Project Management Institute

Effective processes require support beyond the PMO



Mary Sunday, PMP, is a senior manager and head of the Western Region Project Management Office (PMO) for Computer Sciences Corp.'s (CSC) Global Infrastructure Services Organization. CSC provides information technology (IT) services to commercial markets and government organizations worldwide.

Computer Sciences Corp.'s services encompass consulting, systems integration and outsourcing. This involves introducing and managing continuous changes—small and large—in client environments. Our success as an agent of change comes from combining project management best practices with CSC's own Catalyst methodology, an enterprise-focused, lifecycle approach toward business.

We've always known we had excellent project management processes, but we learned that simply wasn't enough. In 1998, during a routine review with a key client, we were surprised to see some less favorable comments regarding project management than we had previously received. Upon taking a closer look, we knew why.

Although we had been training project managers for years, we weren't training our project teams or support organizations to understand our PMO's vision, practices and procedures. In essence, the difference between doing a pretty good job and doing great work was making all key members of the project, including service delivery managers and technical leads, an extension of the project management team.

We realized that only a cohesive group with a project-oriented management style could achieve the results we wanted. Specifically, team members needed to better identify work in terms of project scope and adhere more closely to deliverable-oriented task structures. Team leaders also needed assistance scaling the project management deliverables to meet the needs of individual projects and customers.

To educate these team members about the Project Management Institute's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and strengthen these skills, our PMO teamed with the University of California at Irvine (UCI) in September 1998. The university worked with us, tailoring its Project Management Certificate Program to meet our needs. We collaborated with professors to incorporate terminology and other characteristics of our Catalyst methodology, as well as aspects of the outsourcing business, into the course structure. The courses also were tailored to specifically address the IT infrastructure change projects we encounter. We felt strongly that the classroom examples needed to be relevant to employees' everyday experiences.

The classes were taught on weekends at a CSC facility three times a month for nine consecutive months. Despite the fact that participation was voluntary and involved significant personal time, the courses were extremely popular. The results were so positive that CSC expanded the offering to all of its locations around the world. To date, UCI has taught more than 240 class sessions for CSC. So far, more than 40 percent of the employees who have completed the certificate program have gone on to become certified Project Management Professionals (PMPs).

The customer review comments improved dramatically and remain positive. Feedback from both internal and external stake-holders indicates noteworthy improvement in compliance with project management processes and achievement of corresponding deliverables.

While we continue to work with UCI to keep the program current, we also have expanded our in-house training capability. Since 1999, CSC's Project Resources organization has taught more than 3,000 internal classes in project management around the globe. The content and number of class offerings continues to expand as the industry changes. The concepts of critical chain management and improved estimating techniques, as well as collaboration tools that improve the project management processes, are incorporated into our training and process documentation.

During these tough economic times, CSC has been challenged to provide additional services at lower costs and increase productivity. To meet these needs, we identified several initiatives to make our internal business environment more efficient. Project plans were developed for each one, and individual project managers were assigned. The full measure of project management discipline was brought to bear on these efforts.

As evidenced by standard project reporting and tracking, the results have been tremendous. Efforts that in the past would have dragged on and possibly fallen short of their goal were successfully completed. The aggressive schedules that were established as part of the plans were met, as were management expectations.

By sharing project management knowledge and strengthening skills of our extended teams, our PMO has achieved greater success than we thought possible. We're making better use of Catalyst, increasing customer satisfaction and improving internal efficiency. The project management field holds so much potential for individuals, companies and the clients they serve. I'm very pleased to be a part of it. PM

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