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Methods and Tools to Support a Business-Driven Project Management Office

In our fast changing world of capital projects, many organizations are looking to digitally transform their Project Management Office (PMO). Their goal is better control of their project portfolio.

Project management methodologies, certifications and tools have around for many years and have considerably increased the maturity of PMOs. However, even as projects are managed better and better, outcomes are still not predictable, overruns still happen, and projects fail to deliver intended business results far too often. Why is this?

Project-Centric vs. Business-Driven Project Management Office

In project-centric project management offices, there is a bottom-up mindset. This means that executing projects on time and budget is the sole focus. Little attention is given to larger organizational business goals and objectives. There is not much alignment between strategy and execution. Visibility into performance trends across projects and portfolios is limited. Project managers are focused on meeting key deadlines regardless the project status. Resource managers focus on staffing only high priority projects. Portfolio managers complain against budget cuts when all projects are in good health. Executive sponsors approve projects without clear business cases, and they don’t see when they will get payback of the investments. Project-centric PMOs are good practitioners and guard rails for cost and schedule, but also theory-driven gatekeepers and reporting agents.

This is the reason why business-driven PMOs have gained prominence in the last decade or so. They take a top-down approach and a business-oriented mindset. They are supported by strong business leadership at the C-level, business objectives and goals, and business value delivery metrics.

Technology to Support the Business-Driven Project Management Office

As project management offices become more business-driven, there is a growing mandate to manage both portfolios and projects very tightly.  The goal is to ensure delivery of business outcomes as well as efficiency in execution.

This is the foundation of Enterprise Project Performance (EPP). EPP is a mindset that expands from improving outcomes of individual projects to one that also heavily considers achievement of business objectives for ALL projects within an organization.

The missing link for many PMOs today is technology to support EPP. Luckily, it exists…

EPP software provides a single, integrated platform to manage all project data that has been disseminated in Excel files or in-house systems. This is similar to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. ERPs break down silos between business units and provide a single view of an enterprise’s financial and operational performance.

An EPP system works much the same way by providing a single, unified view of all projects in an enterprise.

Six Things to Look for in a Solution

An integrated EPP system enables you to establish consistency in planning and execution. It also provides comprehensive visibility into performance, and also ensures alignment with goals and objectives.

To be successful, it is important that such a solution contains the following key elements:

1. Goals and objectives at the portfolio level, financial as well as non-financial, with progress measurement.

2. Strategic balancing, including what-if scenarios, so you can shape the portfolio with projects of the best strategic fit.

3. KPIs, so you can monitor which projects are tracking, at risk, and not tracking.