By David Hulett
Project Management Performance Must Be Improved
Successful compliance within schedule, budget, quality and scope often falls to levels that are not acceptable. Project organizations may lack the ability to manage a portfolio of projects with their conflicting resource requirements. Predictability of project results is not acceptable. These problems are often caused by a lack of capability and professionalism in project management. Implementation of a Project Management Office (PMO) addresses these problems.
Hulett & Associates, LLC provides PMO consulting. We have experience in PMO implementation and integrated software solutions that support the PMO. Below is our approach to these engagements and some risks that the client and we must address.
Our Approach to Implementing the PMO
- Conduct an assessment of the current state of project management using the framework of capability maturity models (CMM) and the phases and knowledge areas accepted by the project management profession (e.g. in the PMBOK® Guide, the Project Management Institute.)
- Develop a vision for the PMO for the client. What results should be produced by the new PMO? What type of PMO is desired, from proactive to consultative?
- Perform a "gap analysis" of the main needs. Basic skills might be taught and new personnel might be added, existing functions might be consolidated into a PMO structure.
- Pilot phase implementation takes the structure and implements its functions on one or a few projects. The Pilot phase is designed to roll out project management disciplines as soon as possible so the client can start reaping the benefits of some before the complete suite of tools is available. Include integrated enterprise software solutions to facilitate project portfolio management.
- Full-scale PMO implementation installs the procedures, organizations, personnel and integrated software needed to run the PMO effectively on all projects.
- A post-implementation phase can be used to monitor the new PMO and see how it can be improved as a mid-course correction.
Objectives of Establishing the PMO
The objectives of a PMO are to improve project management excellence in the organization. This can be elaborated:
- Ensure priority for project completion.
- Achieve excellence in applying the best project management discipline.
- Install systems that enable the client to manage several major projects at once.
- Ensure hiring and promoting the best project managers available.
- Serve as an advocate for the professionalism and career path of project mangers.
- Establish standards for project management including tools, reporting, software and procedures.
- Establish standard tools needed by all projects including work breakdown structures (WBS), statements of work (SOW), template schedules and risk checklists that can be tailored as needed.
- Compile data and lessons learned about projects for use on future projects.
- Bring specialized knowledge, such as risk management to the managing of projects
- Provide an independent view of projects and project management for top management.
- Provide support services such as scheduling, reporting, charging and record keeping.
Issues and Risks
In our experience there are some risks that can impede or delay the project to design and implement the PMO.
- Lack of support at the top can delay or kill the project. The top management sets the tone of the project and establishes its priority for the staff.
- Lack of organizational willingness to change. Holding on to old habits will produce the same result.
- Designing a one-size-fits-all PMO rather than working the program with current status, vision setting and gap analysis
- Bypassing the pilot phase and jumping to full-scale implementation.
- Lack of commitment of time or energy from the current staff.
- Inadequate funding for the engagement.
- Not having the project management staff on board and resisting hiring the right talent from the marketplace.
- Inadequate training resources can hinder the PMO.
Project Management Risks
- Lacking an agreed SOW for the project.
- Poor team efforts can slow the project and make it difficult to complete.
- Inadequate IT facilities may delay or limit the implementation of any needed PMO software.
- Unwillingness to acquire the right software and inconsistent use of software or use of different software across projects can hinder the integration of a portfolio of projects in the PMO.