Paper and Presentation: Retaining Agility When You Work In A Waterfall
Abstract: Federal agencies undertake projects (by whatever name) large and small on a daily basis, but are often constrained in project management by the exceedingly rigid frameworks that overlay the federal space, such as the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the unpredictability of the appropriations process, shifting strategic priorities, and soul-crushingly bureaucratic internal processes. These limitations can handicap the ability of programs to adapt to fast-changing realities, something which is true in any context but even more prominent in the international environment. This presentation discusses how USDA/FAS has built an operating environment in which it employs a full suite of tools to react quickly to emerging opportunities, respond to unanticipated needs, and adapt to an ever-changing global context – while staying true to the laws, bureaucracy, and rigidity that define the federal space. Attendees will come away with real-life examples of how to build flexibility in rigid systems, extendable to the federal and non-federal space, and how to empower project managers without sacrificing oversight and upward reporting requirements.
PMI Talent Triangle: Strategic and Business Management
Biography: Jim Suits is a Project Management Officer in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). In his role, he supports USDA’s trade capacity building programs by advising on and enabling best practices of project management; and acts as a senior advisor to an annual programming portfolio of several hundred million dollars, including streamlining procedures, and figuring out how best to employ the entire toolbox to fulfill a constantly-shifting mandate. He previously worked as a front-line project manager on a variety of initiatives relating to agricultural statistics, and monitoring and evaluation of program activities in emerging market countries. Originally from a small town in Upper Michigan, 98 miles from the nearest Starbucks, he has degrees from the University of Michigan, Colorado State University, and George Mason University, is certified in project management, contracts management, and grants management, speaks four languages, and has conducted fieldwork in 23 states and 17 foreign countries.