Florence Rabanal

Rabanal_FlorencePaper: Exploration of Project Management Activities and Skill Sets in Operations of a Large Research Infrastructure Facility.

Abstract: The PMI Body of Knowledge states that “Projects require project management activities and skill sets, while operations require business process management, operations management activities and skill sets.”  Perhaps unintended, this seems to understate the value of project management and skills in operations.  A case study of administrative business operations associated with a US Government-funded large research infrastructure facility was undertaken to examine this proposition. A systems-based assessment framework designed to assess the health and performance of administrative business components was used and applied to a large research infrastructure construction project, and later to its operations.   Qualitative methods were used to compare and contrast the business systems framework the project management principals, and the results from the application the framework.   The examination identified the points of intersections, deviations from expectations and reasons for these differences.  The observable impacts were also documented.  The comparison showed similarities with the project management principles and the assessment framework, and where there are deviations they are typically associated with the testing of specific regulations.  The assessment results and anecdotal observations suggests that the facility operations are not consistently impeded where project management principals are not applied, though in certain areas the impacts are greater.  The long-term impacts cannot be fully determined in this study.    There are observable benefits to the use project management principles in the administrative business operations of a large research infrastructure facility.  PMI assertion may be missing out highlight the benefit of applying project management principles to operations.

Biography: Dr. Rabanal began her career working in environmental engineering science as a member of the research staff of the Occoquan Laboratory of the Virginia Tech.  In 1995, she joined the Division of Chemistry in the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and played a significant role in Program Management across several programs, including Advanced Materials, Major Research Instrumentation, Chemistry Research Instrumentation, and Facilities.  While in MPS, Dr. Rabanal was also involved in Foundation-wide Programs such as the NSF/EPA Water and Watersheds initiative, Environmental Chemistry, and Geochemistry.  In 1998, she assumed a joint position with the MPS Front Office and the Office of Information and Resource Management (OIRM) where she led the first Directorate-wide implementation of NSF’s web-based research business system, FastLane. In that capacity, she worked with US Academic Institutions, International Institutions, the US scientific community, and NSF Program Staff.  In 2004, while on detail to the NSF Academy, Dr. Rabanal served as the primary Agency Liaison with the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Government-wide E-Learning Initiative. At the same time, she led the implementation of the NSF learning management system.  Dr. Rabanal is currently a member of the Large Facilities Office staff where she leads the Agency’s primary advanced monitoring activity for its large research infrastructure Facilities/Projects, and serves as an advisor on associated Agency policies and procedures.  Dr. Rabanal maintains her scientific interest in environmental sciences, and has also advanced her professional development through studies and active participation in the Chief Financial Officer Academy at the National Defense University.  Dr. Rabanal holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, MS in Environmental Sciences and Engineering, and a DSc. in in Engineering Management.