Balancing Act: Kurt Finch
is CEO of Journyx, an
Austin, Texas, USA-based
provider of web-based
When Journyx Inc. started out 10 years ago, we had a simple product with no real competitors. Installation was so easy that project management for customer rollouts didn't seem very useful. But as our products developed to meet customers' changing needs, we added a professional services capability that in its earliest stages was somewhat haphazard and delivered inconsistent results. At that time, we were a young company with an inexperienced services team and only a rudimentary understanding of project management. This led to customer satisfaction issues that impeded our progress. Because delivering customer value is the only moral way to achieve business results in the web-based software industry, we knew we had to fix this problem quickly.
Since [inculcating project management disciplines], we've been able to strategically virtualize, meaning we can now outsource specific segments of a repeatable business process.
Balance is always of utmost importance to us. To deliver more consistent results without introducing too much rigor into our agile software development processes, we inculcated project management disciplines focusing on process definition, planning and execution. Since doing so, we've been able to strategically virtualize, meaning we now outsource specific segments of a repeatable business process.
Virtualization wouldn't have been possible without rigorous project management. Outsourcing IT operations, especially overseas, increases management overhead an estimated eight percent to 30 percent in many cases. But specific, targeted outsourcing of portions of repeatable processes born of great project management can ultimately lower those costs. Our integrated Journyx/QuickBooks rollouts jumped from a dismal 50 percent satisfaction rate to 100 percent once we defined and adhered to a set process.
This success has encouraged us to put tightly defined processes in other areas of business, enabling us to outsource our software testing overseas as well as our entire accounting department to a company here in Austin. As a result, our capabilities in those areas mirror that of a much larger company—albeit at lower costs. We've also applied project management principles in development, marketing, partnering, vendor management and even in sales to great effect.
Due to these processes, we've achieved understanding of our profitability on a per-person, per-project basis. Project management adds to Journyx every day, and we want more. At present, only a few employees have had formal project management training, but we aim for 10 percent of the company to become Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification holders. We expect them to make processes throughout the company more rigorous where appropriate and to enable us to more confidently respond to change.
The incorporation of “just enough” project management processes into our operations has enabled us to grow from a startup to a global organization. We now have tools in place that alert us to such problems as projects going over budget. This is not to say that we're a perfect company and that all our problems are solved. They're not. But now we have a plan for improvement and the confidence to execute it. PM
photo by HA LAM
JUNE 2007 | PM NETWORK