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Matthew Gervais
Matt Gervais is a Senior Team Lead/Project Manager at Lumina Datamatics. Matt has been with Lumina for 4+ years and has worked in the educational publishing industry for 7+ years. He has overseen and managed a diverse range of digital and print projects in different disciplines for a variety of publishers including Cengage Learning, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw Hill, Pearson Education, and others. Matt has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Westfield State University and lives in Chelmsford, MA with his wife and two children.

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    MIXING IN PROJECT MANAGERS – A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
    January 27, 2021

    In pre-pandemic times, I always looked forward to sharing a delicious holiday meal with my family and loved ones. As those meals were prepped, I’d inevitably hear someone use the common cliché “there are too many cooks in the kitchen!” And while some folks enjoy helping to “get it just right,” in my experience as a home cook, less IS in fact typically more when creating a great holiday meal for a small family gathering.

    If you’ve ever seen my favorite cooking/documentary show – Chef’s Table – you’ve seen that in many high-end, Michelin star restaurants across the globe, their kitchens include a multitude of cooks/chefs, all operating next to and in conjunction with each other. There are various reasons why – I’m sure – but in my observation, the two primary ones seem to be that these restaurants want to:

    1. Ensure that every single aspect of each diner’s meal is perfect and
    2. be able to withstand large volumes, all while handling meal setup and creation efficiently, so that no one waits too long.

    There might be several cooks on appetizers, more cooks on the vegetable station, and others focused on dessert (amongst many others). At every station, the individuals tasked with handling that piece of the meal are specifically placed there because of their savvy and experience with said piece. At the end of the day, the restaurant’s ultimate desire is to give their clientele a pleasurable and memorable experience and, more importantly, one which they’ll want to revisit time and again.

    Project management is similar in that a client’s needs may require various “cooks” all working together over the life of a project, with each task being handled by an individual who is best suited to deliver the best possible final product (more on that shortly). It all starts with the primary project manager.

    At the top-level, it is every project manager’s duty to provide clients top-quality service and products, no matter how big or small the project. How does Lumina Datamatics do that? To start, we employ both onshore (US-based) and offshore (India-based) managers alike. Whether a client decides on an offshore or onshore manager is typically based on budget, timeline, size, and scope, just to name a few variables. But no matter their locale, any project manager worth his or her salt should be highly skilled at:

    • Creating and tracking schedules
    • Understanding estimates and project costs
    • Reviewing and tracking deliverables
    • Deftly handling difficult situations through problem solving
    • Properly allocating resources, and
    • Identifying and assigning exceptional subject matter experts

    This is all done while communicating with project stakeholders both internal and external. Project managers must ensure every job is done according to scope and cost, as per an agreed upon timeline, and that the quality of each deliverable is top-notch.

    Sometimes, an offshore and onshore project manager are coupled and deployed in a hybrid fashion to provide what is essentially “round-the-clock” oversight, providing an extra level of care a project might need. With one project manager operating overseas and another operating in the US, not a moment is lost while shepherding large and high-priority projects. Typically, the offshore PM would oversee the work going on “behind the scenes”, ensuring that specific components are tracked and stick to schedule for example, while the onshore PM would be more customer-facing and communicating with the client, authors, and subject matter experts. For this model to be successful however, responsibilities must be discussed and properly set at the outset of the project. This ensures that no work is duplicated and all facets of the project are adequately covered. And certainly, effective communication between the offshore PM and onshore PM is paramount.

    No matter which format a project requires, a single onshore PM, a single offshore PM, or the aforementioned hybrid model, upper management at Lumina Datamatics takes care to select the best available project manager(s) based on experience, subject matter familiarity, and personality, as well as various other variables and desired benchmarks.

    As mentioned earlier though, the PMs are far from the only “cooks in the kitchen.” There are dozens of other employees managing various facets of the myriad education publishing production and development titles at Lumina. To ensure a project is completed properly, on time, and is of the highest quality, offshore managers oversee teams of employees working on tasks such as end-to-end print production, copyediting, proofreading, content creation, content migration and ingestion, PowerPoint development and revisions, alt text writing, accessibility, and much more.

    The supervisors of these various teams must be agile so that they can properly allocate resources based on timelines, experience, and subject matter. These supervisors are also in constant contact with the aforementioned onshore and offshore project managers, communicating hang ups, successes, schedule updates, and the like. This information is then consolidated and communicated to the clients by the respective project managers, keeping client contacts apprised of the various projects and tasks related to their titles, each step of the way.

    As you can see, much like a meal at a fine-dining establishment, large volumes of work can be overseen by various skilled and hard-working employees each step of the way. You may not always see them, or know that they are there, but rest assured they’re assigned to a task and project for a reason. They are the best person or team equipped to handle that task, and each completed task is just a part of ensuring the overall health and success of any project.

    Thanks for reading and please consider, or continue to consider Lumina Datamatics for all your educational publishing full-production and development needs. And remember – sometimes more is actually more.

    Do you have ideas on onshore, offshore, or hybrid project management that you’d like to share with the author? Are you interested in working with Lumina’s team of project managers? We want to hear from you! Email our team to learn more about the role of Lumina freelancers, or visit our website to learn more about Lumina Datamatics.

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