HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Given the wide scope and innovative and collaborative nature of the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s mission, keeping its more than four thousand projects on target can be challenging.
“But Huntsville Center thrives on challenges,” said Ralph Campbell, Huntsville Center’s Ordnance and Explosives director. “Wrangling complex projects is what Huntsville Center does best. And the Project Review Board is at the core of this success.”
Once a month, Huntsville Center program and project managers brief the command team on the progress, budget, challenges, good news and lessons learned of ongoing projects. This month, Campbell took the PRB helm and set the tone for the full day of briefings.
“Be brief, be brilliant and be gone,” Campbell exclaimed as he welcomed the project managers and officially began with a mix of briefing slides, data dashboards tracking vital information, and notes and input from the project delivery teams, partners and contractors.
“The PRB is one of the most important regular governance activities for the command,” Campbell explained. “It provides a regular snapshot of what is happening within each program. It also gives program and project managers the opportunity to share lessons learned from across the Center.”
Keeping the PRB on track while ensuring the most relevant information is captured and communicated during the briefing was Campbell’s main focus.
“I spent an hour this morning reviewing the briefing slides, quad charts and highlighting items for clarification,” Campbell stated. “I said at the start of the meeting, don’t read your slides to me, point out what leadership needs to take away about your program or where you need help."
This approach enables Huntsville Center’s leaders to quickly learn where a project stands, when their assistance is needed and how to best provide support to the project managers.
Campbell explained how this process benefited the briefers.
“It gives the participants face time with leadership and gives leadership an opportunity to interact with a broad swath of the organization,” Campbell said. “For career development, it gives the briefers the opportunity to hone their presentation skills and think on their feet. It also allows them to highlight the great work their teams are doing.”
Eduardo Granados, OE Global Operations Division chief, who briefed on eight active OEG projects valued at a little more than $80 million, shared his views on the importance of the PRB’s monthly metrics reviews.
“It reinforces the importance of valuable and meaningful metrics,” Granados explained. “And it enables us to review the numbers and get feedback on it frequently. It also allows us to showcase accomplishments and milestones on a monthly basis.”
Granados shared OEG’s good news at the PRB, highlighting the ingenuity of Huntsville Center professionals in a crisis situation.
“When Iran began firing missiles into Iraq recently,” Granados explained, “the personnel status report that OEG generates seven-days-a-week for all deployed government personnel and contractors in the Trans-Atlantic Division area of responsibility was invaluable in verifying the locations and status of all personnel. We were able to account for one hundred percent of OEG and contract personnel during and directly following the attack.”
Granados went on to explain how Headquarters USACE and the Trans-Atlantic Division relied heavily on OEG’s accountability and communications capabilities due to the USACE computer network, CorpsNET, being temporarily unavailable.
“Supporting the warfighter downrange is at the heart of the Huntsville Center mission,” Campbell said. “Every program and project we touch directly or indirectly ties in to the overall readiness of the DOD and our military forces.”
With more than four thousand ongoing projects, not all news is good. When challenges arise, Campbell says it is best to address them immediately.
“I instruct my team that the PRB is not the place for surprise bad news. If you have bad news, get it to leadership beforehand and use the PRB to update it,” Campbell stated.
"Be brief, be brilliant, and be gone. Great stuff,” Campbell stated explaining his opening message. “It's originally attributed to Woodrow Wilson. I stole it from Dorothy Richards in OE.”
“This month’s PRB went very well,” Campbell said. “Everyone got to the point and had a good mastery of the details of their program. We have an impressive group of professionals here at Huntsville Center. As usual, they once again demonstrated their dedication to the mission, excellence in accomplishing that mission and their unmitigated professionalism.”