Can you make your PMO succeed (Part 2)

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Reduce project costs, helping to make your PMO succeed

In Part one of “Making your PMO succeed” we looked at how many PMOs fail by being just administration centres.  This approach helps some PMOs ease some workload on projects.  But does little to progress how projects address the organisation’s pace of change or how to best focus limited resources, reducing costs can help.

Part One also raised some feedback on what is meant by PMO.  Although we refer to Project Management Office our core focus is for Portfolio Management Office in a P3O definition.  Many organisations use the term project management office and portfolio management office interchangeably.  We agree that a project office (contained within a project) and a programme management office are by their nature temporary structures. The body that controls how projects can be run and how they support the organisation’s goals should not be temporary.

In this part we will look at the ways of reducing costs in your projects.  Looking at how the PMO can assist project managers in addressing costs.  But also at how the PMO can establish longer term approaches that improve the portfolio performance.

Reduce the Methodology overhead for your Projects

Projects should only ever complete documents and processes that have a positive effect on delivery.  There should never be a time when the project is required to do something that is not benefiting its end goal.  If any processes and controls used are not helping the project to deliver in a timely and controlled manner then they should be discarded.

Even in the project controls you feel are necessary, encourage an appropriate application.  For example, aiming to get an exact definition of requirements for a project is unrealistic in the real world, although many traditional project approaches recommend it.  There will always be some level of scope creep.  So, define enough of the requirements to drive the project in a controlled way but do not over engineer them. Equally allowing an agile approach of embracing change too much can lead to all the effort being wasted in endless redefinition with little or no progress.

Even in lean and agile environments there can be an unnecessary overhead of red tape.  Avoid anything that merely creates hurdles that projects are expected to overcome to tick a corporate box.

Apply Lessons Learned to Avoid unnecessary work

There is a wealth of information that projects can gather that would be invaluable to future projects.  Many organisations have their projects create lesson learnt logs and carry out reviews.  A great deal fewer bodies do anything to store and use the information for future projects.

If you can start a mechanism to record, update and actively apply lessons learned from projects then you have established a positive feedback loop that will provide constant improvement.

Share Common Elements Across Projects

Where there are common services and elements across projects, look at ways to share.  Many organisations run projects and have common themes but always reinvent their approach for each project.  Take the example of risk management in projects. Many organisations allow projects to manage separate risks logs for each project.  While there is a need to have some elements focused in a project, there is a real benefit across projects in sharing issue and risk information. This approach means that problems and can be spotted earlier and obstacles removed with less effort; thus, reducing costs.

Future posts in this series will look at

  • Increasing pace of delivery, reducing time to market
  • Selecting projects and continuing projects to match the organisation’s aims
  • Expanding the PMO’s role to help the organisation with change.
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