I guess everyone in the project management business ends up working for Lockheed Martin at one time or another. A Microsoft salesperson told us once that Lockheed Martin had over 20,000 Microsoft Project licenses so as one of the leading Microsoft Project training companies is was just a matter of time before we worked for them.
We had worked for aerospace companies and organizations like NASA, General Dynamics, General Electric, Learjet, Bell Helicopter, a few smaller subcontractors and we had done a few small jobs for Lockheed Martin at places like at the test center at White Sands, New Mexico.
Eventually, a product we have for Microsoft Project caught the attention of one of the directors at the Marietta facility and we were off and running doing customized training for them using our product which we combined, with a product the software engineers for the F22 simulator created. Our product, Process Bridge, makes Microsoft Project much easier to use and their product made Microsoft Project calculate status so much better. Most importantly, it not just calculated better, it drew status more accurately on the summary level in the task bar section of a Gantt chart view. A problem Microsoft Project users have struggled with since the very first version came out in 1990.
Consulting at Lockheed Martin in Marietta wasn’t always easy. When NASCAR was there using the wind tunnel facilities we were prevented from even looking that direction, and when in the F22 house we had to try and solve problems while red warning lights circulated in the ceiling, a voice repeated, “Intruder in the building,” and the light hanging from our neck blinked and the roadside lantern we carried with us flashed. But, it is always a fun place to be. A real working project management environment. Gantt and Network diagrams printed on the walls, people in meetings with their sleeves rolled up working on problems, people studying the task bars on a chart and taking the data seriously.
This type of custom work has a focus on process improvement. Most everyone we worked with at Lockheed Martin was already using Microsoft Project, already understood project management and were pretty good at running projects. In this case they just wanted to get better and standardize some of their tracking methods.
Once we were doing some training and consulting for a couple of companies in South Africa. At a kick-off meeting in the IT department for British American Tobacco, one of the leads said, “Fortune magazine ranked us as one of the best IT organizations in the world….you are here because we want to become better.”