Trek Bicycle: How PM software can change an entire company

Trek Bicycle Corporation is a major multinational bicycle manufacture based in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Up until recently, different divisions used varying software programs and communication styles to perform its project management. This lead to constant delays in getting new products to market as well as missed sales due to stocking out at key times. When Kris Lamp took on the newly created position of program manager, she initiated a search for a unified project management software suite. There was a clear organizational need for a product that would allow for seamless communication amongst divisions around the globe.

The company chose AtTask (which in early 2015 rebranded as Workfront) as their Enterprise PMIS solution. Under Lamp’s guidance, the implementation was kept simple. They opted for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which transferred the support risks onto the vendor. Also, the company opted for minimal customization to the PMIS and chose to implement the rollout to one group at a time. This slow start allowed for the project team to work out any issues as they came up and before larger scale implementations. This mitigated the risk of project failure by starting simple and allowing time in the schedule for early rework.

Trek and the PMIS project management team heavily relied on management buy-in to help with employee adoption of the new system. Because the PMIS was eventually rolled out company-wide in many different countries, the project management team utilized local managers to encourage and/or mandate employees to adopt the new PMIS. In return, the PMIS project team kept manager notified of changes far in advance and conveyed why and how the changes would happen. The overall consensus from employees was that the PMIS not only helped with daily work, but also helped them feel more connected with the company’s work.

The PMIS implementation was almost immediately considered a success. End-user buy-in was high and due to their slow but steady implementation, they were able to begin to introduce customization. On-time delivery rates improved 20 percent, which directly benefited the bottom line.   A few years after implementation, 800 projects were being managed using the PMIS. These projects were being managed much more smoothly than far fewer projects the company had prior to the implementation.

Lamp credits the PMIS’s implementation success to decisions made early on by the project team. Choosing a vendor that had an off-the-shelf product that fit most of their needs and was able to provide support alleviated much of the early risk of failure. By using a slow and careful implementation, group by group, change requests were minimal and easy to handle. Most importantly, the team was sure to provide ample advanced communication to managers about the software. This allowed managers to educate employees on why the change was happening and why it was so important to the company. Overall, the PMIS took Trek’s project management from an ineffective and redundant process that frequently went over schedule and budget, to a transparent and seamless linking of divisions.

Does your company utilize a PM software suite?  If so, which product do they use and what is your opinion of it?

Overby, S. (2014) Trek Bicycle Rides Project Management Tool to Efficiency. CIO Magazine, retrieved 7/23/15 from

My (Limited) Experience with Project Management in My New Role

There has never been a better time for me to take a Project Management course than right now.  I recently moved into a senior management role for the only separate business unit within my company, Critical Products and Services.  It took just a few days for the honeymoon period to be over and for the issues to become apparent.  Many of the core issues boil down to improper or nonexistent project management and my hope with this post is that some of you may learn from our, and my, mistakes.

Proper Project Management needs a proper Project Manager.  Most of the projects that existed within the business unit exhibited a “laissez faire” project management style, which is a nice way of saying none at all.   Everyone on every project was the PM for their own contribution.  We had dozens of “Chiefs” and zero “Indians”.  This style can occasionally work on minor projects when everything’s running smoothly, but when it hits the fan all hell breaks loose.  Nobody, even the perfect PM, “wants” to deal with the tough problems, or ask the tough questions, and if a go-to PM that’s accountable for the project doesn’t exist, no one will.  If no one steps up the project fails, period.  I learned quickly that every real project needs a clear leader, a clear communication path, and a clear route for dispute resolution.

Project Management needs to be standardized.  We had 4 PMs in our unit using 3 different PM software platforms.  In and of themselves these platforms can be very effective.  When mixed together the result is a colorful pile of uselessness.  The tools that are used by the PMs and by the teams need to work together seamlessly across the board, otherwise they will be completely ignored and the time spent putting together the project plan was more or less wasted.  Team members neither have the time nor the desire to learn multiple platforms and if a PM is on vacation or traveling good luck finding someone willing to help out in a different software platform while working on their own projects.  Last week we started the implementation of cloud based “teamwork” platform Asana.  The platform is simple and easy to learn but more importantly it’s able to integrate with all types of helpful tools like Instagantt, Google Drive, and Salesforce ultimately making it seem like an effective online solution to our PM standardization issues.  I guess time will tell but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

Last, but certainly not least, Project Management is incredibly difficult.  It takes a certain type of person with thick skin and incredible willpower; great PMs are very rare.  I know am not a great PM, but I hope to be one day.  It takes an amazing amount of patience (you guys know that’s not my strongpoint 🙂 ) and attention to detail to coordinate a difficult project.  Know yourself, know your team, and use each member efficiently and effectively.  Most importantly, never stop communicating with each other.


The exciting nightmare that has been my life for the past 8 weeks.