The Milwaukee Metro area gets its own chapter of MPUG in January thanks to the efforts of Claude Scher of brewer MillerCoors, who hopes to foster a network of local professionals who will share their experiences of working with Microsoft Project.
The first meeting is on January 15 from 5:30pm to 8:00pm at Microsoft’s office in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Mindful that local professionals have many special interest groups competing for their attention, Scher said the new MPUG chapter will be productive.
“It’s important to have practitioners present along with Microsoft so we don’t just hear how wonderful things are,” said Scher, IT Enterprise Portfolio Manager at MillerCoors.
“You want practitioners telling you how painful it was at first when they installed or upgraded their software and that if they had to do it all over again what they would do now having learned those lessons,” he said. “Practitioners are who you want speaking at these meetings because their pain is my pain.”
Scher attended a Microsoft Project conference in March in Phoenix, hoping to connect with others who had followed a similar path. There, he met MPUG representatives at the national level and decided to launch a local chapter
Scher, a French native who has worked in Milwaukee for more than 15 years, enlisted Danny Smith, Deputy Chief Information Officer at Marquette University, and Skip Wick, an IT project manager at Rockwell Automation, to drum up interest in the new chapter.
“We certainly have enough momentum to start and, once we get up and running, we want to grow the community,” he said, noting that many local employers use Microsoft Project and are interested in networking. The closest MPUG chapters are Chicago or Madison, both more than 60 miles away.
Scher said January’s meeting will focus on the benefits of Microsoft Project Server 2013 and also on what MPUG offers members. Scher expects three types of people at the new chapter:
- Professionals who do not use Microsoft Project but are thinking of using it.
- Project managers using an old version of Microsoft Project who want to find out the benefits and challenges of an upgrade.
- Experts who love Microsoft Project, who like to give presentations and want to share.
“In IT, the challenge is often that our tools have such incredible functionality that you often only use 10 or 20 percent of what the software can do,” Scher said. “Learning how to really use that functionality is a great way to maximize your investment and your productivity.”
Scher, who is also a board member of the Project Management Institute’s Milwaukee chapter, said Microsoft Project is typically used in three ways, for project management, finance management and resource management. He said using the software for all three purposes can eliminate redundancies.
He said a big challenge in Project and Program managers’ work is portfolio optimization — deciding how to prioritize among the hundreds of projects that are competing for scarce resources.
Scher has worked for companies including Kohler, GE Healthcare and Johnson Controls. Asked what his dream project would be, he said he was captivated by a presentation at a recent The Project Management Institute (PMI)® meeting on upgrading federal highways in Milwaukee.
“There are so many moving parts and so many details to capture from thousands of contractors and workers, it seems like really exciting work,” he said.
Author, Mark Egan works as a business writer and editor in New Jersey. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.