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.
Okay, so you may have read our ultimate guide to project prioritization and now you want to know how to prioritize projects. You’re in the right place.
We’ll break it down into 4 easy steps.
Let’s get one thing clear before we start. Your projects are not “your” projects, they are there to deliver strategic value to the business. It is, therefore, vital to make sure that “the business” - for the purpose of this blog, that means a diverse group of senior stakeholders - what “value” means before you start.
This process begins with a brainstorming session with your executives. The goal of this brainstorming is to end up with a list of 4 to 7 top-level strategic goals - the business goals that are most important to your stakeholders. We will then use those goals as criteria to evaluate and score your projects - this is what allows you to deliver strategic alignment.
Your top-level criteria can be further divided into sub-goals. You might end up with something like this:
So, you've probably heard the one about the broken pencil?
....nah, there's no point.
Maybe that's really a joke about PMOs. You've seen the stats, right?
I've written before on ways to turn this around, but there's one underlying challenge: many PMO leaders themselves don't understand the point of the PMO. If the PMO leader doesn't know what the PMO is for, how can the senior executives value it?
There is a revolution under way: the 4th Industrial Revolution.
And the PMO is, in some ways, the most crucial player in making this revolution happen. The PMO is like Napoleon. Or the guillotine. The revolution just wouldn't have played out without them.
Change is nothing new and it's a cliché to say that change is accelerating, but it really is. It's not just accelerating, but it's accelerating on a whole lot of different fronts all at once. Technologies like artificial intelligence, internet of things, robotics, big data and - well, just throw in your favourite collection of buzz-words - these technologies are driving change at a faster pace than ever before. And this accelerated change has a name; the 4th Industrial Revolution.
And the PMO is a key player in this revolution, but are you ready?
And he took the rather controversial position that PMOs should NOT be in the business of prioritizing demand.
In their massive rock anthem, We Are The Champions, the band Queen boldly declare, “No time for losers, ‘cos we are the champions…”
Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why 72% of PMOs are being called into question by their executives; perhaps they too have “No time for losers…”
And today, we’re going to figure out where you sit. Are you a Champion or an Underperformer? Or, most likely, somewhere in between?
Search for ‘project failure statistics’ and you’ll find lots of reports talking about failure rates of anywhere between 40% and 75%. It’s also easy to find training providers and consultants who tout the one guaranteed way to project success.
But just what do we mean by project failure or success? Before we can really start to talk about improving success rates, surely we need to understand this. I host a community of PMO professionals in Melbourne – we call this community P3C – and we recently discussed just this point.
This blog looks at what we learned.
Last week was the Project Challenge event in London and the were some really good talks. Among them was a talk by David Walton of Bestoutcome on benefits realization. This is an area I am often asked about when supporting clients in their project prioritization and selection process so I thought I'd share...
Tracking through to benefits doesn't have to be hard, but it does take focus and the discipline to never give up, a bit like The Terminator - the good one in T2, of course; we don't want any nasty robo-PMOs running around gunning down project sponsors... even if you do sometimes feel like it!
Very few organizations track projects all the way through to benefit and David gave a simple framework to help you get there, but he missed one of the most important steps out; prioritization.
So, let me share with you my interpretation of the talk, but I'll add what I think is missing.
We’ve all had the feeling. You step into a lift (elevator for those of you who don’t speak the Queen’s English) and there’s the CFO. Or the CEO. There’s nowhere to hide. She turns to you and says something along the lines of;
An honest answer would typically be; “Well, we had a meeting with our stakeholders and picked a bunch of projects that don’t really seem all that-well aligned with any strategic direction. Project selection was really based on politics and salesmanship and I reckon there are a few lemons and pet projects in there!”
Not an ideal answer.
Well, now there is a way you can quantify and justify the portfolio selection and it’s validated through academic research.
Every PMO has the potential to be a superhero. Seriously.
Anyone who can deliver a sustained competitive advantage is a superhero (in company terms, anyway). It may be the “golden touch” on product (Steve Jobs) or the ability to spot a value-investment opportunity (Warren Buffet).
The superpower that every PMO has is the power to deliver a far more efficient and effective use of capital.
Hmmm – doesn’t sound as cool as X-ray vision or the power to create force-fields… but you know those aren’t real, right?
Apart from my Mum, who definitely had X-ray vision while I was growing up.
A more efficient and effective use of capital, however, is about as important for a company (or government agency, NGO, etc.) as it gets.
So, put your underpants on the outside and prepare to change the world!