Often organizations tout their ability to deliver projects in a repeatable, efficient manner. Although some agencies may have figured this out, it’s probably more likely that the actual process or governance in place is often ignored and a project manager will execute despite it. An efficient, successful project Manager has no issues with the execution of a project and considering but ignoring things like governance and process. Most often the organization has developed some checklist or idealized method that a typical technology project may be executed. Add on several years of execution, and you’ve got a thick layer of process obscuring what’s happening in project delivery. No one even knows what happens in a typical project because some poor unfortunate creature has been saddled with the collection of the conventional process and then quietly ignored while projects delivery in spite of it. Thus, the dreaded PMO is created. More on that later.
Two CIO articles posted within three years of one another by senior writer Sharon Florentine, reported, via business surveys, that over half of information technology projects had failed. You can find the 2013 article here and the 2016 article here. The 2013 article says that the survey respondents noted project resources as the cause and notes that the project management role has changed rapidly but that there is no shortage of project manager positions. In the 2016 article, the survey respondents indicated that failure was higher but it didn’t necessarily lack resources, it was an alignment of them. In his 2008 article stored on Project Management Institute (PMI), Vittal Anantatmula posed that knowledge management and information technology needed a bridge and I pose that business process management (BPM) satisfies this.
“…successful project completion is influenced by accumulated knowledge and individual and collective competence”
Cast a wide net around your project managers and see how many tools they might utilize during a workday to execute their project and then take a step back to see what technology you are utilizing to capture all of those executing processes. If there isn’t any integration among them, then you are undermining continuous and rapid improvement in your project organization. While Vittal pushes technology to answer the rapid execution of projects it also points us to our biggest challenge when we recognize how many systems are in play. BPM can set the foundation to support those technologies and provide the project execution playbook that provides the knowledge management component missing. Establishing consistent processes with what is executing is a challenge, but if you get the foundation set correctly, the next steps aren’t as hard.
If your organization has invested in the PMO, then you can’t drive value and continuous improvement without Business Process Management (BPM). Whether PMO stands for Project, Program, or Portfolio, there is zero value in operating any of the three without a proven, measured, and well-documented execution processes. I know what you are thinking: we don’t want to document, we want to execute! I get it, I’ve lived it. You have to channel your PMO or project resources into focusing on what brings value to your organization and in technology; that means harnessing it and delivering those projects that produce the most benefits.
How do you do that? Can you deliver a thought-out project execution process to your organization and still allow your most efficient and dynamic Project and Program leaders the space to provide value to the organization? BPM. It’s central to a project shop’s success. In the last couple years being involved in an Information Technology project centered PMO, I found that magic with the structure of a process-oriented architecture tuned explicitly to delivering projects that were related to information systems and infrastructure related elements. Providing programs and projects every day means that having a sophisticated, well-oiled methodology is critical to success! Your organization can have any myriad of fundamental structures in place to deliver an IT or IS product: like a new system that provides autonomous vehicle location information. When that radical technology changes rapidly and other similar projects are required you have zero value without a repeatable and reusable structure that is dynamic, flexible, and able to provide the process intelligence needed.
That may seem overwhelming at first, but you can take your project delivery teams to the next level by laying out the structure for your next step BPM implementation project. Think about the fundamental value that a repeatable process related to technology improvements can make and demonstrate that by showing multiple projects connected to one another that produce similar deliverables. No matter what tools are used; the final delivery of a project provides intelligence that can be harnessed for future ones; that’s why BPM matters in project delivery.
Footnote: The best book we recommend for starting your journey is The Process Improvement Handbook: A Blueprint for Managing Change and Increasing Organizational Performance. It’s one of the best books to use as a structure for your organization and we found that it could support a PMO or project organization.