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PMO Lab: Driving Executive Business Decisions

In the final session from the PMO Lab, we’re looking at metrics and measures that ultimately help to drive executive and business decisions. The PMO’s objective as a function which enables decision-making encompasses many areas. It could be the physical mechanisms that would allow decisions to be made, for example, producing reports, updating dashboards and so on. It can mean helping to create an environment where decisions and approvals can flow – the governance side. Even the more behavioural side of decision-making and ensuring staff are well-trained in communications, influence and negotiation.

We also cover the final two sessions which looked at PPM tools and the PMO business case benefits.

First up, business decisions and the lab rats concentrated on the PMO as a portfolio management office and how it can help drive executive business decisions. No other reason, other than they can!

Let’s see what they undercovered: They discuss the PMO not just helping to drive executive decision-making but also being a gatekeeper of strategy executions.

That means they are looking at the assurance and coherence side of the strategies that have been set by senior management are being implemented.

The top three takeaways from the session included:

One. Decision or Awareness

Do executives need to be made aware of something or do they need to make a decision on something? Sometimes awareness is enough for the senior manager/s. The PMO needs to ensure that the distinction is evident in the information provided.

The PMO also needs to be aware that they can help drive decision-making both up and down in the organisation. To understand that driving decision downwards is sometimes more valuable than always driving something upwards.

Two: Insight Over Numbers

What has become increasingly clear over the years is the need to give more insights on what the numbers are saying. But the PMO loves numbers and there is nothing wrong with numbers, but it is the case that senior execs like the insights more.

Three: Less is More

Less is also definitely more – with one example being shared from the group that they have a report that consists of just two headings – hot topics and successes.

The thing here is the PMO has to have the numbers to hand and to have the analysis behind the insights. Just because you have the numbers, you don’t need to flaunt it!


We’re also covering off the last two sessions here too — one about PPM tools and another about demonstrating benefits in the PMO business case. KPIs, Metrics and MeasuresHere’s what the PPM tool guys turned up:

One: There are loads of metrics available in the tools

So the trick here is to think harder about what the specific problems or challenges might be in the organisation and what the stakeholders are looking for you to improve and focus on those metrics.

Two: What the tools aren’t doing

The team felt that there isn’t enough metrics or data on return in investments and also the tools don’t necessarily enable trend analysis on those metrics over time – to allow for patterns to emerge for example

Three: Data analytics are giving us something to explore further

In particular, the data analytics around language patterns in how people are writing user stories and using that to find defects in requirements – a simple discussion which piqued the interest of the group. With more time, who knows what would emerge from the collective experiences of the group. [Why not come along to Project:Hack if you’re interested in the subject]

And finally, demonstrating benefits in the PMO business case.

Here’s what came out of that session.

KPIs, Metrics and MeasuresOne: PMOs don’t have a business case

Although best practice such as P3O and AIPMO include the view that a business case should be written for the implementation of a PMO, our PMO lab teams here found that all their PMOs were established based on the concept willingness to pay. In other words, there isn’t a business case, just someone in the organisation recognising it would be a good idea to have one.

That means what the PMO is set up to do is bounded by the expectations of that person in the organisation (the sponsor) who initially recognised the need for it.

PMOs in this type of scenario usually start with some kind of charter and some bounded services rather than starting with a business case.

Two: Evolution is based on reputation

With the willingness-to-pay PMO, the evolution of that PMO will be based on our reputation and with the influence, we have with that sponsor. That reputation gets significantly enhanced when the PMO can solve that sponsor’s problems.

Three: The business case use

It was found that a business case does tend to get used when it comes to (a) the purchase of a new tool and (b) where there is a significant extension of the services being offered by the PMO.

Make sure you take a look at the [Inside PMO Report: KPIs, Metrics and Measures] KPIs, Metrics and Measures    

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