BUILDING YOUR PMO’S PROJECT PORTFOLIO

 

Most project management professionals have their own project portfolios—they come in handy during job interviews, performance reviews, etc. But your PMO should also have a portfolio. It’s a great PR tool when your team hosts networking events, and it’s also helpful when introducing your team to a new executive or key stakeholder. We’ve put together a quick guide to get your PMO’s portfolio started.

 

Select a handful of projects to include. You can’t include everything, but look for a variety of projects that showcase your team’s versatility. Include at least one very large project, one high-visibility project, and one project that directly affected the company’s bottom line. Projects with particular significance (improvements to a manufacturing facility, for example) or that demonstrate your team’s expertise in niche areas (perhaps a project completed under regulatory oversight) would also be good additions.

 

Create a project summary for each project. Viewers of your PMO’s portfolio will want to quickly understand the basic objectives and parameters of the various projects your team has executed, so give them the basics at a glance: a short list of key deliverables, information on the project’s duration or timetable, cost data that includes budgeted and actual figures for expense and capital line items, a list of key project team members and their areas of responsibility, and other notable resource allocations or project details. Keep each project summary to just a single page for easy viewing.

 

Pull some photos together. Few things can help viewers understand the scope and impact of your projects like pictures. But you don’t need many—select one or two large photos that best describe the project’s challenges and final outcome, along with a few smaller pictures that highlight particularly interesting aspects of the project. Any more than that, and your viewers will likely lose interest.

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7 THINGS THAT CAN KILL YOUR BUDGET

Project management professionals are highly attuned to budget obligations—nearly everything they do is with an eye toward meeting budget objectives while adding value at every opportunity. But with all of the other tasks under the umbrella of the PMO, there are some common practices that often wreak havoc with project budgets.

1 – Not appointing a budget monitor. If your team doesn’t have a specific person keeping an eye on the amount spent and dollars still available across the entire project, budget issues can quickly build up and spiral out of control.

2 – Waiting until late in the project to add up actual expenditures. This habit has nightmare written all over it, as you likely won’t recognize problems until it’s far too late to properly resolve them.

3 – Assuming you can get additional dollars approved. This usually guarantees an uncomfortable conversation with an executive who may not have any more money available (and who will surely wonder why your projections were off base in the first place).

4 – Focusing only on high-dollar items for aggressive cost negotiations. Don’t underestimate the amount of money your PMO can save by value engineering small budget items, which often greatly outnumber the big ticket expenditures.

5 – Expecting to address cost overruns by “borrowing” money from other projects. Even if you resolve your current problem, you’ve now created a new crisis that will need to be tackled later.

6 – Relying on another group for real time cost tracking. Many departments have their own methodology for accruing and recording project costs, and their approach may not provide your PMO with the information it needs to stay on track.

7 – Monitoring all costs equally. Most projects have high-risk areas that should get additional scrutiny (either checking expenditures more frequently or examining them at a higher level of granularity).

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7 TIPS FOR SHARING PROJECT METRICS

Most PMOs strive for transparency, and that often includes releasing metrics related to project objectives, budgets, and a host of other data points. But there are some recommended—and other not-so-recommended—guidelines for sharing that information to best effect. We’ve put together 7 suggestions to keep stakeholders engaged while ensuring your transparency efforts remain on track.

1 – Focus on the data stakeholders ask for most often. Your team can often avoid answering the same questions a dozen times by putting the information front and center.

2 – Consider including some data points that aren’t usually requested. If there are little-known metrics that would help stakeholders understand how successful your project truly was, be sure to highlight them. If nothing else, it’s good PR for your team.

3 – Provide enough detail to make the data meaningful. Remember that most stakeholders aren’t project professionals, so include any additional information that will help them understand the data points you’re sharing with them.

4 – Let readers know where they can find more information. Part of transparency is responding to follow-up inquiries, and that’s best accomplished by designating a point person to field stakeholders’ questions.

5 – Identify who’s responsible for particularly impressive metrics. Rather than feed the notion that your PMO is a faceless mass, take the time to call out particular team members with notable accomplishments.

6 – Release a subset of metrics on a regular schedule. Things like staffing levels, number of active projects, budget overages, and new vendor agreement metrics are often helpful on a quarterly or even monthly basis.

7 – Share data in a number of places and ways. Some stakeholders may not read the corporate newsletters or frequent your PMO’s intranet site. To widen your audience, consider other avenues, such as an e-mail blast or a short presentation at each company meeting.

PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project office development services.

 

THE DANGERS OF OVERPLANNING

Can you really overplan a project? It turns out you can. When schedules are adjusted too frequently, or when task durations are forecast too optimistically, the project can quickly fall into the overplanning trap. Most people recognize and quell the occasional bout of overplanning when they see it in themselves, but what happens if that gene runs wild? There can actually be downsides to too much—or too frequent—planning.

The moving target syndrome. One pitfall of updating plans too frequently is that milestone dates can become too fluid. Unless you’re the only one involved in bringing the project to fruition, others will already have target dates in mind for items they’re managing. Manipulating those dates too often can make it difficult for others to achieve their milestone objectives.

Whittling down contingencies. It’s not uncommon for project management teams to build contingency time around key tasks, where variables make tight planning less precise. When a project timetable is managed too closely and updated too often, there’s a tendency to chip away at those contingency days. If everything doesn’t line up perfectly and that additional time is actually needed, the rest of the schedule may again need to change to accommodate the wiggle room that shouldn’t have ever been removed.

Unrealistic targets. This becomes a problem when one person updates the entire project schedule based on their own progress, rather than communicating with all stakeholders to ensure that time savings in one area actually affords the opportunity to adjust target dates in other areas. It’s particularly troublesome if equipment installation schedules or other dates along the project continuum are fixed, and changes create a milestone date that another team member can’t possibly meet. If changes aren’t communicated well, deadlines may be missed simply because someone didn’t know their target date had changed.

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4 WAYS TO SPICE UP YOUR PROJECT MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROGRAM

Project Management Training is an ongoing activity for most PMOs, but participants can get burned out if the routine gets stale. We’ve rounded up some tips to keep students interested and enthusiastic.

1 – Offer one on one sessions

Training is typically more time- and cost-efficient when multiple students attend, but individual sessions can offer a helpful alternative. They’re especially useful for students who travel or work irregular shifts, and may have difficulty blending common class times into their schedules. If you have a mentor program, you already have a list of experts potentially willing to lead occasional sessions.

2 – Go offsite

Students who are too close to their desks might not give training their full attention— it’s too easy to run back for a quick e-mail or voicemail check, which is never actually quick. Traditional venues are fine, but if you’re looking for something more interesting (and perhaps less expensive), consider the picnic benches at a nearby park or even a coffee shop for events with only a handful of students.

3 – Go online

Computer-based training is a great way to offer sessions that are efficient and can accommodate the schedules of multiple students. It works particularly well for short classes, where participants can easily tune out distractions because they know they’ll be available again before long. Online presentations can also be used during traditional training sessions to offer students access to remote experts or additional accompanying material.

4 – Turn students into trainers

Interactive classes can help to keep things interesting, and tapping participants’ expertise to expand the group’s knowledge base is a fun way to maintain a high enthusiasm level. Be sure you don’t rely on any one person too much—instead, schedule several folks to present different material. This will ensure that everyone gets the chance to be a student.

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PMAlliance uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consulting, project management training and project office development services.

Our goal is to give you a competitive advantage through improved project planning and control techniques. Our flexible combination of project management services is tailored to meet your individual needs. We develop long-term partnerships with your team as we work together with the highest level of integrity. Our immediate project management solutions and long-term assistance can transform the way you manage projects.

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