Sunday, May 18, 2008

Project Management of Corporate Initiatives

Last Thursday evening I had the opportunity to hear Renee Speitel, the former VP of the Engagement PMO for HP, speak at the PMI San Diego Annual Executive Event. I hear Renee has also been actively working with PMI CEO Greg Balestrero to continue the "evangelization" of Project Management to executives.

Renee's presentation was very straightforward and the logic was easy to connect with. Her premise is that Project Managers are under-utilized in many companies. They typically work on four types of projects: IT implementations, services delivery, software development, and R&D product development. PMs typically bring four major skills to the table:

- able to manage the basic triangle of time, cost, and performance
- utilize planning and tracking tools
- have subject matter expertise
- risk management

Some of the additional strong characteristics mentioned included:

- leadership
- business and finance skills
- attention to detail
- situational thinking

Given these strengths, Renee suggested that PMs might also be utilitzed to manage corporate initiatives such as corporate risk planning, HR initiatives, IT consolidations, cross functional programs, and mergers and acquisitions. By manage, she stressed this didn't just mean come in and track the tasks, but actually manage the projects.

One of several examples cited was the HP acquisition of Digital/Compaq. A team of project managers was assembled to study the two corporate structures and actually plan the merger, step-by-step. This way, as the merger progressed, clear decisions were made about how to absorb and manage duplicate functions in the two corporations.

As PMI continues to promote these ideas to executives through global programs such as Forbes Forums and large companies such as HP adopt these ideas, my expectation is future opportunities will open up for Project Managers at all levels of corporate activity. A side effect will be that Project Managers become stronger business leaders and owners in companies and their own corporate initiatives.

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