PMO Corner

Interview with VP of the PMO at ABB Optical Group - by Roy Vincent

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A conversation with Paul M. Salmon, new PMO VP at Sheridan Health Services

Paul M. Salmon, Vice President, PMO
Lean, SixSigma, PMP
B.S. University of Alabama; MHA, University of LaVerne

Company: Sheridan Health Services
Interviewed by: Roy Vincent, PMP, CSM, President, South Florida PMI

Roy: How did you get started in project management?
Paul: I was hired as a Project Manager back in the late 1980’s by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).  I was trained and certified to manage large business critical projects for implementation of our systems, solutions and process improvement by the professional services division of DEC.  In the 90’s along with two other consultants, we started the Healthcare Consulting Practice managing large system integration projects all over the country.

Roy: What did you do before that?
Paul: I began as my professional career as an Oceanographer. We performed environmental studies and mathematical models for utilities and oil companies. I was asked to run the data processing for the scientific division of the company and got into computer programming. From there I went to an OEM computer manufacturer and got assigned the VA administration to assist the Western Regional Medical Director configure computer systems for the hospitals. Next I went to work for an aerospace company and managed a large electronic warfare project using military specification and methodology.  From there I went to DEC and eventually got back into healthcare. 

Roy: How long have you been with Sheridan?
Paul: I started in mid October last year, approximately 6 months

Roy: How large is the PMO?
Paul: We currently have 10 PMs and 5 BAs. Most of the PMs report into the PMO. There are a couple in the development group and also a scrum master. Most of the Business Analysts also report into the PMO.

Roy: What percentage of your PMs are PMP certified?
Paul: 90%

Roy: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started?
Paul: Out of control projects, over budget, late, inconsistent processes and standards, no good information repository, lack of team work.

Roy: What challenges remain?
Paul: We are building our collaboration repository and project intake process.  Starting a very sound project and program governance program for our large initiatives.

Roy: What is the most unique or interesting thing about your PMO?
Paul: We support a very dynamic business growing at an incredible rate. We almost doubled last year and now have about 35 projects in flight with five of the projects funded at over $1,000,000. We have 45 projects in our portfolio currently.

Roy: Do you think the nature of your business has influenced the type of PMO you have today?
Paul: Yes. There is no cookie cutter PMO or Project Methodology.  You have to be agile, scalable and become a strategic influencer in the organization.

Roy: What types of projects does the PMO manage? Are there projects that do not fall under PMO governance?
Paul: We manage Mergers and Acquisitions, Construction, Moves/Adds, Infrastructure, Relocation, Data Center Move, Capitol, Software Development, Implementation, Integration and others.  Some small business related projects are run by the business and we act as advisors.

Roy: What tools do you use?
Paul: MS Project, SharePoint, Replicon, CharWell, ITSM, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, MS Access.

Roy: Is your PMO more tactical or strategic?
Paul: We have tactical projects but I would say that we are in a transitional phase of our company and the Healthcare industry.  We have major strategic projects all in flight at once. Never in my career have I been asked as a PMO executive to implement an ERP system, two billing systems, revamp our intranet site, begin our clinical quality reporting initiative (where $34Million is at risk) along with a number of other projects all in one year.

Roy: What percentage of projects are Agile vs. traditional/waterfall?
Paul: All our development is Agile and our enterprise strategic projects are kind of a hybrid – I call it evolutionary – Waterfall with an iterative approach wherever possible.

Roy: How would you rate the maturity of the PMO at this stage (immature, maturing, mature) and why? 
Paul: Maturing – I only have been here 6 months and we are working on standardization and maturity.

Roy: What benefits do you think our South Florida PMI chapter offers to you and your PMs?
Paul: I think it is beneficial to my PMs to collaborate with other PMs in terms of best practices and different approaches.

Roy: What are your expectations for your PMO over the next 3 years?
Paul: Continue to improve process and efficiencies.  Deliver above expectations below budget.  Create a high performing PMO team.

Roy: How are projects selected and approved at Sheridan, and how much influence do you have in the decision making process?
Paul: There is a budget process where a business justification is evaluated, reviewed and approved prior to the funds being allocated.  For other mid-year projects, there is a Project Governance structure with an Executive Steering Committee, and one for each business area that reviews status of in-flight projects and needs for additional projects; they adjusts priorities, and provides oversite.

About Sheridan Health Services:

Sheridan is one of the leading providers of healthcare solutions for anesthesiology and other specialties to physicians, hospitals and outpatient centers.

Physician led and managed, Sheridan provides comprehensive hospital-based clinical and management solutions for anesthesia outsourcing and other specialty areas including emergency medicine, children's services and radiology.

Sheridan is based in Sunrise, Florida. The company has approximately 8,000 employees in 350 locations.

Jason Davis, Senior Director at Tyco Talks about his company’s PMO

Jason Davis

Jason Davis, Senior Director, IT Enterprise PMO
B.S. Marine Engineering, United States Naval Academy M.S. Engineering Management, Catholic University of America PMP, Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Six Sigma Black Belt

Company: Tyco
Interview conducted by:      Roy Vincent, PMP, CSM
                                            President, South Florida PMI

Roy: How long have you been at Tyco?
Jason: I started at Tyco in January 2013

Roy: How did you get started in project management? 
Jason: I got my start as a Six Sigma Black Belt for GE.  I led multiple projects in that capacity and then moved on to other roles (MBB, Lead Program Integrator, Program Manager roles, PMO Director roles, Governance and Portfolio Management Director, and ePMO.)

Roy: How large is the PMO here at Tyco and is it all project managers?
Jason: We have roughly 85 people globally; mostly project managers. We do have a few analysts, and our PMO leaders in that count as well.

Roy: How is the PMO structured? 
Jason: Our PMO is part of IT, we report to the CIO, although we are beginning to branch more into leading cross-functional work.  But I would not consider us a Tyco-wide enterprise PMO at this point.

Roy: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started here at Tyco?
Jason: My biggest challenge by far was that Tyco had just announced “The New Tyco” a couple of months prior and its intent to transform from a holding company model to an operating company model.  From an IT perspective we had probably a dozen or so completely independent IT organizations, all with their own siloed functions (including PMO) and we were challenged with transforming that into a centralized IT model with common processes, tools, metrics, etc.

From a PMO we ran the gamut in terms of maturity. We had some businesses that were very mature and had a PMO organization, formal roles, PPM systems, documented methodology, templates, ties to the Finance organization, etc. We had other organizations that didn’t really track anything nor have any formal PM roles, etc. And we had a number of examples in between those two extremes. 
Therefore, from an enterprise perspective, that meant we had no ability when I started to measure what projects we were actually doing, how much they cost, what their health and status were and when they were actually going to finish.  My top priority was fixing that and driving toward a common organizational structure, common process, common metrics, common tool, etc.

Roy: What challenges remain?
Jason: Some of the top challenges we are working on include: trying to do a better job with resource capacity management; improving our strategic program management capabilities; looking at cross-program / cross-portfolio dependencies and risks, including from sources that are completely independent from project/program work; and continuing to focus on development of our PMs based on an “entrepreneurial PM” model.

Roy: Do you think the nature of your business has influenced the type of PMO you have today?
Jason: Not necessarily the nature of the business, but rather the transformation that we’ve been going through as a business.  Some of our commercial work has forced us to adapt to having more agility and flexibility.

Roy: How much support do you have from your senior execs?
Jason: We actually have tremendous support.  Our CIO was supportive of our mission from day 1 and my peers on the senior IT leadership team have been supportive because they’ve all operated in mature environments and recognize the value a well operated PMO can bring.

Roy: What difference do you think the PMO has made in the last 2 years?
Jason: We’ve definitely brought consistency, transparency and predictability to the organization and enabled the successful transition to an Operating Company model.  We have led the way on not just portfolio work but also our overall IT organization transformation in terms of building an overall IT labor model and introduced a level of financial management around our portfolio that didn’t exist previously. 

We’ve also invested significantly in getting strong, experienced leaders into our PMO leadership roles as well as focusing on ensuring we have the best PMs we can – trying to align both their strengths and career goals with the needs of the organization.  By centralizing the ePMO structure and standardizing job descriptions and the overall job family we’ve provided a career growth framework for our PMO personnel.

Roy: Are projects more successful now than before the PMO? 
Jason: In general, yes, I would say we are much more successful now. We’ve seen a 15-20 point improvement in terms of delivering on time and on budget.  Part of that is just getting consistency in our measurements and driving a higher level of transparency so that issues are highlighted sooner and we can address them proactively.  However, more importantly we’ve reduced the amount of variation. We have room for improvement like anyone does and we are focusing on driving more metrics around our stakeholder satisfaction, and measuring the overall business impact and outcomes rather than just the typical “on-time, on-budget” metrics.

Roy: What types of projects does the PMO manage? Are there projects that do not fall under PMO governance?
Jason: From an IT perspective all of our projects fall under PMO governance. In terms of what types of projects we manage, there is a broad range.  We manage traditional “application deployments or upgrades”, infrastructure build outs, many ERP related projects, data center consolidation and network modernization projects, real estate moves, lots of M&A projects (initial infrastructure setups as well as application integrations and migrations), information security projects, as well as some truly process-based projects that have no technology whatsoever… you name it we are likely involved in it.

Roy: How many projects are there currently in the portfolio?
Jason: We have a little over 200 active in-flight projects in our portfolio. We normally average anywhere from 200-225 active projects.

Roy: What tools do you use to manage your projects?
Jason: Part of our transformation over the past years was to drive to a common set of tools across the enterprise.  We implemented Daptiv as our PPM system (now owned by Changepoint). We use Daptiv for our Project and Portfolio Management as well as Timesheets for all of our Global IT team. We use an Excel-based template and framework for all of our project cost tracking and forecasting, one that we developed ourselves, and then we upload some of the summary financials from there into Daptiv for inclusion in our reports.  We use SharePoint heavily for storage of our artifacts associated with our projects.  Finally we use Microsoft Project as well.

Roy: How closely aligned is your PMO to the PMBOK?
Jason: Pretty well aligned I would say.  Our methodology is very much based around a traditional waterfall approach. We have introduced some agile concepts on some of our projects but we have kept that within the governance framework that’s based on a waterfall model.

Roy: Is your PMO more tactical or strategic?
Jason: I would say it’s a little of both.  We definitely have a tactical, delivery-based focus on our active portfolio, so we are very much accountable for delivery.  However, we also have responsibility for strategic elements. As a member of our senior IT leadership team I am heavily involved in the strategic planning of everything we do in the organization and provide the PMO perspective in that process. Additionally, as we’ve progressed over time, our portfolio has evolved into one that is largely based around several strategic programs – with multiple projects or workstreams within those. So our overall portfolio has become more strategic in its overall nature.

Roy: How would you rate the maturity of the PMO at this stage (immature, maturing, mature) and why?
Jason: Maturing. We have definitely moved the maturity needle in the past 3 years but still have room to grow. We conducted a Gartner ITScore assessment on our PPM capability 3 years ago and we were on the low side of Level 2 (emerging discipline) in their model.  A quick assessment done today reveals we’re solidly in Level 3 (Initial integration) covering most aspects at that level with some Level 4 (effective integration) elements additionally.

Roy: Have you attended or participated in any SFL PMI Chapter events?
Jason: Yes, just recently began attending.  I’ve been located in South Florida over a year now and have started to reach out and try to start building a network here.  I was impressed by the number of attendees at one of the dinner meetings. Very active and engaged chapter.

Roy: What benefits do you think the chapter offers to you and your PMs?
Jason: It provides several things.  First and foremost it provides a network of like-minded professionals with whom they can interact, share, learn from, etc.  It also provides a platform for continued education and development as a Project Management Professional.  I have always found that the more you talk to other people who do the same thing you do at different companies the more you realize how similar your challenges really are and can often find ways to pick up ideas on how to address things that you may not have considered previously.

Roy: How are projects selected and approved at Tyco? How much influence do you have in the decision making process?
Jason: We have an intake process that has historically been unique depending on the business unit or region.  We continue to standardize this across the globe.  We have a “demand” and “supply” model that we utilize in Global IT and the intake process is primarily owned by the “Demand’ organization – which is made up of IT Business Partners (Business Relationship Managers) working with business leaders.  They typically utilize a scoring mechanism to evaluate candidate projects based on a number of criteria – alignment to strategy, cost, risk, benefit, complexity, etc.

The PMO does have a decent amount of influence on the process, not necessarily in determining what gets approved, but in helping ensure that all relevant information is considered and partnering with the Demand teams to provide guidance and support.
As a member of the Senior IT Leadership team I sit on the decision making body that gives final approval to move a project from “candidate” into our active portfolio of work.  At that point our Tollgate governance process takes over and there are decision points along the way that determine if the project will receive full funding, etc.

Roy: What percentages of projects are completed on schedule and on budget every year?
Jason: Roughly 75-80%.  We’re better at delivering on budget than schedule, but admittedly we’re hard on ourselves from a schedule health standpoint.

About Tyco:
Tyco is a $10+ billion company with over 57,000 employees across 900 locations in nearly 50 countries. Tyco is a provider of security products and services, fire detection and suppression products and services, and life safety products.

Tyco’s broad portfolio of products and services are sold under well-known brands such as Tyco, SimplexGrinnell, Sensormatic, Wormald, Ansul, Simplex, Scott and ADT.

Interview with Rob Alessandrine-VP Application Development and PMO