Amid trying times the dreaded cost-cutting edict will rear its ugly head and often translate into arbitrary percentage cost cuts across all departments. But blanket cutbacks are rarely smart because cutting costs is only one part of a solution; you may also want to pivot your investments to spend less in some areas while still positioning your company for a successful future. You will have to re-prioritize and replan your project investments and no one knows how to do that better than the Project Management Office (PMO).
Here are three trending scenarios where the PMO can have a serious impact.
- Digital Transformation
- Application Rationalization
- Change Initiatives
Companies are rapidly going digital. This is not just a short-term trend where we work from home until the pandemic ends and then we all return to the office. While many of us will return to the office in some way, the experience will likely be very different. This trend saves costs for organizations in two ways. Remote work requires less office space and infrastructure, and it can open hiring opportunities in broader geographies. You can source that hard to find engineer from anywhere in the country or around the globe.
But going digital requires investments in remote communications technology, networking infrastructure, and maybe even new applications that are cloud-based for easier remote access. And some of those investments will pay off sooner than others. You may need to pivot your project portfolio quickly by de-prioritizing some routine projects in favor of the most impactful digital transformation projects. You will need to assess not just strategic impact, but resource capacity, budget, and timing. Thus, the practice of Strategic Portfolio Management is key to solving this riddle, which allows you to visually prioritize and re-plan the strategic portfolio.
In recent years, companies have put a more concerted effort on application governance to reduce reliance on applications that provide a low business return. These application rationalization initiatives are projects all on their own that should be prioritized within an entire project portfolio. However, the focus of this effort can sometimes be misplaced on application consolidation that could leave strategic systems sidelined in the name of short-term cost-cutting. In the long run, cutting that system may cost significantly more in missed business opportunities, errors, inefficiencies, and myriad other issues that you’ll ‘get what you pay for.’
The admittedly biased, but the best example I have at hand is the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) system. Especially if it is strategically focused. By using adaptable PPM practices you will be able to optimize multi-million-dollar project portfolios and avoid choosing the wrong projects – or worse yet, ones that have a higher probability of failure – that can cost millions and swamp the savings from application rationalization. So, it is important to keep a properly strategic-focused PPM system in place.
Where should you look for application cost savings? In most companies, applications proliferate wildly and there can be many that no longer serve their intended purpose and are just gathering dust on a virtual shelf. This is where application rationalization should focus. Each application to be deprecated will then spawn a project, which will need to be fit into the overall portfolio.
Companies are going through constant change, and 2020 brought unprecedented levels of it. Many of these change initiatives lead to plain old cost-cutting projects. From reducing leased space to re-organization, there are many enterprise-wide change initiatives to launch. And, as with anything else, there are way more cost-cutting ideas than the capacity to implement. These ideas will also need to be sorted and justified as part of the enterprise portfolio.
Bottom line – most of what we do in companies is through projects, even if they look very different today than in the purely Waterfall days. Change is no different. Someone needs to sort out which of those projects will save the most money and best position the company for future success. And that, of course, is what the PMO specializes in – without them there would be chaos!