Reducing waste in projects, specifically in the aspects concerned with resource allocation, enables you to focus on activities that bring more value to your customers and business.
Reducing waste in projects, specifically in the aspects concerned with resource allocation, enables you to focus on activities that bring more value to your customers and business. It will also enable you to improve operational efficiency in existing projects throughout the organization.
But just what challenges does the PMO tackle? And, how does it help you manage resources in a way that not only reduces waste but makes your project outcomes better?
7 Ways the PMO Controls Waste
1. Circulating Best Practices
Valuable knowledge can exist in silos across your organization. For every project, there are lessons learned. This applies to those projects the business considers successful and unsuccessful. What did you do right? What could you do better? If you make space to ask these questions after every project completion, you can foster a culture of continuous improvement.
The question is, how do you do this so that everyone in your organization can learn and improve?
A PMO will facilitate organizational continuous improvement by instituting project post-mortems as the norm. Project managers can use questionnaires to gather information before each one that covers both quantitative and qualitative data, as well as questions that focus on teams’ experience of the project.
With this data, the PMO can identify the best processes and approaches for your projects, and then document and standardize them into project templates, playbooks, and SOPs. It can also make these standards part of the curriculum when training project managers. And, in turn, they can pass their learning on to their teams.
2. Avoiding Stalled Projects
There are many reasons why your projects may grind to a halt. Maybe you lack visibility over your team’s schedules and capacity in complex projects, and there are scheduling conflicts as a result. Or, you fail to identify when a resource will be unavailable for an extended period, perhaps because of supply chain shortages due to geopolitical tensions or even natural disasters.
There is also the matter of project dependencies. If you don’t consider what tasks depend on the completion of other tasks—and which of your team members this affects—your projects can slow to a snail’s pace or stall altogether.
The PMO can reduce inefficiencies by determining best practices for requesting resources and their allocation. It will also implement tooling to enhance your resource management capabilities.
3. Improving Resource Allocation
So, you have a scheduling conflict. It’s unfortunate, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world.
A PMO can provide a global view of your organization’s entire project portfolio. This means it can identify the high-value and urgent projects your teams should focus on. And going forward, it can recommend resource allocation best practices, such as gathering feedback on how long it took team members to complete tasks and deliverables. After all, there will be variables that contribute to this—task complexity and resource skill level, for a start.
It also means you can ensure that your more expensive resources aren’t ever sitting idle. By this, we mean costly raw materials and facilities as well as your highly-paid team members.
More efficient resource allocation will stop you from paying premium delivery rates on expensive parts, just to have them gather dust while you wait for a project to start. As for facilities, the PMO will help you source and rent them for project kickoff, and not months beforehand.
A PMO will also identify upcoming gaps in your team members’ capacities. So, instead of senior staff twiddling their thumbs while they wait for a project launch, it can assign them to other deliverables that contribute to your organization’s strategic goals and ROI. For example, they could work on your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or process playbooks so that they disseminate their valuable knowledge throughout the organization.
4. Preventing Duplicate Work
Your organization has successfully identified your strategic goals and KPIs. You’re all on the same page—but believe it or not, there can be a downside to this.
Imagine this: you have one department developing a new software tool, the outcome of which should align with your business objectives. But, without you knowing, a different department within your organization is creating or implementing similar technology. This is waste on a grand scale. It squanders teams’ time and stops the allocation of resources on work that will provide unique value.
The PMO has a view across projects—and often across the entire organization. As such, it can recognize when two projects from different departments overlap. It can then step in and assess which department has the best chance of success and redirect the other towards a project more worthy of their time.
5. Reducing Budget Waste
Again, we return to the PMO’s view across projects and the organization.
Yes, it can identify similarities between concurrent projects, which is extremely beneficial. But its view of historical projects and their data can also reduce waste in future projects.
Your post-mortems will be particularly handy here. The PMO will look at both the quantitative data and the qualitative data. For example, it might assess if the project criteria were clearly defined— if not, teams likely spent longer executing tasks, which eats into the project budget.
This is a lesson the PMO will then turn into a positive. It can help implement training for those responsible for briefing out tasks and deliverables and help standardize better processes in the future.
A PMO can also help liberate capital for projects stalled due to budget issues. It does this by realistic forecasting of risks that result in more consistent cost estimates. And this can restore stakeholder confidence enough to release those purse strings.
And by implementing tools that enhance visibility and traceability, the PMO helps you break down past project deliverables to understand how long tasks should take. So you can take into account those variables we mentioned earlier—how experienced are the resources who will be working on the project, for instance? Less experienced team members will naturally cost less than your tenured employees. But you should expect them to take longer on more complex tasks and allow for this time in your budget.
6. Culling Underperforming Projects
A surefire way to reduce budget waste is to kill projects that aren’t performing as they should, but for whatever reason, are still active. After all, no one likes to admit they’ve taken a wrong turn, especially when they were adamant they were going the right way. A project manager might still see a project flop as having potential because they’ve been so invested in the outcome.
A PMO, however, can be objective. It takes a global, strategic view to identify if the project aligns with business goals. It will also look at the project metrics to tell if a project is progressing as it should.
This also goes some way in helping to maintain strong working relationships within your teams. Yes, opinions matter, but less so than cold, hard data. The PMO makes its decision based on facts. And that’s hard to argue with, even when the project is someone’s (ugly) baby.
7. Providing the Right Tools
We’ve already mentioned the importance of enhanced visibility and traceability. In addition, most project management tools will boast a single source of truth. After all, consistent, accurate data will always be important—searching for project information across multiple applications wastes untold amounts of time.
But the term ‘single source of truth’ can be reductive. Some tools take this single source of truth and streamline it even further so that each stakeholder can more easily access the information relevant to them.
Finding the right tool is, therefore, another way to reduce waste—and we mean reducing not only wasted time and money but also wasted opportunities. For example, if project sponsors have to wade through all the project information to get the few nuggets they need, you could lose their engagement. Instead, find a tool with a ‘single source of truth’ that weaves that truth into a narrative they want to hear.