Olympic Gold for the PMO? Nope...

Written by Stuart Easton

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Picture the scene. The starting gun fires and Usain Bolt explodes off the line. Bolt pulls away from the rest of the pack. It's business as usual in Brazil.

But wait!

Bolt slows and the rest of the Pack is gaining on him. Usain Bolt is left for dead. What's going on?

Well, this wasn't the 100 metre sprint. The race was a 10,000m race.

Mad, right? Why would you enter Usain Bolt in the 10k?

But not so mad as it might seem if your typical project portfolio is anything to go by.

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Beauty parades and the PMO

Written by Stuart Easton

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is a major problem for the PMO.

In just a couple of months, organisations around the world will be knee-deep in the planning process. When it comes to picking a portfolio of projects, the selection process often resembles a beauty pageant.

It will be no surprise anyone when I suggest that project-selection-by-beauty-pageant is close to professional negligence.

And as the PMO you are in the firing line.

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PMOs, Pick-up-sticks and Gartner!

Written by Stuart Easton

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Playing Pick-up-sticks in
the PMO

I recently sat through a presentation by Gartner Managing VP and Gartner Fellow Emeritus Audrey Apfel on the topic, “The Secrets of Prioritizing IT Demand”. As you can imagine, this is something in which I have more than a passing interest.

Audrey’s dynamite. She’s straight-to-the-point, blunt and knowledgeable.

And she made this one point that got my little brain working overtime; when evaluating a project for inclusion in your portfolio, you need to decide whether it is as good as, or better, than other opportunities.

Sounds simple.

But isn’t.

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HS2. A PMO's worst nightmare?

Written by Stuart Easton

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What if you’re handed down a project with a budget of 50 billion pounds? What if many experts expect this project to overrun by at least 20 billion pounds?

To make it worse, many stakeholders simply can't understand what value the project will add. The feasibility study for the project is over 50,000 pages long...

Sounds like fun?

Pet projects. Vanity projects. Projects that just seem to have momentum and a life of their own.

These projects can really disrupt the balance of a project portfolio and can destroy the reputation of The Professionals involved at all levels. Despite this, every organisation has them and nobody does them like central government...

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BREXIT. A lesson to all leaders

Written by Stuart Easton

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When Britain voted to leave the European Union, it was a clear sign of failure. I don’t mean failure of “the European Experiment” (as the EU is often called by British Euro-sceptics).

I mean a failure of leadership.

So if you’re a leader, read on and reflect.

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A Pat on the Back for the PMO?

Written by Stuart Easton

Back in 1998, the French computer manufacturer and systems integrator, BULL unearthed an ugly truth. A shocking truth.

Around 75% of IT projects were failing.

Since then, project methodologies, the emergence of PPM software and the professionalization of both project management and portfolio management have all played their part in reducing the failure rate to around 36%. At Gartner’s PPM Summit in London, Donna Fitzgerald, Gartner Research Vice President, gave the industry a giant pat-on-the-back.

But her message didn’t end there, I’m afraid. This 36% percent failure rate has been essentially static for several years now. Her conclusion?

Traditional PPM / project implementation improvements have gone as far as they can and we, as an industry, must look elsewhere for performance improvements... and number one on Gartner’s list is project prioritization.

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The Dark Side of Collaboration

Written by Stuart Easton

Collaboration: Hero or villain?

Collaboration_Superhero.pngAll the best heroes have a Dark Side; Batman, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes. And so does collaboration.

But having a dark side doesn’t turn our heroes into arch-villains. No, it makes them more heroic. They save the day in the end despite the call of the Dark Side.

Collaboration also has a Dark Side. Paradoxically, the Dark Side of collaboration is that it can harm productivity. So let’s look at collaboration’s dark side and see if we can equip all you everyday-heroes to deal with it!

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Is your PMO guaranteed to fail?

Written by Stuart Easton

Will Your PMO FailA few weeks ago, I asked a question about what the role of a PMO is. I got quite a lot of feedback on that one and this prompted me to tackle this next question: what causes PMOs to fail.

In this blog, I'll look at three common causes of PMO failure - though they are by no means the only ones. I'll also take a look at how to minimize the chances of failure.

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Cats in neck-ties: PMO Killers!

Written by Stuart Easton

tiger.pngI just recorded a podcast with Gerald Leonard over at Principles of Execution and part of the discussion was about how the PMO is really just the custodian of a portfolio. The only reason a project portfolio exists is to deliver on business goals, and so the portfolio really belongs to "the business". But in most organizations we work with, there is little consensus between executives on what the goals are and how they should be prioritized.

 The process of getting agreement between executives on business priorities is, therefore, like herding cats... only these cats are killers because 72% of PMOs are called into question by these same execs.  

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Do More with less? No thanks! Prioritize!

Written by Stuart Easton

I guess tStatue_of_leberty_drawing.pnghe fact that the American government has finally agreed a budget is good news. For one thing, it means all those departments can go out and spend money again.  But respected consulting company AT Kearney hopes they won't simply try to do more with less.

Huh? Isn't that what we all want them to do?

Well, stay with me here, l'm with AT Kearney. Let me explain.

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Is your boss running around naked? Project prioritization and the emperor's new clothes

Written by Stuart Easton

Executives are exposing themselves because of their broken project prioritization processI was speaking with a CIO the other day and he essentially said, "We don't need to revamp our prioritization process. We already have a very robust project selection process in place." 

So I asked him what it was, and it turned out that the Emperor had no clothes. His confidence was high, but the prioritization process itself was leading them to select poor projects, ones that don't really add value.

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Frustration with your Annual Budget process?  Agile Budgeting.

Written by Stuart Easton

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Companies put 90% of their resources toward the same activities year after year....

Wait a minute. That doesn’t sound right. I mean, we’re told daily that the pace of change is faster than ever. But if that’s true, our resource allocation should reflect the change… and surely it has to be more than 10% of resources.

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3 Reasons to Invest in Project Prioritization

Written by Stuart Easton

Boiling_frog.pngOrganizations that invest in strategic prioritization deliver 40% more value.

This seems like reason enough to invest in improving the project prioritization process, yet many organizations don't realize that their current process is broken; it's evolved over time, it worked last year...

But this is like the proverbial frog in a pan of water. The environment is changing around us all the time, and if we don't have a well-structured process for recognizing and reacting to the change... well, to combe back to the frog analogy, you get boiled but don't notice until it's too late.

So in this blog, we'll look at some of the benefits organizations get from changing the way they prioritize in the hope that it will motivate at least some of you to hop on out of the pot!

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70% of Executives not engaged; a PMO wake-up call

Written by Stuart Easton

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My brain just melted. Or exploded. Or both.

According to recent PMI research, 70% of the time, senior executives are not engaged in the project prioritization process. Now this just blows my little brain to pieces and here’s why.

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Only 50% of PMOs survive. Fight back!

Written by Stuart Easton

Axe_manDo you want to have a job in three years’ time?

Yeah, me too.

But only around half of PMOs survive for three years or more (according to the Association for Project Management). So what can you do to reduce the chances that the axe-man will end your career early?

Well KPMG research points to 5 key “best practices” that will help keep your head on your shoulders!

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Watch webinars


How to transform project portfolio performance
by Mike Hannan, Fortezza Consulting

Value-based Project Prioritization: Getting Started
by James T. Brown, SEBA Solutions

Prioritization of programs in budgeting
by Peter Miles, Catalyze Consulting

3 Ideas to Transform PMO Performance
by Andrea James, Decisions-making trainer


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