Project Management Institute

Starting from scratch

VOICES | From the Top


In 2007, Roman Baranovsky, PhD, PMP, faced a grim situation: Though IT services organization Experian Decision Analytics had the resources and financial backing of a global corporation, its office in Moscow, Russia handled only five projects per year.

As the location's new chief project officer (CPO), Mr. Baranovsky was tasked with developing the project management practices that would help scale the size of its portfolio.

“At the time, the role of project manager was not defined as a profession in our region,” he says.

Mr. Baranovsky knew that hiring a CPO doesn't translate to immediate results. But he worked steadily to infuse the organization with best practices, implementing standardized templates, tools and portfolio-level reporting. Bit by bit, the company saw fewer troubled projects and more transparency of information.

Today, the Moscow office has about 50 projects in its portfolio. “Solid project management practices,” says Mr. Baranovsky, “allowed us to support the growth of our organization.”

Create an understanding of what's happening within the organization. Sometimes there are projects that no one knows about that are initiated from the local level and are eating up time and resources.

So first, we listed all the projects and assigned each project to a project manager, or in the case of limited resources, a senior employee to act as the project manager. The projects became much more manageable, and problems that were open for quite a long time started to be solved.

That's only part of portfolio management—and sometimes, just common sense.

What is one type of project information that should be regularly reported to the executive level?

Knowing what resources we'll need in one, two or three month's time is information the executive level needs to know. That helps us see how we can continue a project.

For example, at the moment we have a large program with a European client that consists of 35 projects. It's stretching our resources. If I can ensure there's a process in place to see information about the types of people we will need to staff these projects, we can start searching for them. Knowing this in advance helps us deliver business results and fulfill the customer's expectations.

How do you motivate internal stakeholders to comply with procedural changes?

In many cases, I can tell people how something should be done to avoid problems. However, in the case of executive management, I can't make the final decision, so in this case, I try to provide as much information as possible for the decision-makers, helping them to arrive at an informed decision.

I can direct what project or program managers do, if needed, but I still try to get their buy-in on an approach. This would help them understand the reasons behind it, learn the pattern and generally make them more committed to proper execution. PM

You don't need to be a specially trained project manager to see if the project is making out-of-control losses. But sometimes this information doesn't make its way to the executive level on time.

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