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Project Portfolio Management

Five Steps Towards PMO Success

Published By Kevin Kern

Ideally, it’s a centralized hub for organizing processes; managing special projects; and facilitating the free flow of information across your enterprise. The ultimate Project Management Office (PMO) is a model of defined and aligned processes, with results tracking and transparency to match. Try these tips for project management success.

ONE:  Make business processes defined—and repeatable.

Bringing in a project on-time and on-budget once is a combination of good project management and a little bit of luck; consistently executing projects successfully, time after time, is a hallmark of PMO perfection. Take an opportunity to explicitly define your processes as they stand today. Often, things are simply done the way they’ve always been done, without defining the steps and desired outcomes. Worse, and possibly more commonly, different people do different things in different ways, each time.

Get a handle on what happens and how, then weed out those that don’t work consistently. Finally, ensure that the rest are truly replicable. In doing so, you’ll join good company; a growing number of businesses now have formal Project Portfolio Management (PPM) processes in place, rising from 64% in 2003 to 71% in 2013. (Source: 1. The State of Project Portfolio Management PPM 2013 PM Solutions Research)

TWOBreak down departmental silos.

A second mark of PMO maturity is the ability to look antagonistically at the needs of the business as a whole, rather than view projects solely thorough disparate departmental lenses. Are your business processes truly aligned with supporting the way your company runs today? Even more importantly, will those processes support the growth and innovation required to take the business to the next level tomorrow.

Make a renewed effort to examine when and where projects cross organizational lines. For example, how should efforts to implement and leverage CRM or digital marketing initiatives intersect to create a more effective outcome for all departments involved? Taking a broader view can help open your eyes—and demonstrate to leadership—how important the PMO’s efforts are to the business as a whole.

THREE: Maximize effective technology.

Even the best project manager can’t be everywhere all the time. Moving beyond spreadsheets or traditional project management software to a cloud-based solution can provide governance controls, facilitate communication between project managers and corporate stakeholders, and promote consistency in methodology and best practices.

In addition, the ability to track metrics more transparently than ever before will pay dividends when you’re called on to demonstrate results and value.

FOUR:  Be a traffic director rather than a bottleneck.

The centralization of information within the PMO provides the possibility of developing organization-wide performance indicators and operational figures. Yet that accumulation of information can mean that project managers become bottle-necks rather than information facilitators.

Think of new ways to channel the right information to the right people at the right time, and your perceived value to the organization will increase dramatically.

FIVE:  Position project management as a source of competitive advantage.

With reliable and replicable processes in place; the transparency to see projects and progress from an organization-wide perspective; and the tools to demonstrate results and value, you have everything you need to elevate the visibility of the PMO and position it as a source of competitive advantage for your company.

Imagine giving leadership the confidence to pursue new innovation strategies, retire costly legacy systems or kick-start new organizational processes that will reduce cost or drive organic growth. A corporate culture that recognizes the value of project management and treats it as a critical core capability is a stronger organization than one that views project management as a transactional function.

While the old adage that “practice makes perfect” may be true, by following these tips, you can make your project management function that much more successful.

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Written by Kevin Kern