Increasing Value of Project Management Office

The PMO does not necessarily  manage projects, so in many organizations the PMO does not have a direct project connection or it is indirect. Hence, the value proposition for a PMO can be less tangible and more subjective. A centralized PMO makes great sense to ensure that all project managers have a core set of project management skills, common processes and templates.

The PMO also acts as the owner of the project management approach and supports project managers to utilize common project management practices, procedures and process templates. In addition, the PMO will serve as a place for providing organizational view of the status of all projects and can report on the improvements being made to project outcome over time.

Although PMOs can be established to provide a narrow or broad set of services, this list includes many of the common responsibilities a full PMO would perform.The key value of a  project management office includes:

  •     Optimizes delivery cycle time due to better insight in to delivery processes
  •     Optimizes delivery costs by pruning to non value added activities
  •     Improves quality of project deliverables in mid to long run
  •     Early identification and proactive management of project issues and risks
  •     Fosters sound project management best practices
  •     Better containment and management of project scope & risks
  •     More opportunities to leverage and reuse historical project knowledge
  •     Improves accuracy of estimates by applying standard organization baselines
  •     Better communication with clients and stakeholders
  •     Improves perceptions of your organization by your clients
  •     Improves people and resource management ensuring optimized uses of scarce resources
  •     Reduces time to get up to speed on new projects by applying client specific tailored processes

At an industry level, a PMO is increasingly being seen as an important component required to the  success of projects, and hence, major contributor to the future success of the entire organization. At a more operational level, the value provided by a PMO is indispensable.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL-F
Program & portfolio Mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy1

Obama and the Oil

It seems that after lot of media bashing & paranoid people views on the street, Obama has struck a well balanced agreement with BP.Some of his critics would may still consider President’s meeting outcome with BP as missed opportunity to extract much more than what has been spelled in the agreement yesterday, it would go a long way in getting the message that he is in control of the situation. In his speech the previous day also underlined President’s laudable goal of creating a renewable energy-based economy. Here are some of the factors that may have got subdued in all the frenzy last few weeks;

Actual Magnitude of Spill: Some of this has to do with the size of the crisis and it’s long term impact on the local people. The disaster, involving a leaking deep water oil well, has devastated a vast area of the United States marine environment, killed sea life and has a serious impact on the local fishing industry. Efforts at containing the spill were at first inconsequential but lately some progress has been made since the fitting of a cap to stem the leak tough it is not completely stopped the leak and a permanent solution may still be months away. Obviously it had a toll on the stock valuation sensing the potentially huge financial commitment BP would have to shoulder in cleaning up the environment. Currently US senate is estimating roughly $20 billion would be required from BP to safeguard and protect the environment from the aftermath of the spill. A similar accident cost EXXON roughly $7 billion and fought several lawsuits to limit the extent of the liability.

Soft President: US President Barack Obama is under tremendous pressure to live up to high American expectations to act tough on the BP oil spill. It is not only the growing anger of the American electorate that is resulting in plummeting popularity for him but constant criticism from the media too. From the beginning he has had been portrayed too soft on the company for not acting fast enough to force BP take immediate steps. Now that the oil spill story unfolds itself & it is pretty much clear that the first estimate of environmental damage is actually manifold that previously thought. It is now clearly one of the biggest environmental tragedies caused directly by human activities that we know in the recorded history of across the world. Obama now is expected to put stringent rules for BP’s accountability to pay for the damages. Constant media attention has made sure that he is seen more involved and talking much tougher than few weeks back.

Bad PR: To top it off, BP’s million dollar PR campaign to show better picture of itself didn’t help Obama either. BP has taken heat for spending millions of dollars on television ads to tout their commitment to the clean-up efforts in an effort to re-store their bruised and battered public image. Obama is now putting pressure on BP to skip paying millions in its stock dividends to commit more funds for the clean up and saving wildlife.

Govt Failure: Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, the agency that was supposed to be regulating BP, failed miserably. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. “Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations,” Obama said

American double speak: However, the twist came when UK government made a statement in BP’s favor asking to let the company take its own decision in best interests of its stockholders. Now some industry analyst asking if there was an American company involved in a similar accident outside US, would there have been same hue & cry & same govt pressure to clean up and accountability? Consider Bhopal Gas Leak decades ago where Union Carbide went scot-free without paying required compensation, environment clean up or financial liability and court cases went on well over 25 years to book the company officials.

It would help all if US govt & Obama works to shape the future safety policies for such tragedies and enforces strict adherence rather trying to please every American constituent. As a leader, Obama should keep his focus on key issues not only globally but locally as well than let just this one issue cloud the broader vision.

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter: Shammy11

Kaizen impact

Very few people may know that the famous quality improvement technique ‘Kaizen’ actually evolved and contributed from work of Americans who helped rebuild Japan post world war!Word Kaizen in English typically means simply improvement and not necessarily continuous improvement. It refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small.

Kaizen is a daily activity, purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is also a process that, if done correctly, eliminates overly hard work and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work rationally and learn to spot and eliminate waste in business processes. It has tremendous impact on the efficiency of the organization and its people in short to long term. I personally have felt this in my stints working with some of the well known Japanese conglomerates in Japan and India. The very nature of Japanese people to work at smaller improvements on daily basis leads to great results.

The beauty of Kaizen is that people at all levels of an organization can participate in Kaizen, from the CEO down to external vendors e.g. Japanese Auto giants. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. The Toyota production system is known for kaizen & probably is most efficient production system in Automobile industry leading to most cost and quality competitive.

At the foundation of Kaizen rests elements such as Team work, Personal Discipline, Improved morale, Quality circles, Suggestions for improvement.5S framework which enables Kaizen success and helps in controlling wastes (Muda) and increases productivity includes, Seiri – tidiness,  Seiton – orderliness, Seiso – cleanliness, Seiketsu – standardized clean-up, Shitsuke – discipline.

While Kaizen being hugely successful in manufacturing and industrial firms, also has had some critics who claimed that even though it works perfectly fine at the low level improvements, it does not encourage high level of creativity. However a valid viewpoint, we must remember that biggest room in the world is room for improvement and it needs to be applied both at the top for creative ideas for quantum results and Kaizen like techniques at the bottom level for the real desired impact!

Shyam Verma, PMP, ITIL
Program & portfolio mgnt professional
LinkedIn:spverma. Twitter:Shammy11

Who needs Lean Six Sigma?

There was a time when only big and large corporations could take advantage of production and process improvement methodologies e.g.Six Sigma. Initially Six Sigma was recommended only for firms larger than $1Bn. But now with Lean Six Sigma it is possible for mid size firms also be benefited. In fact Lean six sigma is better for them as it can provide a powerful combination of the Lean manufacturing approach and Six Sigma. The two concepts are not too different in their applications and goals. Lean Six Sigma works on the philosophy of increasing speed by focusing on waste reduction.The result of Lean applications is shown in the improvement of quality and on reduced processing times and costs. Combining 6 sigma with Lean manufacturing augments short-term results with the power of significant changes. The result is Lean Six Sigma. Corporations increasingly prefer implementing Lean Six Sigma. Some of the reasons can be attributed to
-Wide applicability across industries and sectors.Industries across the board have accepted and successfully implemented the seamless Lean Six Sigma tool. Interestingly Lean Six Sigma is increasingly being implemented in non-manufacturing sectors which some time ago was not considered to be right targets.
-Quicker improvements:The reason it results in faster-than-expected reduction of production time and costs. Mainly because of the application tools such as kaizen, kanban and poka yoke.
-Delivers value to end users:Implementation of Lean six sigma results in tangible and real value creation for consumers & they receive better experiences in terms of increased utility and reduced prices. It also directly improves firm’s bottom line.
-Practical to execute: LSS facilitates transformation of organizations by creating a powerful linkage between strategic priorities and improvements in operations.
-Sustainable: It is highly sustainable approach, being woven into every aspect of business, leads to the creation of sustainability from top down. Sustainability results from the quick realization of tangible benefits of implementing the program.
With Lean Six Sigma it is possible to streamline their operations and to create value for both management and customers alike.