“Our project managers were like journalists,
documenting and responding to events as they occurred.
We’re trying to shift that so they become owners—
proactively changing the course of projects as needed.”
methodologies and tools. Fourth, optimize our
2013 was all about standardization across
people, process and technology. We developed
consistent job descriptions for our project managers that were anchored in industry standards.
We created standard templates and processes.
We simplified our technology. And we retrained
everybody on our new processes.
This year has been all about optimization. Yes,
we now have standard ways of doing things, but
how can we better optimize our workforce?
You’re describing a massive change for
the organization and its talent. Was
there any resistance to it?
I wish I could tell you that all of the resistance is
behind us, but it’s not. We had a lot of resistance
from multiple constituents. We had some internal
resistance from project managers because they
had been pulled out of an old organization they
supported and put into a new organization.
How have you addressed that
Unwavering support from our CIO, Suren Gupta,
has been crucial for managing this change.
Persistence was another thing: we stayed the
course. But it isn’t over yet.
How do you communicate the benefits
of the PMO to your team?
Within the PMO we have a number of communications vehicles. We have town hall meetings
every other month. We do open-mic sessions,
which are calls with the leadership team where our
folks can ask questions on any topic. We produce
a newsletter. I also do what we call coffee talks—ad
hoc meetings with a cross section of the team just
to answer their questions and concerns.
What did you find your project
managers needed that the training
sought to provide?
When we started, all the project managers lived in
different delivery organizations, and each organization had its own way of doing things. We had to
take all these disparate ways of doing things and
land on “the way.” And we needed to retrain people on content and mechanics as well as some of
the more entrepreneurial pieces, like how to better
leverage judgment in stakeholder management.
In addition to training current team
members, how do you ensure you
recruit the right new talent?
Aside from process and tools, a great project manager needs skills like judgment, risk management,
learning agility, stakeholder management—things
that are more difficult to teach. We revamped all
our hiring practices and focused on identifying
people with these skills.
How do you identify those people?
We ask questions that get people to talk about
circumstances where they had to apply judgment,
for example. Or if they were put in a new situation,
what did they do to come up to speed quickly?
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