(Final post of a series on the forces helping to drive a tactical to strategic transformation of the PMO.)
In this series of blog posts, we’ve established the importance of focusing on capabilities, prioritization, allocation and road maps as they relate to the Strategic PMO. But at the end of the day, all of those ideas and concepts simply set us up for being able to effectively deliver results. And delivery is a bit more complex than simply “finishing the project”. Successful delivery requires organizations to:
- Measure Outcomes
- Understand Variance
- Predict Impacts
Let’s take a look at each one of those capabilities in a bit more detail:
Establishing measurable outcomes is key to the task of delivering successful IT and business results. Measurable outcomes form a commitment to the mutually agreed upon metrics for assessing investment spend, schedules and value. The metrics we use should help us test our initial hypothesis:
- Is the investment value now different than the initial assessment?
- Does the investment schedule vary from the initial estimate?
- Are we over or underspending?
It’s important to understand the variables impacting any variance in an investment. But it’s even more imperative to understand why a specific variance is occurring. Is there a systemic cause for the variance? Were the estimates too optimistic? Is there a problem with a specific resource? Getting answers to questions like those is critical to ensuring effective delivery of the current project.
No project goes 100% according to plan. Understanding why variances occur is helpful – but predicting what the impact will be is vital. Simply identifying variances and their causes does us no good, unless we can predict and communicate potential impacts. How will the business be affected? What’s the effect on the budget? What happens to our ability to attain specific milestones? An ability to make those types of predictions increases the PMOs effectiveness in successfully delivering on investments.
During the lifecycle of any investment, not everything will behave according to the objectives, targets and schedules that were established at the beginning of the project. Things move at a speed that we perhaps have not experienced before. For today’s dynamic business environment, there’s no such thing as “set it and forget it”. We need to continuously steer our enterprise investments to keep them heading in the right direction, realigning scope, funds and resources as appropriate. These actions are not based on some pre-conceived notions that no longer apply – but based on the realities before us.
This is closely associated with the concept of realignment, but it is extremely important in its own right, and deserves specific attention. Traditional resource allocation is typically optimized for the rare business that still performs according to a predictable schedule. But that approach simply can’t react to the challenges of mounting complexity and rapid change common in today’s businesses.
Successful reallocation depends on organizations being keenly aware of the unpredictable patterns of future demand and performance variability. This requires an agile process that continually assesses project viability and pace, reallocates resources periodically and as appropriate, and realigns roadmaps to ensure that the investment continues on the most optimal course.
There’s strong evidence to suggest that enterprise investment success is strongly associated with better delivery performance management. It’s one of the critical components in the arsenal of techniques and tools now available for Strategic PMOs to help them manage their enterprise investments.
I hope you’ve found this series of posts on the forces driving the transformation of the PMO from tactical to strategic helpful and informative. I invite you to check back often as we continue to discuss concepts that help drive success for the Strategic PMO. If you have ideas that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments section below.