Let's make it clear: world of projects is wrong. A serious and painful mistake has been made for so long. Most of PMOs assume that every project must be executed if it has strategic value and there are financial resources available. Oh dear!
To prove my point I going to use a simple example. I like to use simple examples during my classes.
Let's assume you are are always hungry and ready for food. That you also enjoy good food and you are kind a glutton. One day, with the wallet full of money, you visit your favorite restaurant and realize that you cannot choose one from your five (5) favorite dishes. At that moment you decide: "I have the money and that is all what I want. I am going to buy them and eat them all."
At this point you are probably say: what the hell? The only thing I will achieve at the end of the day is an indigestion and probably a lot of wasted food.
This situation reminds me all the time the portfolios of some companies I work with. Many of those portfolios include 15, 20, 30 and even 50 mega projects. Some even have more than 1500 components in their portfolios. It could sound interesting, it could sound like a real challenge for a leader. But the sad truth is that most companies suffer from what I call the "glutton syndrome".
The origin of the problem
Usually, the problem starts with "you can buy everything with the right amount of money" mentality. This vision relies on the current economic paradigm (neoliberal and capitalist model) that strives for return on investment maximization. If a company has capital and many good challenges ahead, the company should without hesitation execute many exciting projects.
In theory, it sounds good. But, I'm a consultant so… it depends. It depends on the context where company and the project reside. Again, we need an example: let's talk about IT projects.
We are all the same people
Although it is not an exclusive problem of IT companies or divisions, I need to close the context to make the point. Many project managers, program directors and even more strategic roles within the EPMO insist on this: projects are ruled by the iron triangle - also known as Triple Constraint - so the following logic is incontrovertible:
You can see it clear: First scope, then a plan or schedule and finally a budget.
Again theoretically, it looks simple and correct. Even under a capacity problem, you can always outsource - right?. However, this logic has several assumptions that could be wrong. I can write a complete article on each of them, but this time, let's talk about the problem related to money and people.
Most of project managers assume that if there is money then you can get or hire the right people. IT and many other industries are a different story. There is a lack of IT talent WORLDWIDE. There is no available talent out there. There is no enough good people to work in IT areas.
You can't just go out to hire the people you need. There will be always a deep and strong dependency between the people you need in your project and those who manage and work in IT operations. For example, here in Colombia - where I'm from - there are already companies that monopolize the market and work hard to retain the best people.
It does not mean high a salary only. These companies offer beautiful offices with avant-garde designs, really nice locations surrounded by shops, restaurants or even bars. Some other companies perform simple activities such as onsite trainings, others just anti-stress activities like yoga and meditation. However, there are others that go further and make special after-work activities like BBQs or even have their own vacation plans for their employees.
But these examples are from those capturing the market. On the other side we have the other 99% of the market. Companies that cannot compete in this perks' madness. So, if that is the true about the people, why we still have PMOs saying yes to every IT project? Even with the money, companies struggle with strategy execution. Outsourcing companies suffer the same but worst, since the "competitive advantage" (if any) is based on lower rates. Can you compete with India or Venezuela? Are you willing to pay less but to expect higher quality?
Projects compete for people's time. We (people from projects and PMOs) do not like to accept it, but having the money to execute the projects does not mean that we have the ability to execute it.
What PMOs can do?
First and most important: be honest. Many times having performance metrics for projects, not including operation metrics is an EpicFail.
It is mandatory that you, as PMO, show the impact and relation between projects performance and the operation. You cannot just ask for "written commitments" while operation is struggling or when operational demand is in rise. You have to be able to find the relation and give the C-Level the information to prioritize properly.
Any impact on the operational load will affect the performance of the projects. Isolated indicators will only show that projects suffer or are delayed. It will be a perspective issue. If operation requires an additional effort from the one was expected, the more we need to understand and replan the portfolio execution. Find and understand this link is key to PMO success.
Problem is not new. There are many ways to try to solve this problem. There are new IT management models for example like ITIL v4 and Scaled Agile Framework SAFe. There are concepts on how to organice the companies and divisions to support the "people oriented" not "money oriented" projects/operation - for example concept of Value Streams try to match money flow and teams - please forget me if it was just a super-over-simplification of the VS concept.
The idea is that you are not alone. Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
Más allá de las banderas que representa cada una de estas organizaciones, este trabajo es un primer gran paso en la consolidación de un ejercicio profesional más completo y actual.
La dirección de proyectos, vista más allá de la perspectiva de planificación anticipada (plan driven), y la agilidad más allá de los procesos y los métodos. Es un verdadero Gana-Gana para todos y acerca la agilidad a la cotidianidad de millones de líderes, coordinadores, gerentes, gestores o directores. Es lo que llamaría la democratización de la Agilidad, más allá de un marco de referencia, es una nueva mentalidad y la aceptación del valor "humano" y las relaciones entre los individuos y su impacto en la gestión de los proyectos.
Lejos de ser un documento perfecto, es el comienzo de un intenso y productivo debate sobre la dirección de proyectos y la aceptación de un mundo más "incierto" que requiere adaptación.
Los invito a todos a estar muy pendientes de su lanzamiento.
Hace algunos días fue liberado el Reporte sobre el Estado de Scrum. Este es el tercer reporte realizado por Scrum Alliance® y contiene alguna información muy interesante sobre la agilidad y la implementación de Scrum en las organizaciones.
El reporte, que es la consolidación de mas de dos mil respuestas, incluye entre sus conclusiones lo siguiente:
El reporte tiene mucha información muy valiosa e interesante para quienes disfrutamos de estos temas. Es clara la tendencia y marca un camino sobre el futuro de Scrum en las organizaciones.
No obstante es importante considerar lo siguiente (y acá esta mi opinión personal).
Interesante el reporte y más interesante son las conclusiones que uno podría sacar cruzando este informe con otros informes como State of Agile de VersionOne® y el Pulso de la Profesión de PMI®.