Here at ITM Platform we often hear PMO professionals say, “our maturity level is too low for PPM” or “we are not ready yet for project management”. In this article, we delve and explore into what project management maturity actually means and how a PPM solution is a bridge and not a roadblock to increasing your maturity level.

Truth is project portfolio management is not just for big corporations or businesses with complex processes.

Regardless of the size or maturity of your operation, it is possible to implement simple and effective project portfolio management. Different maturity levels require different features.

 

 

 

What is “Project Portfolio Management Maturity” anyway?

Project Portfolio Management Maturity refers to how ready your company is to smoothly execute a project, program and portfolio management strategy.

This can be assessed on a wide spectrum, ranging from an individual assessment to applying a formal maturity model assessment.

 

Identifying your company’s maturity level, yourself

In most cases, companies identify their own maturity levels on their own without any formal assessment. If you´ve ever caught yourself saying, ¨my company isn´t at that maturity level yet¨ then perhaps your own expertise and experience at work has led you to this conclusion. Have you ever had this conversation at the office?

  • - Hey, how do you keep track of projects here?
  • - We ask the project manager.
  • - I see. And do they use any formal or standardized way to do it?
  • - Well, so and so do, but not really.
  • - Then, how do you know how your portfolio is performing?
  • - Eh, we just focus on the projects that are causing problems now.

… Say no more. You´ve already pictured your company as having a low maturity level and reckon a PPM software solution will do nothing more than create confusion and frustration. However, it doesn´t have to be so challenging. Even if you found that the maturity level is low, you can still help your company grow in maturity with the right set of functionalities when applied at the right time.

 

Applying a maturity model assessment

A maturity model assessment is a specific set of criteria defined for each level and categorizes companies to their respective project portfolio management´s maturity levels.

Some models have six levels, others have four or five. But what’s most interesting are the category axes or dimensions that are used for classification. These are the most relevant, explained with basic examples:

 

  • Processes: Consider this the train tracks over which work flows. In our hypothetical conversation above, the fictional you asked about the processes in place. Other examples can be whether the company has formal resource management, risk management, cost management, program management or strategic alignment processes.
    You get the idea. If you’re a PMI fan, you already know them all.
  • People: Maturity models tend to put people first and assess questions like: does the staff understand and embrace project management? Do they know the processes of which they are involved in? Are they use to working on a project-oriented organization rather than a functional organization?
    People are vital to any organization and it`s important to consider human resistance when assessing the maturity model of your organization.
  • Organization: This is where processes and people come together. Some questions about the organizational model usually are: Does your company have a solid PMO (or a PMO at all)? Is Human Resources integrated in the portfolio management? Is top-level management on it? Is it a project-based organization?

 

 

Depending on the model, you will commonly come across these axes plus others such as technology or competitive landscape.

The takeaway here is that there are models out there that can help you objectively measure what you already suspected.

You can also use this online PMO & Organization Self-Assessment that measures three categories: Organization, Talent and Conditions  and in return,  providing a set of recommendations based on the results.

Our own findings

Most companies we´ve talked to find themselves somewhere in the medium-low / medium range spectrum. They tend to assess their company as having a lower maturity level than they actually have.

This happens in all countries we operate in even though there are clear market maturity differences among them. In most cases, this is because companies measure themselves against their own market/countries and not globally.

Furthermore, dealing with leaders across the world, we´ve noticed there is no strong correlation between the company size and its maturity. The general assumption seems to be that big companies are more likely to have a solid PPM methodology in place. However, it’s more related to the nature of the business rather than the size. The more project-oriented the business is, the more mature those organizations tend to be.

 

How is all this relevant to the decision of implementing a PPM software?

Project portfolio management solutions should be flexible and scalable enough to start small, grow gradually and add processes over time. This will allow you to create a consistent and sustainable project portfolio management ecosystem sans big initial investments and blows to your company.

Logical reasoning would presume: “if my company has a low PPM maturity level, first I need to increase it and then implement the tool”. This obviously happens to those who are aware that there is such a thing as PPM maturity. This persona is usually someone who has either used or has knowledge of complex PPM systems in the past.

And it’s true, six to twelve-month implementations and significant amounts of money are enough to set off any initiative, especially if the organization is not ready. Many would wisely argue that spending more on tools than the ROI they have on their projects is a poor move.

Processes and tools go hand in hand. Implementing one without the other is not ideal, since the tool enables the process and the process is transmitted through the tool. You just need to find the tool that can grow with you and adapt itself on that journey.

Pro tip: Changing from Excel and email to MS Project, then to a collaborative project management solution and finally to a PPM solution is not really growing. It’s breaking and recomposing processes, people and organization at every step of the way.

 

How ITM Platform supports every level of maturity?

The key is to identify the PPM solution that can provide the features according to your needs. Sound simple? The reality is that optimizing your company´s maturity levels need to take multiple factors into account and is anything but simple. And, like anything else that´s really complicated, most of us are looking for better tools to achieve tasks. Companies need a solution that in tandem adapts to your maturity level and enables you to add or remove features according to your needs.

ITM Platform gently increases maturities with the least possible hassle. It is equipped with easily adaptable features that grow with you no matter the stage. It’s comprehensive, intuitive and its seamlessly easy learning curve is just what you need to get your PMO up and running.

It´s possible to start on the right foot even though you know there’s a low project portfolio management maturity level in your company. And turns out, this is an excellent starting point!

Take the first step and try this free trial now! Experience first-hand what ITM Platform can do for you.

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The methodology is well designed, the managers agree on the need to have reliable information on projects to make decisions and the entire corporate structure is ready to embark on portfolio management. But within a few months, it becomes clear that employees who should feed the system with data about their work are not fulfilling their obligations.

This has been a problem for hundreds of large and medium-sized companies, but luckily there are many tactics to deal with the problem of internal resistance.

In this article, we present a summary of our PMO guide on how to encourage the adoption of a PPM tool.

 

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Advantages of PPM tools

PPM (Project Portfolio Management) software, responds to a basic need in any corporate environment: the coordination, monitoring and control of all projects to obtain the best possible use of the limited resources available.

A PPM tool can be used to support projects of any kind, for Innovation, IT, Operations, but also for strategy, marketing, or sales, as well as cross-organizational and transformation projects.

In all cases, PPM software will offer many benefits to your business:

  1. A single place for collaborative work between departments and teams
  2. Aggregate information for decision making
  3. Reduction of non-strategic projects
  4. Speed up project delivery times
  5. Save time spent on administrative work

 

Challenges in adopting PPM software

Unfortunately, this process won’t be without challenges. Like other software, it relies on the data fed into the system. If this isn’t done correctly, the effectiveness of the software will be compromised.

This affects almost all corporate software, not just PPM tools: Imagine a CRM without customer data. Or an ERP without invoices.

Despite the difficulties, PPM software is vital to compete against the best because it provides an unbiased and clear view of the status of the whole project portfolio.

That’s why you will need to manage two fundamental elements when embarking on the transition:

  • A framework to manage the projects portfolio that is well integrated into the design of the organization
  • An adoption plan that anticipates employee reactions to channel them in a positive direction

The adoption plan must also consider how non-technical components affect the resistance to change. For example: in some cases, resistance is due to objective problems in daily operations. In that scenario, it is important to listen to the objections and address them.

On other occasions, the resistance is political in nature or due to friction within the management team.

Click here to read our e-book and discover all the problems that can derail successful implementation and how to deal with them.

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Magnifying glass, looking at graphs, reportWhy make status reports?

Every project needs a status report , also known as progress report, in which the status of the project is clearly, accurately and objectively reported.

Start feeding your project status reports with live data on ITM Platform.

A project status report is intended to provide an evaluation of the progress and communicate execution details. Therefore, the development of the progress report is of great importance, since it is vital that it be carried out following a predetermined model. Only in this way will the users of the reports be able to compare them with each other:

  • Comparing status reports for different phases of the same project gives you a better idea of the distance covered, analyzing how far future projections from previous phases have been verified or denied
  • Comparing reports from different projects is crucial, especially among similar projects using Gantt charts, to understand where discrepancies between estimates and real data are

If you do not have a reporting model in your organization, you are missing out on the advantage of being able to compare reports. To make matters worse, homogeneous models allow users of such reports to find the information they need quickly, as they know how it’s structured. This is one of the aspects where by a Project Management Office can bring great benefits for internal communication in an organization.

A status report contains a brief description of the main elements of the report, establishing causes and explanations that justify and give context to the data. Metrics and graphics will allow the user to understand the progress of the project in a very short time.

The executive summary: Basis for monitoring a project

This section requires an objective description of how the project is running . The summary should present clearly and simply the most important results of the project, including:

  • Milestones fulfilled
  • Deliverables and quality
  • Risks or unforeseen events
  • Relationship between estimates and real, in at least three aspects: resource allocation, costs and deadlines
  • The difference between the estimated progress and the progress to date. If the date of delivery is considered unrealistic, this alarm signal is the first step to alert the customer and negotiate a new date with him.

On the other hand, the executive summary is very effective for a detailed follow-up of the unplanned challenges that arose during project development, as well as actions to be implemented in the short term , so that any eventuality can be mitigated.

The purpose is to ensure that the project continues on the path to success, delivering the project on time, with the expected quality.

Project progress reporting: steady progress assessment

The constant evaluation of a project is vital to know what countermeasures should be taken to make the project successful. Hence the preparation of this section outlines the most problematic areas of the project.

Likewise, suggestions and corrections can be advanced to solve a specific problem. As the project, often, cannot wait to receive feedback on these aspects, decisions are already taken, so this point can delineate already decided actions.

Registration Template: Project Control

The status report should generate relevant information about the risks recorded. It is advisable to start from a registry template by means of which you can retrieve useful information in an orderly way. This registry template will contain:

  • Project Risk Factors,
  • Probabilities
  • Project impact

You can visit ITM Platform’s free risk assessment matrix to compile this information quickly.

Know all about metrics: Promotes project tracking

Managing a project is only possible if you have the tools to quantify the different parameters involved, offering objective and comparable data. Thus, you can measure, for example:

  • Delivery times
  • Quality of the deliverables, based on the number of requirements included
  • Costs incurred to date
  • Percentage costs over total
  • Amount of unanticipated costs incurred
  • Hours worked, either per worker or by professional category

Result indicator

If the result is not a material product but a service, and the project covers the phases of implementation and marketing, there will be a large number of quantifiable aspects related to the result, such as the number of users, their average cost, and so on. These indicators will serve to measure the quality of delivery.

If you are interested in knowing which indicators you can use to manage your portfolio, you can continue reading these articles:

 

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software development design development implement analyzeA project management office (PMO) can fulfill multiple functions related to the supervision of an organization's project portfolio, often with managerial functions and with a strategic orientation that is added to the simple control and monitoring layer.

However, it is not clear what an agile PMO is or how it is structured. It is becoming increasingly urgent to clarify this aspect, since many teams and even entire organizations, especially in the field of software and application development, rely entirely on agile methodologies such as SCRUM.

Before entering into the matter, it is necessary to clarify three different senses of what can be understood by agile PMO.

Disambiguation: What do we mean by agile?

An agile PMO can refer to several situations, such as:

1. The agile implementation of a PMO

As the start-up process is long, complex and may have difficulties in demonstrating its benefits to stakeholders with a high capacity for influence, some experts advise that the start-up approach be agile and be protected from criticism towards a structure that it is not working 100% yet. In addition, it is possible that the difference stakeholders do not agree on what should be the role of the PMO in the organization, in which case their scrutiny on the development of the implementation will necessarily be uneven.

Reference: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-project-management-office-expectations-7069

To combat this disadvantage, a PMO whose implementation is conceived as an agile project must deliver processes and functions useful for the operation of the PMO in a continuous and early manner.

The measure of the progress of the project, as is logical, is given by the functionality of the PMO itself.

An agile implementation is usually characterized by an initial diagnostic phase, followed by phases of planning, execution and closure that can be iterated several times until the PMO has the desired maturity.

However, in the first iteration of the execution, the PMO already assumes characteristics that allow it to operate in one or more of its functions.

2. The role of a PMO whose objectives is to manage the project portfolio following agile principles

It is not essential to have adopted SCRUM throughout the organization so that we are interested in benefiting from some of the advantages of agile principles at the corporate level.

For example, the agility applied to the entire portfolio of projects allows for early decisions and rectifies the initial planning of projects when the context that justifies them is modified.

3. The role of a PMO in an organization that has exclusively adopted agile project management methodologies

What happens when an organization that worked with classical methodologies or waterfall becomes guided by SCRUM or other agile methodologies?

What is the role of the PMO in this new situation? Is the mission aborted and the office deleted, or is it given a new meaning?

The cultural and change management role of the PMO can be fully maintained. In the new context, the PMO facilitates the deployment of the agile culture in the different areas of the organization.

The predominant areas are the following:

  • Training: includes training new people in agile methodologies, preparing meetings and workshops, deepening for key embers, as well as coaching services.
  • Work monitoring: although the agile philosophy is very horizontal and does not require so much external control, a PMO can support the performance of the teams helping them to manage the backlog, offering clarity in the performance of the teams through an impartial external vision, and helping to that the documentation that works in the organization is productive and does not produce unnecessary work.
  • Interlocution with the business: One of the fundamental aspects of the manifest agile is the constant efforts to understand the need of the client and guide the work to the delivery of utility. In internal projects, it is essential that there is a well-oiled transmission chain with those who administer the corporate strategy so that they know that the engineering teams are working on the most critical aspects and that they deliver the most value to the business.

Next, we detail better what the work of an agile PMO consists of in this last case.

Save time and money by connecting your agile projects to a comprehensive overview of all your costs and resources.

The nuance is important, as our readers are well aware that managing agile projects involves ongoing guidance to customer requirements and very frequent evaluation cycles. The question is how the responsibilities of methodological guidance, centralization, control and direction of the PMO can be connected in these cyclical structures, maintaining customer orientation and business perspective.

The fundamental risk, let's face it, is to create a small bureaucratic monster that coagulates methodological demands without adding value.

Failures in the conception of a PMO

The main problem arises when, in order to achieve agile projects, an attempt has been made to establish rules of action that have merely pigeonholed and limited decision-making.

Despite falling under the range of agility, SCRUM requires the production of a lot of documentation with a very high frequency, including the requirements of user stories.

A recurring error when creating PMO in agile environments is utilizing them as centralized offices that impose internal policies and norms. Keep in mind that circumscription to certain standards at work can marry poorly with the completion of certain complex projects. There is the risk of restricting the freedom of action and the margin of manoeuvre that are fundamental to produce value in all sprints.

A PMO cannot be confused with merely a controlling body that seeks to fit agile projects into tactics, methodologies and master projects of the manager that have been preconceived without special attention to the changing nature of agile projects.

First correct interpretation of the agile PMO

In contrast to the centralized and bureaucratic PMO, the most attractive in an agile environment is the performance of a facilitation function.

This can be done by establishing recommendations to help manage the workload, distinguishing between priority and ancillary tasks, helping project managers determine how much they can rely on experts, and even set basic standards of performance and work ethics that are in line with the values and mission of the organization. So that all projects, besides providing value to the client, are oriented to the common benefit and growth and consolidation of the organization.

One difficulty of any multi-project organization is the barrier to sharing knowledge, both within the same project team and between different projects. In the first case, the difficulty is that the experience and specialization accumulated by the veterans is not limited to the tasks they perform - which would create bottlenecks; In the second, the difficult thing is that the experience in the development of a project is not forgotten with its completion, but rather to increase the experience accumulated by the organization.

An agile PMO, among other things, faces the specific knowledge challenges that hinder operational improvement in agile performance.

And one of the main goals of an agile PMO is to make all parts of the organization that take part in a project as a unit, as a team, and even as a team of teams. In this sense, it is important that whoever is going to coordinate the work of the PMO accredits the following virtues:

- Relationships. Good contact with leaders of other departments as well as people integrated into other projects.

- Trust. Openness in dealing with those who are going to influence the project is key to its success.

- Experience. Undoubtedly, having previously faced similar projects provides sufficient evidence to address future projects.

The goals of an PMO agile

Once we have analyzed some guidelines of an agile PMO , we are going to offer you the primordial purposes of these organs. Take note.

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1. Manage new project entries

It makes no sense to approve projects above the delivery capacity of development teams. The PMO can function as the housekeeper to resist the temptation to start projects too soon. You have to wait to finish projects to start others of equal size.

2. Validation of the planning rules

The probability of unexpected and unnecessary changes must be reduced to the maximum, due to the overall understanding of the program.

3. Creation of training programs

Training is fundamental so that the knowledge of the equipment is truly complementary and there are no empty areas. The detection of gaps should be the basis for proposing training to members.

4. Limit waste

Only the PMO will have aggregated information on where time and effort is wasted. It is possible that different projects have similar patterns that point to the inefficiency of the processes. Drawing attention to them is the first step to rectifying them.

5. Delivery report

Reporting to consolidate an accredited view of the status of part of a project or its overall vision will facilitate the interpretation as to whether the affairs of the organization are being carried out in the most functional way. Without going further, conclusions that can be drawn from these reports may become important in the allocation of personnel for certain tasks or working schedules.

6. Business rules related to the benefits of the project

When making a commitment on a project, it is imperative to keep in mind that there are minimum results that have to be fulfilled. This duty also facilitates the adjustment to content that is compatible with existing quality projects. A uniformity that you do not have to understand as negative, but as an orientation towards excellence.

7. Validation of a resource plan

Every project requires a realistic allocation of resources. You have to keep in mind that the amount of resources of an organization will always be insufficient to delivering all the projects that can be generated, hence it is necessary to select, analyze conscientiously and not to precipitate. The allocation must be reasonable (it is fundamental to minimize the risks) and must be based on the fact that, in a final global calculation, the investment and achievement are compensated.

In short, we hope this text has helped you understand how an agile PMO has to works.

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team members around a table, doing a puzzle together Perhaps the most important part of project management is that of control. Once the decision has been taken to launch and implement a project, the project manager must assume the responsibility for ensuring that each person involved completes their assigned tasks in order to thereby guarantee that the project runs according to plan.

The concept of project control is very simple: a project is created with certain targets after studying the resources available and drawing up a schedule to reach those goals. Control is what ensures oversight of these plans, ensuring that no team member deviates from the course set. The completion of control-related tasks will ensure achievement of the targets as they were defined in the planning stage.

After planning a project, it is recommended to implement a control system. The main requirement to begin with will be for the project to be fully defined and approved by the steering committee or shareholders’ meeting and, as appropriate, by the sponsor of the actions to be carried out.

These lines of action will indicate the costs, the scope for the project and the schedule to be followed for meeting the targets:

  • Cost base: this specifies the costs to be incurred by the project, with a distribution over time that will be coherent with completion of the tasks over time. This is very useful when wishing to compare estimates with actual cost.

  • Schedule base: a timeline with the targets set for each stage of the project will be created.

  • Scope base: formed by the various activities that comprise the project and that will enable the deliverables to be produced. All this is reflected in the WBS that was approved. The scope base allows the progress of each activity and each deliverable to be known.

Once these baselines are defined, it is time to get to work on project control. Of course, it is very important to consider certain factors when doing so.

  • Scope: This will control the tasks that should be carried out by each member of the project and that the result meets the requirements initially stipulated. Whenever a task fails to meet these requirements, it is considered as incomplete.

  • Deadline: Within project control, it is essential to monitor compliance with agreed deadlines. It should be noted at this point that the first schedule is drawn up without considering a margin for risks. This is because if these margins were to be considered at that point, they would end up being used to cover other issues that are not strictly considered as risks.

  • CostTwo factors require control in this regard: the total cost of the project and treasury control.

  • Risks: It is important to keep risks under control because, in the event of an unforeseen eventuality, this will have an immediate effect on the achievement of project targets.

Professional help for projectsBeing able to undertake large-scale projects and fully control them is a process that can sometimes prove rather complicated. It is therefore necessary to have software such as ITM Platform that incorporates the flexible management methods used by major corporations into your company. It is a great tool that will facilitate project implementation and delivery within established deadlines, and that offers advanced solutions to business.

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