Founded in 1984, IA Interior Architects has grown to include 19 offices across the U.S. and London, and has formed alliances with 84 global partners. They are the largest global architecture firm whose focus is exclusively on interiors, and they provide expertise in Workplace Design, Workplace Strategy, and Environmental Graphics. IA Interior Architects’ core philosophy is built on the seamless integration of Strategy, Design and Technology, and global collaboration plays a big part in what they do.
The biggest “challenge” and what inspired to IA Interior Architects to engage PSMJ was that the firm’s 19 offices across the U.S. and in London did not have a consistent approach to project management processes and to project manager training. “We wanted to unify our staff in training and ensure consistency across all offices that did not currently exist,” says IA Senior Project Manager Tracey Nordahl. “PSMJ gave us a base in which to build upon and enhance our current processes.”
In early 2013, IA assembled a task force to review project management training resources and evaluate their offerings to determine what would best suit the specific needs of IA. Through extensive research and vetting of the various program offerings, including participation in a PSMJ Project Management Bootcamp themselves, the IA task force made the decision to enlist PSMJ to provide IA staff with in-house project management training.
“We felt that PSMJ had the greatest offering of project management tools and resources, and instructors who have a deep personal knowledge and level of expertise in our industry practices,” says Nordahl. “The capability to work with our trainer and customize the training to IA’s specific needs, while remaining within our office environment, was very important to us and helped to make our final decision.”
Since its first two-day Project Management Training Bootcamp held in Chicago in September of 2014, IA has enlisted the services of PSMJ for six additional sessions. These sessions have included IA staff of various positions in the firm, including: Project Managers, Managing Principals, Managing Directors, Client Services Coordinators, Marketing Directors and various Accounting and Finance personnel.
To date, more than 100 IA staff have participated in the in-house Project Management Bootcamp, and of those participants, all attendees (with the exception of five) have rated the training as a “5” on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest rating). No ratings were below “4”.
Based on the course evaluations IA received from everyone, many attendees said they “couldn’t limit it to one” what they thought was the most valuable section for them, and most felt that everything that was presented was of some value. In most cases, the participants said the course “exceeded their expectations”, and none said that it “didn’t meet their expectations.”
“We feel this speaks volumes about the program content and its relevancy to IA’s specific needs, not to mention the knowledge, expertise, and relatability of our instructor, as it pertains to our practice and its challenges,” Nordahl says.
As a result of the Project Management Bootcamps, IA has furthered the development of its Project Management practice by enhancing its existing tools and resources with numerous concepts and materials presented by PSMJ. For example, the Earned Value segment of the course aided us in the development of a customized report that the Project Managers use to gauge the progress of their projects and see when there is a need for corrective action to the path the project is on.
Some other developments include: working with our Accountants to sync their billing with their clients’ billing cycles to get faster payment of invoices, hiring Project Admins to assist Project Managers in their larger offices, establishing a Monthly Project Management call to share information and successful solutions among their peers firm-wide, etc. These are only a few examples of the benefits they have seen from our PSMJ sessions.
IA is also planning a customized PSMJ Project Management Bootcamp for our Managing Principals and Directors to relay what has been presented to the Project Managers in the PSMJ sessions, and to aid them in how they can best work with and support their Project Management staff.
In summary, Nordahl offers the following: “We have had very positive experiences with PSMJ. The customization of PSMJ’s project management training program to address IA’s specific needs and challenges, and the knowledge and expertise offered in PSMJ training have truly benefited our firm.”