Thought Leadership

PMO through the lens of the War Room

An effective Project Management Office or PMO is a critical enabler for the organization effectiveness.  The PMO helps ensure the sustainable transformation of processes, management systems and behaviors. A mature PMO enables the right resources to take on the right tasks at the right time and create safe, effective and sustainable results.

Is your Project Management Office framework sustainable?  Studies show that:

  • 50 % of PMOs do not have the right leadership alignment to support the planned objectives
  • 70% of stakeholders perceive their PMO to be bureaucratic
  • Less than 40% of projects led by PMOs are delivered on schedule or with lasting measurable results

In our 74+ years of experience we’ve come to understand that PMO endeavors are successful when there is transparency and alignment between stakeholders and the company itself. Misalignment can occur due to inadequately skilled resources, insufficient information, incorrectly defined deliverables and lack of measurable results.

The global COVID-19 crisis has increased visibility and highlighted pre-existing weaknesses in company PMOs.  Companies around the world will soon need to refocus and accelerate the critical review of existing and ongoing initiatives through the lens of a “War Room.”  At its core, war rooms are used to plan, coordinate and review projects; they should be utilized as a lens to critically view ongoing initiatives and ensure operational and commercial readiness in preparation for the new business world that will emerge from this crisis.

Our experience tells us that companies – regardless of industry and size – should consider activating virtual PMOs utilizing key War Room concepts to build and solidify internal capabilities while empowering team members for competitiveness and agility, making organizations ready for the “new” business era.

Over the past 7 decades, we have worked with more than 1 million leaders beyond industry and geographical boundaries to set up critical PMO War Rooms to deliver accelerated financial and operational results for our clients; this is what we do for every one of our engagements.  The following are some critical elements from Proudfoot’s War-Rooms that should be considered during current city and company lockdowns and global economic decline:

1.High-level project plans. In the rush to get employees productive at home, the need to review the big picture might fall by the wayside.  A high-level project plan (or framework) that encompasses all critical focus areas (operational and commercial) remains a cornerstone of any engagement.

A high-level project plan provides status visibility (on/off schedule), enables quick course corrections and a basis for creating longer term roadmaps. Additionally, a good individual project plan can be quickly used to create and review alternative scenarios and conduct high-level critical path analysis when all relevant projects are reviewed as a group.

2.Well-designed integration plans and countdown schedules. While the high-level project plan will provide the PMO and executive team the visibility needed to ensure critical company plans are implemented, an integration plan is a more focused and detailed view of project activities and key linkages.  Having a comprehensive integration plan will allow for transparency of activity status, evaluates risk management, prevents rework and ensures a coordinated approach to execution.  It utilizes a two-level hierarchy to describe milestones and the work required to accomplish them.  As such, integration plans should be linked to a countdown schedule.  The countdown schedule will ensure the team stays on course and prepares for details in upcoming milestones.  Together, the integration plan and countdown schedules will provide visibility to resources, critical dependencies, issues and needs for success.

3.Established overview and readiness checkpoints. The virtual War Room and PMOs should have scheduled and recurring reviews of results, risks, mitigation plans and decision points.  Every project or initiative must be complemented by a robust governance structure that enables the removal of barriers and obstacles.  In today’s world, when many executives are busy and inundated with virtual conferences as they plan for recovery, it’s of critical importance that crucial projects are sponsored and supported by someone that can provide strategic perspective (financial and operational), make or support decisions to keep plans rolling and align appropriate functional groups to the organization’s common goals.

4.Instituted process to assess, score, prioritize, and measure. Times of crises have a way of focusing our attention to the things that matter most.  In critical circumstances, projects should be evaluated on their most important criteria:  are they utilizing time and other resources effectively?

The resolve to quickly implement decisions and make strategic sacrifices along the way will guarantee that the right resources are being utilized on the right things and will ensure that the organization will thrive once the world has emerged from unprecedented economic turmoil.  Your War-Room should include a continuous situation-review process where fluid business priorities are analyzed and resource allocation is critically examined, redirected or consolidated based on a defined set of criteria.  A clear picture of a project’s success, failure or delays must be validated against a pre-determined set of critical factors impacting the business.  In short, the definition of “good” (KPIs and measures) given detailed points in time, should be clear to everyone.   To do this, the War Room and PMO should quickly analyze and create project prioritization scorecards to ensure it is delivering measurable financial and operational impact where it matters most.

PMO. Learn more here!

Having implemented the four basic steps above, along with the tools and actions required by each, a company’s War Room should be able to efficiently direct the virtual workforce to deal, and succeed, with the most pressing priorities of a business during and post-crisis.  These steps will position companies, regardless of size, to recover faster after the disruptions by ensuring speed and agility to launch new products and distinctive offers, crate agile workforces and streamlined processes, and embrace an inevitable a new culture and working environment.

Proudfoot’s PMO projects with proven War Rooms are designed to help clients jumpstart and accelerate new or existing PMO structures; allowing stakeholders to quickly and safely improve critical processes that are preventing key financial results from being achieved.  We help create sustainable operational, cultural and behavioral change, at all levels, to deliver and transform PMOs into enabled world class organizations.

Proudfoot can rapidly help you design and implement these critical success factors to build a best-in-class PMO framework, ensuring:

  • Full transparency and ownership from executive leadership to guarantee results
  • Seamless alignment among stakeholders and defined business goals and objectives, sustained by a rooted behavior change
  • Virtual or on-site ‘boots on the ground’ coaching with the stakeholders to embed accountability in the process and timely milestone execution
  • Design and roll-out of robust communication programs with project contributors and throughout your company, driving participation from all levels
  • Creation of customized project priority dashboards and review meetings, to prioritize, shift, accelerate, delay or consolidate different projects
  • Development or review of high-level, integration and countdown schedules and plans, inclusive of governance structures required for success, interdependencies, barrier identifications, project opportunities, and decision points.
  • Establishment of measurable financial and operational benefits project scorecard, linked to KPIs or KVIs, providing true visibility to the success and impact of a single project or all projects handled by the PMO.

At Proudfoot we design, implement, and accelerate operational transformation through people – realizing tomorrow’s results, today.

Posted on March 27, 2020

By Proudfoot Team

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