It’s a scenario you’re probably familiar with: A department or team leader is managing a full slate of operational tasks and projects. Just when everything seems doable, the team is chosen to lead another bold, new initiative. Getting this new project off the ground isn’t the hard part–it’s a great opportunity and will make a big impact. The challenge comes when the initial excitement wanes and roadblocks start to pop up. Navigating siloed departments. Managing vendor schedules and deliverables. Maintaining traction. Overseeing employee responsibilities for both day-to-day and project-related tasks. Add those to the already long list of regular job responsibilities, and you have a recipe for frustration. The antidote? It may be found in a new project management office (PMO) strategy.
Seven Signs It’s Time to Re-evaluate Your PMO Strategy
1. Unrecognizable vision. Evolving from the original project vision is a natural byproduct of weeks or months of work. Deeper analysis leads people to identify new opportunities or recognize problems that went undetected. Though helpful, this is also how scope creep happens. Pretty soon, a six-week project to identify a new CRM software has spiraled into a six-month system overhaul.
Solution: Help teams hold onto the original vision and remind everyone of the “why” behind the work. Even a brief touchpoint between the PMO and the team can ensure that everyone is reminded of the “north star” guiding each decision. At the same time, the PMO can track and appropriately prioritize those additional opportunities to improve. If the vision really does need to change, the PMO can leverage a system of checks and balances to deploy additional resources, as needed.
2. Undefined process governance. As a company grows, establishing or improving process discipline and governance can often fall to the bottom of the to-do list, especially as urgent and important tasks come up that directly relate to driving growth. However, if left unchecked, this can result in runaway project budgets, inconsistent management across departments, and mountains of valuable legacy knowledge stored in the minds of tenured employees, but never propagated amongst teams or formally documented.
Solution: Drive clarity and accountability through strong governance structures that are applied uniformly across departments and vendors. A healthy PMO strategy for the project or company opens distinct escalation channels, enables standardized documentation, and drives crystal clear ownership for each party involved in the structure.
3. Ambiguous responsibilities. Few things in life are as black and white as a budget evaluation: You’re either within the parameters, or you’re outside of the original scope. Things become less clear when you dig deeper to see who approved which decisions, where priorities were shifted, and what groups are responsible for which line items. When teams lack a broad understanding of projects and workstreams, everyone feels the effect of ambiguous authority, anemic accountability, and delayed decision making.
Solution: Establish a clearly defined program or enterprise organizational chart that accounts for all in-flight projects and workstreams. Ensure that everyone can access the snapshot of each party and their responsibilities. Who has final say on prioritization? Who can authorize a change order? Are there any decision points that require sign-off from multiple people? Documenting and sharing this information will boost ownership via clear accountability. When things are brought into the light, everyone benefits.