After reading our previous blog post about lessons learned through playing sports and “The Story Behind the Name”, you’ll get a sense of our company’s values, drive and commitment to clients and projects. While professional basketball is a part of his past, Christopher Jackson, our newest project manager, still carries his commitment to excellence and strong leadership skills in his current role here at T2 Tech Group. Christopher comes to us from a large pharmaceuticals distributor and healthcare company, where the majority of his IT projects were managed using the traditional Waterfall principles. However, at T2 Tech, we utilize a unique blend of project management methodologies. We sat down and asked Christopher a series of questions pertaining to his previous experience and his insights on adopting our hybrid-Agile approach to project management.
We’re excited to have you join the T2 Tech team. Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
My professional background has crossed many industries; I worked as an IT specialist in finance, news media and education. Since then, I have been working in the healthcare industry for twelve years.
What made you want to begin a career in project management, specifically within the healthcare industry?
When I initially joined the healthcare industry, I was working on technical projects as an IT specialist. Since then, I realized that I could better leverage my technical skills as a project manager. My background of hands-on work with IT teams has helped me become successful in this role.
Healthcare has become a huge part of my life; Not just due to my career, but from the impact it has had on my friends and family. I remember how fascinating it was to see an x-ray of a human heart from a cardiology picture archive communication system (PACS). It keeps me grounded to know that the healthcare IT projects I manage have a positive effect on patients and medical staff.
How has receiving your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification improved your project management skills?
Receiving my PMP gave me a foundation of project management itself. When you understand the core methodology, you are able to effectively form the building blocks of project management. Before earning my certification, I was a taskmaster who had little understanding of the PMP methods. My role as a taskmaster was to manage timelines and assign tasks. Now, as a project manager, I recognize that there is a structure from start to finish to help projects run as smoothly as possible. I want to make sure that my teams can treat me as a partner and a resource for them.
Since joining T2 Tech, were you surprised to see a methodology that is a mix of Agile and Waterfall? Is this a technique you have seen before?
Traditionally, companies practice either Waterfall or Agile. I’ve never seen a mixture of these two methodologies. When using Waterfall, I enjoyed the order that it brought to my projects. My teams knew what their responsibilities were, and it was easy to track them. The Agile methodology balances out the rigid structure of Waterfall. This unique approach to managing IT projects caught my attention when pursuing T2 Tech as my next career opportunity.
As I’ve been learning Agile, I’ve been thinking about what I could have done in my past projects with utilizing some of these principles. It became pretty astonishing. I kept saying to myself, ‘I could’ve used this to make things a lot easier than it was before’.
Can you explain a little bit about our hybrid-Agile approach for those who don’t know?
With this hybrid approach, we use the concept of Waterfall at the beginning of the project. This includes creating the project charter, project scope, project timeline and project cost estimates. Once this documentation is complete, we utilize Agile and its’ sprint iterations. Our hybrid methodology grounds the Agile process with the strong foundation of Waterfall. When teams only use Waterfall, the project manager dictates what the actions and tasks are going to be. With our approach at T2 Tech, we use Agile to rely on our teams to tell us what they can get done within the two-week sprint. We hope that this method empowers team members to complete their tasks on time.
How has our hybrid-Agile methodology set you up for managing projects successfully?
Between working with Kevin Torf, one of our managing partners, and all of our other project managers, I’ve been given all of the tools to jump right in and be successful. The team here has done a great job with documentation and training on T2 Tech’s methodology. Kevin has definitely given me insight on what the expectations are here. Since joining the team a month ago, I’ve been successfully hosting sprint planning meetings and running daily scrum calls. In fact, on my second day at T2 Tech, I was onsite with my clients and had hands-on experience utilizing our methodology.
What is your favorite project management tool that we use at T2 Tech? How has it helped you?
Sprint planning worksheets! That’s the Bible. Sprint planning worksheets are used to run daily scrum calls that plan out the teams’ individual tasks. By the end of the sprint, I’m able to know what tasks were not completed so I can move them over to the next sprint. If I don’t have updated worksheets, I won’t know the progress in a project which makes it impossible to manage.
What are your words of wisdom for those beginning to use Agile?
If it’s your first experience using Agile, I would be sure to learn the foundations and know exactly how it’s implemented by your company. You just have to take the time to sit down and learn. If you understand the basic principles, you’ll have a great foundation to apply the Agile methodology to the projects you manage. Luckily at T2 Tech, I have co-workers and a leadership team who are committed to making sure I understand our hybrid-Agile methodology.
What do you think will become of healthcare IT within the next few years?
Healthcare IT is bound to rapidly change in the future. You can see it happening now. But, it will take an efficient project management process for healthcare IT initiatives to be successfully implemented.
I’m hoping the future of healthcare IT is to have more patient and medical staff collaboration. Patients need to become more aware with what’s going on with their medical care. When patient knowledge is increased, patient outcomes become more positive. An educated consumer is the best consumer you can have.