Can you make your PMO succeed (Part 3)

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In previous parts we looked at how Portfolio Management Offices (PMO) have been around for a considerable time but there remains doubt about what they should provide. We also examined how you might get the PMO to help reduce costs in order to improve PMO success.  Adding more value than simply being a data collection and a project police team. In this part we will look at how PMOs might help to reduce the time to deliver a result.

Streamlining the project approach

Even in projects that follow a waterfall approach you can look at improving the delivery time. Look at removing obstacles to simplify the project as much as possible without losing control. Cut out tasks that do not help you get to the end goal. Look at parallel tasks where these are possible. Insure that where your project is depending on external suppliers or other teams you process orders and request service as early as possible to avoid or reduce the impact of lead times.

Changing your project approach may also mean you look at re-phasing delivery to improve the return on investment. Is it possible to deliver in phases, give a partial solution early and delivering the complete solution later in the project?

Establish Resource Management practices that offer more timely availability

Getting the resource management right across a portfolio can have a huge effect on project delivery times. You will, no doubt, have key resource that is scarce; balancing this between projects appropriately will help the portfolio as a whole. This approach may mean some projects might lose out, but the collective of projects in the portfolio should benefit from this approach.

The PMO should have a picture of what resource is assigned to what projects. This current operational model gives feedback on the type of resources being used, their burn rate and the performance by resource type. When the PMO then begins to use this data to build future forecasts the organisation can look at ways to bridge times of critical resource need.

Working Smarter not harder

Short periods of intensive working long hours by project teams can occasion help project schedules. But in the long term it will not help if key people are burnt out or choose to move on. The loss of effective key players will cause projects to be delayed or fail. So, try and make sure the right people are assigned to the right tasks. Avoid over allocating people.

The PMO need to understand the skills and aims of people in all project teams and then use that data to assign people to appropriate roles. Doing this in conjunction with the pipeline of projects will provide understanding of the skills required across the portfolio.

The PMO could work with HR and external teams to assist in developing skills.

A core element of the PMO success can be achieved by ensuring project teams understand the project approach and what is expected from the role they fill. Done correctly this will reduce the overhead on project managers and their teams reducing the need to monitor and assist in standard project tasks.

Changing more projects to an agile approach

Agile may not be the approach for all projects, but where it is correctly applied it will help deliver a solution more quickly. So, consider how your project can adopt some agile techniques. But if you or the project team think that using agile means no control and no documentation, think again.  To apply agile practices means you need close control and a clear understanding of the evolving aims of the project.

The flexibility and inclusive nature of agile approaches should allow project teams and project customers to work more closely together to achieve the goal.  Evolving what that goal should be as they progress, rather than fixing a point that might need adjusting once a final position has been delivered.