MPS Helps ServiceWorks with Curriculum Design

Posted in Pro Bono Program / Project Management on May 10, 2017

ServiceWorks-Vertical-FinalServiceWorks is a program run by Points of Light to help disenfranchised youth – many of them raised in the foster care system – to develop the skills needed for college and a career. They were interested in incorporating a Project Management component to their curriculum that met the standards of the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF), so last December, Points of Light came to M Powered Strategies requesting a feasibility study.

MPS consultants Jeremy Faircloth and Tyler Sycamore spent two months, working closely with the Points of Light/ServiceWorks team, reviewing the current curriculum, and comparing it to the standards of PMIEF, which offers a digital badge for students aged 12 – 19 years who have demonstrated project management skills and knowledge. The result was a gap analysis, along with recommendations for specific adjustments ServiceWorks could make in their curriculum to meet the PMIEF standards. MPS also provided a step-by-step roadmap of the steps they would need to take to establish a partnership with PMIEF.

“Points of Light is an amazing organization to work with!” noted Jeremy. “As a Project management Professional (PMP) myself, this was a great opportunity to give back to the community and empower disenfranchised youth to make a difference in their community. I’m excited to see the impact of our work.”

MPS Fosters Project Management Professionals

Posted in Professional Development / Project Management on March 24, 2017

PMPMPS is proud to announce the recent certification of four new Project Management Professionals (PMPs): Brian Wenzler, Lee Levy, Ashley Rezai and Allison Primack. That makes twelve PMPs at MPS, and more to come. At MPS, we actively encourage our consultants to avail themselves of the tools of Project Management and to master the rigorous skills and knowledge areas required to attain PMP certification.

Kendall Lott, President of M Powered Strategies, has been a PMP for over a decade. He was President of the Washington DC Project Management Institute (PMIWDC) in 2015, where he was recognized for excellence in leadership for a large chapter.  He also teaches a series of Project Management classes for the MPS Professional Apprenticeship for Consulting Excellence (PACE) program, and hosts monthly audio podcasts, “PM Point of View”, which are available for download on iTunes. According to Kendall, “The PMBOK [Project Management Book of Knowledge] offers hardcore practical tools and systems for real life consultants. But it’s not set in stone; it’s updated on a yearly basis. And swirling around that is a cadre of thinkers and professionals, writing books and blogs, delving deeply into the key areas of Project Management – Risk, Stakeholder Management, Scope, etc. They keep coming up with fascinating and radical new approaches. That’s the stuff I enjoy hashing out in my podcasts.”

Lee, who has always had an interest in project management, learned about Project Management shortly after coming into the company as a PACE apprentice. “I asked about it during my coaching sessions and asked other colleagues about their experience with the PMP. That sparked my interest …” One thing she likes about Project Management is that, besides the tools, “it provides a common language across the consulting sphere with colleagues and clients.”

According to Brian, “Project Management principles help me break down broad, ambitious initiatives that clients talk about into discrete milestones and objectives. This is key in translating ideas into action and eventually results.”

Allison is appreciative of MPS’ support. “I think it is great that MPS encourages us as professionals to engage in PMI/project management, since it is something that is relevant to any professional career, not just consulting.”

Kendall is proud of his staff’s push to certification, “Project Management is how we drive change, it’s an act of transformation and so it’s in the very DNA of MPS. We are happy that our team sees the need to develop these skills. Whether we are formal project managers or not, this way of thinking helps us get more done for our clients and for our company.”

Reasons for Success: The 2016 PMIWDC Volunteer Fair

Boasting over ten thousand members, the DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC) is more than the largest PMI chapter, it is also one of the most active. Thanks to the support of local businesses and universities, along with a commitment to community outreach – exemplifying their newly coined core value of “High Impact Community Leaders” – PMIWDC is able to galvanize its membership with meaningful events that support the community and promote Project Management as a way to cause change and deliver real results.

Most recently, the second annual Volunteer Fair brought together one hundred chapter members, plus all twelve chapter board members, twenty-five Project Management students from nearby universities, and representatives from fourteen local nonprofits. Attendees were able to meet with nonprofits to sign up for skills-based or other volunteering opportunities. Students mingled with PMs, networking and learning about Project Management from experts. A delicious dinner was served. And to top it off,  over 250 volunteer positions were filled – all in the course of precisely two hours.

“That’s what happens when PMs run an event,” said MPS President, Kendall Lott. “I have to commend VP of Programs Uma Hiremagalur and her Programs Team. This was not just a fun event that actually delivered some real outputs, but they built a PMO, took lessons learned from last year’s event, and developed a playbook to implement innovations to make the 2016 Volunteer Fair a resounding success. It’s what this chapter does at its best, piloting programs, then improving them for full implementation.”

We at MPS are proud to have been a key sponsor of the Volunteer Fair, donating the funds to offset the cost of attendance for all the nonprofits. We also sent a team of PMs from our staff to meet with the nonprofits as well as to recruit. As a recognized Employer of National Service, MPS is always looking for PMs who are community-focused and actively involved in making the world a better place.

MPS Sponsors 2016 Volunteer Fair at PMIWDC


PMIWDC Volunteer Fair 2016

PMIWDC Volunteer Fair 2016

The Washington, DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC) held its second annual Volunteer Fair on October 17, driving home its core value, promoting Project Managers as “High Impact Community Leaders.” PMs, local nonprofits, and the chapter leadership came together to recruit and place volunteers with organizations in need.

The event was designed and implemented by Uma Hiremagalur, VP of Programs, along with her program team at PMIWDC, to encourage local Project Managers to meet other professionals in the DC network and learn about ways to give back. One hundred PMs gathered in a learning and sharing environment, with fourteen nonprofits and all twelve of the Operational Areas of the chapter board.  M Powered Strategies was proud to be the primary corporate sponsor, funding registration costs for all the nonprofits. Also sponsoring the event were several universities, which sent students of Project Management to expose them to a network and learning environment that is so important for enhancing PM skills.

For Project Managers at MPS, the opportunity to provide skills-based volunteering was a major attraction.  Skills-based volunteerism is deeply embedded in the company’s Community Engagement practice, and our consultants and managers were excited to participate in the fair and sign up for opportunities to provide our particular competencies to organizations seeking help.

The Volunteer Fair was a tremendous success, thanks to the hard work of PMIWDC’s volunteer leads who worked tirelessly to make this a fun, engaging, and impactful evening. Those with the skills to help were out in full force, and we were proud to sponsor the event and meet so many other mission-oriented Project Managers and volunteers.  We congratulate PMIWDC, its volunteers, and Uma for putting on an educational event, connecting professionals, and promoting service and leadership in our community and our chapter.

PM Point of View® Gets Trademarked

Posted in Professional Development / Project Management on April 19, 2016
Kendall Lott

Kendall Lott

PM Point of View® – the podcast that looks at Project Management from all the angles – is officially a registered and recognized trademark.

MPS President, Kendall Lott, started the monthly audio podcast series almost two years ago. The first podcast featured a 13-minute interview with the CIO of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. More than 25 podcasts and 30,000 downloads later, the series has a seriously devoted following. Kendall has interviewed cutting edge thinkers and practitioners in the field of Project Management, as well as professionals in a variety of fields that are not generally associated with Project Management. Past interviews include a Production Manager at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC, a campaign manager, a vintner, a wedding planner, and many more.

Available on the Project Management Institute of Washington DC (PMIWDC) website, as well as on iTunes and the MPS website, the podcasts are now one hour long, and are worth one Professional Development Unit (PDU) for Project Management Professionals (PMPs) maintaining their certifications. To use Kendall’s standard closing remark for each PM Point of View® podcast, Until next time, keep it in scope and get it done.

 More PMPs at MPS

Posted in Human Resources / Professional Development / Project Management on February 05, 2016
Portrait of

Tim Garvey and Brianna McCullough

M Powered Strategies is proud to announce that two more staff members (bringing the grand total to seven!) have successfully attained PMP status. Tim Garvey and Brianna McCullough are now certified Project Management Professionals, and possess the internationally recognized tools and skills to manage any type of project.

Even just to qualify for PMP certification, candidates must have 36 months of project management experience. They must also pass a four-hour exam that tests their understanding of the Project Management Body of Knowledge. (PMBOK). That means hours of studying and, for Brianna, a PMP Boot Camp! As the engagement manager of the largest contract at MPS, Brianna noted that her project management expertise will be useful in client delivery as well as in the actual management of the contract.

When asked what being a PMP means to him, Tim took a more visionary approach. “The idea is to bring the skills beyond myself and help build the management capacity of everyone, making the world a better place.”

Congratulations to both Tim and Brianna!

MPS—Keynote Sponsor for PMIWDC 2015 Symposium

A Podcast Interview with MPS' Jimmy Church

A Podcast Interview with MPS’ Jimmy Church

Nicole Baillis, Patti McMullen, and Karli Kloss

Nicole Baillis, Patti McMullen, and Karli Kloss

Among the hundreds of attendees and presenters at last week’s 2015 Symposium of the Washington, DC chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC), M Powered Strategies had a strong presence, serving as volunteers, speakers, and attendees.

MPS President, Kendall Lott, and co-presenter Laura Barnard of PMO Strategies, spoke to a packed room about “Making a Difference with Project Management,” based on their experience with the record-setting Project Management Day  of Service (PM-DoS), which was spearheaded by Kendall and took place on Martin Luther King Day this year. Now slated as an annual event, PM-DoS is an opportunity for Project Managers (PMs) to provide their special skills to the non-profit market.

Participants at the symposium had an opportunity to share their stories for PM Point of View. This podcast, hosted by Kendall Lott, looks at Project Management from all the angles. The topic of the day was Project Failure, and the range of issues, pitfalls, and lessons learned promises to make for an informative podcast – to be broadcast later this year.

As Keynote Sponsor, M Powered Strategies is producing videos of all of the breakout sessions and the keynote speeches for the PMIWDC archives. MPS’ in-house video specialist, Mary Flannery, will combine audio recordings of each session with the accompanying PowerPoint deck.

“I’m delighted to help the chapter add to its archive of educational material to continue service to its members,” Kendall remarked, as he reflected on his role, past and present, in the organization, as well as the future of PMIWDC. “As past chair, I take great pride in being part of another professionally organized and well-attended PMIWDC event. It’s inspiring to watch this chapter, which is the largest of the entire international Project Management Institute, expand its services to our members and to the community. It’s vibrance and vitality are impressive!”

Why Non-Profits Need Project Management by Bryan Kovalick, PACE Cohort 8

Posted in PM POV Podcast Blog / Project Management on September 14, 2015

Podcast BlogHow do you break a non-profit out of “the hamster wheel of survival?” With project management, argues Max Skolnik, Director of The Taproot Foundation’s DC office.

Mr. Skolnik sat down with M Powered Strategies’ President Kendall Lott for a podcast interview to discuss how pro bono project managers can professionalize non-profits’ work, while increasing their fundraising success. Too many non-profits are mired in a fundraising trap, where their only focus is fundraising for next quarter, or next year. They need project management, and desperately.

While I agree with Mr. Skolnik’s perspective, I disagree with him in one critical way. Non-profits need more than just pro bono labor from their project managers—they also need these project managers to build the capacity of their employees. Training employees to eventually take on project management roles themselves is the only way to liberate non-profits from the “hamster wheel of survival.”

In their defense, many non-profits live on a razor’s edge of fundraising just to keep the lights on. According to the Urban Institute’s 2014 brief on non-profits, 66.4% of all charities raise less than $500,000 a year. Many non-profits don’t survive in this environment; from 2007-2011, 13,591 human service non-profits closed their doors.

You cannot fault non-profits for focusing so heavily on fundraising, but I have observed that many non-profits put the cart before the horse. They focus on raising additional funds before proving they can work efficiently with limited funding. Furthermore, small non-profits are often competing for scarce funding opportunities with larger non-profits, staffed by fulltime fundraisers and grant writers. To that end, the federal government is increasingly cautious with grant funding, demanding documentation of successfully completed projects and deliverables.

Even non-profits that rely primarily on private donors are not isolated from these trends. Donors today are far more in-tune with non-profit practices and exceedingly empowered in their donation decisions. Consumer-conscious donors may take the time to research a non-profit’s transparency and effectiveness before donating. Tools like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator make this research exceptionally simple.

Because of these developments, non-profits can ignore the demands for professional project management to their detriment. As they compete with a growing number of non-profits, over a shrinking pool of resources, the necessity to train employees on effective project management is more important than ever. By internalizing this mindset, non-profits won’t just survive, they will thrive.

Project Management’s Competitive Edge by Karli Kloss, PACE Cohort 8

In a city like Washington DC, where many recent graduates are academically overqualified but professionally
underprepared, the barriers to employment can be extremely challenging. Young professionals are eager to learn but are often caught in the paradoxical loop of not having enough work experience for an entry-level position.

In a recent article for the Project Management Institute, Novid Parsi discusses alternative ways recent graduates and young professionals can stand out when they enter the job market. Among them is one particular skill that they can develop outside of an actual job or internship: project management. Experience with project management is very appealing to prospective employers, and it can be gained in a variety of ways. College students or young professionals can manage projects through societies they belong to, or volunteer organizations. A student who has ever organized a volunteer effort on behalf of his fraternity, or a recent graduate who plans events for her local alumni chapter—they have project management experience.

For those who want to go the extra mile and truly demonstrate passion and experience with project management, a single certification can go a long way. Most young professionals won’t qualify for a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification this early in their careers, but there are other options that can turn acceptable experience into outstanding.

At M Powered Strategies, the Professional Apprenticeship for Consulting Excellence (PACE) Program, combines many of these elements into a rigorous 25-week program. PACErs work full-time on client delivery, but take on many more responsibilities while they are here. They are assigned corporate projects, or frequently design and execute new corporate initiatives within the company. They attend weekly trainings, conduct an independent business case, and receive an ANSI-accredited certification.

Whether PACErs continue at MPS as full-time staff, or follow a different path after their 25 weeks, they have been trained from many directions on how to be effective project managers. These skills will serve them well as young professionals, but more than that, these skills will set them up for success as they move towards management positions and continue to grow in their careers.

The Countdown to Presidency—Why Project Management Wins the Race by Rima Abou Ziab, PACE Cohort 8

Posted in PM POV Podcast Blog / Project Management on August 19, 2015

Podcast BlogWhether navigating the internet or listening to the latest on the radio, there’s one thing I can’t seem to escape this month—frenzied election coverage. Headlines are buzzing with presidential candidate updates and debate drama, marking the unofficial kick off of the 2016 Presidential race. While the amount of media attention spent on the race is already enormous, the amount of money spent is even greater. The cost to finance all these candidates is predicted to reach unprecedented levels, making campaign management more important than ever.

President of M Powered Strategies, Kendall Lott, sat down with campaign expert, Tom Bowen, to get to the bottom of it—what is the role of project management in executing a winning political campaign? With analysts predicting the most enormous spending in America’s electoral history, at $2 billion or more per candidate, Lott’s podcast “The Campaign Trail: Project Management on the Run” explores the specifics that will make—or break—a race for the presidency.

Tom Bowen weighs in with over a decade of campaign experience to cut to the chase about what matters most: effective project management for overseeing a big budget and a dynamic team. Unlike businesses, presidential campaigns have a two-year lead up, a highly specific purpose, and a very specific end date. Not to mention a very targeted and simple scope: winning. These pose challenges that make running a campaign more like managing a high-intensity, long-term project rather than a business.

Bowen and Lott agree that campaigns are not won or lost by the candidate alone, but rather by the team. To better understand the relationship between the team players, Lott asks: “Is your candidate your boss, your sponsor, the person you are trying to satisfy, or are they your product?” To Bowen the candidate is all of those things. The candidate is your leader and sponsor, and yet his or her hopes, dreams, and vision, are the product that you are trying to sell.

In order to balance stakeholder interests and the chaotic nature of campaigns, the manager’s ability to hire and lead the best team possible is critical. When the risks range from fundraising fiascos to candidates being caught off guard in public, the stakes are high. But when, as Bowen asserts, “most people vote the way that I’m going to buy a toaster: they don’t think about it very much, they don’t do it very often,” then the risks are even higher!

Bowen projects the growth opportunity for project managers to be exponential in the campaign market. As the scale and budget of campaigns continue to reach remarkable heights, this does not come as a major surprise; however I wonder, does Bowen believe this growth to be sustainable, particularly in the wake of increased scrutiny over campaign spending from the public eye? Still, a huge network and professional industry is now built around elections and candidates. Media and campaign managers should take note: beyond the billions, it’s effective project management that will make the difference.

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