Friday, October 05, 2012

Role of Program Management Office

Recently a Fortune-500 company started a new product development of a new software that will manage multiple data storage system and data management system run on a cloud. This was a multi-year endeavor. Developing the final product will require several software development projects, product integration and testing. The product will be developed by multiple teams working in many countries.

From a product development perspective, One of the major challenges here is project management. Managing a complex development and keeping everything on schedule is a huge task. In order to ensure successful development of the new product, Product managers will have to rely on Program Management Office(PMO), to oversee all the associated projects and present the overall program status to product management and top executives.

As product managers, it is important to know the role of PMO and the value it provides. In this article, I will describe the role of PMO in new product development.

Program Management Office

Developing complex products involves multiple projects. These projects have several interdependencies. The top management cannot dive into each project and understand the project operations, instead a Program management office is created as an intermediary between various project managers and top management to help top management make the right decisions.

The PMO is created with certain objectives:

1. Provide Business stake holders a complete dashboard on the status of each program.
2. Resolve & manage all inter-project dependencies.
3. Plan all project deliverables that are directly linked to strategic objectives
4. Prioritize and optimize the entire project portfolio
5. Ensure that all projects are handled in a repeatable & predictable process  i.e., establish standard process, methods,  tools and procedures to manage all projects
6. Communicate the program/project status across the business
7. Build & mentor project management capabilities
8. Own, Create and Manage project delivery infrastructure.

To deliver on these objectives, PMO is empowered to do the following:

1. Create PMO Process & Governance for all programs & projects
2. Develop standard tools, process, procedures & templates for all programs & projects
3. Maintain Chart of Authority
4. Create & review project benefits & value scoring mechanisms
5. Review Project opportunities
6. Communicate program & project goals
7. Prioritize and provide approval to projects
8. Review business cases for new projects
9. Manage project budgets
10. Approve or deny projects based on business case
11. Conduct check-gate reviews for each project with gate staging process
12. Approve & Coordinate inter-project communication.
13. Create & manage Change Control boards for each project
14. Review post project completion analysis
To ensure smooth project delivery, project managers who oversee individual projects have certain roles & responsibilities:

1. Identify Projects
2. Define benefits or values of the project
3. Gather supporting data and assumptions
4. Review business case alignment with project
5. Create project charter
6. Initiate detailed project planning
7. Monitor project progress & project resources
8. Communicate project status to PMO
9. Create & execute Change control boards
10. Close projects

PMO reports to the business management or product managers. The business management or product managers now have the visibility to the overall program status and can take appropriate decisions regarding budgeting, resourcing, staffing, Go/No-Go decisions etc. in a timely manner such that the project schedules are not impacted.

Value of PMO

PMO provides a very valuable role in business. PMO ensures that all projects are aligned with the strategic objective. PMO ensures that all assumptions made in the business cases are validated and appropriate decisions are made during the development stage in a timely manner. The benefits of PMO:

1. Empowers the business to make Go/Kill/Fix/Hold decisions on projects/programs
2. Provides an early warning of any potential problems in projects/programs
3. Provides all relevant project/program information to stake holders
4. Gives a better understanding of resource utilization, ensures right staff is deployed on the right projects
5. Helps stakeholders understand the financial impacts of an under performing project.
6. Optimizes resource utilization - by moving resources quickly based on accurate real-time information.
7. Helps board level executives to take better & faster decisions based on real time data.

Closing Thoughts

Identifying market opportunities and creating new products that exploit market opportunities can be a daunting task. Organizations can become bogged down with several projects and projects may get mis-aligned with the strategic objectives. Program Management Office is required to ensure that all the ongoing projects are aligned with the strategic objectives and empowers top management to take the decisions in a timely manner.

PMO plays a very important role is creating a repeatable & successful product development process, identifies project deficiencies and helps take the quick decisions as a team. This helps in a big way to make successful product development a repeatable process.

1 comment:

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