The users are the ones that bring a project management system to life, either as collaborators or external consultants. It is imperative that the PMO believes, manages and offers support to all of them.

 

Collaborators or suppliers, everyone is a source of talent.

 

Responsibilities  

A good PMO provides a framework that helps project managers allocate resources correctly because:

  • Projects frequently borrow resources from other business units.
  • Assigning responsibilities haphazardly normally leads to management problems down the line.

A PPM software tool offers various options to help you define the roles in each project from configuring access permissions to the specific function of every project member. You can also assign a ‘task manager’ to each task. This task is now converted into a sub-project and the assigned task manager can follow up on it.

 

Organization

Integrating the company org chart into a PMO tool is a useful way to classify and identify projects/people/activities etc. within the functional hierarchy. Later on, you can also use it to analyze outcomes.

 

Capacity: Planning and Follow-up

Managing capacity is a task requiring the utmost efficiency. It is crucial for the PMO to find the balance between:

  • Efficient management that avoids both over-allocation of resources and non-productive time.
  • The competing demands of business units and cross-unit projects vying for a limited pool of resources.

Managing capacity should be linked to demand management. Frequently, over-allocation of resources is a sign that you cannot keep up with demand. The PMO should have the means to identify this situation and the power to fix it.

The following example offers an excellent module that allows the PMO to plan globally, while analyzing individual capacity and availability.

Whatever its responsibilities are, at the very least the PMO should offer a long-term view of the demand on resources and raise a red flag when imbalances are detected.

 

Communication

If people are the beating heart of project management then communication between them makes project management possible.

 

The PMO’s role is to set up formal communication channels, and to promote and facilitate informal communication between collaborators.

 

Formal communication is related to following up on tasks; it involves specific channels to help team members learn the status of projects and tasks.

The PMO must define key moments when relevant information will be delivered to stakeholders, with the PPM system as the backbone of this process.

  • Formal communication ensures that the required information is delivered to the relevant people in a timely fashion.
  • Informal communication enhances efficiency, enabling team members to discuss and deliver information with all the background at their fingertips.

 

Documentation

Whether it is a task, risk or purchase, every element of every project can generate its own support documentation.

The PMO has several roles when it comes to documentation. The main priority is to reinforce clear management, standardize procedures and ensure that information is properly used.

  • Defining which documents are indispensable, when they should be created and to what entity they should be assigned.
  • Defining documentation formats, in coordination with other business units.
  • Offering an access system to templates and supporting documents, as well as the procedures to use them.

Depending on the responsibilities, the PMO may use some features or other benefits of its PPM tool. For example, the role of project templates can associate documentation models in the different sections of the project.

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Tracking expenditure and revenue flows answers one of the burning ques­tions of every board: “How much are we actually investing in our projects?”. This question often crops up when we are talking about internal, IT or transforma­tive projects. The planning and follow-up model should be agreed with the finance di­rectorate and business units, so that project managers understand the pa­rameters for action, how they should monitor budgets and use of resources.

The PMO should issue clear instruc­tions on:

  1. Which cost elements to monitor, especially in terms of hours and pur­chasing.
  2. How to incorporate external su­ppliers: hours or deliverables.
  3. Which metrics to use: hours, cost, profit, earned value, progress etc.
  4. How frequently to measure each parameter.
  5. Standardized periods for reporting working hours.
  6. Measuring income and profit mar­gins.

In the following sections we analyze these topics in greater depth, highli­ghting their integration into ITM Plat­form whenever possible.


Cost of working hours

If you require oversight of the esti­mated hours, actual hours worked and their cost, the module of stan­dard costs and provider rates must be defined. Carrying out the definition in collaboration with the finance and HR departments will ensure that the project’s financial management is line with the organization’s policies and procedures. ITM Platform offers a module to establi­sh the standard cost from an abstract level down to the most detailed one:

      • General: hourly cost of any task. Useful in the conceptual phase of the project.
      • Internal and external: whether you use your own people or out­side contractors this allows you to define the hourly cost in a generic fashion.
      • Cost per professional profile: allows you to define the standard cost of the internal personnel for each profile, within different time­frame.
      • Provider rates: similarly, provider rates can be fed into the system, allowing you to compare costs per person and per provider.


Purchases and acquisitions

Purchasing is one of the key activities in any company. When managed properly it enables easier planning and follow up of cash flow. Normally, purchase management is in­corporated in the early stages of matu­rity, typically before monitoring working hours. Nonetheless, it is important that projects synchronize their purchasing with the organization’s financial mana­gement, so that both are in agreement. The purchase flow is a kind of workflow and it must be linked to a procedure pre­viously agreed with the financial and purchasing directorates, ensuring that each project’s purchasing is in line with purchasing practices in general.In addition, budget accounts grouping purchases must be used homoge­neously.


Revenue

Similarly to purchasing, the classification and time management of the project revenues should be synchronized with the organization´s regular financial procedures. The system will then be able to create reliable margins and client profitablity.

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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.

Download our new eBook: How to set up a sustainable PMO with ITM Platform

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 into the 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.

Period 1

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.

Period 2

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.

Period 3

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.

Period 4

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

The online PMO & Organization Self-Assessment may help you analyze your organization.

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team, puzzle, star, bubbles, conversation, chessThis article is part of a series on the PMBOK areas of knowledge. You can read the previous articles here:

The last area of knowledge of the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) covers the best practices to manage the relationship with stakeholders.

Specifically, this area of knowledge focuses on identifying people, groups or organizations that may affect or may be affected by the project and analyze their expectations and its impact on the plan.

Manage project stakeholders in a collaborative environment

It is essential to keep in mind that clients too are stakeholders, as their satisfaction is crucial to the success of a project. This means that projects could re-start from 0 if the client’ expectations are not taken into account early enough.
This problem was so frequent in software development that led to the development of agile methodologies, which seek a fluid communication with customers.

 

Advice for Stakeholders Management

 

1. Identify the parties or public interested in the project

In this phase of project management, it is important to focus on identifying the stakeholder from the very beginning, since this will allow us to obtain an overview of the stakeholders map and the problems that some actors may pose at a later moment.

2. Make sure that all interested parties agree and know their roles or responsibilities

Before starting the development of a project, it is essential that all the actors involved know the rules and assume the commitment and responsibility expected of their functions. From the beginning, we will identify team leaders, work teams, and their roles.
Good pre-planning facilitates a smooth development and helps to avoid conflicts in the future. If everyone agrees with the requirements and objectives, he or she will work to keep pace with the events and avoid delays; delays that only will be translated into extra costs and unwanted results.
On the other hand, rules must also ensure fluid communication with customers, so that they have sufficient information to evaluate the project development and express their point of view. If necessary, the circumstances under which a client’s opinions may involve changes in the project can be agreed upon.

3. Get consensus on the application of changes to the project

Changes in a project are inevitable since contingencies always arise that require the modification of some criteria or change in scope. The more complex a plan is, the more susceptible it is of being changed during its development. Therefore, it is important that all participants agree on how to handle the changes.

4. Favor communication

Establishing communication guidelines at the beginning of the project will improve the flow of the same. The team will be able to determine, since the beginning, the frequency of the communication and its content, that should preferably be concise and focused on the progress or issues that affect the project.

5. Give permanent visibility to the project teams

Transparency is a fundamental virtue in all project communication. It does not make sense for a project manager to have secrets.

It is important to define and communicate the vision of the project early on, as teams become more involved and the risk of losing focus on the project is mitigated. This way you make sure that any decision is coherent with the vision and objectives of the project. This point is very important because it helps reduce risks, errors or loss of focus.

6. Involve interested parties in the entire process

Although we assigned functions and teams from the very beginning, interested parties (stakeholders) should be always involved, so that they can participate in the problem solving or the revision of the requirements.

7. Reach an agreement with what has been done

In order to avoid entering a circle of changes and stagnation that could jeopardize the development of the project, it is important to reach agreements on the work done.
In an organization that manages strategic projects and internal transformation, Stakeholders Management goes beyond the project closure, since its delivery enables capacities that could benefit other levels of the organization. Otherwise, the value delivered is not internalized and won’t become a competitive advantage sustainable over time. This approach has been called Benefits Realization Management (BRM) or Benefit Management.

8. Empathize with the other interested parties

All project participants are stakeholders, but the stakeholder map also includes parties that do not actively participate in the development of the project. You should take them into account and empathize with them as the capacity for empathy is a crucial skill for the success or failure of a project.
The analysis of a project should not be limited to the interests and influence of stakeholders but should include how to identify their objectives, circumstances and the way they perceive the project.
Empathic analysis helps us to discover hidden variables that show us the way to solve problems or overcome obstacles that we may encounter.

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businesswoman pointing at graph, presenting to th rest of the team, which is sitted at a tableOne of the most important things for a project manager is presenting their results to the board of directors: who have the power to decide the future of the enterprise.

In addition, high level management already have a preconception of projects: that they are a real headache. The technical and methodological considerations, are a completely different language to the board of directors.

For that reason, when you have to present your project results, the most important aspect is trying to talk in the appropriate language for the audience. You should try to talk to them with a business perspective, which will be of mots interest to them.

This advice has numerous applications. In our White Paper about Project-Based Management (PBM) you will find a complete model on how use PBM to collaborate with the General Management of your organization.

 

Download ITM Platform's white paper: Project-based Management

 

Advice on how to present a project

1. You should connect with the general vision of the organization

You can not present the project as something that it is idsconnected; you should present it as an important piece which will create long-term value. In some cases, for example, in an ERP implementation project, these connections are obvious: after the implementation, all the organization’s operations start being connected.

In other cases the connection is more subtle. But it exists. Even if we are talking about a construction project, the motivation for doing the project is more economical, there are so many aspects that can be highlighted positively. You may have gotten your company into the catalogue of approved suppliers of a public entity, or that the project has served as an advertising platform.

You should remember that your audience has assisted in the delivery of many projects. You should focus on what makes it different. Why executing this project could be more worthwhile than other proposals which have never been implemented? This is what you have to communicate through the presentation of the results.

To that end, it can help you to put yourself in the position of the person who manages all your enterprise projects. Would you prefer someone who explains it in a quick presentation? You should try to present solid and memorable information. In addition, you should demonstrate that you know perfectly the reasons that made you start this project and what the risks were. The idea is that you should comfort and confirm their decision: all trust that they put on your leadership and your project has been well placed.

2. You should communicate the entire project benefit – not only the financial benefit

If you only reduce the result of a project to the benefits you have achieved, you are establishing an extremely easy comparison point. Your presentation can be destroyed by itself. One example could be if one of the presenters says that your project income is lower that they have expected or that other projects have obtained higher rates of return.

It is more interesting if you present this data with other goals that the project has achieved. Some examples can be a possibly technological development which can be extended beyond the project, an international expansion, increased customer loyalty or the consolidation of this project as a model for future projects.

3. You should present your project as a source of knowledge

Executives know that one of the biggest problems with projects is that they have a similarity with Las Vegas: what happens in the project stays in the project.

You should explain that your project is a source of common knowledge, not a watertight compartment.

Into the bargain, each time that new lessons learned are brought to light, and that they can be used for future projects, they are designing future savings. If you have an enough of a solid case, you can even estimate the savings.

If your organization is open to innovation or simply that your audience likes new ideas, this section is especially interesting for your presentation. You should extract the elements of the project where you have obtained innovative or improved ideas. This way, you will be able to present this presentation as an embryo of an innovative product.

Finally, you should strive for identifying what project elements can be added to the business model. Perhaps it is a new way of negotiating with providers or a design characteristic of user design that has had an especially good application.

But the message of the presentation is not everything. If you want your managers give their full attention, you should adhere to these following pieces of advice about how present all this information.

 

Advice for presentation style

1. Find out the need to know information for your audience

Your presentation can be interesting, well designed, and even fun. But, if you are not providing your managers the type of data that they are expecting, it is probable that you will lose their attention, they will stop listening to you or even interrupt you with questions to find out what is more important to them.

2. You should prepare several versions of your presentation

Finding a balance between what you need to tell and what your audience wants to hear isn't so easy. It is sure that you have a couple of different ideas about how to do this.

Even with all the precautions, it is possible that some of your listeners will interrupt you because they are not interested in what you are explaining. In the case of you being given critical comments of the approach of your presentation, the best option is having a second presentation with a total different approach that will help you to regain control of the situation.

3. You should not abuse PowerPoint

If you are using PowerPoint, you should try not to make it seem like it. It is a fact that many orators have overused services such as PowerPoint, and so a lot of people in business are getting tired of listening to presentations in which the speaker only repeats infinite lists of information without any apparent structure.

You should use the presentation as a visual support, not as a textual one. This is where the secret lies. You should try to highlight the most important data and graphics, use real photos of the project for illustrating your key points and try not to overuse difficult diagrams to explain. When we talk about communication, less visual information produces a memorable impact.

In addition, if you provide too much information, your audience will choose what information they prefer in order to reconstruct their own version, which may differ from yours.

4. You should find out the learning style of your audience

Although the visual information is assimilated without too much effort, each person has their own way of learning. You should adapt your message to this aspect too.

For example, if your CEO considers that it is important to have written information, you can prepare a project paper on a single page and give it as support material while you are doing your presentation.

5. You should practice until you reach a fluent style

Practice is the mother of excellence. You should not improvise any detail, but make sure that it does not appear as a scripted presentation. The idea is that you should speak naturally about a subject matter. You should revise the most important project data and the logical connections that you want to highlight.

6. You should highlight the most important message after ending your presentation

Usually, the most interesting situations from a communicative point of view are the interaction that happens when you have finished your presentation. How does the audience react? How many questions did you receive? Which type of questions were they? Were they in a hurry to leave? At this moment, the listening situation changes and the audience is more available to incorporate all the information that you communicate to them. You should not allow your comments to be improvised: you should try to highlight the most important message for you with a quick comment: “Thank you for your attention, and let me reiterate that…” This comment must be limited to a few seconds.

7. Review how the presentation went

Immediately analyze how the presentation went. Did it go the way you expected it to? Have you achieved your aims of the presentation? Have the aspects, that you had prepared, peaked the interest of your management or where there any surprises? You should incorporate this experience into your presentation toolkit in order to learn and improve for the next time you have to present.

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