Project Management & PMO Excellence

Market pressures and increased competition are driving businesses to seek advantage through the successful implementation of more complex, innovative programs.

A Program Management Office (PMO) can help by establishing a framework for program ideation, intake, and delivery with standard methodologies, documentation, and tools to track and manage program portfolios.

Complex programs require significant human and financial resources, planning, and oversight, and delivering these programs on time, on budget, within scope and with high value is a challenge faced by many organizations. Serving as a “center of excellence”, the PMO provides guidance, training, and support for program managers to improve their skills and move the organization up the program management maturity scale. By leveraging enterprise PPM tools, the PMO can serve as an information hub, providing portfolio insights to management to enable better financial decision-making, risk management, and resource allocation.

UMT can help your organization establish or transform your PMO and provide insight, tools, and support to mature the program management capabilities of your organization by leveraging our proven iterative consulting approach and over 25 years of experience. In order to deliver the best-fit solution for your business, each engagement starts with a fact-finding and assumption-building phase to establish a standard framework for all programs enabled through governance, organization, process, and technology. We then facilitate deep-dive workshops to build the organizational program management capabilities and PMO with you to ensure alignment with your organizational needs and standards. UMT will then help you realize the solution and manage the change by conducting in-depth training sessions and communicating with key stakeholders.. This approach will create an effective PMO armed with the processes, tools, and standards to support your organizations Program and Portfolio management needs in the optimal way.
Lifecycle Management

One of the major functions of a PMO is to define the methods that will guide the organization throughout the portfolio and program life-cycle. This will ensure predictable and repeatable practices across the enterprise.

Defining a methodology around portfolio intake, optimization and selection will bring transparency to stakeholders throughout the enterprise on the investments being considered and ultimately funded. The finance groups can then analyze in detail the distribution of spend across the different organizations and spending categories. These same guidelines help make sure that the selected portfolio is strategically aligned to the organization’s objectives.

Consistent methodologies are also an imperative for resource demand and financial management during program planning and execution. Additional transparency and better decision making can be achieved if standard processes are defined to forecast resource demand, efficiently allocate resources, and identify any capacity to take on additional work as it is identified. Similarly, defining standard processes around the management of budget, actual and forecast costs can provide an organization the opportunity to report on cost variances and re-allocate its portfolio based on changes in program costs and ROI.

Schedule and Task Management

Schedule management increases the organization’s confidence on the delivery timing of investments and also allows the organization to identify impacts to different geographies, markets, business areas, etc. which is crucial in Integrated Business Planning. As the capability matures, project managers are able to incorporate past schedule information to improve future planning. The PMO will also look to review the schedules to confirm that the program is running to time and budget through the use of baselines.

UMT’s approach on schedule management across Innovation, IT delivery, new product development projects – among other types – focuses first on establishing common phase milestones giving the organization a solid starting point for commonality; then progresses to a standard work break-down structure aligned to standards and governance as applicable, and eventually advancing to resource loaded schedules to further mature the resource management capabilities.

Resource Management

Resource management allows the organization to gain visibility the skills and functions of its resources, their staffing availability, and future resource demand. Understanding utilization of resources within an organization is a critical first step that can enable the identification of resource availability. As work demand fluctuates, the up-to-date availability information proves useful in understanding how and when this demand can be met. This visibility will eventually allow the ability to balance the capacity to utilize resources as effectively as possible allowing for better execution of Programs.

UMT has partnered with different types of organizations of all sizes across industries to set up resource management capabilities and help mature the organization from resource assignments, to resource utilization, demand planning, and capacity balancing.

Financial Management

Financial management capabilities enable an organization to monitor and control spend to ensure on budget delivery of Programs. Capturing high-level program budget information, capital and expense allocation, and cost-center identification provides a foundation to build upon. As the organization’s appetite for financial transparency increases, more granular budgets are developed and financial data flows from the PPM system directly to the bookkeeping system.

UMT has worked extensively with companies across multiple industries to mature their program financial management capabilities and obtain transparency. This experience coupled with UMT’s financial management tool – UMT360 – ensures that your organization will have the capabilities and processes in place to deliver Programs on budget.

Risk and Issue Management

Risk and Issue management is a key but often overlooked capability that can have tremendous benefits to program execution. Proactively identifying, monitoring, and escalating risks as necessary can prevent them from becoming bigger issues that can affect scope, schedule, and budget. In the event that a risk isn’t properly mitigated, taking immediate and appropriate action to resolve the issue is paramount to ensuring program health.

UMT can help by establishing risk and issue management methodologies, processes, and standards. By leveraging technology, UMT will provide a risk and issue capture mechanism that allows for easy mitigation or escalation to the appropriate party. Risk and issue priority and impact standards will ensure all risks and issues are handled as necessary. Using these tools and guidelines will mature the organization’s risk and issue management capabilities and support delivery of programs.

Status Reporting and Communication

Timely, accurate and targeted status and performance reporting is important to minimize execution waste and risk by being proactive. Companies spend large amounts of resources to rescue failing programs. With limited resources to go around, problem programs can have effects that ripple across the entire portfolio as budgets, resource allocations, and schedules are modified to address issues.

UMT works with clients to create solutions that efficiently and transparently expose the most critical elements of project status and performance to key stakeholders, enabling advance identification of potential problem areas, and minimizing the cost of bringing projects back on plan.

Governance and Tools

Another function of the PMO is to define Governance standards across the organization and to ensure that these are adopted and adhered to. The PMO is likely to be responsible for the rollout of any new standards in relation to the program management lifecycle (i.e, Risks and Issues registries), and to also define the cadence for the updating of this information. The PMO is also the likely owner for any templates inside the organization and should have the capabilities to define schedule and other deliverable templates (i.e. a PDR).

The PMO can also play an important role in providing visibility and business insight into the status of the current portfolio of projects and programs. Which projects are forecasting to be over budget and which projects are behind schedule are common data points that the PMO will be responsible to provide. In order to provide some of this key data the PMO is often the owner of the tools where the data is stored and managed centrally such as an EPPM solution. These tools, in conjunction with defined processes, will allow the PMO to be a key provider of the necessary information to facilitate business decisions. UMT’s methodology consists of three main phases that establish PMO Governance:

  • The Set-up Phase, which occurs whenever a new PMO is created and in which the specific requirements and structure are identified and the exact design of the PMO and any tools and processes are determined;
  • The Operation Phase, which consists of activities that occur repeatedly, often on a set schedule, throughout the life of the PMO, such as monitoring of status and risk registers. In this phase the procedures defined in the Set-up Phase are implemented and managed by the PMO function.
  • The Knowledge Transfer Phase, which is conducted in parallel to the Operation Phase, is intended, upon request, to transfer the ownership and skills required to run the PMO to the dedicated client team.
Excellence in Execution

A key role of the PMO is to act as a Center of Excellence – supporting Program Management staff and the organization through frameworks and best practices for Program Management. To effectively deliver this, the PMO needs to establish these frameworks and best practices as well as detailed training plans and support outlets.

UMT can help your PMO achieve excellence in execution by benchmarking PM maturity, introducing PM frameworks, and training staff on core PM competencies. Benchmarking will begin with conducting a Program Management maturity assessment to identify gaps, developing training plans to address those gaps, and supporting staff towards a greater level of Program Management maturity. Defining and adhering to Program Management methodologies and assisting staff with obtaining Program Management certifications is the next step in the improvement process, ensuring that PM becomes a mindset, not simply a role. The culmination of establishing the Center of Excellence is identifying PM competency champions and leveraging the train-the-trainer approach to educate these champions on how to mature the PMO staff across PM competencies.