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Working toward improved project management

How can CIMMYT better manage its project portfolio, identify fundraising needs and opportunities, and remove part of the burden for proposal development and project reporting from its scientists, freeing them up for their research? During 22-23 July 2009, Luz George (consultant), Scott Ferguson (deputy director general for Support Services), Carlos López (IT manager), and program administrators, including special guests Sarah Kibera (program administrator) from CIMMYT-Nairobi and Kimani Kamau (DTMA administrator), met at El Batán with staff from Human Resources, Finance, Legal Affairs, Corporate Communications, and program directors and scientists to seek answers.

Over the two days of presentations and discussions, including presentations of the CIMMYT-Nairobi and Generation Challenge Program project management systems, participants concluded that CIMMYT needs a Project Management Unit (PMU), and discussed the responsibilities and priorities of the new unit. Similar units at sister centers were discussed as potential models. In tabulating CIMMYT’s needs, participants decided better information was a core requirement, and concluded that a combination of clear procedures, an online database to track projects through their life cycle, and a more general internet-accessible portal would meet this requirement.

The conclusions of the workshop will be presented to CIMMYT’s Management Committee at its next session. The serious business of the workshop was punctuated by a relaxed evening which participants spent together at the Rincón Mexicano, eating the Mexican delicacy Chiles en Nogada and listening to the superb musical duo of Marcelo Pérez and Mike Listman.