Introduction | Education | Airport Expansion | Program Startup

Facilitating a Major Program Startup

This little story describes the injection of project management into the very successful start-up of a large comprehensive and complex administrative program. The organization is large, with many administrative and operational divisions, and conducts activities throughout our province. The organization itself is not unfamiliar with project management, as it has a project management division. However, this division is primarily concerned with planning and implementing projects of the bricks and mortar type.

The objective of the program would be to reduce by 50% all forms of waste from the enterprise by the year 2000. This waste ranged from paper, toner cartridges and other office consumables, to industrial waste, construction waste, oils and paints, etc. Substantial research and pilot studies had been conducted over the last few years to establish waste streams, opportunities for waste reduction, technical feasibility, and management strategies for tracking progress on waste reduction. Now, however, was the time to bring in the key personnel from all locations and commence serious implementation of the program. I was invited to assist the program manager with developing a startup plan and facilitate startup meetings.

We decided that a series of three startup meeting would be needed and appropriate for such a high-profile and complex company-wide program covering such an extended period. Each meeting would involve people coming in from out-of-town and last five to six hours. At the outset, although everyone would be from the same organization, few would actually know each other.

In brief, the purpose of the meetings were to be as follows. The first meeting would be to:

  • Explain the program goals and rationale
  • Identify potential projects within the program to support the goals
  • Suggest possible ranking and responsibilities
  • Activate initial tasks

The second meeting would be to

  • Present a brief but relevant project management training session
  • Develop a WBS
  • Revise priorities as appropriate
  • Initiate development of project scope descriptions, and quality, time and cost estimate proforma for purposes of funding, and

The third meeting was to

  • Aggregate the proforma submissions into a consolidated fiscal plan for senior management approval and special funding

In short, these meetings went extremely well, even though many of those present were not familiar with project management. Though skeptical and uncertain at first, everyone got to know each other comfortably, became very enthusiastic, and enjoyed working together.

Perhaps the highest compliment came from the organization’s Public Relations Manager at the end of the last meeting. He said that one of his principle tasks was to improve communication within and between the various arms of the enterprise. He was so impressed with the spirit of cooperation and quality of the communication going on back and forth at the meetings, especially since they came from different units, that he could hardly believe that he was working for the same company!

© 2001

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