Time from concept to implementation of a project has always been important. But increasingly in big organisations the deadline is being driven by timetables set by senior management who do not have a handle on what is involved in making it happen. So even strong experienced project managers can have difficulty in addressing these situations; many project management texts would suggest that the timeline should be created based on the resources and finance available, where that does not meet the preconceived idea of delivery date the project manager needs to argue the flexing of the three core elements of a project: Cost, Time or Quality. Since Time is being fixed this only leaves Cost and Quality.
As a project manager you can work with your team to increase productivity without external cost on the project, this is a soft cost but still a cost for the organisation and the project as well as the individuals involved. The loss of good will and morale make this only feasibly a short term fix. Getting more resource might be the next step and depending on the nature of the project is may be a satisfactory solution but will involve more immediate costs to the project and mean extra funding will be needed.
If costs are not flexible and time is fixed and cannot move, then the only route is reducing the overall quality of the solution by either delivering less on time and/or reducing the specification of what is delivered.
All these activities involve regular and careful communication with the stakeholders and project sponsor. It is key that they are part of the project and not separate from it. Warning the Sponsor and key stakeholders of possible issues and highlighting pressure on the deadline helps to defuse trouble.
Well-Seasoned Project Managers are well aware of the points above but pressure to take new initiatives from concept to market quickly and effectively are increasing all the time.
A good PMO can provide a service to project delivery in organisations by recording lesson learned in a useful manner and providing the mechanisms to play them back to future projects. Also the PMO should record actuals against estimates to improve the estimating of future projects. Allowing the sharing of risks and issues across all projects means that common problems can be address more quickly and efficiently.
There is much more value to projects and organisations in PMOs offering this service than acting as simply an administration and business support function.