[Type the document subtitle]  center1876425Dell Perot ServicesEffective Project Management Training through Blended Workf...
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model
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Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model

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This paper was presented in the4 th PMI Symposium in Dallas

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Effective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model

  1. 1. [Type the document subtitle] center1876425Dell Perot ServicesEffective Project Management Training through Blended Workflow Model<br />Abstract<br />Typically, Project Managers occupy the middle management position in an organization and strategically organization’s profitability depends on how efficiently this group of people performs. This group, because of their experience level, falls in the category that can be trained in andragogical style. The discipline “Project Management” has evolved from the experiences gained from multitudes of project managers leading thousands of projects over scores of years. The knowledge about project management can be better understood by actually practicing it. Therefore, it is best taught through experiential learning. The project management learning curve follows the maturity levels as mentioned in Bloom’s Taxonomy that starts at acquiring “Knowledge” and “Comprehension” and then requires “Application” before the learner becomes capable of “Analysis”, “Synthesis” and “Evaluation” of complex situations that are encountered in the field. The Blended Workflow Model suggests that the subject be delivered in increments which allow the learner to apply the learning in practice to grasp the concept. Dell Perot Systems’ Learning & Development division has developed the project management curriculum based on this model and has been successful in implementing it across different levels of project managers in the company. These courses are developed based on “Collaborative Learning” which demands that the students put equal effort in the learning process by completing Pre-Work assignments before coming to the ILT/ VILT sessions. The courses are designed around practical exercises to enforce “Experiential Learning”. Our courses are highly rated by the students and we constantly try to improve on them by analyzing the feedback from the students. We also follow the ADDIE Model for designing and developing the courses which helps us to maintain the quality of our courseware. Perot Systems, now known as Dell Services, was one of the first companies to join the Registered Education Provider (REP) program in 1999.<br />Keywords: <br />Bloom’s Taxonomy, Blended Workflow Learning Model, Collaborative Learning, Experiential Learning, ADDIE Model<br />T<br />raining the workforce continues to be an important part of business operations. The advent of technology, like Web 2.0, is changing the mode of training delivery and making it more and more effective for knowledge absorption and application. Approximately, $135 billion was spent by American industries in training in the year of 2007 alone. As the industry realizes the importance of project management in doing business the training requirement for project management is rapidly increasing. <br />With increasing globalization the act of doing business is becoming more and more virtual. The internet technology also helps immensely in getting the work done by the most cost effective resource from best possible location to make the business more cost effective. Virtualization of doing business poses a big challenge to the Learning & Development community as it becomes more and more difficult to provide training in an ILT environment. On the other hand it is imperative to provide training in a virtual environment as people are adopting to work remotely with a 24/7 concept. <br />The other demanding thing from the work environment is the increasing speed of servicing the customer. It is like the competitor is waiting to jump in to grab your customer and it is just a click away. Online business has changed the marketplace by making it more and more agile through availability of information and online provisioning. <br />Dell Services acknowledges this challenge and is in the process of transforming the learning model to meet the challenges of globalization and service delivery speed.<br />We have adopted the Rapid Instructional Design technique through ADDIE model<br />A<br />DDIE enables us to focus on one stage at a time and a thorough review walkthrough is required to verify the output of one stage before handing it over to the next stage. This model also helps us in maintaining total compliance with the PMI requirements for REP program. <br />Analysis & Design: In discussion with the sponsor the basic purpose of the course is identified. The learning objectives are defined and the course structure is outlined at this stage. The storyboarding technique is used to define the flow of the course matching with the time duration required for each learning points. <br />Development: The design document is used as the foundation for developing the courseware for the course. The developer works closely with the SME to detail out the learning points, course material, exercises and quizzes that are required to meet the course objectives.<br />Implementation: Development team pilots the course with a selective group of students before handing it over to the implementation team. The course is then registered on PMI site and the implementation team trains the trainer and schedules the course as a regular offering as part of the Project Management curriculum.<br />“Today’s business world demands a combination of formal and informal learning with an emphasis on collaboration, knowledge sharing, social networking, coaching, and mentoring,” explains Josh Bersin, president of research and advisory firm Bersin & Associates. “Evaluation: We practice Kirkpatrick’s model for course evaluation. Level 1 (Reaction) evaluation is done for every single course and the feedback is analyzed for improving the course delivery. Level 2 (Learning) is also applied for all project management courses either through tests or exams at the end of the course or by means of embedded quizzes in the Computer Based Learning (CBL). Level 3 (Behavior) is used for more advanced courses that deal with “Application” of the knowledge gained from the simulation based courses. <br />The Synergy<br />Dell Services’ Learning and Development team works in collaboration with the project management community to design, develop and deliver the project management courses. The L&D team provides the expertise with the latest tools and technology from the learning industry while the PM community brings their experience from the field. The Enterprise Project Management Steering Committee (EPMSC) leads the project, program and portfolio initiatives across the company and is represented by PMOs from all the Business Units. The primary role of EPMSC is to define the project management methodology and institutionalize it across all the business units of the organization. Training being the most effective way of disseminating the knowledge and practice of PM Methodology, the EPMSC works closely with L&D to identify the PM courses required for the organization and decides the priority of their development. Our PMOs and PMs take an active part in designing the learning objectives, course structure and delivery methodology. They help our developer in creating the production guides by providing examples from the fields and practical samples of project management related artifacts that make the course very practical and relevant for our operation. We also use the PMOs and PMs as Subject Matter Experts (SME) in rotation for our VILT courses. This has a double advantage; one: as industry evangelists they are able to relate the theoretical knowledge to the real life day to day practice of project management, and two: teaching allows them to absorb the knowledge in the best possible way. <br /> Levels of projects<br />In Dell Services we recognize that all projects are not equal based on their size, complexity and importance. Some projects are pretty straightforward and simple and do not require as much attention from the management. On the other hand there are projects that are complex involving millions of dollars with very high stakes that demand close monitoring from the executive leadership. Large projects require an experienced project manager who can manage multiple complex dimensions of the project which could be dealing with senior management from the customer’s side or dealing with multiple vendors with complex delivery schedule and logistics. Project managers on highly complex project must also be great people managers. They should be able to lead and motivate a big team comprised of people with different skills, different management levels, different personal needs and aspirations and most likely coming from different cultural backgrounds. <br />Complex Projects need experienced PMs <br />In Dell Services we have defined levels of PMs based on their qualification and experience in managing projects. A competency model has been designed commensurate with compensation and Job Profiles. It is PMO’s job to select the project manager of the right level for a project with a given complexity level. PMs must complete the learning program for each complexity range and practice the Dell Services’ project management methodology on real projects to demonstrate the competency needed to receive their PM certification for each level.<br />The Intrinsic Nature of Project Management Practice<br />38100784860Every organization goes through a maturity process while customizing, implementing and refining the project management practices within the organization. In the process each organization defines certain tools, techniques and templates in order to make the project management practices suitable for their business type, work culture and organizational maturity. Dell Services have customized their project management practices around the knowledge gathered from the varieties of different projects executed over the years. Experience in project execution is coalesced with the industry best practices, like PMI, to define the Standard Operating Practices for all the knowledge areas of PMBOK. To make the PM practices standardized operations across the organization with 41000 people located in 183 countries, Dell Services have defined templates for different artifacts that are required for the projects, developed tools that automates the data collection, processing and project reporting efforts and also developed techniques that help the project manager in their day to day operations. <br />Curriculum for PM Community<br />Dell Services recognize that project managers have to constantly increase their knowledge in project management areas to improve their skills to successfully implement more complex projects. Based on this understanding the project management learning program has been defined by the L&D Department in collaboration with EPMSC. These courses are designed around the concepts of Bloom’s Taxonomy. <br />The Basic level courses provide the basic “knowledge” and “comprehension” about project management practices and the Fundamental level courses stress more on “Analysis” while the Advanced level courses focus on “Application” of the knowledge gained in earlier courses. <br />Collaborative Learning<br />It is different than learning in a classroom environment where the students come with a mindset that the instructor will flip open their brain and pour the knowledge into it. In a collaborative learning students are required to complete their pre-work which could be reading a book or article, learning how to use a tool through some CBTs or complete some exercises; before coming to the instructor facilitated sessions. In this process the students have to make equal effort in the learning process as the instructor and that makes the collaboration between the instructor and the students very effective. <br />Blended Learning Model (BLM)<br />Blended learning allows selecting the best learning mode for the specific content. The blended learning fabric may include instructor-led session (virtual or in classroom), computer based learning, coaching, print resources, lectures, etc. <br />Blended Workflow Learning Model (BWLM)<br />In a Blended Workflow Learning Model the content is delivered using different learning modes as explained in the Blended Learning Model. In addition the students, after a training session, are required to go back to their fields to actually practice the learning in their own areas and then they come back for more advanced knowledge or understanding of the subject. This way they can hone their skills better by actually applying their understanding in real world. <br />As explained below, PM courses of Dell Services that uses the concept of collaborative learning fall into BWLM category. In these courses students learn the subject using different self paced learning modes like video, CBT or recordings mixed with instructor led sessions and coaching & mentoring. Students are required to go through an incremental learning model that forces them to practice their knowledge in real life before getting into next level of the program <br />PM Basic<br />We understand that every PM should start with the basic understanding of project management concepts which is universal for any industry. We leverage existing learning resources available from different eLearning vendors in the market, to provide the basic project management knowledge to our beginner PMs. These people with their basic PM knowledge start functioning as Junior PM, assisting other Senior PMs in implementing larger projects. In this process they are mentored by the Senior PMs to independently manage smaller projects to start with.<br />PM Foundation<br />Once these Junior PMs gain sufficient practical experience in executing smaller projects and get a fairly good understanding about the project management SOPs they become eligible to attend the PM Supplemental course. This course helps them correlate the theoretical knowledge gained from the eLearning vendors with the practices within Dell Services including the basic concepts of tools, techniques and templates that are essential to practice Dell Services’ project management methodology. This course is designed to be delivered in a VILT mode with approximately 12 hours over a span of six weeks taking them through all the phases of project management lifecycle. Students of this course have the opportunity to practice the learning in their own project during the course and they can verify their practical solutions with the SME of the course.<br />PM Fundamentals<br />As these project managers gain more experience and knowledge from their projects they become ready to execute more complex projects but before they do so they are required to go through the PM Fundamentals series to equip themselves with the required knowledge. <br />PM Fundamentals series is designed to be delivered as VILIT course, involves 32+ hours and spans over 17 weeks or almost 4 months. This course is designed to provide the opportunity to the students to learn about the different difficult situations in the project and how to handle them with the help of Tools, Techniques and templates that are part of Dell Services’ project management methodology. This course covers the theoretical concepts of how to prevent scope creep, how to prevent schedule delays and how to deal with cost overruns while maintaining the quality of the deliverables. Students are required to complete certain pre-work before coming to the VILT session. Results from their pre-work are reviewed by the instructor/SME and are discussed during the VILT session. Students are required to write an exam after each series. <br />Students are allowed to practice their learning in their project for few months so that they start appreciating the practical implications of usage of the tools and techniques. <br />They are then asked to go through a Project Lifecycle Simulation course which is delivered in a classroom setup facilitated by an experienced PM. Students are taken through a simulated project from start to finish. <br />Storyboarding of Project Lifecycle Simulation Course<br />They are given a case study of a mock project which is a medium size project covering all the knowledge areas of PMBOK. The case study is presented in the form of computer simulated dialogue (CSD) that requires student to interact with the system to gather required information for the project. They then encounter several events which are very similar to challenges encountered in a real life project.<br />These events pose challenges in the project and students are required to use the tools and techniques learned in previous courses to bring it back on track. Students get the opportunity to consult with the Facilitator in a chat session to get some tips to correct their course. In the group session students are further exposed to more difficult situations where they encounter different stakeholders of a typical project and they are required to handle the situation using their project management skills, art or science. <br />These situations are incorporated in the simulation with the help of role plays where the Facilitator plays the role of either a difficult customer or a disgruntled team member or an adamant vendor and the student plays the role of a PM.<br />A simulation provides a safe environment allowing students to practice business activities or emergency response procedures without putting the organization at risk.<br />Benefits of Blended Workflow Learning Model for Project Management<br />In tune with Globalization: It is quite common these days to have a project where the resources are from different corners of the world. The project manager is constantly required to interact with different team members who are located in different parts of the world, with diverse cultures, working in different time zones, speaking in different dialects of English and observing different holiday calendars. Therefore, for a global PM it becomes necessary to enhance their people skill, be efficient in time management to balance their work and life and practically be a 24/7 PM. The virtual learning mode that is part of the BWLM prepares them to deal with the virtual world. <br />Effective use of time: More often than not we hear a statement like “I could do more when I work from home”. It is indeed true that people can deliver more if they do not have to be stranded on highways. More and more organizations are now allowing their employees to work from home. According to a recent study of training techniques by Osterman Research, Inc. the leading reason individuals choose to attend online training sessions or Webinars as a replacement for in-person events is the ease of fitting them into their schedules.<br />The number of U.S. employees who worked remotely at least one day per month increased 39 percent in two years from 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008Multigenerational workforce: In today’s environment, we have employees from different generations (Matures, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xs, and Gen-Ys/Millennials) working together. Tech-savvy team players prefer to learn through podcasts and other informal tools. <br />They prefer unstructured, just-in-time learning opportunities where the learning is delivered in bite-sized morsels. Classroom sessions with PowerPoint presentations bore them to tears. This is why the BWLM meets the needs of today’s workforce which is getting about 75 million “Millennials”.<br />Interact with real-life scenarios via the computer. Learning simulations present interactive models of processes, events, or circumstances found in the real world that have defined learning outcomes. Pretty soon we will find the serious gaming as part of learning tools.<br />References:<br /><ul><li>Rapid Instructional Design, 2nd Edition by George M. PiskurichElectronic Learning Communities: Current Issues and Best Practices by Sorel ReismanTrends in Learning Blending E-Learning: The Power in the Mix by Karen MantylaThe Blended Learning Book: Best Practices, Proven Methodologies, and Lessons Learned by Josh Bershin

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