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PMO offers help to project teams, managers

by George Spain
Information Services
The groups huddle around their tables pondering the bucket of Lego blocks like they were Space Shuttle components. Each of the half-dozen teams had been given a project to build a back deck within budget and time restraints. Skeptical at first, they soon got into it and the game began in earnest. They don’t stop until the timer dings.
Cathy Valerio, an employment consultant with human resources, records the cost of materials as Stan Flowers, programmer/analyst with OCIO-IS, constructs a deck according to specifications set out in a recent PM101 class.
Only it wasn’t really a game, but was part of the teaching technique used by Dan Furlong, project management officer with MUSC’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and lead trainer in the Introduction to Project Management (PM) 101, the class in which the group was participating.
The training takes place in an MUSC warehouse on Albermarle Drive. The ambiance isn’t much, but Furlong provides some nice accompaniments—a popcorn machine, cappuccino maker, a variety of soft drinks—in a small kitchen where the class can gather and graze during the breaks in the daylong class.
Furlong developed South Carolina’s Introduction to Project Management class while representing MUSC on the State’s Project Management Training & Certification Committee. He then modified his original program into the PM101 class he offers at MUSC.
He begins class with warm-up activities designed to catch interests. He uses interactive polling, video clips, charts, and even a Magic 8 Ball as props to answer the question on everyone’s mind, “What am I doing here today?” After the introduction, the class of about 20 breaks into groups that get to tackle the back deck project.
“It’s interesting to compare not just teams to teams but groups to groups. Designs vary widely. Compare an engineering group’s solutions to those of a group of nurses, or to those of business managers,” said Furlong.
Frank C. Clark, Ph.D., vice president of information technology and chief information officer, created the PMO in 2003 as part of his IT governance structure. The purpose is to provide team members training in structured project management, to keep large projects on track, on time, and on budget.
“While we are closely aligned with technology initiatives, we provide services to managers across the enterprise,” said Furlong.
Current projects include e-CareNet, a patient safety-focused clinical information system with its component projects Admin Rx, ClinDoc, and CPOE, an Enterprise Data Warehouse designed for clinical and operational research; and Sharepoint, a collaborative, enterprise-wide information sharing platform.
The MUSC PMO includes a small, but busy staff. There are two full time members and one part time member.
“Most of our project managers work within the Office of the CIO as working managers and team leaders. We want customers to take ownership of their projects, so most of our major initiatives include a customer-side project lead,” said Furlong.
These project leads now include nurses, doctors, business analysts, researchers, and staff from a variety of other disciplines.
Sign up for PM 101 at

Friday, Dec. 5, 2008

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.