wtorek, 3 czerwca 2008

Projects scoring system in PMO

Many of Project Management Office (PMO) realize number of projects in parallel and quite often it raises the resources conflict. That is mostly about people, but it includes also hardware, budgets and the others. Companies fix these conflicts (or not) in different way...

Independent project teams
Very good solution is to organize the whole company basing on project or product teams focused fully on realizing dedicated project/product road-map. The organization structure is quite simple and there is no management conflicts like two managers claiming that particular task/person's work is her/his duty. That approach allows also to assign 100% time of particular person to the one and one thing only, what is base assumption for most Agile methodologies. This allows people also to specialize deeply and company may benefit from it in low "introduction cost" when new project starts.

The drawback of this solution is limited possiblity of resources load balancing. You do not have "universal soldiers", which you can use at various projects and you must accept situations, when particular people have "lazy time" in particular project phases - eg. during stabilization phases developers are not allowed to add new functionalities, testers does not have much to do when developers prepare the first prototype, analysts turn on usually at the beginning and at the end of projects etc. These situations causes that number of companies have dedicated managers/leaders positions, which focus on managing resources in parrarel with project managers...

Renting services from specialized teams
In this approach the project manager (PM), when he starts the projects asks internal team leaders (eg. one for analysts, developers and testers) how much time will cost them to do particular job (eg. analysis, development, testing). PM has also free choice, if he wants to use internal or external resources - it put team leaders in competetive position to the market possibilities. PM has usually a choice, if he wants to supervise personally the resources (smaller projects, times&material) or move part of the responsibilities to subteams leaders (bigger projects, fixed price). That follows Prince2 guidelines and its 3 or 4 level organization.

The drawback of this solution is that PMs compete for resources, what raises number of conflicts. How to define, which projects are more important?

On the surface the answer seems to be simple... Where the purse with possible profits is the biggest!!! :D

Unfortunatelly the devil is details! and it starts from tricky simple questions... What is the probability of gaining money? When we will see them? Are the money the most important? Most of companies have quite high, informal political factor eg. we must do the project X, even when we have small profit from him, but we win in this way very important sector of the market... and similar and so on... Do you know it? If you have PMO, I bet you do ;)

Prioritizing projects
I know that is a horrible thing to write, but... I thought about this, during summer weekend when my skin were becoming brown ;) and then I have reminded myself about Kerzner book "Advanced Project Management", which shows number of real stories like the one above. Quite quickly I have found Drawing 7.8 "Scoring model for one project". The simples solutions are the best, so instead of explaining the whole solution I have prepared the simpler version of the matrix... where each 5 key managers taking a part in steering comitee meetings got 5*[number of projects], which they could spend at any projects as they wanted as far as no more than 10 points are spent for one. When scoring, each person must describe the key factor, which has been used to assign points. Of course the director voice is stronger than managers, so there is also wages system, which is always specific for the company as well as group of people doing the excerise. Generally the whole mechanism is quite simple...
In pratice, you need to do it couple of times until the importance are fitting the company specific and they are satisfactory for the whole commitee. The main target of it is to provide the guidelines for the whole company, when more than one person is engaged in setting the real company's strategy. Of course the whole excercise must be redone once per some time, depending on how often the strategy changes and new projects appear or existing are finished.
And one tip at the end... Take the fat book with yourself, when you introduce the system like the one. When I put the Kerzner (3kg of wisdom) on the table, everybody have been more interested in it, than in the prioritizing concept. It allowed me to go smoothly through the acceptance chain of pain :D

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