Planning and implementing a PMO has a rhythm of its own. Don’t be tempted to rush. You risk chaos if the process rushes ahead of the organization’s own maturity by trying to tackle all the stages at once.
So what can businesses and project managers do to ensure essential components of projects are being completed in time and on budget? In this article we develop the 5 main keys of success.
Keys to success
A good plan is only useful if it can be implemented in the field. For that you need adequate resources and a favorable environment. Before creating a PMO:
1. Make sure you have the right skill set
Ensure that your people have the right skill set. If you have neither the team nor the required skill set, it’s a good idea to limit the scope of the PMO so that it can be set up without the risk of failure. Embarking on a PMO without the appropriate know how is like setting sail on a ship without skilled sailors, the enterprise will unravel at the first ill wind.
2. Start with high-visibility, high-impact projects
Like every other business unit, the PMO must prove its worth from the very beginning to win over naysayers. A smart PMO manager will look to deliver early wins on to the scoreboard. This is not always easy because of its cross-functional – and according to detractors – unnecessary nature. Tackle the most widely acknowledged problems first.
3. Identify the needs of the business clearly
The organization and the business have needs that may or may not have been explicitly identified. Meeting these needs should be your starting point. That way you’ll start off on the right foot, giving you enormous leverage when it comes to defending your decisions in the future. Do your research.
For example, as a PMO expert you may consider it vital to set up a document template repository. But maybe what your stakeholders actually need is a way to decide how progress on projects is measured.
4. Have a solid framework
And which is integrated intothe business. A PMO that acts as a lone wolf is destined to fail. It is important that there are simple, fluid communication channels to ensure that everyone is working in the right direction. Put these in place from the outset.
5. Draw up clear key performance indicators
Having a lot of indicators does not necessarily mean having lots of information. Make sure that you not only have the right tools but also that the KPIs are relevant to your business.
What to consider for a consistent roadmap
To create a consistent roadmap, you should take into account:
The maturity of the organization.
The goals suggested by the Board of Directors.
The available resources.
Positive and negative environmental factors.
With these parameters, we know our start and end points, the resources available and the pace at which we should go.
An example of a roadmap
Let’s take as an example Booksy360, a mid-sized publishing company. This is their roadmap divided into four stages, starting from a tactical PMO and moving towards a strategic one.
Booksy360’s PMO steering group decides to establish a basic communication system, using a common language. In this system planning is based only on timeframes and deliverables. Document templates are created for each project type. Stakeholders will receive reports about the status of their individual projects and Booksy360’s board will be kept up to date via a regular portfolio report.
All communication channels are now established. The PMO encourages collaboration between units and projects. Inventory and purchasing are added as extra elements to plan, manage and control. Resource management is now based on professional profiles, such as editors, writers and production engineers.
Formal risk management starts, agreed by all departments. Alongside this Booksy360 initiates change and quality management. Even if these were taking place informally before, now they are at the heart of the process.
The final stage is when the actual strategic contribution starts. But it is long way down the line so for now Booksy360’s steering committee predicts it will include portfolio planning, benefit realization management and governance
Onyriq represents a new generation of innovative companies pursuing the social impact of knowledge.
Ainhoa, Joseba and Mikel met at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) in San Sebastian while studying chemistry and specializing in polymers. Years later, the three have finished their postgraduate studies and greet each morning in the Parc Científic de Barcelona. Although they research together every day and haven’t lost sight of the laboratories, chemical structures or trials, they don’t teach nor receive a salary from the university.
These three chemists have started up their own company together with Oriol, an aerospace engineer based in Japan: a year ago, in September 2016, Onyriq was founded as a startup whose core business lies in the research, development and innovation of polymers. With a business model that is clearly focused on knowledge transfer, their objective is ambitious: to support the company with the commercial exploitation of its own research through licenses and patents.
The day to day operations of Onyriq include the management of its research projects with ITM Platform. "We work with ITM Platform for both the execution of our projects and the development of proposals to clients, Since we calculate the differences between the proposal and the actual project (in budget, time and activities), that allows us to better know its profitability."
"Onyriq's example is representative of an increasing number of high value-added companies that are using portfolio and program management tools previously exclusive of large corporations"
In a market as broad as that of polymeric materials, Onyriq transfers technologies used across a range of industries, such as: aerospace, health, 3D printing or food. Their previous experience has led them to define three main lines of research: the synthesis and modification of polymers and biopolymers, the encapsulation of active compounds for pharmaceutical companies, and the functionalization of materials to impart specific properties. "We hope that companies with different core businesses that work with polymers can outsource the innovation of their processes by relying on us and our extensive know-how," says Ainhoa.
As for their service portfolio, Onyriq is divided into three corners: the transfer of knowledge with its own research, innovation on demand and training workshops. Although the marketing of own research currently has a secondary importance, the goal is to become the main source of income for the company. To reach this stage, Onyriq not only needs to manage its projects with professionalism, but also to continuously evaluate the different lines of research that group the different projects of the company.
The example of Onyriq shows how more and more high value-added companies need access to portfolio and program management tools that were previously only available to large multinational groups, but to which they have better access thanks to the appearance of actors who are betting on the democratization of the sector, like ITM Platform.
Program management, model requirement
Despite their youth, the Onyriq founders have already run European research projects with multi-million budgets. While managing a major project is not a major concern, researching without losing sight of profitability is indeed a novel challenge, and one that is hard to combine with the long-term vision required by academic research.
Program Management bundles the entrepreneurial and the scientific mindset. Given their previous experience as project managers, it was known from the start that a central piece towards sustainability was a tool that fulfilled two objectives: to allow the team to adopt professional project management methodologies, and to group similar projects with common objectives into programs.
"Program Management bundles the entrepreneurial and the scientific mindset."
It was then, after what Ainhoa describes as an exhaustive process of searching and evaluating different options, they finally opted for ITM Platform. According to her account, "ITM Platform is by far the most complete solution we could find. And we tried many."
In addition to the unified management of the research lines as project programs, some of the benefits that favored the decision were the purchase and revenue management, with which Onyriq manages the benefits generated by the different accounts and associated suppliers, and the freedom to create both predictive projects and agile projects. If Gantt diagrams are perfect for preparing projects for customers, Kanban panels are widely used for more informal proposals and projects in which maximum visibility is desired for all members, so that coordinated progress can be made.
The fact that ITM Platform is not overly technical and allows the use of non-certified project managers has also been a very important factor in ensuring the continued use of the tool. Another important feature is flexibility: "we have been able to configure the tool to adapt it to our internal operating model".
"ITM Platform is by far the most complete solution we could find. And we tried many."
As in any startup, over the next few years Onyriq will be dedicated to checking which business scenarios are correct and which need adjustment. Onyriq's B2B services are so closely related to the core business of customers that the future of the business will depend heavily on the relationships that consolidate in this initial stage. Although polymer applications are very broad, and many of them have an appealing niche potential, the Onyriq team is aware that the market will judge each line of research. According to Ainhoa, "the importance of the different axes of our activity will ultimately be proportional to the demand that we find. In a possible world, within five years we could patent a successful synthesis method for 3D printing of prostheses. Although we could get to specialize in the health sector, we know that diversification will key so we’re not dependent on the economic cycles. R&D is so unpredictable that we must be prepared by measuring how things are moving forward."
That need for measurement lies at the heart of Onyriq's internal processes, which ITM Platform uses to meet its two major business goals today: financial independence and continuous change.
Currently, contract research for companies outsourcing innovation accounts for approximately two-thirds of Onyriq's revenues, which are used to fund own research. So much so, that Onyriq's main goal for the next few years is to market its own research to become the first source of income. When that time comes, Onyriq will become more selective with on demand services. This will be the moment when the long terms of research will be better supported by the rest of the structure.
Some knowledge transfer might not be good for business due to both technological risks and market trends. As in any innovative portfolio, it’s important thing to combine projects with different expectations of profitability and risk levels so that more conservative projects support the most creative proposals.
"In such a changing and unpredictable environment as R & D, it is essential to be prepared and to measure how things are working at all times."
Onyriq's business processes require continuous measurement of different key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to calculate ROI and decide on which project should be part of the portfolio.
While all startups are expected to pivot and search for their model, for Onyriq that pivotal effort extends after breaking even. Knowing what research programs and which technologies are in greater demand or which sectors are more profitable will remain necessary for Onyriq to maintain the competitive advantage in an innovative market dominated by big players.
This business foundation gives Onyriq the strength to fight against the limitations of the most advanced scientific research. As Ainhoa acknowledges: "Although technological centers and universities are committed to the generation of knowledge, this R & D is often not applied. The aim of ONYRIQ is to turn the potential of polymer science into innovative technologies or products with a positive impact on society and, in turn, enable profitable business models. To do this, we adapt our knowledge to the real capabilities of the industry and to the market situation. "
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It's not news that Chief Information Officers tend to be considered the directors of all technological projects in an organization.
In fact, in the mid 90s it was understood that project managers could not simply undertake assignments, but should have a comprehensive commitment to the organization's systems strategy. It was then that something similar was proposed: that the PMO directors have a very similar role to the CIOs.
With the consolidation of project management offices in all types of organizations and the emergence of good start-up and operation practices, PMOs have become a clear model for the management of internal projects in large corporations. For this reason, it is also worth remembering the contrary statement: that the CIOs lead the PMO of internal technology projects.
Lack of definition of the CIO: strategy vs. day to day
It is very difficult to define in detail what is being done by a Chief Information Officer (CIO). There are those who say that they are, quite simply, a budget manager. Although this is a good joke, it is a very imprecise statement: any CIO is primarily responsible for the strategy, practices and policies of an organization's information systems.
That said, the day to day activities of each CIO is very different, varying depending on the industry, the country, the size of the company and the personality of the managers who are above.
In fact, top management's expectations about what a CIO should do is probably the most weighty aspect. It is very different that a General Manager wants to have a CIO to materialize the vision of the business thanks to a technology expert to rely on a system manager to respond as quickly as possible to all their requirements. That's the big difference between a CIO as a top manager and a CIO as a responsible one. Exaggerating a little from this distinction, it can be said that there are two types of CIO: those who do not have time to supervise daily operations, and those who do not have time to get out of them.
At bottom, every CIO is between two worlds: top management, which focuses on long-term vision and value creation for investors; And the day-to-day management of technology, which includes aspects such as:
Damage limitation and planning for possible disasters
Staff planning, including training
Creation of new systems
Integration and maintenance of existing systems
When the organization is small enough, the CIO can take care of all these aspects; but from a certain size it must rely on a delegation system, laying down rules and procedures for others to assume those responsibilities within a unified framework.
The aspiration of every CIO is probably to establish this frame of reference to be able to dedicate themselves to directing the strategy and to be involved with the direction of the company that counts its counterparts in great multinationals, as for example, one of the great pharmaceutical companies. In the words of Paul Burfitt, CIO of Astra Zeneca until 2006, the work of the CIO is to create frames of reference (policies, standards and strategies) that allow each subsidiary to act on its own, in an empowered way. In the meantime, the CIO is dedicated to designing priorities, objectives and goals, combining in any case the business perspective and that of information systems.
Why the CIO carries a PMO of systems projects
In that difficult balance between day-to-day and strategy is where the CIO's comparison with the leader of a PMO fits perfectly.
It is easy to understand if we ask ourselves the following question: What are the CIO's responsibilities in project management?
Combine demand with capacity
Requests for improvements in internal computer systems, databases, management modules, CRM, etc., always grow faster than the ability to generate such improvements. The development of new software and the integration of different technologies are long and costly processes.
For this reason, one of the first responsibilities of the CIO is to ensure that there is capacity to cover the projects to be started and that the resources allocated have the necessary technical knowledge. Hence the importance of comprehensive resource planning.
Likewise, strategic PMOs offer tools and tools for decision-making, which projects need to be started and which are not important enough to go from mere drafting. Sometimes the PMO even has sufficient authority to make such decisions.
Generate the right expectations
When internal policies and strategic plans communicate properly, different departments are more likely to know what to expect from their requests and what kinds of ideas are most likely to be included in the project portfolio.
Involve departments requesting change
Agile culture has demonstrated that the success of internal technology projects depends on the degree of commitment of the project sponsors. For technology strategy to match growth prospects, many CIOs make sure that each department is held responsible for the success of the ideas it proposes. In this way, unnecessary requests and ideas whose consequences have not been properly analyzed are avoided.
A PMO has very similar responsibilities, serving as a coordinating body so that all parties involved in the projects collaborate proactively, and offer more business context to project managers to understand the motivation behind each new requirement.
In short, both the CIO and the PMO have the functions of coordinating, monitoring, unifying, evaluating and selecting an organization's project portfolio. The fundamental difference between the two is that the PMO rests very closely on project management methodologies, while the CIO is more responsive to what the organization requires, its strategy and technological challenges. Both roles can be combined productively.
Moreover, responsibilities also come closer to the level of training, continuous learning and the transfer of knowledge. As both the CIO and the PMO have a cross-sectional dimension, routine, conformism and watertight compartments are their greatest enemies.
Benefits of addressing the work of the CIO from the PMO:
CIOs who choose to embrace the idea that they actually have a PMO, even if it is embryonic, can benefit from the following elements:
Adopt portfolio methodologies to monitor, evaluate and select projects
Have clear criteria to prioritize the work according to the value it brings to the business. An agile PMO can manage the backlog of requirements dynamically, adapting to the circumstances to maximize the value delivered to the client.
In addition, project governance represented by the PMO allows the CIO to leave the field of reactive work to defend the strategic importance of its profile, approaching the CTO. Although this gives another article, it is about imagining the future and moving towards a vision from the means that gives the domain of technology.
Of course, the relationship between the CIO and the PMO is variable. It may be a direct dependency, but there are also organizations where the CIO advises the PMO: By being the owner of the strategy and having a much more direct contact with customers and generating value, it can help PMO and Project managers are put in the place of the clients and make the project's own goal through empathy.
Objective: to enter the steering committee
According to a study by Russam GMS, only 2% of the steering committees have a CIO. And that despite the fact that it is a generalized aspiration of this profile with clear benefits when deciding the direction of a business adventure.
The isolation of the top representative of information systems from top management is another point of resemblance to PMOs: very few organizations admit the PMO director to the committee, considering everything that has to do with the direction of the PMOs. Projects at a lower level than the executive.
However, both the CIO and the PMO display their maximum organizational capacities when they have as their mission to design and maintain governance systems.
When project governance is incorporated into the steering committee, project performance is maximized and the contribution of projects to the organization's objectives.
When the CIO that joins the committee not only monitors technological governance, but is involved in project governance, the organization will be laying the foundations to achieve maximum strength as a digital actor. A real demon for the competition.
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Let’s face it—collaboration has become a mission. But we are bringing back the joy of working together, as we announce our new collaboration with one of Brazil’s top universities and symbol of Curitiba, Federal University of Technology - Paraná (UTFPR).
Dating back to the modernization efforts in the early Twentieth Century, UTFPR became the Federal Center of Technological Education in 1978. In 2005, it became the first Brazilian University of Technology and embraced a national leadership in scientific and technical education that remains its main trademark.
Leading this initiative is Professor Roberto Candido, an active member of the UTFPR community with interests in technological innovation, entrepreneurship, project management and regional development. Based at the department of Electrotechnical studies, he has pursued the collaboration to ITM Platform with the aim of fostering the employability of his students with real world software.
This collaboration will grant access to ITM Platform for undergraduate students in the degrees of Electric Engineering, and Control and Automatization Engineering, as well as graduate students for advanced projects. As an excellent project, program and portfolio management tool designed to facilitate collaborative work and practical learning from any device, ITM Platform will be used for group work and simulations of a Project Management Office – an activity to which it has been carefully tailored.
The tools and technology driving this collaboration allow students to adopt a Professional Project management software with no installations, and combine theoretical education with the insight that is only gained through practice with a real-world tool; while professors gain control and visibility of student’s work, basing evaluations on the objective indicators that are tracked by ITM Platform. This allows to better manage daily activities, spend less time in evaluation and administration, and have perfect visibility of how students are progressing. In the experience of ITM Platform academic partnerships, group simulations that allow to treat students’ efforts under the technical lens of project resource allocation have an increased impact on educational outcomes: students acquire a skillset to manage complex team-based work, while higher education experts can rely on an external structure to power and facilitate the group dynamics.
With a shared environment for each class, student work can simulate a company or project team. ITM Platform will provide all training resources to UTFPR to get started, from video tutorials to user guides etc. Ultimately, educators are independent and autonomous in their use of ITM Platform: they should forget about the tool and focus on the learning mission.
In order to get there, it’s important to decide for a learning formula that best adapts to the subject at hand and the working schedule. ITM Platform is suited to support Online, blended and traditional education formulas. Additionally, coursework can take the form of practical homework, but has also been used to strengthen or test the methodological aspects of Technical Thesis and Capstone Projects.
Course impact enhancement is possible through joint webinars with ITM Platform, in which the students get to present and broadcast their results to a global audience.
Other Advantages include:
Practical learning from any device
ITM Platform follows PMI and Prince2 recommendations
Teamwork is shaped thanks to the different roles within the platform: PMO manager, Project Manager, Team Member and Customer
Students are connected to the real world
The practical side of the tool and its broad scope, that goes well beyond simple project management, makes it a great fit for interdisciplinary learning and to bring students from different backgrounds into a same project. In fact, ITM Platform quickly makes a case for the economic and organisational advantages of planning and controlling projects.
While massive in aggregate, the planning of projects in the Engineering faculty, or any other field of study for that matter, is highly fragmented and desynchronised. As a result, timely completion and realisation of projects seem almost impossible. However, big institutions and technology companies are increasingly realising the importance of Project and Portfolio Management as a tool for success.
Today’s alignment between ITM Platform and UTFPR exemplifies how PMOs and educational institutions can collaborate so the scholar wins… and future generations have a quick start ahead, adopting today’s best organizational practices.
Growing our relationship to help build PMOs
UTFPR joins the ranks of many of the institutions and companies around the world who have integrated with ITM Platform to create a PMO that salvages the realisation of projects in a timely fashion.
Roberto Candido, professor at UTFPR explains how ITM Platform will aid the university put its students in direct contact with a tool that facilitates project management jobs, giving them better conditions to enter the job market.
Through collaboration with top tier Educational institutions, ITM Platform continues to blow the flame under the engine room of Project Management Offices.
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Project cost management is one of the most important sections of the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) and seeks, from a theoretical and practical point of view, to determine and control the costs involved in the project execution. This is an important area of knowledge since no project can be considered without having set aside sufficient resources for its execution.
For this, time is an influential factor, since the cost estimation will in principle require a project working with timelines; that is, short-term goals are proposed for each phase.
It should be considered that if the total period for the delivery of a project is taken as an independent variable, there will be different risks associated with costs as a dependent variable. Namely: if you decide to carry out the project in the shortest possible time, you will be incurring the maximum cost, which requires impeccable coordination between all processes and a very high risk exposure in the appearance of deficiencies in coordination. If, on the other hand, the decision is made to extend the duration, the exposure to environmental risk increases: external circumstances are more likely to affect the initial budget.
How to estimate the costs of a project
The actions that revolve around this go beyond a mere quantitative estimate by a manager or project management team, since internal and external aspects that directly influence the achievement of the project must be carefully estimated.
Obviously, costs cannot be estimated without an exhaustive and accurate collection of requirements. The first reference of the project manager, therefore, is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
Define the cost of each requirement. In many cases, these requirements will have a known cost and a trusted supplier; in other cases they will be more difficult to determine and should be roughly estimated;
Define the amount of work needed to complete all requirements and the cost per hour of each type of worker involved. This calculation serves as the baseline for the human cost of the project.
From the total of the two sums, the project manager must make the necessary adjustments related to the project inconsistencies and its plan, taking into account the duration of the project and how it affects the organization of the tasks. Estimation of costs. This implies the calculation of various circumstances and factors available and foreseeable during its lifetime, such as risks and price increases (in case of products involved), rents, materials, equipment, facilities, etc. For this, a "Reference Line" is created based on the time that they estimate the tools and economic resources that would be provided to each activity. This connects the aspects as mentioned above.
The more narrow the scope, the more reliable the budget will be for the project. Of course, the project manager should not impose his estimates, but rely on a team of experts and experts in this field, who should evaluate the tasks that create the plan, and perform these assessments.
From Utopia to Facts
The area of knowledge of the project costs is not exclusively financial, but requires techniques, specialized analysis and knowledge that allow to be aware of all the factors that can modify a project. These include execution schedules, the assessment of possible risks, coordination of meetings with stakeholders, which may need to address suggestions that affect the scope or mode of delivery, respect for the internal policies of a company, Attention to market conditions, experience in similar past projects, etc. Among the more strictly financial aspects are exchange control and fiscal aspects, which can be especially complex in international projects, inflation, and the corporate structure of financial control.
Also, turning information into knowledge requires tools that facilitate an approximation to the facts.
Units of measure: Depending on the object to be monitored, it will be estimated whether it can be measured with units of time (man hours, days, weeks, months), metric units (meters, centimeters, millimeters, tons, liters), and even in units of payment (monthly, fortnightly, single payment, etc.).
Accuracy: It varies according to the scope of the project, rounding figures around each aspect or phase that gives certainty of the costs that will be required for each one.
Cost limits: It is essential to determine this amount so that, in each cost review, there is a precondition
Cost limits: It is essential to determine this amount so that, in each cost review, there is in advance a conditioning of what is going to be required in each case. With this tool it is intended to keep the investment within the premeditated parameters and, if not, to take the corresponding corrective actions.
Measurement of the effort granted: These are performance indicators that are analyzed in the costs.
Management of information about cost management: Stakeholders should be fully and regularly informed of the management that is being carried out, either periodically (daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly) and by providing reports Or any other ordinary means of communication.
Determination of the budget
Taking as a starting point the costs related to each activity, each of the estimates is added individually or jointly, to stabilize the reference line or cost, for the sole purpose of determining the budget of a project, Which will influence the funds allocated to it.
It is necessary to monitor the consumption of costs in any situation of the project and to update them, if necessary, according to the cost baseline adjustment that was created. Any increase that is deemed relevant in project costs should be reviewed under an integrated perspective of the changes. However, its effectiveness lies in the management of the baseline, which maintains the cost performance and estimates the deviations occurred.
The aforementioned constructs the way towards an effective estimation of the costs of the project from the beginning. Successful budgeting is not as important as accurately picking up activity notifications. From the exhaustive control of deviations, it is possible to allocate the necessary resources to compensate for the unplanned under-coverage.
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