Phillips-Medisize, a growing Wisconsin-based company, faced an ongoing need for better project management as its markets expanded on a global scale over the past two years. The company was already using project management software, but experience has long shown that simply having a computer program doesn’t necessarily solve a problem.
The company had long used Microsoft Project, a leading project management program, but not to its full capabilities. “Skill development for our people is core to our culture. Our project and program managers saw we weren’t using the program to its full potential so we decided to address the issue by working with a training partner to develop our peoples’ skills. We selected Chippewa Valley Technical College as our partner,” commented Bill Welch, Phillips-Medisize chief technology officer.
CVTC Business Technology trainer Suzanne Blau knows that is certainly true of Microsoft Project. “The program does its job well, but the problem is people don’t use the program enough. They use bits and pieces of it,” Blau says.
At Phillips-Medisize, the situation is complex. “We have a large number of engineers in our various sites throughout Wisconsin, ranging from recent university graduates in our developmental programs to senior engineers with over 20 years experience,” Welch says. Among that diverse group, most engineers were using the parts of MS Project they felt comfortable.
Thanks to a Wisconsin Workforce Advancement Training Grant, CVTC was able to offer training in MS Project. Blau explains that MS Project allows a project manager to assign and schedule parts of a project to team members, track progress on project components, allocate and track resources needed, track costs, and much more.
“It also allows you to track a project over a long period of time,” says Blau. “You can go back and see what problems arose.“
“MS Project is a powerful tool, and helps manage large complex projects across multiple global locations,” Welch says. “Phillips-Medisize is a leading contract design and manufacturing source for our blue-chip customers, and the ability to manage large projects and communicate project status is critical to our business. Project management is a core competency, so we must be proficient in the use of the best tools available.“
About 90 Phillips-Medisize employees took the training, and it’s helping the organization move forward.
To improve its project management, Phillips-Medisize leaders recognized they did not need to go shopping for a new software program, or an expensive organizational consultant. The answer was in training employees to better use the available tools, including MS Project.
“They were a great group to work with,” says Blau. “They were excited to be offered the training. Often companies offer software, but not the training in how to use it. The Phillips-Medisize people were looking forward to using it.“
Chippewa Valley Technical College delivers superior, progressive technical education, which improves the lives of students, meets the workforce needs of the region, and strengthens the larger community. Campuses are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Neillsville and River Falls. CVTC serves an 11-county area in west-central Wisconsin. CVTC is part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) and is one of 16 WTCS colleges located throughout the state.
Phillips-Medisize is a leading global outsource provider of design and manufacturing services to the medical (medical device, diagnostics, drug delivery and pharmaceutical packaging) and commercial (automotive, consumer and defense) markets. Headquartered in Hudson, the company also has facilities in Eau Claire, Menomonie, Phillips, Medford and New Richmond, and Europe. When Phillips Plastics acquired European-based Medisize in 2011, it increased its expertise in the medical field and its worldwide market footprint.