Project management is challenging for any business. But when all of your project managers plan and execute projects in different ways, you've got a problem. When this problem surfaced at Ohio Savings Bank (OSB), a training program called Revolutionizing Project Management (RPM) got everybody on the same page.
"The company has been in a high-growth mode and we didn't have a consistent methodology," says Lindy Lutz, training and development director for OSB, a privately held financial institution with branches in Ohio, Florida and Arizona. "We needed to be more consistent so we could be more cost-effective."
OSB contracted with New York City-based International Institute for Learning (IIL) to create RPM. Lutz's team worked with IIL to customize its core curriculum for OSB's needs. The curriculum starts with planning components, such as defining a project's scope and charter or writing a communication plan. Control components, such as how to write status reports or handle a request to change a project's scope, are the second half of the training.
"The methodology can be used on any size of project, whether it's a big corporate initiative like developing a new system for a business unit or just a limited initiative in one department," says Lutz.
During three days of instructor-led classroom training, RPM teaches managers how to keep projects within the scope of the problem, within budget and within the promised timeline. The training emphasizes awareness of project tasks that depend on other tasks, so that no one person is holding up the train. At the end of the training, an hour-long wrap-up session features a game format to test employees' new knowledge.
Since the program began in January 2001, 170 OSB employees have been certified as project managers. One of the program's first graduates went on to lead a successful project to implement Maitland, Fla.-based ImageSoft Technologies' Nautilus document imaging software. Nautilus allowed online viewing of the masses of information in OSB's loan files and eliminated a lot of pawing through paper. Every department in the bank needed the software, but different departments planned to use it in different ways.
"Before this new methodology, the biggest stumbling block we faced was identifying how long projects would take," says Lutz. "The Nautilus project had a lot of facets and involved training different business groups differently, but the new methodology helped keep it in check."