Evolving Our Project Management to Advance Client Results

Published by Craig Leonard
on Dec 16, 2020

Always learning. 

If you were to talk to anyone in our organization, you’d quickly discover that we are all truly passionate about learning. So much so, that always learning is one of our core values.  Learning from our successes, failures and each other is integral to how we operate and how we’ve grown into the agile company we are today. 

Of course, consistently translating learning into action and implementing change requires best-in-class project management. I recently sat down with Chad Kozman, our new Director of Project Management, for his perspective on creating effective change in learning experience design and his new role at O’Donnell Learn.  

What excites you most about your new role as Director of Project Management for O’Donnell Learn?

The growth stage of O’Donnell Learn. It’s a catalyst of a time for the company. E-learning was already in an upward direction, with O’Donnell Learn uniquely positioned for that market. Then the pandemic happened and it’s been like a rocket booster on top of growth that was already strong. I’m really excited to be able to contribute to what I see as being on the ground floor of something that has a lot of potential to scale! 

Like everyone at O’Donnell, I love learning. I’ve taken online courses and know just how horrible and drab some can be. Being able to contribute to producing a product that improves the end-user experience is something I really enjoy. 

Creating change is at the heart of what you do. Of course, creating change often creates resistance. Talk about what you do to help make change happen. How do you navigate resistance to change?

Effective project management requires continuous improvement. We’re currently auditing how things work at a macro-level, and how we want our internal systems in the future to be designed. An example of this would be  how we make decisions about, and manage, our tech stack. We’re also looking at things at an individual project level to determine how we can standardize a great client experience, regardless of the engagement. It’s important to ask “what are the common things that make up a really great experience with one client that can be put into practice on a repeating basis?”

“Focusing on the benefits is key for getting buy-in and helps mitigate resistance.”

So first, we audit processes to discover the changes we can make, or that need to be made, along with a thorough exploration of  the benefits for any recommended changes. Then we communicate these benefits in a clear fashion to everyone involved in making the change. Focusing on the benefits is key for getting buy-in and helps mitigate resistance. 

Directly related to process improvement is ongoing feedback, which is also one of O’Donnell Learn’s best practices. How are you integrating this practice into what you’re doing?

We’re actually in the process of setting up a project management system that captures a lot of data points around task management and around how people are performing day to day.  Once we get that in place, everyone will be working out of a new system that takes advantage of features like advanced automation to increase our efficiency. We’ll be able to see the quantitative information around various tasks in a way that we can monitor in real time. This is something we haven’t been able to do before, so it’s really exciting.

“Capturing project data and effectively planning projects based on that data, ultimately saves our client’s time and money.”

It’s a year down the road. You’re at a higher education conference and someone asks how what you’ve been doing makes O’Donnell Learn the better choice. What’s your response?

I would  say because we use robust data to drive decisions we make around how projects are executed, and how we make decisions for everything from timeline to budget. We have the ability to connect our work to the bottom line for a client at a very granular level. In our industry, this is a huge edge. Some of the best known companies in education don’t do this and they still do really well. Outside of education, the companies that do this well are household names, for example Amazon and Apple. They’re successful not solely because of their product offerings, but because of how they use the data they collect at every level of their operation. They’re in a continuous state of innovation and improvement based on this data. Emulating that, capturing project data and effectively planning projects based on that data, ultimately saves our client’s time and money.  We are the leaders in applying these enterprise lessons to the education industry.

At the same time, this data also helps make O’Donnell Learn an agile, creative and innovative company. When we need to pivot or adjust our project strategy, it’s not random, or hoping for the best. It’s based on data we’ve collected, and our unmatched ability to apply insights from this data for the benefit of our clients. That is the foundation of successful project management, and it’s at the core of what we do!

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