After a reorganization of its design engineering process, a national paper products equipment manufacturer knew it faced a critical gap in its employees' project management skills.
"As companies grow and their projects become more complicated, effective project management is increasingly important," said Mark Polczynski, Patina's practice director for engineering projects and the lead on this engagement. "It’s common to anoint design engineers as project managers, but this company recognized the position required unique skill sets and wanted their people trained properly. They saw this as a prestige position—they weren't just adding responsibilities."
To deliver that training, the company needed a resource that could provide not just academic knowledge, but plant floor experience. Other key considerations included the ability to tailor classes to reflect industry and company-specific challenges and a willingness to bring the classes to the plant to minimize expensive downtime.
"The client sent this out for proposals and we were up against stiff competition from established university programs," said Polczynski. "Two things set us apart: every member of our team had university-level academic credentials plus hands-on, in-plant experience and we had the ability to create a customized curriculum."
Once selected, Polczynski’s five-member team analyzed company needs and recommended training in six critical skill areas: leadership, project management, scope management, time management, risk management and team work. "We sat down with key client staff and discussed the critical failure factors they'd encountered," Polczynski said. "These specific challenges, plus insights from our experienced instructors, became the foundation of the classes."
The Patina team taught 21 classes over a six-month period—each class had duplicate morning and afternoon sessions to accommodate shift staffing and 20-40 employees attended each class.
Employee evaluations showed that classes were valued and enjoyed. In fact, the majority of students (more than 90%) said they learned new concepts that directly impacted their work and felt the presentations were very easy to follow, plus they looked forward to the next class each week. These classes helped prepare the engineers to be more effective project managers, which in turn drove operational efficiencies.