Project Management: How to Set Up Shop

Project Management: How to Set Up Shop

Mike Stober, 36, is global manager of the newly created information-technology project management office at Stanley Works, the $3.3 billion tool manufacturer based in New Britain, Conn. He spoke recently with Senior Editor Todd Spangler.

Baseline: How did you set up the project management office?

Stober: When I first came in [May 2005], I wanted to observe the organization for two weeks. I wanted to understand the culture—the intangible things about project management—instead of the technical aspects of building tools or best practices.

Q: What did you find?

Stober: Right off the bat, there was the wrong dialogue. It wasn’t at the level it should have been. It went from strategic into tactical dialogue; there wasn’t any context around the discussion. What happened was, the wrong people were allocated to manage a project. Whoever was in the room was put in charge: “Bob, you’re the best AS/400 programmer—you’re in charge of this.” But you’re setting people up to fail if you do that because they’re I.T. people. That doesn’t necessarily mean they can manage people.

Q: What did you do next?

Stober: Most of my energy was spent on the people. I wanted to raise awareness around project management in I.T. through training. I didn’t focus a lot on the technology side, purposely.

Q: Why not?

Stober: People sometimes put in project management tools first, then run around and look for a problem the tool can solve. I didn’t want that perception. The process needs to be looked at as a new way of thinking, to answer the question, “What’s the actual problem you’re trying to solve?”

Q: So, what’s changed?

Stober: Now everybody understands the process, how to request funding, manage scope, handle reporting. And the I.T. leadership team will stop projects if they think the wrong people are in charge.

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