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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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CVM Establishes New Project Management Staff

by Madeline Van Hoose 
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter January/February 2002 Volume XVII, No 1

Goal II of the Center for Veterinary Medicine Strategic Plan states that "We will improve and bring discipline to and through our business practices by having... created a Center level project management function." To implement this goal, CVM has created a new Project Management Staff at the Center level, under the direction of the Deputy Center Director, Dr. Linda Tollefson. The new Project Management Staff will develop and implement project management processes and methodologies to bring discipline to the way the Center manages complex projects, and provide the support and training necessary to facilitate its effective application across the Center.

As Director of the new Project Management Staff, I will be holding meetings throughout the Center over the next few months to describe the functions and terminology of project management as a discipline, and to share the Project Management Staff Strategic Plan. I look forward to getting to know each staff member and learning more about their views of the critical project management needs of the various components of CVM.

The vision of the new staff is to establish project management in CVM as a culture and way of doing business that adds value at all levels of the organization. The Project Management Staff Strategic Plan outlines the goals and strategies for accomplishing this and its Implementation Plan creates the roadmap for their realization. Included in that plan are goals and strategies that will ultimately reach out to all of CVM.

Almost anyone, when asked, can give his or her own version of what project management means to them. But for starters, a working definition of team-based project management can be stated as the process of planning, focusing, coordinating, and communicating the activities of a project team to:

  • Establish and manage a project plan that is agreed to by all project team members and the organizations they represent
  • Facilitate priority setting for project objectives and tasks
  • Facilitate the work of the project team in accomplishing the project goals and objectives
  • Identify problems and issues early in the project
  • Identify project resource requirements and conflicts early in the project
  • Facilitate decision-making and problem-solving by the project team
  • Improve coordination and communication among the organizations represented by the project team members
  • Improve communication with principals outside the project team
  • Provide project status information to senior managers for decision-making

One of the goals of the Project Management Staff is to create consistency across CVM in the way we approach and implement project management. This will be a long- term effort that involves terminology, methodology and process development, standards and metrics development, mentoring, training, and a lot of piloting on real projects.

Our first pilot project for application of team-based project management is the development of the Antimicrobial Resistance Guidance For Industry. I will be working with Dr. Bill Flynn, the Team Leader, Mrs. Carole Andres, the Project Manager, and all of the team members of the Antimicrobial Resistance Guidance Group (ARGG) (Ms. Mary Bartholomew, Dr. Kevin Greenlees, Ms. Aleta Sindelar, Dr. Charlotte Spires, and Dr. David White), to apply the principles and tools of project management to this development effort. This project is very complex and critically important to the Center. It is an ideal example where project management can help achieve the goals of the project and meet several critical and very tight deadlines.

I see the initial benefits of a CVM Project Management Staff as more effective project management for larger, cross-functional CVM projects, a common project management vocabulary, a project management information system, well-defined and repeatable project management processes, and more readily available project management tools, mentoring, and training. Over the longer term, this will result in alignment of projects to the CVM Strategic Plan, a culture of collaboration and accountability, leveraging of knowledge across the Center, and increased internal and external stakeholder satisfaction. At a team level, the benefits include expedited achievement of project team goals and deliverables, empowerment of project team members through individual accountability, and an enhanced framework for critical decision-making.

The CVM Project Management Staff will be adding another staff member to its ranks this year. In addition, short-term details will be established for project managers and project coordinators to participate as specific projects arise. Not only will this help to incorporate project management tools and techniques into organizations that allow these detailees to participate, but the knowledge and skills they learn can be applied to any project—large, small, complex, or simple. Mastering these skills will open up new opportunities for individuals to apply them. A CVM Project Management Team will also be established as a less formal structure to allow individuals from throughout CVM to participate and learn about what project management is and how it can help in their own organizations.

Madeline Van Hoose is Director of CVM's Project Management Staff.