Running Too Many Projects is consistently one of the top issues flagged by PMO leaders, and with good reason.
It creates a suffocating negativity and ultimately erodes effectiveness, draining an organisation’s ability to perform. Having too many projects is demotivating, confusing and undermines the ability of leaders to implement goals. It’s also costly.
If you’re suffering from Too Many Projects you probably know it, but let’s confirm. Research suggests 2-3 projects at a time is optimal for individual focus and collective scheduling. If you’re asking people to juggle more than this then you are lowering their productivity.
Too Many Projects will damage your business and drive you into a self-perpetuating low productivity fire-fighting culture. Sounding familiar? Have a look at this article to see how one organisation suffered.
Overloading on projects also means you’re likely to be working on things that are not worthwhile. Zombie projects where the value died a while ago but nobody told the team, or pet projects where the value never existed, but nobody told the boss.
Solving Too Many Projects offers leaders the chance to transform organizations, building trust, velocity & focus… but thinking it’s simple is almost always a mistake.
This guide is here to help you make it happen. Let’s dive in.
This isn’t the usual article about decision-making. You know the type; “you need better data so invest in Big Data” or “artificial intelligence is the answer to everything.” No, it’s about how your people are making it impossible to make reliable decisions… and you probably don’t even realize it.
All because of something called Noise.
As a seasoned expert at low quality Home Improvements, I know that there are very few jobs that can’t be done with duct tape, super glue and Polyfilla. Solving problems with the wrong tools and no skills. What could possibly go wrong?
Similarly, we all know that there are very few problems that cannot be fixed with a spreadsheet, right? Build a quick database? Organise your sales pipeline? Create charts for your investors? Manage your taxes? We’ve got a spreadsheet for that! Now technically you probably could (and possibly have) been able to do just this. But (like my home improvements) how often do you regret that initial decision to ‘just put it in a spreadsheet’ rather than take the time to get the right tool for the job?
I’m writing this blog in the depths of Covid-lockdown and Netflix is relentlessly pushing their series; The Meg.
The Meg in question is a Megalodon – a giant prehistoric shark. Ruling the seas for around 13 million years, the Meg was an absolute monster… I mean, just look at its tooth!
The Meg could chomp you down for a starter, then swallow your whole boat for a main course!
Of course, the Netflix Meg is CGI-generated. Technology has brought back to life this long-extinct monster.
There’s another kind of Meg that can chew you up just as effectively as Megalodon, if you’re not careful. The Meg in question is a megaproject.
Your portfolio is being murdered...
We've all played the game Cluedo, right? (It's called Clue in North America and Detetive in Brazil).
It's a board game with the goal of finding the murderer, the weapon and the room in which the murder happened.
So let's play PMO Cluedo and find the murderer!
If you read this post on Linkedin and its associated comments, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the CEO drives a clown-car to work and that the rest of the exec team spend all day throwing custard pies at each other!
In summary, the post mentions research that looked at 117 projects. Of those projects, 80% of the projects suggested by senior managers failed while 80% of those suggested by mid-managers succeeded.
I'm scared that someone I care about will get ill. I'm fascinated to see how fast it's spread. I'm frustrated at people panic-buying toilet paper. I'm terrified of being stuck at home with the kids for 2 months. I'm simply fed up of the whole thing.
Whatever your reaction to the novel corona virus, COVID 19, relatively few people are looking at it and saying, "I'm excited - this is a real opportunity for us to improve some core processes!"
But that's just what it is.
This blog is going to be pretty short and it's aimed at PMO leaders and at the executive management layer of the organization. Here's the message:
And thus battle commences between the PMO and its stakeholders.
Over 50% of projects fail.
Of course, if we had good project managers, we’d never have failed projects, right?
We now know that PMs should not carry all the blame for failed projects.
Research suggests that many projects are doomed to failure long before project managers even get involved. Around 40% of the “cause” of failed projects occurs before projects are even initiated.
Since a PM cannot normally travel back in time and get involved in a project in which they are not yet involved (there’s a sentence for Terry Pratchett fans!), I’d suggest someone else should be driving that particular pre-execution bus.
And that someone should be the PMO (or EPMO).
Alright, let’s make this quick - I know this hurts. As a profession we still fail far too often. Project failure is a major source of waste and frustration in most organizations. Here are a few interesting nuggets of information:
Only 37% of organizations deliver projects on time more often than not. In other words, 63% of organizations deliver more than 50% of their projects late! (UK data, Source: Wellingtone)
The number of projects that are lost hook, line and sinker (“Failed project, budget lost”) has stubbornly remained above 30% for the last 6 years. (Source: PMI Pulse of the Profession 2017)
85% of organizations have a PMO (Source: State of the PMO, 2016)... but given that most organizations can’t even deliver half their projects on time
The most common factor (37%) behind project failure is a lack of clear goals (or even a lack of alignment to corporate goals - source: PMI Pulse of the Profession 2017)
Okay, everybody talks about the importance of the strategic alignment of your project portfolio. Your portfolio exists to support your business strategy but in this blog, I want to look at things the other way around. Let’s assume we’ve already aligned our portfolio to strategy - what benefits would we see?
In this blog I often talk about the project prioritization process and the best method of implementing it. In this article I would like to share some ideas on how to use the prioritization matrix to prioritize projects in a way that gives you a chance to succeed.