New Year. New Look. Stay Tuned...
Published on Friday, November 2, 2018
There isn’t a project manager today who hasn’t heard of the agile approach, even if they’ve yet to trial it out themselves. Given the sheer volume, complexity and intended benefits to be realized on a project deemed feasible,the shift to agility in terms of both cultural fit and working processes has spilled over to Project Management Offices globally. After all, change is part of the package when it comes to managing a high-visibility portfolio of projects.
Routinely checking your portfolio’s health in times of change is half the battle, while the other half hinges on a thorough evaluation of your firm’s risk appetite. Only then can you deem that your revised business strategy is not only adaptive but also takes strategic alignment between projects and enterprise-wide objectives into consideration.
Setting up a PMO requires effort, given that it has to display demonstrable business value 2-5 years down the line. You need the right resources in terms of a qualified workforce as well as hands-on knowledge of a suitable project portfolio tool that unifies people, projects and processes. This post will examine the best practices that embed agile’s core principles into your PMO blueprint. So;
The first (and often, underestimated) step in an agile PMO is winning buy-in from the top down all the way to your existing project teams. As the saying goes,’perception is reality’. And a skewed perception of the internal workings of Agile delays value realization. This is simply because when agile is seen as a disruptor rather than an enabler of efficiency, uncertainties around managing competing projects still abound. Moreover, an agile PMO needs the right people in it, considering the wealth of experience needed to run several projects in shorter cycles. The following 5 practices readies your organization for agility:
Reporting analytics processes data in real-time, letting you access insights instantly to make informed decisions. It pulls information from existing records within the project portfolio management database and streamlines facts and figures into a single window of truth.
With access to a unified system of records that captures the length and breadth of the project portfolio, your PMO’s responsiveness becomes tactical in nature. Not only does it detect project and resourcing roadblocks accurately but advises where and how a modified strategy best fits in. Moreover, real-time predictive analytics can auto-update to reflect recent changes such that even if you looked at the report at a later date and time it would let bridge the gap between what you know so far and what you see before you.
Project management is 90% communication. And when strategic leadership changes hands, transparency over the changes being conveyed is all the more important, given that it affects existing frameworks, methods and concerned project teams in varying degrees. The shift to agile involves smaller and tightly-knit team sizes where daily standups let staff can compare notes.
Related reading: Why do you need a Project Management Office?
A top-down agile communicative approach informs your pool enterprise-wide of the type of changes expected and addresses the who, why, how and where of the application of change management. When changes in governance and general management is intimated to your teams, they’re forewarned of the revised structure concerning future interactions on pipelined projects. The collaborative environment thus fostered prevents team conflicts arising from differing interests. Project teams would consequently play to their strengths and participate in fruitful knowledge transfers to support one another on future endeavors.
Given that no two PMOs work or think alike, a proactive approach to workforce efficiency is key to utilizing the right quantity and quality of people in the right places. Scientific resource management complements intuition with resource-centric insights to drive both inflight and pipelined projects forward.
Resource management takes project statuses into account in order to distribute resource allocations. Simply put, resource requests are placed depending on whether the project is extended, delayed, finishing on time or ahead of schedule. It gauges your staff’s actual availability and existing commitments before assigning work in order to prevent schedule conflicts. What’s more, it factors in absences and training times so that your resources are not under or overbooked. While reporting dashboards generate statistics concerning ongoing efforts, resource management’s business intelligence component lets you predict actual and planned efforts with real-time what-if scenarios. By comparing fluctuations in the two quantities you can ensure that your staff maintain optimal utilization rates throughout the project duration.
Additionally, resource management conducts capacity planning to predict the type and number of staff in existence and their relevance on future projects. This way if shifting demands require hyper-specialized skills, knowledge, availability and/ or certifications to be deployed to a particular location, you can acquire them on time while letting them get acquainted around the project particulars.
No-one approves a project without considering the financial implications. After all in the event costs outweighs benefits, you’ll still need to examine the project’s returns via benefit planning.
The best practices here is to use a project ‘checkbook’ to record planned and actual costs. This way, you can track the percentage of funds utilized against milestones reached. Doing this from start to finish summarizes your expense reports against the fund allocated. You can then re-assign unused spends on to inert projects rather than add more into the cash outflow pipe. Time-tracking lets you create an index of budgetary allocations such that you can estimate financial returns against what you invest in.
E. Evaluate your risk appetite
A total aversion to risks is akin to pretending the elephant in the room doesn’t exist.
Every project manager takes calculated risks with respect to scoping, costing, effort estimation and project lifecycle execution. And with a risk register, an agile PMO can evaluate the enterprise’s risk appetite by actively profiling risks. Your PMO’s risk management plan lets lets it assess known and unknown risks, previous occurrences, chances of the same recurring or even identify a new category of risk.
Consequently, it conceives mitigation measures in accordance with the type of PMO it is. For example, a finance PMO reporting to the CFO manages costs and normalizes spends based on previous project history. This way, the forensic accounting your PMO undertakes creates an audit trail that investigate which areas experienced financial risks associated with an excess or shortage of funds. The resulting risk framework lets you monitor alterations made to the project decision curve. Given that multiple projects run simultaneously, evaluating the risk appetite lets you revise the project plan with the aim to enhance the smooth flow of sequenced tasks.
The race to adopting a PMO has seen a 20% jump in 2017-18 alone, according to the Wellingstone survey. It suffices to say that with these efficiency-centric practices, your PMO not only becomes agile but gains high-maturity, thus playing its part in ensuring your enterprise enjoys repeat success through value-addition.
Want your PMO to stay in shape? Use these efficiency-centric practices to let your PMO walk that extra mile!
Aakash Gupta heads Saviom Software’s Business Sales Wing. He has several publications in project portfolio, resource and workforce management to his credit. Subscribe to the latest updates from his desk, here.
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