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Posts Tagged ‘PgMO’

Organize Projects into Programs and Reap the Rewards of Change

Posted by Ammar Mango on September 5, 2013

The area of Program Management is still widely misunderstood.  Ironically, it is as old if not older than Project Management.  When the 1950’s pioneers started building Project Management models like the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Critical Path Methods (CPM), and Program Evaluation and Review Technique, a program was almost always in mind before the project.

A program aims at achieving a benefit.  So, when a governmental agency undertakes a project to encourage a paperless environment, even if the project is completed successfully, it does not mean that it was able to bring the institution closer to paperless environment.  A project is always about specific deliverables, and by definition is completed when its required deliverables are complete.  So, who will ensure that these deliverables are used, and that they fulfilled the business need for which it was undertaken?  The project is complete, and the Project Manager is on another project.  So who is doing this?

To solve the above problem, some companies are requesting a “support” period during which suppliers are operating the deliverables (whether software, processes, or resources) and ensuring they are bringing in benefits.  This will help, but it is not enough.  Sometimes one project is not enough to achieve benefits.  You need more projects that together will help achieve the goal.  Who will manage and take care of this link?

Another reason to consider a program is that an organization by design is operational, and wants to go back to its day-to-day activities.  This is why many projects fail to change the organization.  They do not take into account getting the organization out of its norms and stability, into embracing the change.  So, when an organizational unit, or executive believes that we need to go paperless, for example, they immediately think of a project to achieve that.  Change usually requires multiple related projects and someone to be accountable to for achieving the benefit, not just delivering a project.  This is why even “successful” projects fail to prove value on the ground.

The answer to this is for executives and organizations to start considering programs and Program Managers to lead the benefit realization, and to spearhead such programs.

I think soon,  the market will be asking for these, and the Program Manager skill will be hot in the market, and many project managers will feel the pressure of having to go beyond their ability to deliver to build a capacity to think strategically and deliver benefits just like a Program Manager would.  These Program Managers will be a potent hybrid of an Executive and a Project Manager, in one person.  I believe this is the Era of the Program Manager.  It should be exciting.




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Value delivery & sustainability, not project management

Posted by Ammar Mango on January 10, 2013

What we need is ensuring delivery of value and sustaining it from the project.  Project management is one of the means to do that and while necessary, it is not on its own sufficient.

For example, an organization takes on a project to deploy a new HR system.  Even if the system is deployed and stakeholders are trained, still there is no value.   The value comes when the system is put to use.  Even then, it is still a waste of time on the long run, if the measures to ensure sustainability of the value are not in place.

Many Project Management Offices (PMO’s) ignore the real reason they are there, which is the ultimate success of their projects and that comes from delivering sustained value.  Without that, a project  is a tool to collect money from a promised, but not delivered or sustained value.  On the long-term that does not work.

However, PMO’s cannot solve this problem alone.  Without upper management support on the client and supplier side, it is hard for the PMO to go beyond the narrow marginal goal of delivering successful projects.

Clients need to budget for change management and sustainability.  Request for Proposals must insist on sections that cover both.  I would put a considerable part of the evaluation score of any proposal on these two items.  If suppliers are not capable of handling these parts I would require a change management model to be enforced on the project and request that the supplier bring in the techniques and expertise necessary to do these two parts.

Performing organizations need to discuss with clients the needs for sustainability and ensuring value delivery at the upper management level.  Also, start raising awareness of buyers to the importance of sustainability and the importance of handling it in a structured manner.

The new fad in the coming years will be going beyond deliverables and focusing on value.  This is why “program management” might start getting more appeal.  When you request delivery of services and supporting this delivery with sustainability and change management activities, this endeavor is beginning to take on the shape of a program, not only a project.   Because a program can carry project as well as operational components to it, as it strives to deliver benefits, not only deliverables.

Currently, projects and support periods post projects are looked at as two separate periods, almost separated from each other.  PMOs need to start looking beyond their narrow scope of delivering projects and merely providing support, but to also accommodate programs by forming a Program Management Office (PgMO) for each of its programs to accommodate the need to deliver value.

Many research show that PMO’s will continue to be questioned about the value they bring to an organization.  I think PMOs are safe and will continue to flourish at firms whose main product can only be delivered through projects.  However at firms who deliver value through operations, and projects are means to improve the value delivered, PMOs will be scrutinized to ensure they go beyond just delivering projects and focus more on delivering and sustaining value.

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Why a Project Management Office? and other “Offices” out there

Posted by Ammar Mango on October 13, 2012

In today’s dynamic environment, maintaining the status quo is seldom an option.  Strategies always call for new initiatives to be implemented, and the only vehicle out their to deliver the value sought is projects.  If projects are so important for organizational success and even survival then having a functional unit that helps the organization improve its projects performance.  That unit is the Project Management Office: PMO.

A PMO comes in different shapes and sizes, excuse the cliché, and can perform different functions for the organization.  Most references out there talk about four types of PMO: Strategic, Directing, Supporting, and Controlling.

Strategic PMOs report to a chief, usually the CEO.  These PMOs are responsible for portfolio management related functions that focus on project management at the strategic level.  They oversee the advancement of the organizational maturity in project, program, and portfolio management, without getting into details of implementation, leaving that to other PMO units at lower organizational levels.  However, the SPMO as many like to call it interfaces with other departments in the organization including lower level PMOs to ensure Organizational Project Management policies are being interpreted correctly and implemented throughout the organization. They also evaluate the effectiveness of organizational project management improvements undertaken by the organization.

Directing PMOs are directly responsible for organizational projects.  They have project managers reporting to them and are responsible for delivering successful projects across the organizational functions.

Supporting PMOs do not manage projects, but they provide important resources to support the successful delivery of projects.  This includes training, software tools, processes, etc.  They might also take on auditing responsibilities to ensure adherence to organizational project management policies and procedures.

Controlling PMOs, are also called Project Control Units (PCUs).  They are a function responsible for projects monitoring and controlling.  This unit does not manage projects, but gathers progress information, issues, risks status, etc on projects and reports them according to preset and documented progress reporting cycle.

In addition to the above mentions PMOs there are other units that are responsible for a specific project or program.  These are called Project Office and Program Office respectively.  Project Office has responsibilities on one specific major project in the organization, and usually is temporary and gets dismantled at end of project. The Project Office is under the responsibility of the Project Manager usually.  A Program Office on the other hand can be ongoing, since programs can be ongoing.  The Program Office is under the jurisdiction of the Program Manager.

People who run these units need to be a force to be reckoned with.  They must have the expertise as project managers themselves, know how to play politics, understand project management, and have the leadership skills necessary to spearhead this difficult to run unit.  They must be able to communicate and convince.  They also need the wisdom to know how to manage the customer expectations, project managers, management, and department managers.  This is a very difficult job.  Only those who tried it can appreciate the challenges of such positions.

PMOs fail too often for reasons related to people as usual.  One of the main reasons for PMO failure in my opinion is the lack of a clear agreed upon, and communicated governance.  Another is the lack of a capable PMO leader.  There is also the unrealistic expectations of having an effective PMO without investing in building it properly and equipping it with the right methodologies, resources, and tools.

PMOs need time to mature.  Their maturity might go through different stages where the PMO gradually takes on more responsibilities, as it matures and as it gains more acceptance. Executives must nurture their PMOs just like a baby needs nourishment, support and protection until it grows strong.

There is no need to sell organizations on the importance of PMOs, as most organizations have them, are building them, or thinking of doing so in the future.  Organizations who do not find a way to build their organizational project management maturity might find out the hard way how important doing so is to their survival, and how long it takes to build this unit correctly.

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