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GovReads: “Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government”

A few years ago, I (Andrew Krzmarzick – the guy behind Dr. GovLoop) obtained my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It’s a grueling process, and I have a lot of respect for others who have taken the time to gain this credential. While there are tons of books written on the subject, very few (if any!) are focused on the application of project management in the Federal government.

That’s why I was excited to learn that a new book called “Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government” written by Jonathan Weinstein, PMP, and Timothy Jaques, PMP, was launched by publisher Management Concepts yesterday. I was able to catch up with the busy authors in order to ask them a few questions. You’ll find their responses below.

Quick note before the interview: if you’re interested in talking about this topic with colleagues, be sure to check out the Project Management Institute group on GovLoop.

1. What’s your background and how did you get into project management?

We are founding partners of Line of Sight, a project management, process design, and organizational change management services firm. We have both worked with government (all sizes of federal, state, and local agencies) and private sectors clients (from small start-ups to international insurance companies). We have written extensively on topics such as project management, organizational change, and strategic planning and have been featured speakers at conferences, universities, and organizations around the US and in Europe, most recently at PMI’s North American Congress in Orlando, Florida and IPMA’s World Congress in Helsinki, Finland. Like many project managers, we both came into t he profession accidentally. Over the years, we each honed our skills through experience, education and training, and collaborating with others.

2. What have been some of the more interesting projects that you have worked on over the years?

Our work is often accomplished by small teams in large organizations. We love breaking through bureaucracy to help a large organization achieve a result much faster than expected. Some examples – we have helped ensure an accurate count on the 2000 and the 2010 Census by coordinating data reviews with state demographers. We led an effort for a $19B insurance company to sharpen its year-end financial closeout process, cutting months off the process and saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have delivered services that have improved the effectiveness of project management practices for all levels of government, including many New York State agencies. We helped a rural mental health association define the need for and implement electronic medical healthcare records across 16 different facilities.

3. Can you provide a quick overview of your newest book “Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government”?

Although project management is not new to the federal government, the discipline has taken on renewed importance in the face of the ever-increasing size, complexity, and number of mission-critical projects being undertaken by every branch and agency. This book addresses the key facets of project management, from organization and structure to people and process. A variety of government entities share their best practices in areas including leadership, technology, teams, communication, methodology, and performance management. Based on research and interviews with a wide range of project managers, Achieving Project Management Success in the Federal Government presents a realistic cross section of the project management discipline in the largest single enterprise in the world—the U.S. federal government.

4. What was the impetus for the book?

This is a very exciting time in project management in the federal government. Consider the huge emphasis on projects today – NASA’s changing focus from the space shuttle program, ARRA, Census 2010, major new infrastructure development, and more. Yet project management still varies widely from agency to agency, even within single Departments. We looked for a book that discussed how project management was being addressed in the federal government, particularly the civilian sector and didn’t find one. We wanted to write a book to help advance the discussion toward improving the tools and techniques, policies and practices across the federal government.

5. So a Federal project manager sees the book and says, “How is this different from other books on project management?” How would you respond?

This book is a “must have” for federal project managers, federal agency executives, contractors, as well as their foreign government counterparts who want to understand the breadth and depth of project management in the U.S. government. This book offers a unique view from the practitioner’s perspective, offering their stories to illustrate the positive impact good practices have on project management success. The book is organized into three main topics – Organization & Structure, People, and Process offering unique and important lessons for each. While we cover a wide range of topics, the focus is on providing practical advice on making project management work in the federal government.

6. What are the Top 5 Key Take-Aways from “Achieve Project Management Success…”?

Our Top 5 Take-Aways:

  • There is a large inventory of practical project management technical and tools that are being applied successfully across the federal government.
  • Agency leaders must become conversant in project management. Ignorance is no longer a viable path, especially when multi-million or billion dollar mistakes still occur.
  • Project management is as much a cultural phenomenon as a new set of processes. Organizational change management is warranted.
  • To be successful, organizations must not only do the right projects, but also do projects right. These require two different paths and sets of investments.
  • To get the right results, begin with the right questions. Project management offers a set of tools for envisioning the end state before a major investment has been made.

7. Got another book project in the works…if so, can you give us a sneak peek?

We have been busy working on a new newsletter: Federal PM Focus Newsletter. This is a great source of information for the Federal Government about recent happenings, standards, events, tips and tricks, etc. We are considering the next edition of this book that may focus on the federal government project management “in the field” as well as a book that discusses organizational change management in the public sector.

8. Where can we find you on the web?

You can find us in several places:

Our company: www.line-of-sight.com

Our book: http://pm-success.line-of-sight.com/index.html

Federal PM Focus Newsletter: http://fedpm.managementconcepts.com/

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