Welcome, everybody, to our first episode of Great Practices podcast. I'm excited to be launching this official podcast of the PMO leader and serving as one of its hosts. Between myself and Jhansi Vijayarajan, we will be splitting the host duties of Great Practices, with each one of us coming out with a new episode about every month or so.
What is the Great Practices podcast all about? Well, I think back to a conversation I overheard with my nephew a number of years ago. He was probably six or seven years old, and someone asked him a question...What's your favorite movie? He says, "I don't know. I haven't seen them all yet". And I thought that was pretty profound. When I reflect back on that I kind of think about that's the same thing with best practices.
If you say that something is Best, I guess it goes under the assumption that you've seen everything. That you've seen every practice, every way of doing something as a relates to PMOs or Project Management. And that's probably not the case. But what you probably have seen is enough to be able to say when something is a Great Practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Talking with PMO and project management practitioners, who just through years of trial and error, years and years of doing the job, have discovered maybe a process or a framework, a template, a productivity tool, a tips and tricks, something that helps them make their job easier, and then sharing this with you.
Now our first episode today, for example, is with Joe Sisto, who's the PMO, Director of Randstadt North America. And it's going to be talking about why reports are so prolific and what's better than reports? How can we get rid of reports that are no longer valuable and just taking up space. And I'm sure that you'll enjoy this conversation as we kick off this Great Practice.
And, you know, if you have a Great Practice that you want to share, and you want to be a guest on the show, could be anything related to PMOs, scope, creep, shifting priorities, how to escalate issues, management, delivering bad news, executive communication, the list goes on and on anything related to running a PMO. We'd love to hear from you. Anything that you've developed a Great Practice around, we'd love to get you on as a guest on the show and talk to you a little bit further about that.
If that's you, you can go to thepmoleader.com, Click on Community, and then click on Great Practices podcast, you'll scroll down to the bottom of that page, and there's a form that's just ready to be filled out. And then either Jhansi or myself will get back with you about being a guest. So we look forward to hearing from you on that.
And, also that's where you can listen to past episodes once we start getting past episodes. And you want to be able to subscribe to the podcast as well so you don't miss a single Great Practice. So, with no further ado, let's get into our first episode with Joe Sisto PMO director for Randstadt as he discusses his view of reports, something that he's found there's much better, dare we say a Great Practice when it comes to providing information.
All right, well, we have Joe Sisto on today, and this is our inaugural episode. So first of all, Joe, we just really appreciate you having the guts to jump on episode number one and Great Practices. And we're very glad that you're here. So Joe, you want to tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Sure, Chris, I'm the Director of PMO for Randstadt North America, and we are a fairly large company here in North America. I believe we're 5 billion in size in many, many 1000s of employees and temp workers. We are in the temporary and full time staffing and services business and the second largest in the world with over 68,000 people daily being staffed. And we have offices all around the world actually now in all around the US. My responsibilities are for the North American PMO, which covers well over 500 offices in the United States. We have an IT shop here. And we're a projectized PMO. We handle a small, medium and large projects as a service organization, our lines of business, which include about nine lines of business, and that also includes monster.com, which you may be familiar as the online service.
Yeah, sure. That's been around for a number of years, hasn't it? No doubt about that. So Joe, let me ask you this, what is your definition of a PMO? And you briefly touched on it about how it's set up at your company. But, you know, there's all different definitions of what a PMO is, how would you define a PMO?
First of all, a PMO is a higher level of a project-based organization, which means you work on and support, things that need to be projectized. The definition of that is things that have a start and end and build a product or service that continues in the organization. That's a pretty generic definition. But we support a portfolio of those things in support of the business in business operations. And we make sure quarterly that we're aligned to business needs by doing dashboards and reports, to show what work we're doing and how we're delivering it for their needs.
That is our topic for today. Right? Reports. That's my first question to you is, is have you ever used a report before?
Oh, my gosh, yes. I've been working with reports for an embarrassingly long time. And I won't say the date, I started working with reports. But when I started working, we used to backup our reports on these things, 60 to 50, BV DPI, which would be mounted on tape drives on IBM machines. And this goes back to the 80s. Yeah, very, very long time when reports are on track to feed paper, and we have devices called decollators and bursters, which would high volume print reports into giant baskets, buckets and boxes for people.
All right. I would say you're an expert on reports, then. What are you seeing seen over the years when it comes to either generating these reports consuming reports, you know, especially as relates to to a PMO, and a project management office?
Enterprise software, Chris has become so good at what it does, which is tracking, and then I'm speaking enterprise software like Oracle, PeopleSoft. JD Edwards, SAP tools have been so good at making report generation easy for people. Yeah. Now we, you know, we are consistently producing hundreds and hundreds in the many hundreds, even 1000s of reports per application. Because it's just so easy to make them. Right. And over the years, people keep creating reports for unique business needs. The problem is they never die. They live like ever until you try to kill them. Right. Another problem with that, if I may add is that we have now an information overload mode, most people are not really reading these things anymore.
Now, you had mentioned something about that earlier. How do we know if people aren't reading these reports?
A good question. Chris. We have usage statistics that we run an Oracle that tells us who's using them and when it was the last use and when those queries were run. And they're pretty accurate. They're actually very accurate. And we now report those back to the business going well, we've run a usage report for the last 12 months in the last 24 months. Now, some reports only run once a year, because I recognize that we have auditor things in tax things that have to get done. So, we now have a catch all that says after 24 months if the reports never been touched, it's on the list for deletion. And we review that.
Yeah. Yeah. And I guess it's a probably a staggering high percentage, right?
Yeah, we've had some applications were 40% of the reports haven't been touched. And we've gone to great lengths to clean that up. And to get the number of reports generated to a smaller number.
It seems like part of the problem, what I'm hearing you say is it's so easy to generate reports that we get information overload, right. And then once they've been generated, it ends up being that they do take a life of their own and they're, they're hard to make go away. That's what it sounds like.
Yeah, just take up space. You know, back in the old days, if you wanted to write a report, in the very old days, you had to know somebody, a computer programmer, then they got easier and they made it so you could write your own SQL statement with little assistance, you know, dragging and dropping statements. Now all reports are drag and drop, click and configure. It's become tremendously easier.
Yeah. You know, I guess it's a two edged sword, right. I mean, it is good. If you do need it that you can, you can make it easier. But it does, it does get a little bit overwhelming. Now, let's say say that there is, let's say there is some value in some reports, you know, that are being generated, and certainly there is going to be, what are your suggestions? What Great Practices have you come across that you can make them actionable?
Okay, so this is actually a long list answer. So I'm going to may spend a few minutes on this one Sure. To make them more actionable. When you're creating them, try to really not do the report and make it a dashboard. So that you're either not printing more paper or using more computer cycles to do that. A lot of times configurable dashboards using tools like Tableau, or Power BI, and there's a lot of them is much preferable and users like that.
Recently, I did a telephony system implementation, which had 105 out of the box reports in this application, who was using telephone, when who's overusing it, how many long distance calls and how much money was spent by group department and individual. In reality, what we really needed is just who was exceeding a certain threshold, it who was abusing it, and then who was making all kinds of calls, it made their sales quarters that we decided to make into a dashboard.
Rather than run all the reports of what everybody was using all the time, for a division that had over 200 offices, which was enormous numbers of reports that moved to dashboards would be my first suggestion. And a lot of people are doing that.
But I suggest doing that as part of the development cycle. Don't create reports, First, create dashboards that executives really use for executive decision making, and people use for decision making. And try not to set up all the default reports, when you're doing an upgrade really be judicious, it's easy to turn everything on. But it's better to turn everything off at first.
I suggest doing an annual audit of reports and applications. And if you're not doing an annual audit, here's, here's one way to tie it into a good behavior. Last year, I spent upgrading nine different PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications in our company, when you do the upgrade to a new version of Oracle or a new version of the application, that's a good time to do an audit. That's a good time to say let's spend a week or two going through everything that's that is going to be part of this upgrade and just see if it's still worth being part of the upgrade or converting over. And that's usually just a few simple review meetings with the business to see if these things are still clickable, and turning them off.
If they're no one else you get on your list. I call it maybe the word is called triage. If you have existing reports, some you can't turn off because they're mandatory or regulatory, that you have to report on. Employees are this, how many employees are that here, here are copies here forms that have to be turned in? Here's data that we have to keep regarding certain people.
And there's a lot of mandatory reports. And in the last year, Chris, they've even increased the number of mandatory reports because of regulation. For example, in California, we now have to do reporting on employees who receive training, because there's a new law in California that says everybody that receives training must be logged to documented and they must be paid for that. So we now have to audit that make sure is any part of onboarding training that has to be a paid experience. And it turns out New York follow that. So now the biggest two states in the country are following that. And so that has to be turned on.
And you have to very aware of those and keep those alive forever. So you need to sort those out the ones that are important and mandatory regulatory, and those are growing, and those that are optional comment, everything else is optional. You really need it for business operations. And some things you do like trial balances, and audit trails that you need to keep for accounts payable and receivable that need to get the need to get printed out.
Make sure reports have owners and when owners change. Ask the new owner do you really want this because some do and some don't. And some have already come from other organizations that need that different kinds of reporting. And what we're finding is when new people come in, a lot of them don't want those reports. They really want some dashboards, metrics and dashboards, metrics and dashboards. And the metrics that are in the old standard reports don't cut it anymore. There's a lot of new metrics that people are looking at today. And you can run with most applications Usage reports. So not just the fact that they haven't touched it, but how often are they looking at it? Or consumed reports be combined? It's all pretty standard. But I think maybe there's a good best practices cookbook for all this somebody published someday.
Yeah, no, I mean, that's great, that's a great list to go down there. You know, as far as just really, it's just being report conscious. But it sounds like I mean, it sounds like you're very deliberate. Right? So you got you got an annual review, or when you upgrade into a new system. I mean, that's timing right there. I like that idea about the the triage piece. I mean, you're going to have these regulatory reports, not an option, you know, those, those are mandatory, so that's fine. So you kind of set those, you're not going to touch those. But I think that's, you know, the rest of it, it's up for is certainly up for discussion.
And you are right, people leave the company, if there's been, you know, maybe a lot of effort that went into putting a report together for a particular, you know, executive or vice president or somebody and they're no longer there, and nobody even needs that report anymore. Right. But unless you if you unless you have that audit process, I think it can definitely go on go on living forever.
Let me me ask you this, then you've mentioned this a number of times, it was actually the first thing on your list there about dashboards, you know, this seems to obviously be a great direction to be going here. What's the minimal amount of information of what's and what do you absolutely have to be have on every dashboard? What would you say the minimum amount of information is there?
Well, that's, that's a tough question, Chris. Let me try to think in the most generic of terms, you need performance, statistics, and representation of what's happening currently, you need a trend analysis of what happened in the past. Usually, for most lines of business, or most teams, there's three or four key performance indicators. And they fall into just a few general categories. Chris, so I like to call them productivity indicators. You know, what are the key productivity indicators?
The second, what are the cost trackers that you're accounting for? And similarly, what are your resource trackers? How are your resources performing? Or what resources and it could be any kind of resources? By the way, I've done some pretty interesting things over the past few years. And I'll give you a couple of examples. I've worked in JIRA, which is an agile tracking tool. And I've seen some teams track their utilization of the resources, how many stories are working on daily and weekly basis.
And then I've worked in another company a few years ago, that was doing resource tracking on how many MBPs how much memory, and so forth was being used by Google services, so they can control their costs on a daily and weekly basis. So we're running query expenses. So that's a great and, you know, set of cost indicators that we have to watch very closely. And another is resource indicators, but they're both basically resources, dollars, and people costs. And I'm noticing this now as a pattern in dashboards everywhere I go. And the same thing with the basic, you know, how am I doing this week versus last week or last period?
I want to go back to what you said earlier. So, you were basically you were saying, you know, productivity, cost trackers, resources, that type of thing. But what was the first thing you said? You said performance statistic trends? Can you go back to that for a second?
Yeah. So basic. How much did we sell? How much did we sell versus prior time period? How much did we increase or decrease? Or did we stay the same? And the more visual, this is, the better, right? Colors, use arrows, use indicators, use graphs and charts everywhere you can and find the tools that help you build that really, really quickly.
So what I'm finding is most companies have two or three of these tools everywhere from various I call it very simple, like Tableau, which is basically an Excel based, right. And there's other tools similar that where you can import your worksheets and work from there and build a sophisticated tool. And then you get to a certain level of sophistication, you have to move to the next level of tool, you know, for those kind of reports. So those are some of those things like Power BI other similar tools. I'm not married to those, but I use quite a few.
Now, but I think you're I think you're right, it's like, you know, just directional is a big deal. You know, it's like up or down, which direction are we going in? Are we going in the right way? I just think always to when I think of, you know, what, what do people want to know, it's always a little bit about where we've been and more about where we're going. And then certainly what's in the way. Also, you know, there's any obstacles in the way. So if any of that kind of information, can be can be included in that, I think that would certainly be helpful as well.
You know who's really good at this is retailers. So I've worked at a couple of retailers here in the Atlanta, Georgia area. And I've noticed both do something incredibly well. And that's the timeliness of reports. So both retailers, whether one retailer, sells Home Improvement stuff, and the other retailer sells clothing and other items. I've worked at both and literally the next morning, I could see flash reports about how many shirts sold, how many polo shirts sold in one department, right? Whether it's increasing hourly, daily, etc, right? These would be like right away. And they trended by day by week by month and by Season.
And the other retailer has also done a phenomenal job. I would know next morning, how many kitchen counters were sold, how many faucets in department, and the department has would see this not as a written report but flashed to their computer. And if there was any even slight blip, that would be the big discussion of the day. So timeliness, super timely.
I remember literally three years ago, all of a sudden, we noticed white countertops were selling like crazy. People were buying white, and I had no idea. And of course, in September I read in some magazine, white is the new trend and no kitchen. Like I didn't know that right? We saw that.
I worked for another retailer here in Atlanta A few years ago, where we were tracking sales of milkshakes that were being sold every day. Literally daily sales of milkshakes in the Atlanta area. I think that was five counties, we were selling 11,000 milkshakes a day in July. And then all of a sudden, it started spiking up, you could literally track milkshake sales by temperature. So they were another company that was just great at following that and putting dashboards up. And we started to do those dashboards, oddly enough, because of a business problem, we were running out of product. We couldn't sell, we were running out of milk, and we were running out of flavoring. And the restaurant owners were going to Kroger to buy more to make more. We didn't realize sales were jumping up so quickly.
That dashboard basically allowed you to get ahead of that business problem.
It would help us predict shortages. And then we tied it into supply chain to automatically reorder certain products once we saw sales going up, you know, beyond a certain percentage. That's excellent, but very, very helpful stuff. They really save money or make money much more than reports do. Reports are just not responsive enough to serve the business.
It sounds like you clearly are a dashboard fan, which makes perfect sense.
I really am. Yeah, I hate to admit, but I do know, there's always a place for reports.
How do you kill a report then? Do you quit doing that? Or do you tell people you're gonna quit doing it?
That's such a philosophical question. You know, I've thought if I have an evil Joe here, it would be I'll just kill the report and see what who complains. Other people have thought that thought. But I do run them by the business to get their approval. Sometimes it takes some cajoling. Especially if they were written a long time ago, people are hesitant to kill something, especially old sales reports that really nobody's reading anymore. The other way is to convince people to archive them to disk, right instantly archive and then access them through some other method if needed. So that's, that's another way to kill them.
And to me, that is step one, but it still doesn't kill them, kill them because you're eating up resource cycles in this, which, by the way, Chris are also very expensive today. If you've ever had to buy storage today, I think you'll be shocked at how expensive it is. You know, even though the cost per terabyte has dropped the number of terabytes that you need now to run an organization is dramatically increased. So you really don't want to save these things.
It sounds like your Great Practice there would be you know if you're going to get rid of report run it by the owners, run it by the business, make sure you've done your due diligence and your homework. Maybe it's a matter of combining it or take them to a dashboard.
There's some companies that have said, and I know two or three here, Atlanta that have said, we're going to charge you. And we're going to implement software now that every report you generate, you're going to get, you're gonna get charged for it, even if it's 15 cents. A lot of them are shocked when they get a $42,000 a month bill, right for the reports. I'm not a big fan of that, that leads to a lot of enemies. And, but I know several companies here that have done that, to try to reduce expenses by pushing back all of that resource costs back to the departments. It didn't have one way to do it. And believe me, it happens fast. But I believe partnering with the business more than anything.
Yep, sounds like a much better approach. All right, well, I'll tell you what, you have covered a lot of ground here, we definitely appreciate your insights. And sounds like you've used a report or two in your day. So, I definitely do appreciate you coming on our first episode. And I'm sure this is going to be the first of first of many, that will be coming up. So Joe, if anybody wants to connect with you, they want to talk about reports more what's what's a good way to what's a good way to get in touch with you?
I am on LinkedIn, and I really put my phone number in there rarely people do that. Also in LinkedIn is my address and my company address, so that can be found on LinkedIn.
Okay. All right. Excellent. So all right. Again, Joe, thank you very much for being the first guest. And I'm sure we'll talk to you again.
As I listened back over the conversation, there was a couple of Great Practices, I'm taking away from this. First of all, Joe's certainly not a big fan of reports, right kind of moving away from reports, there is going to be a place for reports, they're never going to totally go away. But his number one thing was moved to dashboards, right? When it comes to working with reports. So if you are working with reports, and you have to continue with that, a couple of other good points you brought out. Do an annual audit on the reports that you're using, or at the time that you upgrade to a new system. That's the time to reevaluate what reports you need. And other this was a key point as well, is instead of starting with them all turned on, and then turning off eventually what you don't need, start with them all turned off, and then eventually go ahead and turn on the ones that you do need. So that way, you're just not getting lost in all that over that overwhelming information.
Make sure reports have owners and run usage reports I thought that was also very telling to run a usage report see. Is anybody even care about their report, if not, go ahead and kill it. But as Joe mentioned, he loves dashboards. So when it comes to dashboards, I thought a couple of Great Practices were the fact that what should be on a dashboard, you're going to have performance statistics, you're going to have some form of something that reflects to the current state that that project or that program is in some trend lines of where the project or program has come in the past. And, of course, there's always going to be these KPIs as a relates to productivity, cost, some type of resource tracker, these are really going to be the bare minimum of what you're going to want to have on a dashboard.
And finally, how do you stop reporting? Tell the person that you're going to stop that report, just don't just don't pull that report off the shelf and make it disappear. But a great practice is let that group, let that department let that person know that that report is no longer going to be there. And maybe you're going to move it over to a dashboard at that point.
So great information, great conversation. And again, we appreciate Joe being on the show.
So, if you are interested in being a guest again, you can go to the PMO leader comm click on community and then you're going to see the PMO leader podcast you can go down and there's a forum there to fill out and let us know what you're interested in talking about and we'd love to have you as a guest on our next show!