Managers and stakeholders often ask me as to how good their PMO operates in. To answer this question, we released a short video on the 7 warning signs that indicate a potential compromise of the project tracking and control system.
Simplistically speaking, there are 7 warning signs and not confirmed errors. Please note that as these are just warnings, they are meant to trigger further exploration and must be taken up with the same spirit; without wanting to penalize any party in a pre-mature manner.
- Excessive Time Taken to Prepare the Report: Often times, the PMO takes a long time to collate and prepare the status report of the project. This means that there is a lot of processing of data that is occurring outside the ‘standard’ or the ‘adopted’ project management information system. In such a situation, it is likely that there are errors and ‘tweaks’ of the information that is being presented.
- Obsession of the Stakeholder on the Percentage Completion: Many stakeholders are obsessed with the concept of percentage completion. In other words, they like to represent the project information in the form of a single percentage number. In such a situation, the calculation of the single number or index, from a wide range of diverse parameters, significantly compromises the efficacy of the information. By tweaking the method of calculation, the entire project tracking and the control methodology can be heavily compromised.
- Excessive Time Spent to Understand the Report: Oftentimes, PMO reports take a long time to seep into the other functions. However, if this is a regular phenomenon, where the discussions on what the report means / data definitions are exceeds 40% of the overall time spent in the meeting, then there is definitely a problem. Because in such a case, the meeting becomes extremely ineffective and the tracking and control mechanisms also become inappropriate for the given project situation.
- Different Statuses for the Same Static Formats: Large organizations typically have PMO that define the formats for the status reports. And these formats are largely fixed over the course of the life cycle. A typical warning sign is when different status updates come for the same data date, from various stakeholders of the project. In other words, such situations often cast the shadow of doubt on whether the tracking is effectively done or not.
- Absence of 1-on-1 Pre-Meetings between the Stakeholders and the PMO: Most often, the lead stakeholders have the ‘big-round’ project review methodology where they review the entire set of statuses with the respective managers on a periodic basis. Often times, this results in political maneuvering with little benefit to the project. Pre-meetings are, therefore, mandated between the lead stakeholders and the PMO to ensure a proper alignment between the lead stakeholders and the managing teams.
- Projects Having Time or Cost Overruns: This is a lagging indicator and, often times, the projects are initially reported as hunky-dory on-time entities that suddenly start showing a creep in the schedule or the costs. This, at times, is also a failure of effective project tracking and control.
- Unrealistic Expectations of Stakeholders: The last point is on the stakeholders and their unrealistic expectations. The PMO is, at times, caught between the stakeholders and the reality and are expected to chart out a smooth plan to ensure the unrealistic targets are met! This is definitely impossible!! And these situations often result in improper project tracking and control.
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