April 24, 2017

Can your PMO weather the elements?

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Temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, and cloudiness. When combined, these six elements make up the weather. Without taking all six into consideration, weather reports and forecasts are incomplete.

The same can be said for your project management office (PMO). Across any project-driven organization, there are a set of components. They’re all relative and the dynamic between each affects the outcomes of your initiatives and the health of your portfolio. Being able to monitor each element within the context of your PMO can help you more accurately forecast the weather.

The six elements of your PMO:

Temperature: Your portfolio.

In weather, temperature is the basic measurement that influences all other elements. Similarly, so does your portfolio. The measurement of your portfolio—from cold to hot, chaotic to organized—determines other elemental behavior across your PMO. Understanding the health of your portfolio financials and investments enables you to gauge asset allocation and balance risk against performance. In short, your portfolio enables you to forecast and prepare for the cold front or the heatwave.

Humidity: Your projects.

Humidity is the quantitative measurement of water vapor in the atmosphere and indicates the likelihood of precipitation. The number of projects in your pipeline, associated scope, and corresponding budget provides a similar measurement. Knowing which projects are in-flight, as well as those being planned, indicates the weight of the air and can help you plan for a good or bad hair day.

Atmospheric pressure: Your resources.

Atmospheric pressure, the measurement of pressure exerted by the weight of the air, changes depending on your location. The same can be said for your resources depending on where you stand in the portfolio and project plan. If your project elevation is higher, fewer resources are available to kick off new initiatives; if you’re in Death Valley, not only are you desperately seeking an oasis, but you’ve got extra resources in tow looking for water as well.

Wind: Your velocity.

In weather, wind is the bulk movement of air. In your PMO, wind represents the velocity of your projects, or their rate of change with respect to a frame of reference. You know better than anyone that scope, budget, and resources can change over the course of a project—directly affecting its velocity and project completion. However, with the ability to measure and track each element, comes the ability to predict how far the wind will take a project when the inevitable happens: change.

Cloudiness: Your demand.

How clear is your view? Different kinds of clouds signal different weather conditions and indicate the level of precipitation. Clear skies are great, but clouds produce the level of precipitation needed to keep the land healthy. For your PMO, clouds represent the health of your demand pipeline. What kind of clouds (projects) are coming? Cirrocumulus, Altostratus, Cumulonimbus, to name a few. What does that mean for PMO? Understanding how each cloud, or project type and timeline, affects your PMO and will improve the quality of your weather forecast.

Precipitation: Your results and benefits.

Precipitation is any product of condensation that falls under gravity. For the sake of this metaphorical exercise, precipitation is good news for your PMO. It demarcates that the pipeline is saturated enough to produce a form of precipitation that can be measured. A heat wave dries up the land—creating a water shortage—whereas the right level of precipitation keeps the land healthy and growing. Think realized benefits from a project or that adage, “April showers brings May flowers.” A successful project should produce measureable benefits that can be seen across your organization.

So, what’s the PMO weather?

The combination of these six elements—portfolio, projects, resources, velocity, analytics, and benefits—is what makes up your PMO weather. But slight shifts in each element have the power to change the entire forecast, so how do you dynamically measure each variable to create an accurate weather forecast?

Meteorologists today rely on a combination of instruments and technology to analyze the weather. As technology has improved, so too, has the accuracy of weather projections. The same can be said for any PMO. If your organization is relying on manual or outdated instruments to track every moving piece across your portfolio of projects, the level of accuracy is compromised. That’s why a lot of today’s PMOs rely on project portfolio management (PPM) software to manage the project and portfolio lifecycle.

The biggest benefit of a PPM solutions is the visibility it provides across all the moving pieces and parts. Using real-time data for dashboard rollups and reporting, PMOs get the information they need to monitor the weather and make adjustments as needed. Having those analytics and reports leads to better portfolio planning and outcomes for your business. So you’ll always know how to dress for the weather.

If you’re in the market for a PPM solution, don’t miss our PPM Buyer’s Guide. In it, we outline what industry trends are affecting project management processes, key criteria to keep in mind, and a sample vendor comparison matrix to help your teams in the buying process.

About Alan Shefveland

Alan Shefveland is the Director of Product Management — Strategy & Innovation at Changepoint. He has more than 37 years of experience facilitating business and technology transformation for companies. For more than 25 years, Alan has demonstrated leadership with project, portfolio, and value management process implementations that span a wide variety of industry verticals, including finance, high-tech, light manufacturing, telecommunications, and utilities.