How long have you been working in Project Management and what's your current professional position?
I have been working in the project, program, and portfolio management space for the last 18 years. During my tenure I have had the privilege to be able to lead client implementation teams, client focused PMO’s, Internal EPMO’s, and now Portfolios across the organization. Currently I am the TBM Portfolio Leader for Corporate Applications and Technology at Alight Solutions.
How long have you been involved with the Houston PMI® Chapter and in what capacities?
I have been directly volunteering for the PMI® Houston Chapter for the last 3 years. I began my PMI® Houston Chapter journey as a PMO director reporting to the President to facilitate the Board of Directors. Since then I have participated in the PMI® Region 6 conferences, PMI® Leadership Institute Meetings, and our PMI® Houston Conference. In 2017, I was elected as the Senior Vince President (SVP) of Internal Operations and will be the SVP of External Operations in 2018 and the President of the Chapter in 2019.
Describe the most interesting/challenging/exciting project you've ever been involved with.
A career path in project management takes a certain type of individual. I often joke that we are all gluttons for punishment. Any time throughout my career where I have been able to make a project, process, team etc. “turn key”, I get restless. In speaking with many project managers, they feel the same way. We all like a challenge. As such, all of my projects have been interesting, challenging, and exciting in some way and I’ve come to value that.
Which part(s) of the Chapters Strategic Plan really resonate with you and why?
Alignment. All of our goals, initiatives, and targets are important but the fact that all of the Senior Leadership and Board are aligned on where we are headed and what we need to accomplish for the next 3-5 years is invaluable. We do need to hear from our membership to help shape and drive many of our targets as the focus is squarely customer centric. Any input or feedback from any member is not only welcome, but critical to the Chapter’s success.
If you could change something about the Project Management field, what would it be and why?
I might get a few strongly worded emails for this one, but practice the profession. Over time, I see the value of project management in organizations ebb and flow. In my experience, many project managers get their PMP® and then don’t practice anything but basic schedule management. A PM is a manager and leader first and foremost. If you are simply tracking actions in an Excel spreadsheet, you are not bringing the skill set to the table. This is leading to a constant perception that project managers are simply “glorified admins” and we fight an uphill battle on why a true PM is critical to success (and worth the salary.)
Fellow Program and Portfolio Leaders – A personal appeal to you.
I began volunteering as a give-back to the profession and have been rewarded with making a difference. Many of our active membership are project managers and we don’t see as much participation from more senior leaders. One initiative I am beginning work on is to fill that gap in both participation and volunteering. If you are a program or portfolio leader and would like to get more involved, please reach out to me at [email protected].
Note from the President – Bob is the driving force in strategic alignment for our chapter. I wanted to focus us on long-term planning to take the Chapter forward. Bob stepped up and ran our planning sessions and helped us narrow our focus to what matters most. We as a team are better for the leadership he provides. Bob will be our Chapter President in 2019 and I am confident he will steer us forward!
- Amy Stonesifer, PMI® Houston Chapter President
By Quynh Woodward, MBA PMP, Product Manager, Organization Programs, Project Management Institute
Did you know that PMI®’s PMO Symposium® is coming to Houston, Texas?
This event brings together PMO leaders and executives who direct an organization’s portfolio of projects, programs, and strategic initiatives. In 2016, the conference attracted over 700 PMO leaders from 500 organizations and 30 different countries.
The PMO Symposium® 2017 held November 5th through the 8th at the Marriott Marquis in Houston, Texas, tentatively includes 80 interactive sessions, unique learning excursions, knowledge hub small group discussions, and distinguished keynotes. The three-day event intrigues, challenges, and inspires attendees through the delivery of practical, reliable, and relevant content that PMO leaders can bring back to their organization and implement.
In a global economy characterized by rapid, sometimes unforeseen and disruptive change, organizations are forced to adapt quickly to mitigate the risks of such volatility. Just as importantly, change presents an opportunity to strengthen an organization. Examples include the implementation of new technology, lean techniques, and adopting new organizational structures that can consistently and efficiently deliver strategic business objectives. The theme of the PMO Symposium® 2017 will address the quest for greater agility in anticipating and responding quickly and appropriately to disruptive forces, competitive pressures, increased demands for greater innovation, and better business results. Speakers at the event will focus on two key topics: agile transformation, and the evolving PMO.
Reserve your place among the world’s PMO leaders today.
By Thomas Goebel, PMI® Houston Chapter Volunteer Content Writer
Once Upon A Time, a discipline called Project Management was created to help sort out problems that arose during the conduct of projects. All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men were relegated to putting the projects back together again. All across the land, Project Management spread, and the people rejoiced.
But dragons lurked…
Trouble in the Kingdom
Sooner or later (mostly sooner), all project managers encounter rough patches in the road. While we learn from each travail, the primary objective is to reduce their frequency and even avoid them – by learning from others, for instance.
Hiccups vary from person to person, and from project to project. There are various lists out in cyberspace that enumerate the problems that project managers encounter. Let’s talk about a few that really give you a case of heartburn.
Almost all problems in a project can be traced back to inadequate communication, either direct or indirect. “Undefined” goals are usually a problem stemming more from lack of articulation than actual lack of definition. After all, the originator of the idea probably had a very clear idea of what he or she wanted to accomplish. It’s crucial that the idea is clearly conveyed from originator to project manager and from project manager to the various stakeholders. We use several forums for this, of course. Meetings, especially the all-important kick-off meeting, formally codify deliverables by setting baselines and obtaining buy-in from participating stakeholders.
Informal communication can be just as critical. Emails to affected stakeholders, water-cooler sessions, and old-fashioned phone calls help maintain connectivity and project flow, while fostering collaboration and preventing problem escalation.
Reining in Scope
Project scope usually starts at a nice walk which can easily develop into a trot that’s hard to control. To prevent scope from breaking into a full runaway gallop, the project manager has to exercise resolve in evaluating each requested change and its effect on schedule, budget, and stakeholders. Saying “No” can be a lonely and unpopular activity. But it is often necessary in order to avoid falling into the trap of adding time and cost incrementally to the project.
The change management process is in place to prevent exactly these problems. The smart project manager minimizes aggravation by acquainting himself or herself with this important tool at the start of the project.
One of the most misunderstood activities in project management is the assessment, quantification and management of risk. Everyone is viscerally aware of what risk is. The challenge is in actually writing down all the risks that can be identified (definitely a team effort!) and assigning time and cost values to them. This is the first step toward “managing” risk.
Most assume that risk is something to be avoided at all costs. This isn’t always the case, though. After tabulating all the associated risk costs, a project team may decide that a risk is worth absorbing. This can be justified in the project plan and factored into the business case. Transferring risk is another option. The risk becomes a non-threat by virtue of its transfer to the customer or even third parties, when appropriate. (Beware: Risk transfer is a two-way street, and the project management team needs to watch for undesired/unexpected transfer of risk to their shoulders!) Mitigation is another strategy. Controls can be implemented to turn an unacceptable risk into one that won’t break the project.
While addressing the issues discussed here won’t necessarily alleviate all of the project manager’s pain, it will go a long way toward ensuring a smoother ride for all stakeholders and a much better chance for a satisfactory realization of deliverables. Slaying the big dragons early gives way to steady performance for the life of your project.