Ferris Health Care

In July of 1999, senior management at Ferris recognized that its future growth could very well be determined by how quickly and how well it implemented project management. For the past several years, line managers had been functioning as project managers while still managing their line groups. The projects came out with the short end of the stick, most often late and over budget, because managers focused on line activities rather than project work. Everyone recognized that project management needed to be an established career path position and that some structured process had to be implemented for project management.

A consultant was brought into Ferris to provide initial project management training for 50 out of the 300 employees targeted for eventual project management training. Several of the employees thus trained were then placed on a committee with senior management to design a project management stage-gate model for Ferris.

After two months of meetings, the committee identified the need for three different stage-gate models: one for information systems, one for new products/services provided, and one for bringing on board new corporate clients. There were several similarities among the three models. However, personal interests dictated the need for three methodologies, all based upon rigid policies and procedures.

After a year of using three models, the company recognized it had a problem deciding how to assign the right project manager to the right project. Project managers had to be familiar with all three methodologies. The alternative, considered impractical, was to assign only those project managers familiar with that specific methodology.

After six months of meetings, the company consolidated the three methodologies into a single methodology, focusing more upon guidelines than on policies and procedures. The entire organization appeared to support the new singular methodology. A consultant was brought in to conduct the first three days of a four-day training pro gram for employees not yet trained in project management. The fourth day was taught by internal personnel with a focus on how to use the new methodology. The success to failure ratio on projects increased dramatically.

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