by Vince Hines, Managing Director, WellingtonePPM, a Microsoft Gold Partner
Everyone will be a project manager at some point in their career, as work continues to become more project-centric and organisations more team-based. I spend much of my time with subject matter experts (SMEs) tasked with running a project. They bring technical knowledge and buckets of enthusiasm, but a limited grasp of best-practice project management. From my experience, the two standout SME weaknesses are not being able to plan and work to that plan, and not being able to lead a team with clear roles and responsibilities.
According to The State of Project Management 2018 Report, 42 per cent of projects are run by “professional” project managers, leaving a higher portion to SMEs. Organisations need to equip their teams and these SMEs to run effective projects. And this year’s report tells us 53 per cent of respondents are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the current level of PPM maturity in their organisation and that the number one challenge for organisations is “poorly trained project managers”. The data certainly has room for improvement, with 32 per cent of respondents admitting projects are never or sometimes completed on time, 30 per cent that they are never or sometimes completed on budget, and 33 per cent stating benefits are never or sometimes achieved.
We need to train our project managers, even the SME ones, and improve our project management maturity. Organisations need a champion for best-practice project management, and in the ever-expanding world of superheroes, it’s time to welcome the PMO, complete with cape and badly positioned pants. Of organisations engaged in project management, 83 per cent have one or more PMO. The largest growth area in terms of responsibilities of PMOs in the last couple of years has been project manager training and mentoring.
Looking to the future, two-thirds of PMOs believe their scope and responsibilities will increase, but in terms of FTEs they will not rise in proportion. This suggests PMOs need to increase productivity – do more with no more people. How can we achieve these goals of improved project management maturity, driven by the PMO, who themselves need to increase productivity? We need some very good tools. A project and portfolio management (PPM solution) is that tool.
A PPM tool should enable us to focus on high-value activities, letting us automate where possible. A shocking 24 per cent of respondents for The State of Project Management 2019 Report said they spent more than two days per month manually collating project status information! The business case for deploying a PPM tool probably does not need to look any further than that. Forget the added and significant benefits of consistency in ways of working, data-driven resource management, improved collaboration and transparency on project status.
It’s time to work smarter by eliminating manual reporting, enabling collaboration and informed decision making and catering for those SME project managers. Microsoft Project Online is a tool of choice for organisations looking to deploy an enterprise PPM solution. “Professional” project managers can continue to work using the power of Microsoft Project, while decision makers, line managers and team members are able to access project information with easy-to-use browser-based interfaces. Dashboards come alive with Microsoft PowerBI, surfacing the latest project information, providing one version of the truth rather than manipulated PowerPoint slide decks.
Microsoft is rising to the challenge of the SME project manager with additional tools such as Planner (part of Office365), a simple Kanban board task-management solution. Microsoft also recognises that projects might be tracked and managed using other solutions. If only we could see a consolidated view of projects across these different data sources. Microsoft Roadmap provides a simple summary view of projects and their key milestones, enabling a mini portfolio or programme owner to maintain track, wherever the project is managed.
But do organisations see any benefit in deploying a PPM solution? The State of Project Management 2019 Report tells us that a third of respondents who don’t have one are likely to invest within the next 12 months. So what can they hope to achieve? It’s worth hearing from some organisations that have recently deployed Microsoft Project Online with our assistance…
Charter Court Financial Service
Improved visibility made an immediate impact on the business. The granular portfolio-level views ensure every member of the team, as well as other parts of the business, know exactly what is happening with every project in the pipeline against reportable milestones.
Everyone in the project management and leadership teams now access consistent information, fundamentally changing how they make decisions and the actions they take actions both now and in the future.
According to Simon Drinkwater, associate director of change delivery, “we needed a more structured, dynamic and proactive project and portfolio management function befitting a FTSE 250 business.”
Go Ahead Group
One of the biggest impacts has been in reporting. Instead of cumbersome, manually maintained spreadsheets, the leadership team can now access real-time PowerBI dashboards supported by project status reports. The dashboards allow them to clearly see the entire portfolio status.
“We will be able to show the real value we’re adding through each individual project,” said Enrique Fernandez-Pino, CIO. “The real value is having one version of the truth with accurate data and a consistent approach to project delivery,” Melanie Wood, Head of Programme Management, added. “We can trust the data, which gives me confidence to deliver our vision and goals.”
“Previously we were using other Office tools, including PowerPoint and Excel, to produce our reports – but of course that was labour intensive and brought a degree of subjectivity into the mix,” explains Mark Yates, PMO Manager for the IT PMO. “We wanted to have more of an objective view of our project status. Now that Project Online is geared up to catch all the data, we’ve been able to consolidate all of our risks, issues, actions, changes, status updates, documentation and milestones into our reporting and to produce those reports quickly and efficiently. We have real-time visibility over individual projects, as well as how the portfolio is performing overall.”
Microsoft Project Online can cater for all types of project managers, from SMEs to the pros. Upgrade your PPM maturity, visibility, resource management and collaboration – and get back those two days a month!
Read more from our client case studies here.