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IIL’s International Project Management Day, 2007 The Power of the Profession: A Lesson Learned and Solution Implemented Becomes a Best Practice in Project Management. by Tresia Eaves, PMP IRS RGS Project Manager and Task Lead & VP, Technology Integration Group SENTEL Corporation

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IIL’s International Project Management Day, 2007The Power of the Profession:A Lesson Learned and Solution Implemented Becomes a Best Practicein Project Management


Tresia Eaves, PMP

IRS RGS Project Manager and Task Lead &

VP, Technology Integration Group

SENTEL Corporation

(A wholly Owned Subsidiary of WC Holding Inc.)

  • Background—about SENTEL, the speaker, and the customer environment with project information to set the scene
  • Lesson Learned—discussion about what could be improved and how it was identified
  • Solution—how the challenge was overcome and a solution was implemented
  • Best Practice—how the solution was rolled out as a “best practice” across the PMO and/or organization
background the company
Background, the company…

About SENTEL Corporation

  • SENTEL is an engineering services company that develops, tests, implements, and supports innovative technology that solves business problems and delivers benefits,improves defense, enables communication, and protects lives
  • Founded in 1987, SENTEL has garnered numerous awards for its work. The company currently has about 400 employees located all over the world
  • SENTEL was assessed as a Level 3 software development organization in accordance with the Software Engineering Institute’s (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM) in November of 2005
  • Progressing to Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI), Level 2, in early 2008.
background the speaker
Background, the speaker…

About the speaker:

  • Tresia Eaves, MHR, PMP
  • RGS Project Manager and Technology Integration Group Vice President
  • 15 years of Product Engineering experience
  • Experienced with Commercialand Defense projects
  • Strong solutions experiencewith Software Development, Quality Assurance, Process Improvement, and Project Management
  • Has worked for SENTEL since October 8, 2003
  • Served in several volunteer capacities for the Project Management Institute (PMI) including her role as Chairman of the Board for the PMI Information Systems Specific Interest Group ( This is a group of nearly 14,000 information technology and systems professionals throughout 100 countries.
background the project
Background, the project
  • Large software development project for a government agency that includes 2 million lines of code, 52 separate executables, and used by more than 26,000 employees.
  • Development team includes a total of 30 engineers, 20+ agency employees, and costs about $5 million per year maintain.
  • SENTEL is working onsite with the agency to deliver the product suite.
  • The product is critical to the mission of the agency and must be available to the agency’s employees during the first week of February each year.
  • We’ve worked very successfully with this customer for nearly six years now…
a lesson learned
A Lesson Learned
  • When SENTEL assumed the contract work in 2001, there were many problems:
    • There was an ineffective process for developing schedules and determining the scope of work
    • There was no process to baseline requirements
    • There was a weak estimation process
    • There was a problem collecting data for tracking estimates v. actual data
    • There was no tracking of earned value
    • There was a strain with the customer relationship (although selected, there was little confidence in outside contractors by the customer’s team members) and SENTEL had to earn their trust and build collaborative relationships with all customer groups—their pain became our pain…
solution an improved estimation process
Solution: An Improved Estimation Process
  • Estimates based on measurable scope lead to reliable, manageable schedules and on time/on cost deliverables
  • Implemented a process for assignments for estimation tasks (using government acquired tool set) where assigned engineers estimated all work: analysis, design, implementation, testing, peer reviews, and coordination
  • The initial data is used to build a draft schedule which is socialized and committed to by all customer groups
  • Weekly “actual” data feeds (via custom script tool) into the schedule allowing instant transparency into the status of the critical path, budgeted cost of work performed, actual cost of work performed, and allows the project manager to gauge and report project health
  • Also affords the project manager the agility and “turn on a dime” capability needed when the project must include late-breaking requirements changes (that are inevitable) determined by legislative action—a risk that is only mitigated with effective planning, timely information from Capital Hill, and resource reserves

Diagram that describes how the script pulls data from ClearQuest into MSProject:

The script looks for changes based on states and updates the schedules, resources, and reporting as needed.


This is a screen shot of our ClearQuest tool and shows how the states, estimates, and actuals data feed into the MSProject schedule via a script:

solution to best practice
Solution to Best Practice
  • The result of the effective use of this process is a significant decrease in the number of late deliveries-- by 100%: there have been no late deliveries for 3 years now
  • The number of iterations it takes to deliver a final release version of software (all requirements implemented for that cycle) to customer groups has been reduced from 20+ in 2001 to 4 in 2007
  • Overtime has been reduced by 75%: SENTEL has assisted the customer in saving millions of dollars in contractor and full-time employee labor hours due to the changes implemented
  • The improvements to the quality of this project’s deliverables has allowed the customer to meet and exceed their goals which in turn saves tax payers millions of dollars
  • The process was noted as a “best practice” during the SENTEL SEI Capability Maturity Model assessment in 2005 and was rolled out where possible to projects across SENTEL
  • Used as an example by government customer to other vendors and IT groups and implemented where possible across the organization

Power of the Profession:

An educated, experienced, and professional project manager can use their skills to completely change a project for the better. This was the case for this project and as a result, SENTEL was awarded a second 5-year contract with this customer in late 2006.