Eleven hundred people work in the Technology and Processing Services (TPS) division of PNC Financial Services Group—programmers, systems analysts, applications analysts and more. Almost all of them get assigned to cross-functional project teams from time to time. The projects themselves range from bite-sized to enormous, says Robin Connolly, vice president and director of training for Pittsburgh-based PNC.
For instance, Connolly cites the conversion to a platform called Genesis, a central data repository that allows people at all PNC branches to access and share information about customers. The full switch to Genesis took years to complete, she says.
In 2001 PNC identified project management as a core competency for TPS employees, especially those in leadership roles. "In the long term, we wanted a pool of certified project managers who would use a disciplined approach across different project areas," says Kelly Brown, manager of training and development for TPS. Training suppliers offered courses to prepare people for the Project Management Institute's certification exam, but these would be prohibitively expensive on the scale PNC had in mind. So in 2002, the company created its own training curriculum, which has been refined ever since.
Over six months, employees aiming for PMI certification now undergo a training regimen that combines SkillSoft e-learning courses with discussion and study groups, culminating in a two-day exam-preparation session an outside firm conducts. Brown says that farming the entire operation to an outside supplier would have cost about $7,000 per student, who would have to spend 14 days away from the office. Doing most of the training internally cuts those 14 to two and the total direct cost to about $1,250 per student. So far, 104 employees trained in this manner have taken the PMI exam, and 100 have passed—a 96 percent success rate.
But PNC's project management training extends well beyond the mostly management-level audience preparing for full certification. Employees inside and outside the TPS division can build project-management skills via a number of learning paths.
The same e-learning courses offered for the certification track are available to employees with lesser ambitions, as is a four-hour Introduction to Project Management class held monthly. The seminar covers terminology and concepts such as work breakdown structures and diagramming, and explains how those concepts are used at PNC.
In addition, monthly Lunch and Learn sessions focus on specific topics such as project estimation, risk management and team building. Brown estimates that the typical audience for a lunch seminar draws about 60 people, some attending via teleconference. More than 2,000 PNC employees have attended at least one of these.