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PMOs (fork in the road).

By PMin_isFun ·
As a manager of a PMO with a large portfolio, I find myself at a crossroads as to the next "generation" of my PMO. A little background...My global company employs a distributed PMO model here with an Enterprise office driving change through evolutionary PM best practices and some light weight portfolio mgmt. We also have PMOs in our major divisions and functions. All PMOs (incl EPMO) reside in the global IT org.
Having successfully rolled out a project lifecycle methodology and transitioned culture to this new methodology, we are really starting to see value in the standardization, common language, and more rigorous governance (stage gate process). Our attention has been so tightly focused on the deployment of this methodology we have lost touch with the importance of the fundamentals of effective PM execution.
Our issues and risks have increased, they are not being aggressively managed (action plans and resolution) and our projects are, quite frankly, spiraling out of control. I have raised the flag on the trends associated with this dilemma and my manager has asked me to identify a solution to give my office more visibility into our projects and more influence on how we are executing against plan. We do have routine status reporting very four weeks and the visibility into the key issues and risks.
My quandary is really what to propose. In needing to establish my office as something more than this support/report generation entity, but with no direct control over these managers, what options do I have in developing this insight and greater influence to these teams to increase level of focus, drive delivery across my portfolio, and prevent this type of scenario to occur again?
Should I suggest a change to the structure and charter of the PMO? I am interested to hear what models are being employed in environments with similar constraints. Any feedback/input is greatly appreciated!

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by JamesRL In reply to PMOs (fork in the road).

Though I am no longer in that type of environment, I once was(Fortune 100, 65,000 employees around the world) and have seen what you have lived.

The problem with even one page per project status reports is that no one can read them all.

What I came up with at my last company is a mini project balanced scorecard. Every project was listed according to its place in the portfolio (Strategic, infrastructure renewal etc) and priority. Each was given a grade(Red, Yellow, Green) on schedule, budget and resourcing. For budget for example, it was yellow if the trend indicated the budget was 5-10% above plan, red if it was 11% or over plan. Similar with schedule. An overall assessment was made (Red Yellow Green).

All of this can fit into a spreadsheet or balanced scorecard tool. Make room for brief comments as well. Then you have something you can absorb in a limited amount of time that captures the essense and provides clear focus on what is failing.

Then comes the tricky part. Finding out why the projects are failing. I would follow up the report with some one on ones as time goes on. But the biggest bang for the buck here is post project reviews. After every project when the dust is settled, have a meeting with the stakeholders and key project members to determine - what worked well, what went wrong, waht lessons were learned. Publish this information. Make it a standard part of the early concept phase of your project to look for similar projects, review the lessons learned, and reset assumptions and risks accordingly.

I know thats a fairly high level take. There is a book called the Project Management Scorecard that helped me shape that solution I created.

Good luck.


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by PMin_isFun In reply to KISS

James, Thanks for your reply. I am a big advocate of KISS, having served on the Marines for 6 years.

The one page status reports are working okay. I have been weeding through them and highlighting the ones experiencing failing health. My leadership is now enforcing effective issue mgmt with action planning and driving accountability for resolution.

I just went out and purchased the book you recommended. Thanks. Will certainly consider the mini balanced scorecard although my dashboard tool today handles that, but it is a manual process.

Yes, the tricky part of identifying the whys to failing. We are piloting a project assessment and recovery process as I write this to see if the assessments yield the insight and point to obscure factors. It is a rather sensitive exercise and framing it has been the most complicated part. We do have some willing participants, which helps.

I do agree with you project review point as well. We have a Lessons learned process, but I am concerned that our managers are completing the exercise and not really internalizing the results to apply to their next endeavor. Will look to publicize that more in the future.

Can I your prior large-scale enterprise life, did you ever have to build a business case for centralizing project managers. We are faced with the classic problem of having our systems and functional managers serve as project managers. We recently introduced a project manager job family. We want to look at now creating dedicated PMs. Still not sure whether to centralize them or do a matrix scenario. I know matrix has a negative connotation to it, but it has worked in our organization in establishing accountability and performance. Thansk again for your input.

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Business case no, it was rammed through

by JamesRL In reply to

Before I left, that company went to a resource pooling system. Project managers went into a pool, and essentially when they were assigned to a project, they went to a resource manager to flush out the rest of the team. Systems and functional managers always struggle with balancing operational needs with any projects that they take on. But while classic project management theory says any project manager can take on any project, real life says there are certain sets of experience and certain technical skillsets which go together. Data centre managers may not have the experience to do a development project without a lot of coaching, and vice versa. I suppose it depends on how tightly you define your matrix.

As for lessons learned, make one item at your project kickoff meeting a review of any lessons learned from similar projects. That will help.


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All ABout Da Money

by BFilmFan In reply to PMOs (fork in the road).

Break it down into dollars and cents. Once management sees how much money is getting flushed or the stockholders do, project control will quickly become reality.

Or else the company will continue to waste money till someone wakes up at the switch.

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