If you’re reading this, you probably have an enterprise project management tool or are looking at implementing one in the future. And you probably have implemented, or would like to implement some kind of program management office. PMOs can be enhanced by the concept of the Results Management Office (RMO), which is an idea developed by Deloitte Consulting. Sound interesting? Well, if your projects could benefit from a focus on results, read on.
Business Results: The New Measure Of Success
Gone are the days when a project could deliver on time, on budget and on scope and be considered a success. As the business world evolves faster than it ever has before, your project could be defunct before you even get that project closure document into the sponsor’s hand for signature. Today, it isn’t whether the project completes on schedule or not that is important. It’s what the company can do with the project deliverables.
At Ten Six, we’ve seen the focus over the last few years change from being about individual objectives meeting their objectives, to programs meeting their objectives. Enterprise project management tools and strong PMOs can help make this happen. But we’re noticing another trend: companies need to make sure that all projects and programs align to strategic goals.
In project management terms, that means value management, and there’s been a raft of authors releasing books about project value, most recently Value Management: Translating Aspirations into Performance by Roger H. Davies and Adam J. Davies (Gower, 2011). This is all part of the trend of business results as the new measure of success: the iron triangle of traditional project success – time, cost and quality – is no longer sufficient.
Focusing On Results
An RMO is simply a PMO with a results focus. In simple terms, an RMO ensures that the projects and programs link to organizational strategy and generate deliverables that can be successfully embedded in the company. You don’t need to scrap your existing PMO, or set up a new unit, in order to be results-focused. You simply need to integrate results thinking into the way in which the PMO works already.
Key considerations for a results-based PMO include:
- Aligning projects to strategy
- Aligning projects to the organizational divisions that they are creating value for
- Enterprise-wide communication plans for overall program benefits
- Bringing together technology, people and processes in a cohesive team
- Preparing and following through on ways to measure benefits.
Traditionally, PMOs have been about helping projects and programs to succeed in the ‘time, cost, quality’ sense. A results-based PMO is more about helping the company deliver the right projects to support the overall corporate strategy.
Making It Happen
Results-based thinking is as much a mindset change as it is about implementing new processes. A mature PMO won’t need many new processes, and a strong PMO leader can help shift the team’s mindset away from quality management, governance and resource planning towards an alignment of goals to ensure projects support the company’s future vision.
Of course, this relies on senior management sharing the future vision, so it works well when the corporate goals and transparent and works best when the RMO/PMO leader is able to work at a strategic level. This aligned approach means that if the company goals change for any reason, or the benefits of a programme are perceived to be different, the project teams can shift their activities to ensure that the projects stay aligned to the overall objectives. They focus on what will eventually add value to the company through the successful delivery of results.
This approach may mean more projects are stopped early, but that’s no bad thing. Projects that don’t serve the organization’s objectives are a waste of valuable resources. When both skilled people (as Ken Livingstone said at a recent Synergy, the PMI UK Chapter’s International Project Management Day event) and money are in short supply, companies should be prioritizing their spending where it can really make a difference.
Results-based thinking also carries through once the projects have completed. Benefits realization is critical to proving that the project has delivered something useful and enabling to the company. You’ll only know that if you track and measure results, so a PMO that focuses on results can really prove how it has helped add value.
Setting up the PMO to focus on results will also help drive good decision making. Each decision is considered in the light of whether it helps get the project and the company to where it needs to be. If it means the project takes longer or costs a bit more but delivers a ten-fold increase in benefit, then that’s a decision worth taking. After all, wouldn’t you rather be working on something that has a tangible benefit to your business, rather than something that has completed on time, on budget and to the required quality, but is shelved soon after delivery because the business has moved the goalposts?