[00:00:00.000] - Narrator
It's hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with PMO and project management leaders who through years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Jhansi Vijayarajan uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:00:29.920] - Jhansi
Welcome all to the second episode of Great Practices Podcast. I'm Super Super excited to be part of The PMO Leader. Between myself and Chris Kopp we will be leading the host duties of Great Practices where each one of us is going to cover the new episode about every month or So.
[00:00:48.740] - Jhansi
So what's Great Practice is all about every way of doing things laid back into project management or more in doing things differently. That seems workable and tangible, that provides concrete success, and that's probably you have seen enough to be able to see Great Practices.
[00:01:09.640] - Jhansi
The podcast is all about engaging the audience by talking with PMO practitioners and PMO experts while I'm uncovering the framework, processes, skills and techniques, and tricks of the trade, which makes the job easier.
In this episode. Mike Frenette from Nova Scotia is going talk on Building a PMO from ground up and how to create meaningful dashboards. We are sure that you will enjoy the session as we speak about Great Practices
If you got a great practice that you want to share, so why wait?
[00:01:56.670] - Jhansi
And Here's what you need to do. Go to The PMO Leader.com and click on Community. Click on Great Practices Podcasts and Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will find a form ready to be filled. So either me or Chris will reach out with you. So we look forward to hearing from you and as well,
You can Subscribe to listening to future and the past episodes. Just remember, you can be a member of thepmoleader.com with absolutely no cost. We are also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
[00:02:43.080] - Jhansi
Let's speak with Mike to share his view on PMO dashboard and how PMO helps to drive the strategy. Mike, we appreciate you, our guest speaker, and thanks for accepting the invite, and we are glad that you are here. Like you want to tell us what you were at, what you do?
[00:03:08.900] - Mike
Sure. I run the project management office for a utility in halifax, Nova Scotia in canada, and I built the PMO from the ground up along with the help of a lot of talented individuals.
[00:03:25.710] - Jhansi
Awesome. So from your perspective, what's your definition of a PMO?
[00:03:33.490] - Mike
Yeah. So as most people probably know, there is no one single definition of a PMO. It's one of those terms that has been bandied about for a couple of decades now, and it ends up being whatever a person wants it to be. And that could range from an organization that set standards for managing projects to an organization that set standards for managing portfolios programs and projects, to maybe even an organization that houses all of the staff who execute projects, all of the project managers, the business analyst, even the technical people.
[00:04:14.760] - Mike
So it goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. The project management office I'm now managing is the letter one that I mentioned. Everyone who is executing projects for information technology and Halifax Water reports through the pmo, and the PMO sets the standard as well, and deals with the executives delivering a portfolio of programs and projects that probably has about 55 projects that will do over a five to 7 year period. I have created other project management offices in the past, one for a consulting firm, and it was essentially a collection of tools, best practices templates, which we also have with the current PMO that I manage.
[00:05:03.260] - Mike
But it is a rather small part of the PMO and comparison that sounds interesting.
[00:05:11.270] - Jhansi
So you didn't say about setting up standards and also delivering projects and maintaining the Port for so can you talk about more about how does the method choose? How do you arrive at creating these?
[00:05:33.560] - Mike
Sure. So it's really important to start with a solid Foundation. And I would expect that most people are familiar with Project Management Institute and the project management body of knowledge, along with all the discipline, agile methods and so on that have come out recently. Pmi has been around for many, many years now. I think it was 967 they were created if I have my year. Right. And there are many, many methods for managing projects that are useful in their body of knowledge. I started with that for our PMO at Halifax water, but you can't just take methods, tools and processes from the inbox and expect that to work in any organization.
[00:06:23.510] - Mike
You have to take the culture and the processes of the organization related to many aspects of portfolio programming. Project management that may not be in the pin back or may need more specifics in order for it to work. So essentially, we took the PMI methodologies, and we interleaved that with Halifax Water methods and processes to come up with a set of methods. We place that into something we call the Ppm repository, which is probably not a very user friendly name for those of us who are not into project management, but it's a pictorial representation of the overall, it's actually a wheel that has 10 slices in it, and the legend on the right correlates with each slice.
[00:07:22.920] - Mike
So you may have slice. One is the project initiation slice. Five might be chartering the project. Six might be planning the project. 10 might be closing the project. So when you click on any segment or pie slice in the wheel, you end up at a sub screen that tells you why you're doing this. Who should be doing it? And so on. And supplies processes, tools, and templates, along with samples that are very specific to that segment of the PP repository wheel. In addition to that, there's a checklist that project managers can use that contains a list of triggers.
[00:08:11.160] - Mike
So when a certain thing happens in a project, Here's where you should go in the Ppm repository, Here's what you should be doing and so on. So those two things layout, processes, tools, templates, and samples, along with explanations of whatever everything is all about. For project managers, this Ppm repository was created with the participation of many of the project managers who are hired into the PML. And we purposefully looked for very experienced project managers. Most of them are credentialed with PMP designation, but it's the experience that matters.
[00:08:57.200] - Mike
It's great if they have the pmp, because then they're all speaking the same terms. But deep experience and a record of success is what matters. And that's how we populated the staff in the pmo, along with other positions like I mentioned earlier. So that's essentially what we did there with the Ppm repository. That was one of the first projects to go, of course, and everybody bought into it. Everybody uses it. And this is how we run our projects. Along with that, we defined a place where people should store information about their projects.
[00:09:41.470] - Mike
So it's like the old project notebook, a place that's specific to the project. And everything about the project is stored there, and it's web based. In our case, we use SharePoint. You could use anything you wanted to to do that. But the idea is that if you wanted to know.
[00:10:00.000] - Mike
What the project charter for a project, you know, exactly to go where to go to find it. If you want to know what the schedule was for the project, you know right where to go to find that. And in addition to that, we used Ms project server. We set up a project server and shortly migrating to project online. Project plans are loaded there, which provides a lot of opportunity for integration between projects, which I'll talk about a little bit later in another topic. So that's where we went that set the PMO up for success in terms of method to processes, templates and so on.
[00:10:39.870] - Jhansi
Sounds interesting. Michael. So you did mention about method tools and processes what's out there we book, but you also looked at how to interleave them with respect to cultural it processes that works best for handset.
[00:10:58.220] - Mike
Yeah. Very important to do that. An example of that is funding process. Every organization will have a different funding process. And in the case of Halifax water, it has to do with capital budgeting approval by a regulatory agency, approval by the general manager, that the funds which were approved by the regulatory agency can now be spent and associating that with a project budget, so that you've got a basis for scope management, change control, and so on. So that's one example of interleaving the culture of an organization and the processes of an organization with PMI processes.
[00:11:42.420] - Jhansi
So I'm just thinking, actually start building PMO. We look at having the right set of talents by hiring experience PM experts who comes with experiences. So trying to understand more around it. What is the criteria that you would look at excellence around these hiring?
[00:12:11.550] - Mike
Well, it's really around track record. People need to have managed projects successfully. They need to have five years of experience, at least managing projects. And this is what we were looking for. We put out a request for proposal. We hired in quite a number of consultants. We hired Bas and pms, and the technical people we hired as we needed them. We set up questions for the interview to basically check experiences. We got references as well. And we looked for people who were pmps. But we did interview a few who are not pmps, who just showed stellar performance when it comes to being successful in their projects.
[00:13:02.880] - Mike
So it's very important know what it is you need and to hire an interview to that, which is what we did. So I'm very pleased with the team of people that we had. It makes things a lot easier. I should say a team of people that we have because this PMO is still in progress or about three years into the five year plan, which is soon to become a seven or eight year plan or roadmap, as we call it.
[00:13:31.340] - Jhansi
So I'm to understand a bit more around. Can you actually tell us more about a PMO roadmap or when you push to build them. Now, can you talk a bit around the portfolio, how it is being managed?
[00:13:47.120] - Mike
Yeah. Well, first of all, Let's talk about how the portfolio was created in the first place. It's really important to get the business involved in creating a portfolio of projects. A lot of it shops are thrashing around. They're reactive, they're solving problems. They have a squeaky wheel syndrome where someone who yells the Louis gets the attention and get the resources. And that's not a good situation to be in. Far better to take a strategic approach, to work with the executive of the organization and say, okay, what is your strategy?
[00:14:26.060] - Mike
How can it help you realize your strategy? Now, Let's look at each business unit in the organization and come up with programs and projects that will be tied tightly to the strategy. And that's exactly what we did at Helix Water. We brought all of the executives together into facilitated sessions. This went on for a number of months, probably six or eight months, and a strategic plan for it was created. And a roadmap of programs and projects which created. So if you could picture a Gantt chart and on the Gantt chart, rather than having tasks for our project plan, what you have are projects within programs and programs.
[00:15:08.160] - Mike
With any portfolio, a number of portfolio is all related to the business. That was the road map. It was worth about $50 million over five years. So for us, that's a fair size. I realized we're not a huge organization. For some, that might be one project, but for us, it was a lot of projects. And the fact that it aligned strategically with what was required by the organization is what I think has given us quite a bit of success over the last three years and continuous engagement of the executive, many of whom are on steering committees, and all of whom are on something we call the Information Technology Strategic Planning Committee.
[00:15:57.500] - Mike
And we meet once a month to review portfolio progress, which is another topic we'll talk about.
[00:16:05.960] - Jhansi
Suddenly, it's a great topic to talk on statistic planning, and one created for it a counter that you created. So are you a person who likes more on reporting or you like dashboard? What is this type of reporting or the dashboard? That executive? I do a lot.
[00:16:35.090] - Mike
Yeah, it's like anything you use the best tool for the job. I'm a big fan of dashboards, but we do have some reports that go out. For example, if you need a report of who charge what time to a work order, you're not going to put that on a dashboard. So if someone needs that, you make it available. Maybe it's an emailed report. Maybe it's a series of reports they're posted somewhere. And we do have reports, but nobody prints them. They exist on describes or on SharePoint sites, and they're usually in a place where everybody can see them.
[00:17:16.160] - Mike
So no one prints those things out. So I just wanted to define what I mean by a report. But largely our stuff is mostly electronic, and it's mostly created as a result of running the project. Or at least the information in the dashboard is easily added by the project manager because that's the way they manage their project. So we have something we call the project dashboard. And every month I remind the executive team that the dashboard is there and that it is now up to date.
[00:17:56.220] - Mike
While we do status reporting and updating the dashboard every two weeks, we just remind the executives about it once a month. And there are key performance indicators in there, along with some tombstone data. For example, the name of the project, the date it started, the date it's expected to be finished, the budget of the project, how much of the budget has already been spent at a little graph of that so that you don't have to read numbers to figure out where you are. You can see a little thermometer of the money being spent beside the name of the project and a lot of key performance indicators that are red, yellow or green, hopefully mostly yellow and green, not red.
[00:18:37.590] - Mike
But we do have red indicators now and again, which is the purpose of managing a project and the purpose of having a pmo, that if something requires attention, if something is in trouble, the best thing you can do is let everybody know about that. Red indicators are on our dashboard, and it's not seen as a problem. It's seen as a communication that's necessary. So that's basically the dashboard, but it's a linked dashboard. For example, if you click on the project name, you get to a page that tells you about the project, who's on the team.
[00:19:19.730] - Mike
If you want to see the project site where everything is stored about the project, you can click on a link there in that project description. If you want to see the latest status report for the project, you can click on a link in there. And yes, it goes to a report, but it's not one that's printed, and it correlates with all of the key performance indicators. So if there's something that's red in the dashboard, it'll be red and the status report, along with an explanation of why it's red.
[00:19:48.200] - Mike
So a lot of people will click on the status report when they see an indicator that's not green to find out why it's not green. So these reports are there. They underlie everything along with all the information about projects. So two pieces to the dashboard, active projects on the top and projects that are upcoming on the bottom. So all of the portfolio of programs and projects exist in the dashboard and relate to the roadmap directly.
[00:20:22.780] - Jhansi
So we talked about reports and dashboards covers we manage and what are the key can wear indicators. So how do you really see reports and dashboard as a whole? Our team works on board on that dashboard. You get high visibility. Just like producing more dashboards are by working on more holes.
[00:20:46.730] - Mike
Well, the main entry into the visibility of progress of projects and programs in the portfolio is the dashboard, but it's basically one page. So all of the information that we wish to display it at high level in the dashboard is there. The updated information on the details of the project is there by clicking on the links getting into the project sites. That's also high visibility, but it's only high visibility once you click on it. So it's a drill down type of feature. So everything about the project is highly visible.
[00:21:23.390] - Mike
All the documents produced, any reports deliverables risk. We've got risk logs, issue logs, decision logs, we have requirements matrices in the project site, and so on. So anything that you need to know about the project is there on the project site. And once again, it's not highly visible immediately, but as soon as you click on it, you can find it. There is a library and folder structure that you might need to be a little bit aware of in order to easily find things. Although I must say we are moving to to moving away from library folders and into lists with sorting and filtering capability and document types and information types.
[00:22:16.640] - Mike
And that sort of thing, which makes it a little easier to find what you need to find in the project site.
[00:22:22.300] - Jhansi
I really like the way you build a PMO and getting the visibility from inside management. That's been a key factor, especially when you're building PMO out resources. You did mention about how a hiring needs to be done, how effectively, how would you really relate? Managing resources dependencies. And can you tell us more about it?
[00:22:55.910] - Mike
Sure. So we use Project Server. So we have everyone on all of the projects in an enterprise resource pool. That enterprise resource pool is where the project schedules using Ms project draw their resources. Because we're a relatively small shop with some very specific talents, there are a lot of shared resources. Plus, our project manager generally manage more than one project. Business analysts are on more than one project, and so on. Technical resources are all shared. So every two weeks we actually look in Project center, and we use the graphing capability of Project center, which will tell us, given groups of certain resources, for example, business analysts, how they're deployed.
[00:23:50.870] - Mike
The thing that we pay the most attention to is when they're over allocated, of course. So each project manager allocates resources in their project schedule, and then they load it to Project Center. This puts it into Project centers. Project dashboard, where we can see a list of all projects in play, and then we can click on the resourcing function and see whatever group of resources we want to in a graphical format that clearly shows where resource or that's over allocated. What that person's project assignments are all of the project managers are in this meeting at that time.
[00:24:34.220] - Mike
So if we see that a particular project, it requires more of a certain resource, then the discussion can be had at that time of how solid is the resource allocation and the project? Is there some leeway. Can we do some moving out at some tasks to a later a week or month to allow some slack for that resource to work on a project that requires the resource on critical tasks and so on. So those sort of resource dependencies come to light when you're dealing with projects that are in a portfolio and you're using shared resources.
[00:25:18.220] - Mike
Of course, you can also have task dependencies. We don't generally have a lot of those. Usually it's a resource dependency. But of course, with Project server, it just happens to be the tool we're using. I'm not pushing Project Server here. Ms project, whatever tool you need for your pmo, what you should use, and often that's what your organization happens to have. So we happen to have Ms project and we installed as Project Server just for the Pm. So you can have inter task dependencies where the tasks are in multiple projects, or you can have resource dependencies where that is all brought together because of the use of the enterprise resource.
[00:26:02.680] - Mike
So that's how we use Project Server in a nutshell.
[00:26:09.000] - Jhansi
So to make we don't touch upon on a lot of different topics, talked about how FEMA's been built with multiple projects, managing the portfolio. We talked about the strategic roadmap, and also in terms of how dashboard has been important. As I actually listen back to a conversation, there are a couple of great practices that I'm actually going to take away from this. So what I actually can understand is the importance of executive management, especially while you're building a PMO. And it's also important that you have the right talent hiding the talented staff and the consultants, and also having the frequent connections with executives and the management.
[00:26:58.400] - Jhansi
And it's also really, really important that there is a visibility, high visibility on projects, and the KPIs and progress are reported into their dashboards.
[00:27:09.900] - Mike
Yes, those are some of the points that are important when setting up a project management office. In the end, you have to know how to measure success. This is something I didn't really touch much on, but it's not about the project deliverables. It's about the outcome of the projects. It's about meeting the business objectives and realize in the business benefits that you define upfront when you're doing your strategic roadmap. If you don't realize the benefits, then you've achieved nothing. You must realize the benefits and part of what we do, because benefits are often achieved after a project and sometimes years after is we nominate a benefits owner so that benefits are tracked and realized, or if they're not realized, then everybody knows about it.
[00:28:08.710] - Mike
And everybody knows that's coming up. So defining the benefits, defining the benefits owner, and tracking them after the end of the project. Really important. One other measure of success is what your executive team has to say about the project management office. And I always remember one quote. I use this a lot from the general manager who was reviewing a project management plan. Or perhaps it was a project Charter. He was quite impressed with the way the document was put together. And this is the quote that I like to iterate many times, he said.
[00:28:47.600] - Mike
I have not seen such a well written document. I would not change a single letter. And I think that's a testament to the care that the team put into the quality of their work.
[00:29:05.070] - Jhansi
That's amazing. That's a great, great work.
[00:29:09.680] - Mike
Yeah. Very proud of that.
[00:29:11.550] - Jhansi
Yeah. In it. Yes. I cannot deny anymore. It was a well said, the way how PM has been built. Like we started the conversation. Yes. The way things make it easier for you. What makes the great practices? I think you said it well, and I believe that this pod can really help not just the method, set, tools and process. It's all about how you to rate what works for your organization matters a loss. And that's how you make any more successful.
[00:29:50.600] - Mike
That an alignment with the business strategy. Through the executive team. You can manage a project using all the tools and templates you want and do a fantastic job of it. But if you haven't aligned with the strategy organization.
[00:30:06.420] - Jhansi
It'S all for not ability is they were doubled. And that's one of the suggestions yet. I would actually take this as a take away from this conversation. But, mike, that was a great talk. I really enjoy talking to you, and we appreciate mine for being on the show. So once again, and if you want to be our guest, please go to their PMO Leader Com. Click on Community. Click on their PMO Leader Podcast. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to pull out the form to let us know what you're interested.
[00:30:41.590] - Jhansi
To com to bring the change via Catalyst. Until then, gently signing off, have a great rest of the month. Thank you.
[00:30:49.900] - Mike
[00:30:51.270] - Jhansi