Published here September, 2009.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Gems from Part I - Setting the Stage and Part II - Strategic Planning
Gems from Part III - The PMO in Detail | Gems from Part IV - Implementing a PMO
 Downside | Summary

Gems from Part I - Setting the Stage
and Part II - Strategic Planning

Part I - Setting the Stage

"There is far more time spent on reviewing project budgets and focusing on cost aspects than there is on decreasing the cycle time of a project. We claim this is incorrect. A project is created to bring benefit to an organization [and] the benefit is not realized at all until some major milestone of the project or the entire project is complete. The faster the project is completed, the sooner the company realizes the benefit. ... In many projects we have examined, using resources inefficiently to complete the project would have delivered more benefit than a focus on efficiency or project budget would deliver."[2]

While we agree with this in principle, we have seen companies that (a) don't know how much their projects are costing and (b) have no means of determining the benefits being returned.

Citing a well-known production company, the authors observed:

"Upon understanding the problems caused by too many projects, the executive cut the number of projects in half. By having fewer active projects, they were able to complete more projects per year. This is sometimes counter-intuitive. To complete more projects, you must decrease the number of active projects. It is like watching logs floating downstream, coming to a narrow spot. If there are too many logs, they will jam and sit there in the same spot all day without assistance. However, if you put the logs through so that they all are no wider than the narrowest spot, the flow is much faster."[3]

Me thinks one of the authors must have worked for a logging company! Interestingly, the same can be true of crowding a project with too many people!

On the subject of supply and marketing sides within a PMO [Supply side is defined as that part of the organization responsible for support and delivery, while the marketing side is responsible for provision of sufficient services to generate ongoing funding for the organization:[4]

"A PMO that has been established on the supply side of the organization over time may fail to bring enough focus onto the market side. A PMO that does not have significant marketing and sales skills within the PMO is fated to lose executive interest when the organization loses revenues or market share."[5]

Part II - Strategic Planning

On inappropriate metrics:

"For cost centers that produce or provide products or services, we often encounter metrics such as "performance to budget" or "efficiencies". For example, in a manufacturing environment, parts produced per hour per work center is a common measurement. In a consulting firm, utilization of the consultant's hours is a common measurement. These types of efficiency measurements are often in conflict with achieving flow (getting the right products out to customers). This places the operations function in direct and constant conflict with sales, engineering and finance."[6]

In chapter 8, the authors focus on corporate strategic planning and introduce their "4x4 Approach". Essentially, this is an eight-day executive management workshop in which the first four days establish a "deep understanding" of the organization's "supply chain". As they observe: "Strategy should promote team play, tying the functional areas together like players in a football game. Sometimes having one area operate inefficiently leads to the best results for the team."[7] The second four days is directed towards establishing a detailed strategic plan as a project, i.e. "before the end of the session, there is a project plan to implement the strategy with specific commitments from each participant to time frames and sequence of implementation."[8]

What We Liked  What We Liked

2. Ibid, p6-7
3. Ibid, p12
4. Ibid, p10
5. Ibid, p26
6. Ibid, p95
7. Ibid, p121
8. Ibid, p122
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