Run a virtual PMO with resource management software

We are implementing our resource management software for the IT department of a major UK based food processor. Although they have less than 50 staff, their projects are at multiple locations across the country, so much travelling is required. Projects are managed along matrix lines, with project managers preparing plans and requesting resources from a number of team leaders. The scale does not warrant a dedicated Project Management Office, but, of course, its disciplines must be applied if project commitments are to be consistently met.

The Director of IT achieves this by running a virtual PMO. Regular meetings of the project managers and team leaders are convened, where progress on each project is reviewed, and issues, including resource conflicts, are addressed. By keeping project performance and team utilization targets with those at the sharp end, there is no ducking responsibility. ‘Oh, the PMO will sort that out’ is not an option.

A virtual PMO has a distinct advantage in a volatile multi-project environment, where new projects and changes can arrive unexpectedly. There is no intermediary between project and resource managers when resolving resource conflicts, so resolution is speeded up and the risk of delay minimized.

The picture is further complicated by the need to balance project progress with ongoing Business As Usual commitments. Team leaders must ensure that sufficient resource remains available to keep the lights on and ensure that ongoing SLAs can be honoured. As individual projects struggle, the pressure to divert BAU resource will mount. Team Leaders need a strong will to resist.

By supplying the key plays with the information that they need, Innate resource management software helps to control this heady mix. Combining the resource demand profiles from committed projects with the BAU estimates highlights periods of skills bottlenecks or underuse. As new projects arrive, project change occurs, or a project deviates from plan, the resourcing impact can immediately be seen.

A new project can be positioned in time to avoid unmanageable bottlenecks, so that commitments to the client will be achievable. Where the new project has top priority, ‘What If…’ scenarios show the effect of delaying lower priority work, so that the required resource can be freed up in a controlled manner.

These are decisions for the managers who are responsible for the portfolio of projects and BAU work. Innate’s resource management software enables the virtual PMO to keep on top of this volatility and ensure that client commitments are consistently met.

Barry Muir is a Director of Innate Management Systems Ltd. We have been implementing resource management software in a wide variety of professional services organizations for more than 20 years.
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