Nov 19, 2015

From Resistance to Results: PMO of the Year Finalist Symcor

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Project Management Office (PMO), Strategy Execution | 0 Comments

Symcor is successful with their people, as well as their projects.

Symcor is one of those back-office businesses that you never think about, but upon which you rely every day. The millions of transactions that they process, from checks and ATM visits to statements and other documents, must happen seamlessly and to a standard of quality that can only be described as perfection. The next time you present your debit card, take a minute to realize how much trust you place in people like Haresh Desai.

Desai, pictured at right, was the founding director of the Symcor Enterprise Project Office (EPO), a finalist in the 2015 PMO of the Year Award competition. He is one of the few PMO directors that I have ever seen profiled on a corporation’s website, an indication of the strategic value the PMO provides to the company.

We asked him to describe what some of the greatest challenges and successes have been.

“Our biggest challenge when we started was that we could not deliver large programs successfully. Now, we have no problems at all. But most challenging, I think, initially was the resistance;” Desai said, “the apprehension was that we would add a lot of overhead. PMOs are not cheap but, in general, we were a very siloed organization. Each line of business was pretty much independent with very little interaction, so an overall corporate view was missing. If we had projects spanning multiple lines it was very difficult to get a clear picture what was going on.” Since the 2011 implementation of the PMO, the investment in the EPO has paid off for the company in many tangible ways. You can read more about the improvements they have seen in the 2015 PMO of the Year ebook.

Desai considers their practice of formal due diligence on projects a best practice for companies in Symcor’s industry. “This is what gives us the most ROI; before we start, we spend four to six weeks understanding what the project is all about. This has greatly improved our execution.”

The journey is of course not over; says Desai, “We continue to evolve. We were a purely waterfall organization, and now we’ve introduced agile. We also will be placing a higher focus on risk management.”

As a side note, Symcor’s website makes fascinating reading, sharing facts about their programs around volunteerism, corporate giving, diversity and sustainability (Symcor was honored on Earth Day 2015 as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers). Clearly, this is a company that is successful not only in delivering projects, but also in cultivating a great workplace. I suspect that these capabilities go hand in hand, since this is a feature that Symcor shares with this year's winner, Navy Federal Credit Union.

Tomorrow: Ticketmaster International’s John McIntyre.

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