Monday, November 9, 2009

Project Management Office (PMO)

Many organizations struggle to deliver projects to the satisfaction of their sponsors and advocates. The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates only 30% of projects are on time and on budget. The challenges represented by this sobering statistic have led many organizations to turn to the Project Management Office (PMOs) as a way to improve project delivery. The primary objective for creating a PMO is the timely delivery of strategic IT projects with more consistency, effectiveness and efficiency.

How the PMO is organized and staffed depends on the organization’s goals, strengths and corporate cultural. Each one is as unique as the clients it serves. PMOs generally utilize one of two basic approaches. They may be consultative, where the office acts in a consulting capacity, providing business-based project managers with training, guidance and best-practice methodologies; or centralized, where the office is staffed with ready-to-deploy PMO project managers who are loaned out to business units to work on projects.

The benefits of establishing a PMO include:
1. Better IT investment decisions and improved governance through increased business/IT alignment. The PMO ensures:

  • All projects conform to the governance process; acceptable business cases have been established prior to project start-up
  • Visibility needed to cancel, postpone, or scale back unnecessary or less strategic projects
  • Improved project portfolio management to identify cross-project synergies and opportunities for increased program management.

2. Improved accountability for critical efforts by:

  • Attracting, developing and retaining experienced professional project managers with unique insight into the organization (without the need for adding additional permanent staff)
  • Relieving functional managers of hands-on project management so they can devote their time and skills to management of operational systems and processes, human resource issues, the long-term health of the organization and long-term relationships with the user community
  • Establishing clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all people engaged in the project, reducing the risk of duplication and conflict between individuals and between teams

3. Improved communications and change management

  • Coordination of communications means that the right messages are getting to the right people at the right time, reducing information overload
  • Cross-business change management provides a more efficient and more effective approach to introducing change and in training people in new processes and procedures

4. Increased consistency of project delivery by:

  • Providing guidance on best project management practices and standards across the organization
  • Developing and implementing a consistent and standardized process.
    • Formalizing the project management approach
  • Ensuring the use of templates, best practices, and common tools, saving money by sharing resources across units

5. Improving project predictability by conducting appropriate risk assessments and project audits on a regular and routine basis

PMO success rates should be measured by:

  • Business Case Realization
  • Accuracy of Project Cost Estimates
  • Accuracy of Schedule Estimates
  • Project Stakeholder Satisfaction
  • Risk Reduction
  • Increased Employee Productivity

In a survey conducted by CIO and the Project Management Institute (PMI), respondents reported positive benefits from the formation of a PMO. Out of 450 people surveyed, those with a PMO operating for more than four years reported a 65 percent success rate increase. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires companies to disclose investments, such as large projects, that may affect a company’s operating performance, is also a driver. The Act forces companies to keep a closer watch on project expenses and progress.

PMOs can realize substantial benefits for their companies by selecting and supporting those projects that offer the biggest payback. They can save money by enabling better resource management and reducing project failures. They also provide the structure needed to standardize project management practices and facilitate IT project portfolio management, as well as determine methodologies for repeatable processes. Most organizations that have established PMO’s have reported them to be a positive addition to their organizations.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Is the Recession Over - Revision 1

Is the recession over?
To evaluate the validity of the assertion that “the recession is over” requires a common agreement at to what economic conditions identify the boundaries of recession. In economics, a recession is a general slowdown in economic activity over a period of time. You would expect to see declines in areas such as production (as measured by Gross Domestic Product or GDP), employment, investment spending, capacity utilization, household incomes, and business profits during recessions.

In a 1975 New York Times article, economic statistician Julius Shiskin suggested "two quarters of negative GDP growth" as a rule of the thumb for identifying the beginning of a recession. He also suggested that “two quarters of positive GDP growth" signaled the ending of a recession.

In the United States, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is generally seen as the authority for dating US recessions. It is used almost universally by academics, economists, policy makers, and businesses to identify the precise dating of a recession's beginning and end.

NBER information released September 29 indicates that we have experienced four consecutive quarters of negative growth, and although the 2nd quarter 2009 was estimated at a .8 decline we still have not met the criteria for recovery.

Beginning of the end?
Advance 3rd quarter 2009 GDP figures won’t be released by the NBER until October 29 at 8:30 AM, and are subject to revision. If the quarter shows positive GDP growth, it could indicate the beginning of the recession’s end. The best possible outcome would be the recession would end 4th quarter of 2009 if the positive GDP growth continued in the 4th quarter.

Confusing the economic picture is the fact that business profits have not generally declined. They have been buoyed by aggressive cost cutting, particularly in labor costs. Profits have continued a general upward trend despite falling revenues. This has contributed to the stock market recovery.

Despite that fact that business profits are up, the assertion that “the recession is over” is premature. The criterion for economic recovery requires that two consecutive quarters of positive GDP growth will signal the end of a recession. So far, there has been no GDP growth reported.
In choosing the dates of business-cycle turning points, the committee follows standard procedures to assure continuity in the chronology. Because a recession influences the economy broadly and is not confined to one sector, the committee emphasizes economy-wide measures of economic activity. The committee views real GDP as the single best measure of aggregate economic activity. In determining whether a recession has occurred and in identifying the approximate dates of the peak and the trough, the committee therefore places considerable weight on the estimates of real GDP issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The traditional role of the committee is to maintain a monthly chronology, however, and the BEA's real GDP estimates are only available quarterly. For this reason, the committee refers to a variety of monthly indicators to determine the months of peaks and troughs.

The committee places particular emphasis on two monthly measures of activity across the entire economy: (1) personal income less transfer payments, in real terms and (2) employment. In addition, the committee refers to two indicators with coverage primarily of manufacturing and goods: (3) industrial production and (4) the volume of sales of the manufacturing and wholesale-retail sectors adjusted for price changes. The committee also looks at monthly estimates of real GDP such as those prepared by Macroeconomic Advisers (see Although these indicators are the most important measures considered by the NBER in developing its business cycle chronology, there is no fixed rule about which other measures contribute information to the process.

In addition to GDP growth, the NBER looks at four variables in making recession calls: real personal income less transfer payments; real manufacturing and wholesale-retail trade sales; industrial production; and payroll employment.

I do not necessary agree since two thirds of the economy is based on retail spending. Also remember it take 2 quarters of negative growth to indicate a recession but one quarter to say we are out. Please read the article below I wait until I see how the consumer spend over the Holidays but I would agree that by the end of 2nd quarter 2010 we should be on our way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

High Performing Teams

Improving Team Execution:
A brief statement of objectives and goals (the big rocks) and a prioritized list of tasks and activities (little rocks) are useful in tools in maintaining focus. Prepare one set for yourself and jointly prepare another with the team. Have each team member prepare a prioritized list of tasks for themselves.
Review the planned list of tasks and activities comparing them to the tasks and activities you actually are performing or have performed. Adjust your work to address the high priority tasks and activities as required.

Review the list and objectives on a regular basis (appropriate to the nature of the work). Adjust goals and objectives based on changes outside the team or by accomplishing goals or objectives (seek higher of additional goals or objectives).

I would add one more aid, repetition. Skills are developed by repeating an activity until the desired skill level is achieved. For example, improving your short game in golf is achieved through actually performing the task until it is a repeatable and sustainable skill within quality limits. This also applies to work and the development of craftsmanship.