Smart Strategy Nets Awards for Caltrans and CCE
PMI honored partnership with Product of the Year and Provider of the Year awards.

Article Access Magazine, Fall 2008 Issue
Representatives of Caltrans and CCE accept awards at the PMI Global Congress in Seattle.

From left to right: Linda Vella, Terry Murphy, Jenni Murphy, Kirsten Asher, and Lain Fraser.

At a time when government agencies struggled to achieve more with less, organizations embracing digital training reaped the rewards.

In 2000, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Division of Project Management initiated a department-wide culture shift when it partnered with the College of Continuing Education (CCE) to transition its vendor-based classroom project management training to an online certificate program.

Then in October 2006, the Project Management Institute (PMI), the leading membership association for the project management profession, honored Caltrans’ and CCE’s smart strategy with its prestigious Product of the Year and Provider of the Year awards.

Leaders inside Caltrans determined that an online project management training program would enable the organization to provide more consistent training to a wider pool of people and also enable training to continue through budgetary challenges.

To create the Project Management Certificate Program for Transportation Professionals, Caltrans combined its project management experience with CCE’s training knowledge and technical infrastructure to create a highly customized program targeting Caltrans’ senior-level project delivery employees.

The hybrid program includes six online and two classroom courses that use Caltrans-focused examples, case studies and class exercises to equip students with practical tools immediately applicable on the job.

“This program capitalized on technology and e-learning before virtual training was ‘cool’ and we appreciate the fact that Caltrans trusted CCE to be a partner in their larger vision for organizational culture change,” said Jenni Murphy, CCE’s associate dean and former director of extension programs.

The program also prepares students to take the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam, which upon successful completion designates the individual with the profession’s most globally recognized and respected credential.

According to Murphy, online training benefits Caltrans through its consistency, convenience and cost savings. The online curriculum costs 156 percent less than traditional classroom-based courses previously offered.

“Today people view online training as normal, even expected, so this program might not seem as innovative as it once did,” explained Murphy.  “But when you realize that forward-thinking people within Caltrans had that vision many years ago, it’s pretty unique. By changing their perspective on training, Caltrans employees reduced state expenses, created a better work-family-life balance and even decreased their environmental impact. That’s working smart.”

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Access Magazine. It has been edited for length and clarity. Article written by Michelle Gamble-Risley.