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Here is repost of a discussion in September 2015 regarding complexity in rail transit projects and the unintended complexity that can be created by the PMO.
Projects are complex enough without project teams or the Project Management Office (PMO) adding to complexity and diverting resources to non-value added administration. If complexity is not recognized or not properly controlled and managed, PMO resources will shift management activities away from project realization. As a result, the project teams will be distracted from the project at hand and management soft costs will increase sharply.
Complexity in rail transit projects may be affected by factors such as:
• Work locations, site access, field conditions and work hours
• Work areas shared with other projects, high voltage power systems and operating trains
• Maintaining existing operations with minimal impact of core business services
• Number of work packages, contractors and subcontractors
• Regulatory requirements for project execution and for operation of the project deliverable
• Administrative requirements for oversight and auditing program
• Reporting requirements stipulated by local/federal funding sources
• Interdependencies and interfaces between work packages and with other projects
• Protective services for contractors working in an operating environment
• Outreach program to customers, communities and local officials
• Size of the Owner’s organization
• Maturity of Owner’s PMO/project management processes
There have been numerous papers written and practice standards authored on the key dimensions of projects and the monitoring of key performance indicators to assure delivery within scope, schedule, budget, safety and quality and objectives (aka 5 dimensions). In executing capital projects, PMOs often create project management strategies and models that utilize and integrate existing systems and processes within the Owner’s organization. Many organizations already have Processes, Procedures and Practices (PPP) that ensure the effective operation and management of the organization’s core business and operating projects.
Since projects are temporary, it is best practice to amplify existing organizational assets as needed to add only new elements that are necessitated for management of projects, programs or portfolios. Some of the project management elements that rely heavily on the organization are: Human Resources, Procurement/Contracting, Environmental, Communications, Quality Management, Time Management, and Cost Management.
As a result, PMOs often focus on project management organization hierarchy and governance, accountability to the Owner, and Scope Management and Integration Management while adjusting other areas for project reporting, records management, performance management, quality assurance and control, schedule management, and personnel responsibilities, authority and training. Customized PPP may be required to meet special requirements stipulated by the Owner, funding providers, and regulatory agencies.
Rail transit projects should avoid adding complexity from:
• Issuing overly detailed amplifications by PMO to existing organizational PPP
• Producing project reports/funding grant documents with inconsistent data on milestones, goals and key performance indicators
• Conducting PMO executive meetings about project reporting and oversight reviews that hinge on every word written by Subject Matter Experts while disregarding action on accurate assessments and issues
• Assigning multiple parties to track and report on the same project metrics and displaying different results
• Creating new PMO processes and procedures that already exist in the Owner’s organization
• Duplicating Logs and project data already maintained by another project participant
If not controlled and managed administrative complexity will debilitate project teams down to a continuous circle of non-value activities. Owner Executives, Program Managers, Project Managers and project staff will be in a SELF-perpetuating Question, Answer and Explanation process that erodes the effectiveness of management on complex projects.
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