Intellinet recently held a management consulting road show in Durham, Charlotte and Atlanta. The seminar focused on four questions that IT leaders should be able to answer regarding their responsibilities:
1. Are we doing the right things?
2. Are we doing them the right way?
3. Are we doing them well?
4. Are we achieving the benefits we expected?
Intellinet was recently invited to assess and recommend enhancements to the Project Management Office of one of our long time clients. Their challenge is to improve the analysis and reporting of their project portfolio so that the executive steering committee can use that information to make accurate, strategic decisions about which projects to fund and how to assign priorities and resources.
One of the primary requests was for us to help them implement Project Server so that they could automate more of the PMO reporting of the project portfolio, making it faster and more accurate.
Our assessment turned up a different answer to their project portfolio information needs. What we discovered is that they needed to establish formal project management roles and standards:
- Their business analysts are doing double duty: doing BA work and doing PM work. Admittedly, the BA’s focus far more attention on their BA work, while project management is neglected
- They need project managers on staff, employees dedicated to managing their projects in a disciplined way
- They need project management guidelines to guide the project work
- The company is growing rapidly, so the project portfolio is growing from new project requests and from the slow progress of getting active projects completed
- Project estimates are casual and incomplete in terms of project tasks that should be included, so projects are always late, disappointing users and outside clients
Consequently, the answer to the first question, “are we doing the right things” is definitely “no”. They cannot improve the information about the project portfolio until they improve the way projects are managed. That will provide good information about individual projects, which aggregates into good information about the project portfolio, which provides actionable information for the executive steering committee.
Our recommendations include the following:
- Implement standard (PMBOK) project management processes
- Implement project governance guidelines on roles and responsibilities
- Hire skilled project managers
- Provide project management templates to help project managers document their work
- Implement tools (Project Server, as they requested) to use automation in planning and managing projects, providing reliable information about the standard processes that they will follow
- Implement performance metrics to measure their success in conducting projects
- Provide training for IT and user staff understand and use the new processes and tools
- And with all of this new information about how to manage projects and the project portfolio, we recommend adopting this stuff at a pace that is consistent with their ability to absorb change
Look at the way your organization manages projects ... I'll bet you will see some of the same challenges. Let's work to "do the right things".
We will be delivering the tools and new processes and templates to our customer by end of October. Stay tuned for updates on our collective progress.
- Ed Wyatt, Practice Manager, Management Consulting