Why project management? Why now?
InfoTrust is an analytics consultancy and a Google-certified marketing and Cloud partner. So why would we need to venture into the project management space?
If you would have asked anyone at InfoTrust what project management was, as recently as a couple of years ago, you’d either get blank faces or a response along the lines of, “Well it’s what I do every day to make sure my projects move along!”
When InfoTrust first started out more than 10 years ago, project management was exactly that. With a team of less than 20 people, wearing multiple hats was just part of the job. An analytics consultant would have been perfectly right if he/she understood themselves to be the sole person managing project scope, risks, coordinating meetings and communications, and then delivering on both business and technical aspects of the project.
Fortunately, despite the ongoing pandemic, InfoTrust has been growing at a steady rate and in fact relatively fast over the last three years—so much so that we now stand at an overall employee count of 120+ with client rosters boasting multinational corporations and large conglomerates across the world. With this came a lot of growing learnings, among which are all the nuances of managing a project from start to finish.
Let me tell you my story …
When I first joined InfoTrust nearly four years ago, what I loved was the detailed, documented processes to help standardize project delivery, along with the flexibility to tailor that very same delivery to the client’s unique needs.
However, it soon became apparent that there were multiple projects per client, some spanning multiple teams at both InfoTrust (engineering, data science, analytics) and client-side. We were just about 50-odd employees and our clients’ analytics and data needs were already becoming increasingly complex.
In my day-to-day role, these nuances led me to also naturally assume what I referred to as the ‘traffic police’ role—keeping the path clear for the specialists to be able to do their jobs and ensuring the project could move along became second-nature. Add to that the anticipation of risks, motivation of the rest of the project/client team, and monitoring of the resources, time, and budget, and it slowly dawned on me that I was naturally becoming a project manager as well.
Looking at my fellow analytical consultants, I noticed that many of them were doing the same things in their own ways, and sometimes spending a fair amount of their time managing the various moving parts. It seemed so obvious that project management was absolutely needed but it was reducing efficiency and effectiveness, if the team members were doing it themselves.
The big a-ha moment came in mid-2019 when I was asked to manage the logistics and nuances of a large data science project that needed the specialist team to be fully involved in the technical work. It was with this project that the specific impact of having a dedicated project manager (PM) allocated to a project was first seen. Not only did the project move along despite some unknowns and obstacles, but high-quality results were also delivered on time, on scope, and on budget delighting everyone including the client!
And thus began the journey of formalizing project management at InfoTrust.
How did we do it?
First we had to obtain leadership buy-in. Thankfully, with a PMP-certified CEO who lives by project management principles and a COO who speaks the language of project management, this was not difficult!
Then we had to ensure we had the right foundations in place (think Project Management Institute’s certifications, a strong team of enthusiastic junior PMs, standard processes, platforms, and SLAs). And now, we are 15 months into our journey and getting better each day!
What does project management look like at InfoTrust?
While still in the early stages, we are pivoting how we adopt project management on a daily basis. The data and analytics industry is ever-changing and so are its project management needs.
With more standard projects, we typically adopt a waterfall project management approach, while with more advanced projects requiring iterations of innovation and optimization, we tend towards an agile approach. The majority of projects benefit from a hybrid approach, which is where PMI’s Agile Hybrid Project Pro Micro-credential proves advantageous.
As for PM tools (among many others), we currently use:
- Standard processes, templates, and SLAs for each stage of the project lifecycle that are also tailored to each team
- Platforms such as Salesforce and Precursive PSX and OBX to help with project and task tracking, monitoring, and reducing risk while improving project parameters
- Methods to measure the impact of project management and track progress
- Methods to educate the wider organization on how to effectively integrate project management into projects, while ensuring accountability and least overlap of roles
- Third-party integrations with our existing comms platforms to increase communication (both internal and external)
- Remote management and communication tools, as we adapt to a post-COVID work environment
- Tracking tools/regular analyses to ensure intake, allocation, capacity planning, and project portfolio management
Added value? Absolutely!
Over the last 15 months we have actively dedicated a project manager to key projects (on a test basis, initially for high-value clients and on major projects).
The outcome? We received amazing feedback of demonstrated value from both internal and external stakeholders.
I’ll let them speak for themselves:
“Dedicated work on the client-side often gets under-estimated during scoping—adding a project manager to keep us accountable is a huge value.” – Key client stakeholder for a visualization and custom integration project at a global cosmetics organization
“Project management helped us achieve what we set out to create; we never needed to pivot from the original goal.” – Buyer for a data science project at a national broadcasting company
“The project manager helped keep us on track and was literally the glue that held everything together.” – Internal project technical specialist for a custom engineering project at a large financial services provider
In addition, we’re now starting to see quantifiable impact of this value:
- Fewer challenges when it comes to sticking to the original project scope and timelines
- More efficiency in resource management, leading to less wastage
- More enthusiastic team members with additional time to focus on delivering quality work to clients
What we’ve come to realize is this: a happy team coupled with effective project management leads to a successful project and a happy client!
As we move ahead in our project management journey, we’re expecting this to be quite similar to the natural evolution of a project—lots of pivoting, ups and downs, and management of processes, teams, and platforms to deliver the best possible outcome for both us and our clients. Come along with us for the ride and stay tuned for the next post in the #PMAtInfoTrust series!
In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about what else we can do for you at InfoTrust, check out our services here!