Tailoring Training to Large-Scale Needs
The Challenge. One of the nation’s top five financial services providers was also one of the first to recognize the need for formal Project Management Training more than a decade ago. “At the time, we really needed to get our Project Managers solid training that would not only serve them well in their daily jobs, but also give them the core knowledge needed to pass along to others in the organization,” said the firm’s Enterprise Best Practices Manager. The company’s projects tended to be much larger in scope than many training providers were able to handle at the time.
The Solution. Watermark Learning was already well established as a provider of both Project Management and Business Analysis training when the company sought a training firm with the resources to tackle its unique situation. “I first worked with them in 2000,” said Chris Anderson, now Watermark Learning Vice President of Sales and Delivery. “They were looking for PM training tailored to their specific needs in the Software and IT areas.”
“It was an easy choice to make Watermark our training provider,” the Manager said. “No one else responded to our specific needs as Watermark did, and Chris demonstrated a dedication to providing us with service that was second to none.”
Initially, Watermark tailored a course in project management fundamentals into one titled Managing Large Projects, which addressed the company’s most immediate needs. Moving forward, Watermark matched additional courses to the company’s needs, including Managing Software Requirements and Project Estimating, Planning and Control.
The Benefits. The company has worked closely with Watermark over a decade, and established its own in-house subject matter experts to provide continuing training for employees. “To facilitate this, we have licensed a number of Watermark Learning courses to them, and they now work in conjunction with us to provide proprietary training programs,” Anderson said.
Watermark instructors still provide onsite training as part of the relationship. Elizabeth Larson, Watermark CEO and co-principal, recently led a Managing Software Requirements class. “We strongly value our partnership with this client,” Larson said. “For over a decade we have worked together to bring value to the participants in their classes. For example, incorporating their templates and processes into our classes has ensured that the materials are practical and useful.”
Going Forward. Watermark staff will continue to provide training and other services, such as coaching and mentoring, to ensure that the company stays abreast of the latest Project Management trends. “As trends such as Agile continue to emerge, we have a mutual interest in keeping the client’s Project Management training programs fresh and relevant,” Larson added.
Ensuring Good Project Management
The Challenge To better satisfy internal customer requests to take a greater role in planning and managing projects, a major state agency’s management team decided they needed to change their culture to ensure good project management. They requested that Watermark Learning assist them to improve their project management processes on initiating, planning, prioritizing, and completing projects.
The Solution Watermark Learning worked closely with the directors and training manager of the agency, and created a custom project management curriculum based on our standard offerings. We "partnered" with the client to train more than 2/3 of their staff, provided baseline templates for agency-wide use, consulted with directors to create a project prioritization process, and provided an on-site, on-call mentor available to any staff that sought the help. The mentoring created a great deal of consistency in how project management was applied across the organization.
The Benefits In the client’s words, "…we have an emerging project management process in place. We have a management team that understands and supports this process and many employees who are true believers and practitioners. We are currently looking into the creation of a PMO to continue and build on our efforts. We are not completely there, but we are a lot further down the road than we were two years ago. There have been many participants in this process, but we all recognize the work and commitment of …Watermark as key to our success."
Honing Project Management Skills
The Challenge At this building products manufacturer, the company’s Project Management program evolved from an earlier Continuous Improvement program. As this program evolved, management was concerned that employees’ Project Management skills were not being used to the fullest extent.
The company’s Senior Training Associate was one of four employees who were selected for Project Management training from Watermark Learning during installation of the company’s SAP program.
The Solution The Training Associate was impressed with the Watermark Project Management courses, and was tasked with researching other Project Management training providers. When he presented the alternatives, executive consensus was to choose Watermark Learning. In addition, the Watermark teaching style closely matched the firm’s existing training style, another good reason for the choice.
As a department of one, the Training Associate is "responsible for soft skills training that creates and reinforces the corporate culture," as he puts it. "The company is big on Six Sigma, with a number of Black Belts in house," he said. "My job is to facilitate this and other training and to train the trainers. Our existing training programs had flooded our internal market," he added. "It was time for more and this was the logical next step."
Benefits "We started with a Project Management Fundamentals course open to everyone from the CIO to hourly administrators, and quickly found out that it was a gap that needed to be filled," the Training Associate said. Some employees questioned why they needed Project Management training if they already had Six Sigma. "Once they took the course, they quickly found that it not only provided valuable tools but was actually enjoyable. Another benefit is that our communications planning has increased tremendously, and this was an area where we hadn’t been doing very well."
"Our first Watermark instructor reinforced that this training was a natural fit with our culture and teaching style," the Associate added. "Watermark understands how people learn, especially adult learners."
Going Forward Organizational changes have kept students coming, including those in other plants. The Tuscaloosa production facility also offered the training after the Training Associate recommended the Project Management program for their site.
"We are now reaching for the next level with Business Analysis courses on an individual basis," he said. "Our program has stimulated other managers to send employees to this and other related training." The company’s training situation is very fluid right now. "We don’t require people to become certified as Project Managers at this time," the Training Associate stated. “Going forward, we would like to see how many people are interested, and then offer group classes accordingly. We want to maximize use of our training facility for larger groups, and if we need to train one or two people, we will send them to Watermark Learning."
Watermark Learning offers comprehensive training and mentoring to help control projects and improve their results. Click here for an overview of how we can make it work for you.