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A Q & A with Les Howard, ROSE project manager
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:57 AM
Since it was introduced in 2009, the resource optimization and service enhancement (ROSE) project has been managed by an outside agency, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Last spring, PwC began transitioning off of the project, as an internal project manager (PM) firmly took the reins. Les Howard joined the University of Manitoba in April as both the PM for ROSE, as well as the director of the newly formed Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI). Howard has 25 years of experience in project management and process analysis, and teaches at the University of Winnipeg and Red River College. He recently sat down with The Bulletin to discuss the present, and future, of the ROSE project.

You spent the last five years working in health care; what made you make the move to the U of M?

Les Howard: To have the opportunity to create something from scratch was incredibly appealing; anyone in my field would find that really exciting. As project manager, my role is to ensure that good decisions are being made and that the right steps are being taken, so that quality work can be delivered. While it’s challenging and time consuming, this is my home province, my hometown and my alma mater - I hope to be able to look back and say that I made a positive impact here. That’s why a lot of people are at the U of M, to help promote the greater cause of education and research.

Is hiring a project manager and management team contrary to the idea of reducing expenditures?

LH: In the end, it should cost less to complete a large-scale project like ROSE with a project manager than without one. Let me put it this way: I could build my own house, but could I do it in the same amount of time as a professional builder? Would it have the same quality? Probably not, and, in the end, it would probably end up costing more. Also, without a dedicated project management team, you are putting that work on someone else’s plate, in addition to their regular workload. That person might not have the necessary time, knowledge or skill set to do the job properly.

What imprint has ROSE made so far on campus?

LH: When this process was first undertaken, the university was in a position where many of its processes were simply outdated. Could things have continued on? Sure, but as a result the university probably would have lagged behind. As an institution, it needed to adapt, to move forward. I think the biggest thing that ROSE has brought to the U of M is the realization that change was needed.

How are employees being supported through these changes?

LH: We have brought in professionals who are skilled in change support and can help all of us move from where we are, to where we want to be. Change support is an important part of the process and it will always need to be incorporated.

Overall, what do you hope the impact of ROSE is on employees?

LH: Most people want to be able to make a difference when they go to work, to say that they changed their corner of the world. Hopefully the processes we are putting in place through ROSE will allow people to contribute their skills, instead of being pulled into inefficient work. It is important that we provide people with a work environment that allows them to add value to their jobs.

When will ROSE be done?

LH: The projects that are currently under the ROSE umbrella will be complete by 2013. That said, other projects will come up and it will then be a matter of deciding whether or not they will be supported through ROSE, or through the Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI).

What is the OCI?

LH: The OCI has been set up to provide resources and supports to all internal units that are seeking outside skills and guidance for project management and continuous improvement. We want the OCI to be responsible for supporting the university, by serving as a catalyst and mentor for the identification and delivery of sustainable improvement initiatives. We also want to enable a culture of continuous improvement. The resources that we are now hiring to work on ROSE will be part of the OCI.


Read about all of the ROSE initiatives on the resource optimization website at the link below.

Follow ROSE on Twitter: @ROSEumanitoba
For more information, contact:
Lindsay Stewart Glor
Client Relations Coordinator, Internal Projects
Marketing Communications Office
Phone: (204) 474-9368
Related Links (Internal):
  •ROSE website