Unlike project managers who focus their efforts on managing cost, schedule and controls within the scope of a defined project–a tactical focus, Program Managers must have a strategic focus. Program Managers need to measure and evaluate the performance of all projects supporting an organization and convert that assessment into a format executive leaders use to gauge the performance of the entire organization.
Program Management Offices (PMO’s) frequently take one of two roles–that of advise and monitor or that of proactively driving all projects through deployment. While both models may work, PMO’s often lose their effectiveness by failing to diagnose and prescribe risk management actions or they are too invasive and disrupt the management effectiveness of business application owners responsible for support once deployed. A careful balance is needed to implement a PMO that evaluates all projects identifying business risk and operational impacts as well as respecting the needs of operational support teams.
When managing PMO’s, I utilize a methodology that ensures approved projects clearly define and measure business benefits and consider business priorities. Key activities include:
- Once approved, individual project plans are developed using common milestones and deliverables allowing the PMO to forecast and measure progress.
- All project plans are then integrated using various communication tools to highlight status and probability of identified risks.
- Common milestones and activities for each project (i.e. integration testing, SQA activities, training) are planned and coordinated with critical stakeholders to ensure resources are available when needed.
- As projects progress through the development lifecycle, periodic project reviews are held to evaluate progress and risk.
- As projects move through testing and validation, release management processes ensure business functionality is deployed to users just as they were communicated in change management plans. Development teams are trained in these processes with the PMO monitoring their adherence to approved policies as they transition operational support to business application owners.
- Post-mortem reviews are held to identify lessons learned and best practices added to future project reviews.
I’ve designed, developed and managed effective PMO’s at many clients and industries. These PMO’s did not simply define policies and procedures and manage from afar. Working closely with client teams, we developed standard processes where appropriate that enabled us to measure progress consistently across all projects. I typically employ several executive dashboards that define the criteria needed by executive management and steering committees to measure progress and success. In addition, I often facilitate steering committee meetings to quickly focus discussion on resolving critical issues.
A summary of successful PMO engagement I managed for past clients can be found on the PMO Portfolio Summary page.
If your organization is about to undertake a major program of change, feel free to contact me at email@example.com to discuss your organization’s readiness to begin that effort from a process and organizational maturity perspective.