taking,” he says.
The program includes a project management career path focused on developing skills and competencies that promote the achievement of certification. “More than 30 professionals have been accredited by an external institute since that time,” Mr. van Duinen says.
The career path includes identifying competencies, so during appraisal processes, managers are more aware of the specific capabilities of individual project managers and can use that information when assigning a project manager to a specific project.
“We now have a large community of project managers who share knowledge within and across the business lines, and who are eager to participate and contribute in the implementation phases in their respective business lines. And [they] have a greater loyalty to the firm as their job is being taken seriously,” Mr. van Duinen says. “Personally, I am convinced that these efforts will contribute significantly [to project success].”
“The support of top management was essential in guiding and helping convince the business lines that synergies were there for the taking.”
—Jan-Bart van Duinen, program manager
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON, D.C., USA
Project managers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may have the most interesting and challenging jobs in the world. After all, their project goals include launching space shuttles and satellites to faraway places like the moon. Therefore, the motivation is high to get the job done well.
NASA's project success, in large part, relies on its project management policy and processes that are both formally structured and flexible. To accommodate teams that are regularly asked to redefine the cutting edge of technology, policies must be sufficiently adaptable, says Mike Blythe, director of engineering and program/project management in the office of the chief engineer.
“Getting buy-in from across the agency is critical to our big-picture success. Because, even if [employees] aren't in one of the glamorous roles, when we see a shuttle launch … they all know they were a part of making that happen.”
—Ed Hoffman, Ph.D., Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership director
“NASA's procedural requirements state what needs to be done, but not how it needs to be done,” he says.
The agency is able to accommodate flexibility within its structure through governance processes that require regular project review from cradle to grave. Every project is defined by its life cycle and broken into distinct phases. At the completion of each phase, project managers must present their work to senior management for review and approval in order to continue. That includes proving they have met the defined criteria, including budget, schedule and technology development—and that the project is still on track and feasible.
“The multiple reviews that occur in the life cycle of our projects act as a checks-and-balance process to ensure we stay on the right path,” Mr. Blythe says.
Project managers receive training and support through NASA's Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership. The training program focuses on individual development, team strategies, knowledge sharing and NASA processes. The organization also offers training for potential Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential holders.
“Our comprehensive, holistic and integrated approach to supporting project management comes from the top,” says Ed Hoffman, Ph.D., director of the training academy. He estimates that 70 percent of NASA's staff is engaged in projects and programs, and that every office is committed to supporting the agency's project management methodology.
“Getting buy-in from across the agency is critical to our big-picture success,” he says. “Because, even if [employees] aren't in one of the glamorous roles, when we see a shuttle launch or we get the first pictures back from Mars, they all know they were a part of making that happen.”
SHELL THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS
from left, Allison Gibson; Rachel Taylor, PMP; Graeme Fairley, Ph.D., PMP; Glyn Roberts
PHOTO BY MARTIN BEDDALL
In Shell's IT division, project management has long been recognized as the fuel of organizational change. And for the worldwide group of oil, gas and petrochemical companies, successful project management is all about delivering consistently.
“Project management makes our project success repeatable,” says Graeme Fairley, Ph.D., PMP, manager of Shell's Project Excellence Centre who is based in London, England. “We have a community of project managers who are all trained to the same level with a proven track record of following the same set of standards.”
Since 1998, the company has continually invested in improving its IT project management capabilities. The Project Excellence Centre sets the policies, standards and tools for project management, and provides ongoing advice and guidance to all project management practitioners throughout the IT function.
Shell's IT project management career path is based on a competency model, internal track record and the Project Management Professional (PMP®) accreditation. Dr. Fairley says about 500 project managers have received the PMP credential via company-funded training. “That's important because it shows the project managers that the company is willing to invest time and money to help them achieve that certification,” he says.
The IT project managers also participate in a worldwide project management network that hosts regular community events at global, regional and local levels to encourage the sharing of best practices. And a mentoring program was established to support junior project managers in their development and certification preparation.
“It shows ambitious junior employees that project management is taken seriously at Shell,” Dr. Fairley says. “We want them to see that it is not just a job, it's a career.”
“Project management makes our project success repeatable.”
—Graeme Fairley, Ph.D., PMP, manager of the Project Excellence Centre
ARMONK, NEW YORK, USA
Nearly 10,000 IBM employees have obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential since 1996. This was when the company launched an initiative to ensure a consistent enterprise approach to project management and better meet customer needs.
The effort to become more project-focused included the development of the IBM Project Management Center of Excellence, which advocates five fundamental steps for every project:
- Defining scope
- Ensuring top-level sponsorship
- Establishing a vision
- Managing as a program
- Communicating successes and lessons learned throughout the organization.
More than 10 years later, that initiative and the center are thriving. “Full support from the top [of the company] has never wavered,” says Deborah Dell, PMP, operations and support manager at the Project Management Center of Excellence in Baton Raton, Florida, USA. “Over the years, those five steps have never changed. They are at the heart of everything we do.”
The company has also created what it calls its worldwide project management method. Inclusive of a key concept from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), it is designed to be the single, common project management method for IBM projects and programs worldwide. The method provides a collection of processes, templates and tools for all types of projects.
“Full support from the top [of the company] has never wavered.”
—Deborah Dell, PMP, operations and support manager, Project Management Center of Excellence
The center has also nurtured a project management community to help employees find mentors, network, develop relationships, and share knowledge and intellectual capital.
“Through such initiatives, IBM project managers have the ability to take the same training and pursue certification. They use the same terminology, tools and methodology, customized for their own business unit needs,” Ms. Dell says. “It's flexible yet consistent, and all of these elements are fundamental to our success.”
COMMONWEALTH SCIENTIFIC AND INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ORGANISATION
In just three years, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has gone from zero to hero—at least in the world of project management. “[In 2004,] we created a program office to manage CSIRO's technology projects, and at that time, the maturity level of project management was close to zero,” says Ewan Perrin, CSIRO executive manager of the program office, information management and technology.
“RAP sessions ensure that all players have a common understanding of the project objectives and the critical success factors.”
—Ewan Perrin, executive manager of the program office, information management and technology
CSIRO has found innovative ways to add governance and accountability to its project process. Key stakeholders are brought in early through what the organization dubs its rapid planning or “RAP” sessions where risk, issues and expectations of the various groups are identified. Lasting up to three days for larger projects, the meetings take place at the beginning of every project.
“RAP sessions ensure that all players have a common understanding of the project objectives and the critical success factors,” Mr. Perrin says. “This emphasis on upfront and holistic planning ensures that key risks and issues are identified early on. It has helped us avoid many common project management pitfalls around scope creep, transition and closure, commitment of resources and quality expectations.”
To foster project management expertise across the organization, CSIRO information and technology recruits, trains and mentors all project management staff, encouraging them to seek accreditation or tertiary qualifications early in their careers. Currently, more than 50 percent of its senior project managers have the Project Management Professional (PMP®) or equivalent credential, and a number of junior project managers are working toward certification.
“We select only high-quality, experienced external candidates whose skills and project management approaches match our needs,” Mr. Perrin says. “By approach, I mean things like appetite for risk, stakeholder management, matrix management, and dealing with ambiguity and change.”
Today, the organization considers its investment in project management “the greatest contributor to our success so far,” Mr. Perrin says.
MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER
HOUSTON, TEXAS, USA
When the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's project support and coordination service (PSCS) department launched a project management office (PMO) three years ago, it needed a baseline to measure project performance. So it decided to take a look at how seven projects completed in the previous year performed. Things didn't look so good.
The projects were, on average, 29 percent over budget and 180 percent off schedule—and all had been redesigned with smaller goals, says Patti Layne, PMP, director of PSCS. “We had to ‘de-scope’ just to deliver over budget and over schedule,” she says.
“[Before launching the PMO,] we had to ‘de-scope’ just to deliver over budget and over schedule.”
—Patti Layne, PMP, director of project support and coordination service department
But just one year later, the group's commitment to project management methodology, planning, training and support was already having a revolutionary impact on project success. The PSCS had set a first-year goal of a 10 percent improvement. The new baseline, however, showed much better results: The 11 projects completed were 11 percent under budget, and only 23 percent were over schedule. And while 90 percent of the projects changed in scope, they were all scope increases.
Two years later, of the 16 projects completed, four percent came in under budget and the number running over schedule had dropped to seven percent.
The PSCS has developed an internal project management methodology, based on portions of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The methodology includes scalable processes and tools such as websites, reports, templates, charts and decision documents. The center also credits the creation of a project management career path with helping to mature the organization's project management capabilities.
Ms. Layne notes that a budgeted commitment to project planning, as well as ongoing oversight of progress, has had the greatest impact on project success. “Project management methodology and governance are inexplicably intertwined,” she says. “It gave us the structure we needed to execute our projects in a timely fashion while meeting customer expectations.”
from left, Anhlan Nguyen, PMP; Todd Foster; Kathy Cates; Patti Layne, PMP; Paul Ferrell, PMP; Diane Eckels, Ph.D.; Bob Shortle, PMP
MUTUAL OF OMAHA OMAHA, NEBRASKA, USA
Around the world, countless professionals—from teachers and firefighters to bosses and secretaries-are celebrated with a day in their honor. So why shouldn't project managers feel the love, too?
At Fortune 500 insurance company Mutual of Omaha, they do. Since 2006, the company has held Project Management Day, an executive-sponsored event to honor project managers. The day includes speakers, lunch and high-tech prizes, including laptops and handheld devices. “It's how we thank our project managers for their contribution toward achieving our strategic goals, and to recognize that project management is a core competency that provides value on a daily basis,” says Kenneth D. Carter, PMP, project manager.
The celebration isn't limited to one annual event, however. Mutual of Omaha rewards its project managers with defined career paths, and offers them more than 150 hours of classroom and online project management training that qualifies for Professional Development Units (PDUs) toward maintaining PMI credentials. Currently, more than 40 project managers have obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential.
But project management isn't treated as just a function of IT, Mr. Carter says. “Several business units have project management offices [PMOs] in place.”
The enterprise project office oversees company-wide project management standards and best practices, while the individual PMOs govern activities within specific business units. Project managers from across the enterprise meet monthly at project management exchange forums to discuss and transfer best practices and lessons learned.
Mutual of Omaha's commitment to project management is starting to show real results. For the year to date as of July, 90 percent of projects have met deadline goals, and 99 percent have achieved critical requirements-exceeding the company's goals in both categories. Seventy percent of projects have met budget goals, very close to the 80 percent the company is aiming for this year.
“[Project Management Day is] how we thank our project managers for their contribution toward achieving our strategic goals, and to recognize that project management is a core competency that provides value on a daily basis.”
—Kenneth D. Carter, PMP, project manager
“That fits with our general project management environment,” Mr. Carter says. “In most cases, our first two priorities are always hitting deadlines and delivering what was promised.”
SAUDI ARAMCO DHAHRAN, SAUDI ARABIA
Meticulous team planning is the foundation of Saudi Aramco's project management success. But early victories haven't stopped Saudi Aramco-one of the largest hydrocarbon companies in the world-from continuously improving its project management methodologies.
“We concentrate on adopting proven implementation methodologies, where our successful projects use time-tested project life cycle methodologies,” says Nizar Janoubi, senior project manager, project control group, computer applications, Saudi Aramco. Currently, Saudi Aramco has nearly 100 projects in the works that involve planning, producing, refining and distributing products domestically and globally. And to manage the vast number of facilities and systems that go along with these projects, the company has, since 1997, made project management a primary investment.
In the past 10 years, Saudi Aramco has refined its project management practices to include:
- Clear approvals and sign-offs from sponsors and other key stakeholders. This helps ensure the commitment of all stakeholders and sponsors is maintained at all times, Mr. Janoubi says.
- Empowerment of project managers. “Every project manager's responsibility is matched by equivalent authority, and [project managers] are empowered to coordinate resources, request and receive cooperation from executive management, and make appropriate decisions accordingly,” Mr. Janoubi says.
- Establishment of a project steering committee. “Saudi Aramco recognizes the critical role of having project sponsors and stakeholders as active participants rather than as passive customers,” he says. Management executives are responsible for the steering committee and provide direction on resolving critical issues.
- Selection of the best people. “[We] continue to spare no effort to ensure that we acquire the best people available to get the job done,” he says, adding that the company encourages its staff to obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential.
The company's substantial investment in project management is proving worthwhile in today's ever-changing global marketplace. “For Saudi Aramco, efficient operations go far beyond running a large, successful and profitable business,” Mr. Janoubi says. “Through the implementation of new projects—especially in the IT area-Saudi Aramco now has a reliable single data source for reporting and a sound foundation for understanding all aspects of its business. This gives a major role for project management to provide the company with more flexibility to respond quickly to changes in business and market conditions.”
“Saudi Aramco recognizes the critical role of having project sponsors and stakeholders as active participants rather than as passive customers.”
—Nizar Janoubi, senior project manager, project control group, computer applications
MISSOURI STATE GOVERNMENT JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI, USA
Making project management a priority can be a daunting task. Now think about trying to institutionalize protocols and practices across layers of government bureaucracy. In 2005, Bill Bott bravely took on the task when he signed on as the deputy of operations for the Missouri state government's IT services division CIO office.
Mr. Bott was brought on board to incorporate the Missouri project management (MPM) methodology—in the works since 1999—into Governor Matt Blunt's IT consolidation initiative.
“We needed a state strategy for large-scale projects, and a way to recognize when projects got off track and how to fix them,” Mr. Bott says. “Project management was the way to do that.”
So Mr. Bott pushed forward a plan to align the project management strategy with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge—Third Edition (PMBOK® Guide) and roll it out in the IT division for large-scale project success.
Today, all new IT projects must follow the project management methodology—or they will not be funded. “Over the last three years, project management has become a priority in the budget, in instruction and in the review of all new IT projects,” Mr. Bott says.
Since 2002, through the MPM program office, nearly 300 employees have earned the state government's Missouri project manager credential, expanding the number of credential holders on staff from 93 to 288. When promoted in their functional areas, the credential holders have become project management champions—promoting the methodology through their own offices and projects.
As a result of these efforts, the government has seen increased project productivity and millions of dollars in savings, says Frank Cox, project management officer in the office of administration IT services division that serves the Department of Corrections. “The 1,200-member IT services division attributed more than $5 million in savings to the MPM program in the last year alone,” he says.
The next step is to push project management into other government departments. Already, Mr. Bott has invited key business leaders from other government offices to complete a free three-week intensive project management workshop, and offered a two-day workshop and online videos to anyone interested in learning more about project management.
“Project management has grown up in IT, but that's only a small part of the MPM program's success,” Mr. Bott says. “We need to get the entire state government involved to see its full impact.”
“The 1,200-member IT services division can attribute more than $5 million in savings to the [Missouri project management] program in the last year alone.”
—Frank Cox, project management officer
WORKPLACE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
Forward-thinking organizations focus on the future, not just the day-to-day—and project management allows Workplace Technology Services (WTS) to do just that. In 2005, in an effort to transition from a reactive to a proactive project management organization, the IT services provider for the British Columbia government established the corporate policy, planning and standards (CPPS) division to manage its portfolio of projects.
“We are trying to transition our business model from the management and maintenance of technology components to focusing on developing our expertise in technology planning and vendor management,” says Brian Bowman, executive director of business strategy and planning services. “This is supported through strengthening our project management and governance models within the organization in order to better plan, design and execute on IT service delivery on behalf of government.”
Since then, the CPPS has instituted many core project management processes, including an investment approval method that utilizes A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). It also began using PMI's Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) to assess where the organization stands in its corporate initiative to become a proactive project management organization.
“[Project management] provides a framework for institutionalizing standards and processes across various project, program and potentially service delivery areas within WTS as we shift to a more tightly coupled strategic planning and investment management process.”
—Jennifer Krause, manager, service management optimization
Additionally, WTS has incorporated Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification and training into job descriptions. New hires in the CPPS divison must either hold the PMP credential or commit to obtaining it within two years of employment.
A monthly investment approval process chart depicts all WTS commitments to projects, both internally and externally, giving executives tools to be proactive with their budgeting and staffing decisions, says Jennifer Krause, manager, service management optimization. “For the first time, WTS is able to manage its projects from a portfolio of projects,” she adds. “[Project management] provides a framework for institutionalizing standards and processes across various project, program and potentially service delivery areas within WTS as we shift to a more tightly coupled strategic planning and investment management process.”
Indra Sistemas S♦A♦
“For Indra, excellence in project management is the required condition for being successful in business.”
—Regino Moranchel, corporate managing director
A double-digit jump in sales over the past five years has positioned Indra Sistemas S.A. as one of Spain's leading IT and systems engineering companies. So what's behind that impressive growth? Project management, says the executive team.
“Technology management knowledge and skills may be the basis of Indra's businesses, but to remain in business and maintain competitive advantages, Indra must have the client's confidence that it will deliver what it has promised, on time and within the budgeted cost,” says Regino Moranchel, corporate managing director. “For Indra, excellence in project management is the required condition for being successful in business.”
To support that condition, the organization developed a project management methodology based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). “Because it is coherent and consistent with the PMBOK® Guide, the recognized standard for project management excellence, Indra's project management methodology is recognized as an effective project management excellence driver by most of our clients all around the world,” says Miguel Sáenz de Viguera, PMP, head of Indra's corporate project management office.
Indra offers free training courses to encourage all employees-not just project managers-to receive Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. To date, more than 1,000 employees have participated in these courses, and by 2008, the company expects 100 of them to be PMP credential holders.
But Indra faced a tough audience at first. Most of its employees are engineers, mathematicians and economists who have never before used project management practices, says Emma Fernández, talent, innovation and strategy corporate vice president. “Convincing them of the necessity of acquiring new knowledge and skills to be effective project managers is not an easy task.”
To gain buy-in, Indra established a project management career path with four levels:
- Project manager assistant
- Project manager
- Program manager
- Program director.
Each level has corresponding competency development and assessment programs to support those roles.
“Offering a clear, convincing career path to the top corporate management responsibilities within the project management profession is probably the most important part of our effort to achieve project management excellence because management positions at Indra require knowing how to manage projects,” Ms. Fernández says. “That is ‘project management professionalism.’”
FLUOR CORP. DALLAS, TEXAS, USA
For many executives at Fluor Corp., the path to the top is paved through project management. That's because the multibillion-dollar engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) and maintenance firm invests in an extensive mentoring and development program for project managers.
“Fluor excels as a project management company in the EPC industry,” says Tom Phalen, project management group vice president at the Houston, Texas, USA, location. “We make money through managing projects and programs, so our key resource is the project management people.”
And everyone has to pitch in, says Mr. Phalen, who mentors several project managers rising through the company ranks. “Each project manager is expected to help the next generation gain the experience and access to opportunities they need so that we can continue to develop our most important resource to drive superior performance,” he says.
From day one, employees are given access to the company's global functional track, which defines the project management career path and the development necessary to become a world-class project manager. The top level of the project management career track is senior vice president, which reports directly to the group president. Mr. Phalen points out that many of the company's top executives are promoted through the project management career track.
Fluor also sponsors a project management development forum, where vice presidents of project management track the growth of the project management staff across the enterprise.
The company covers all training fees and related certification costs, and encourages its project managers to obtain credentials. Currently, its Houston office has 21 Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential holders, of its 160 project management staff. Its Manila, Philippines, office has an initiative to certify its entire project management staff as PMP certification holders.
Along with ongoing training and succession planning, Fluor honors its top project managers with the annual Hugh Coble award, which recognizes excellence in project execution and is personally delivered by the CEO. “Hugh Coble, the retired vice chair of the company, was known for his excellent project execution,” Mr. Phalen says. “He helped form our approach to project management, and this award is a way to honor that tradition of excellence.”
“Each project manager is expected to help the next generation gain the experience and access to opportunities they need so that we can continue to develop our most important resource to drive superior performance.”
—Tom Phalen, project management group vice president
PETROBRAS RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
One of the largest energy companies in Latin America—with planned investments of more than $112 billion over the next four years—Petrobras is aiming to be a major power player in project management, too. The company has declared project management a performance evaluation item for all of its 60,000-plus employees.
To help develop its employees’ project management skills, in 2003 Petrobras introduced a project management education program within its internal Petrobras University, which became a PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) in 2004.
The program focuses on five areas:
- Innovation and education
- Publication and diffusion
- Consulting and certification
In 2005, the university—led by coordinator Isabel Santana, PMP, and manager Walter Brito—rolled out its own project management office and used the PMI Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) to assess its competencies.
Participation in the program has skyrocketed from 277 students in 2003 to more than 2,200 last year. Training hours have increased from nearly 8,600 in 2003 to more than 92,000 in 2006. And in the past two years, more than 200 project professionals have received the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential.
Last year, to further the project management knowledge of its employees, the company held its second annual international project management congress. More than 300 engineers and project professionals gathered in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil for the event.
All of Petrobras’ efforts have not been without recognition. In 2006, the company was honored for its in-house business education program by the Petroleum Economist Awards, which recognize excellence in the international energy industry.
Petrobras has declared project management a performance evaluation item for all of its 60,000-plus employees.
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA, USA
Projects were failing, and Intel's IT group finally figured out the culprit: its weak project management practices.
To turn things around, the company launched an executive-sponsored effort to promote project management throughout the IT organization, focusing on the development of people, processes, tools and governance.
This led to the creation of a central program management office in IT, with the mission to roll out IT program and project management practices throughout the company. The office serves the IT department's 6,000 employees around the world.
In 2005, Intel set out to offer training in an effort to increase the number of Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential holders. “Supporting PMP certification and a consistent approach to processes through the [program management office] gives us all a language to use on projects across the organization,” says Mark Brodnik, PMP, program and project manager. “It also gives project managers in IT a credibility boost, as they are now referred to as the ‘CEOs’ of the projects.” Currently, the IT department has more than 250 PMP credential holders.
The company relies on a work group comprised of the organization's project management leadership team to:
- Promote the program management office's mission
- Review changes to processes
- Govern compliance to standards
- Ratify the program management office roadmap
- Participate in new project management initiatives.
“We are definitely still on the journey,” Mr. Brodnik says, “but our project management methodology has given managers in IT more visibility into what is going on with their projects. We never had that in the past.”
“We are definitely still on the journey, but our project management methodology has given managers in IT more visibility into what is going on with their projects.”
—Mark Brodnik, PMP, program and project manager
from left, Thi Chiesa, PMP; Peter Brass, PMP; Adrian McKnight, PMP; Rita McCartney, PMP
PHOTO BY VINCENT LONG
SUNCORP BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
The secret to project management success at Suncorp is carefully matching project needs with project manager capabilities. And the financial services giant thinks it just may have developed the system to do precisely that.
The plan includes annual capability and performance assessments, says Adrian McKnight, PMP, manager project delivery capabilities. “The project's management needs are initially assessed by the manager responsible for delivery of the major projects for that line of business. This assessment and the project manager's capability, including past experience, is discussed at a weekly capability and resourcing meeting, where one or two project managers are identified for discussion with the project owner,” he says.
For example, a project manager was recently chosen for a joint-venture project because he had stakeholder management experience and the ability to deal with ambiguity, which was considered paramount to the project. “If the person leading the project has competencies matching those required by the particular project, the probability of the project succeeding—and thus delivering the required short- or long-term company benefit—substantially increases,” Mr. McKnight says.
“Being able to match capability with project complexity is absolutely essential for all organizations.”
—Adrian McKnight, PMP, manager project delivery capabilities
Once a project manager's capabilities are analyzed and compared to upcoming projects, development initiatives and training programs are put in place.
But competency assessments aren't the only way Suncorp looks to guarantee its project outcomes constantly improve. During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, two internal study groups were created to support project managers in obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential. By the end of 2007, Suncorp expects more than 90 percent of its senior project managers to be PMP-certified.
The company also makes certain its project managers are involved in developing its project delivery framework. When problems arise, project managers are encouraged to electronically submit improvement suggestions and lessons learned, Mr. McKnight says. Suncorp's project managers even helped to create a custom four-stage project life cycle with corresponding governance checkpoints.
“Management of successful project delivery is about understanding the project's complexity in the total portfolio, matching the capability of the individuals to the project needs, supporting the individuals with mentoring, and a scalable process and methodology,” Mr. Knight says. “Being able to match capability with project complexity is absolutely essential for all organizations.”
MEMPHIS MANAGED CARE CORP.
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, USA
In 2002, Memphis Managed Care Corp., a small not-for-profit healthcare organization, had no project management process in place. “There was a sense of anxiety about getting things done,” says Steven Jenkins, PMP, director of project operations and interim director of information systems.
But with the support of executives, the organization has developed a focused project management career path, launched a project management office (PMO), evolved into a strong matrix organization and seen continuous ROI improvement. “Instituting a project management process helped ease anxieties a lot,” Mr. Jenkins says.
Today, all prospective project managers are required to obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP®) or Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM®) credential, and the company covers all training costs. And those employees interested in making project management their career of choice are encouraged to take advantage of the company's mentoring career track.
“There was a sense of anxiety about getting things done. Instituting a project management process helped ease anxieties a lot.”
—Steven Jenkins, PMP, director of project operations and interim director of information systems
from left, Monica Claxton; Steven Jenkins, PMP; Angela Adams, PMP; Antonio Taylor, PMP; Janice Williams
The most effective part of the new project management system, however, is the executive quality systems team, which reviews and approves all project proposals on a monthly basis. The team determines which potential projects either meet regulatory requirements or deliver process improvement or associated savings, using an ROI development metric as an indicator of project success.
The PMO offers workshops for leaders on how to prepare for this evaluation process and how to collect the necessary data for review. “In the past, any leader could charter a project with little scrutiny,” Mr. Jenkins says. “Now, we get a lot fewer project requests, and we've gotten nothing but good feedback from leadership. Anyone who goes through this process sees that it's a much more efficient evaluation process than before.”
The payoff has been significant, he adds. The company expects to meet or exceed its $800,000 project savings goal for fiscal year 2007.
INFOSYS TECHNOLOGIES BANGALORE, INDIA
In today's ultra-competitive global marketplace, companies must find ways to differentiate themselves from their peers. For Infosys Technologies, that means a big push to project management.
The global consulting and IT services company sees project management as a critical component of its success. “As an end-to-end solutions provider, project management competency has always been a key strength and focus area at Infosys,” says S. Gopalakrishnan, CEO and managing director. “These skills provide our clients with validation of our organization's project management competency credentials and allow international benchmarking in a market crowded with competition.”
To stay ahead of the pack, Infosys has developed centers of excellence, which are sponsored by senior staff members. “Strong executive sponsorship is imperative,” says Mark Newton, PMP, delivery manager for solution requirements and management, Infosys Australia.
The company relies on knowledge management and collecting project data as the basis for future project planning. Project managers submit weekly status reports, and every project is subject to review from a practice and management perspective at regular center of excellence governance meetings. “Knowledge management and access to data around prior projects is how we [win business],” Mr. Newton says. “The success of our project management is based on predictability.”
Infosys also encourages its project managers to pursue Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. Currently, 75 percent of its project management workforce holds the PMP credential. “We need to continuously enhance our project management skills to strengthen our project success factors,” Mr. Gopalakrishnan says.
And that doesn't seem likely to change. “Project management skills will continue to play a major role in the future,” he says.
“Knowledge management and access to data around prior projects is how we [win business].”
—Mark Newton, PMP, delivery manager for solution requirements and management
CENTRAL FEDERAL LANDS HIGHWAY DIVISION LAKEWOOD, COLORADO, USA
Growing up is hard to do. At least that's what the Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD) of the Federal Highway Administration has learned over the past decade.
Since the early 1990s, the organization has been moving to a project-centered strong matrix—one with cross-functional team members from different technical branches supporting project managers. And those growing pains are starting to wane now that the organization is seeing steady progress.
”[The transition] was painful in the beginning,” admits project manager Bernardo Bustamante, PMP. “But now, we are in the final stretch.”
To improve accountability and process control, CFLHD's project management office (PMO) developed a project delivery plan to help the organization pick the best project manager for each job based on project management training and expertise. “The project managers are the sole point of contact for their projects. They lead the process, from initiation through construction,” Mr. Bustamante says.
The organization also formed a project management discipline team to identify and implement performance and process improvements, and to promote consistency in practices, including the coordination of certification training.
And in the last two years, the organization has made particularly solid improvements, thanks to the development of project planning guidelines and project controls through earned value performance management. A management board was also created to promote and assist the project team, and to be responsible for approving changes to projects that will affect the organization's overall objectives.
The investment in project management has helped CFLHD land and effectively complete major projects—some of which were previously shelved. For example, the division is the lead management agency for a high-profile project to build a bypass bridge over the Hoover Dam, connecting Arizona and Nevada.
“The project managers are the sole point of contact for their projects. They lead the process, from initiation through construction.”
—Bernardo Bustamante, PMP, project manager
“One of the success factors of the project is that CFLHD implemented a project management team with a well-written project delivery plan that helps everyone involved understand and be in agreement about the goals and objectives,” Mr. Bustamante says.
Developing a Project Management Office in the Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration
This case example, a supplement to the report, PMIAA: Strengthening the Government Delivery Foundation, highlights project and program management capability building within The U.S. Energy…