Your PMO capacity and capability has done a fantastic job and you’ve gained management commitment to take on more and more. There’s a tiny challenge though: you can’t have any more staff. How do you manage to get more done without adding anyone new to your team?
We see this challenge a lot, and it’s generally caused by one of three problems, and sometimes a combination of all three. In this article we’ll set out the three challenges and give you some starter suggestions for addressing them.
1. No PMO Capacity To Do The Improvements You Want
The first challenge for the PMO or Program Manager is where you’ve got the systems in place, but not everything follows the process. For example, most of the company produces business cases and goes through the project initiation and prioritization process, but initiatives coming from the executive offices seem to always end up on the ‘To Do’ list without ever formally going through the approval steps.
As you spend a lot of time dealing with the things that fall outside the process, it’s limiting your ability to get involved with more of the value-added activities. These could be things like:
- Supporting project managers to improve scheduling quality
- Improving the company’s approaches to schedule estimating
- Managing risk more effectively across the portfolio
- Offering training, mentoring and coaching to project managers and sponsors
- Improving communication between project delivery teams and the rest of the business, or between the project teams and yourselves in the PMO
- Developing your existing PMO staff so you can retain the talent you have – especially important if there is a hiring freeze in your business as you won’t be able to replace anyone who leaves.
You could add more to this list. Whatever it is you want to do with your PMO, you aren’t able to do it right now due to the current PMO capacity to take more on.
Take Action: You need to build some space into your week so you’ve got time to think about how you could work differently. With that in mind, block out half a day just for thinking and planning time.
Use that time to establish the root cause of why some initiatives don’t follow the process. Loko at why you are spending so much time dealing with things that should be going through your existinng best practice approach.
When you understand the characteristics of the exceptions, you can better address them and get them wrapped up in the existing processes. Moving more things into the standard process will free up your time to take on other work.
2. Too Much Time Spent On Reactive Work
If you are spending too much time reacting to situations, it constrains your ability to look forward and be proactive about what else your PMO could be offering.
For example, perhaps you spend too much time on customer service and supporting managers in the business. This could be through reacting to requests for new or additional reports. Or perhaps it’s that your staff don’t take a proactive approach and aren’t on top of problems. Either way, you want to deliver new services, support more areas of the business and do more with the people you have, but you aren’t sure if you could actually make that happen.
Take Action: First, address the issue of reactive staff. They may need training or coaching. They may need to you firmly set appropriate boundaries so they know they have freedom of action to take decisions, within a fixed scope. Encourage and reward proactivity. Empower the team to take action where it is appropriate to do so, without having to wait until there is a problem or run everything past you.
This step will take time, but if you believe in the people you have in the team it is worth developing them. You’ll see their motivation and commitment grow – and if you don’t, you’ll know that perhaps that person is not a good fit for your vision of the future for the team.
Next, think about how you can automate more. Use tools like Adrega PI to make it easier to produce management information. Set up dashboards for those managers who ask for the most information, most frequently. Then train them how to extract and interpret the data they need themselves, so they don’t have to constantly come to your team for new versions of existing reports.
3. Poor Ability To Delegate In the Team
Finally, we sometimes see an issue where managers in the PMO, or project managers, don’t delegate tasks effectively. That pushes the work to the wrong level in the organization. It means you are at capacity doing work that other people in the team could just as easily do – and sometimes their skills mean they could even do it better than you.
If your PMO management team are not delegating work effectively, it could be a sign that individuals lower down the organizational hierarchy are not competent at doing their jobs. Managers sometimes ‘hold on’ to work because they want it to be done properly, and they know that giving it to another member of the team to complete won’t get the result they want. If that is the case, the individual needs support too. They should be given the opportunity to develop their skills and grow in their roles, and the manager is preventing that.
Your PMO management team is there to bring on lead the PMO development in the company. You can only do that if you delegate work to the right level and free up time to implement strategy, develop new offerings and build up the services of the PMO.
Take Action: Look at the workload of the PMO management team and think about what tasks could be delegated to other individuals. If those team members aren’t capable of receiving the tasks to do right now, support them until they are.
Sometimes it’s easier for an outside organization to work with individuals to address challenges. If necessary, call in an experienced consultant to provide PMO leadership support to your team, and work with them over a short period of time.
This will make more time for the senior members of the PMO community, allowing them to start working on new things.
It takes effort to move work around the team, upskill individuals, train executives to use the existing processes and roll out better management information to everyone. It will be worth it because you’ll be able to take on more and deliver more without increasing the headcount in the team.