Building the Program
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How did the program itself come together?
Salnoske: When we looked at what demand managers need to be good at, we realized we needed to build on three areas of competency (in addition to building the business knowledge, which was a given): project management, customer relationship management and business process management. So we put programs in place to build skills in each of those areas.
Obviously we don't expect everybody to be an expert in everything. So we divided up people based on their training needs, depending on their job description, scope, [and so on].
The first focus was on project management. Two years ago we made a big push not just around training, but around getting a governance model in place and introducing tools that helped us improve how we managed the portfolio of projects we had in place at any given time. We didn't require people to get Project Management Institute-certified, but a lot did.
Last year we started down the customer relationship path. We tested a few different programs, including a pilot program with Ouellette & Associates, which ultimately met our needs. This year we had a broad rollout.
We identified about 100 people around the world for the program. They go through three-day classes. We assign people to a "cohort." They start the first class together and go together to all subsequent classes. Then, in between the classes, which are spread out every couple of months, they take what they learn and practice it--they apply it to real projects or situations that they're working on.
The cohort is always available, and they have a set of tools, like SharePoint, that let them collaborate with each other. If someone tries something and it doesn't quite work the way they thought it would from class, they'll get together and jointly problem-solve on it.
Do the members of the "cohort" come from different specialties or backgrounds?
Salnoske: We mix them up based on areas they work in, years of experience, in some cases on geographic diversity or diversity of the business units they support. We try to set up the cohorts to have that diversity within them.
The European program will start later this year. Right now in the [United States] we have three simultaneous cohorts going, with each cohort including about 20 people.
Then there's the third leg--process management. What's the plan for that?
Salnoske: We have a training proposal we're considering. But it's not just training--there are tools and methodologies that go along with it. We're looking at the investment dollars for it now and expect to ramp that up later this year.