Is that the million-dollar question that many PMOs face today? Recognising that there is no silver bullet for the successful implementation of PMO tools or even choosing the right tool for their programme and project organisations. The prospect of implementing the right tool is daunting but the decision is becoming an increasingly necessary one.

In order to become better at what they do, PMOs need to automate where they can in order to free up their time to add more value in areas which currently cannot be automated. The areas which help to improve project capability such as scenario planning, risk management workshops, facilitating requirements gathering and providing guidance on exceptions. The areas that organisations want to see more of and PMOs want to offer but have their hands tied because of the sheer amount of time and effort currently spent on areas such as reporting, governance and metrics.

PMOs have to move beyond working the spreadsheets at the end of the month and start taking steps to improve their own maturity. Working in real-time, at the push of the button to provide ‘one version of the truth’ is just one of the steps they need to take and it is one that needs technology. PMOs have to embrace the use of technology in their day to day work and start moving from the view that it is a daunting prospect to one which allows them to utilise technology and enable them to move on to the next level of PMO maturity and value added service.

I chatted to David Walton from Bestoutcome about the challenges PMOs are facing today when automation is on the cards and how they can start to plan in order to make their own change project successful.

Bestoutcome is an organisation which provide PMO specific tools – such as their PM3 tool which provides dashboard reporting amongst other governance and best practice areas (take a look at the PMO overview) Bestoutcome is also used to being the PMO for some of their clients too so this is an ideal opportunity to find out what advice they give when a PMO has to implement a tool for the first time.

There is a seven part plan which forms the basis of a PMO tool change project. After all, the introduction of new tools into a department or wider organisation is definitely a project and it is definitely a change for the workforce. The approach is to run it like a project. The plan overview includes:

  1. Define your objectives
  2. Define your scope
  3. Review the marketplace for solutions – NOT tools
  4. Run a vendor selection process
  5. Run a pilot as a project
  6. Negotiate and agree contracts
  7. Plan and launch the new tool as a change project

As the name suggests – Bestoutcome – is a reminder for everyone that the first steps in any project needs to be focused on the outcomes we want, what our stakeholders want and what the business needs.

The project management technique – MoSCoW – is a great way to remain focused on those outcomes. The technique, often used in software development projects is as follows:

M – MUST:

Describes a feature that must be included in the final solution for the solution to be considered a success.

S – SHOULD:

Represents a high -priority feature that should be included in the solution if it is possible within the available time/resources/budget but which can be deferred/omitted without compromising the success of the solution.

C -COULD:

Represents a feature that would be useful and could be included in the solution if it is possible within the available time/resources/budget but which can be deferred/omitted without compromising the success of the solution.

W -WON’T:

Represents a feature that stakeholders have agreed will not be implemented initially but may be considered for the future.

It is tempting to go for the most expansive scope but using MoSCoW rules helps to focus on the really important and critical ones.

When the PMO undertakes a software or tool project like this, it spends the majority of its time making sure the objectives and scope incorporate the views of the many stakeholders across the business. In many cases, this is often the first time a PMO has had to deliver a project of their own rather than supporting one and all eyes are on them. It makes sense to invest the time and effort upfront in the requirements stage.

If you’re interested in seeing more detail around the seven part plan, you can take a look at it here

You should also visit David and the team at the PMO Conference and put some time aside to have a chat about the insights David can share when PMOs are implementing tools like this for their organisation.

Successful tool implementations lead to PMOs freeing up time to offer new services or just do more of the supporting activities they never had time to do. I was interested to know what David thought about the life of PMO post automation. My question was, “What do PMOs concentrate on once they become more automated?”

David talked about getting back to the ‘value added services’ that PMOs should be concentrating on which directly improve programme and project delivery results in an organisation. He would like to see the PMO role in coaching and mentoring improve. Having the ability to help Project Managers make more informed decisions based on real – one truth data, for example providing scenario planning is another area. The PMO also needs to be thinking about their role in change management – what services are needed? Does the PMO just focus on facilitating sessions about good change management practice or do they go one step further – making sure change management is there within the project plans and coaching PMs to recognise when it is needed?

Freeing up time through automation enables the PMO to rethink their service offerings, explore new opportunities and services and feel confident that they have the time and resources to deliver them.

I’m always interested to see what other professionals in this field think about PMO and the role they will play in the future. David’s ideal PMO of the future will include these top five:

  1. The PMO will be populated by experienced PPM practitioners
  2. The PMO will run the portfolio prioritisation and planning function
  3. The PMO will still be running the reporting processes – focusing on outcomes
  4. The PMO will provide health checks across an organisation’s portfolio
  5. The PMO will carve out a role within change management

With automation taking care of the once mundane PMO functions, the possibilities for future PMO services certainly becomes endless. Perhaps this becomes the top challenge PMOs will have in the future but it is certainly a nice problem to have.

bestoutcome-250x100If you’re interested in how organisations are tackling the introduction of portfolio management, take time to visit Bestoutcome at the conference in June.