For many business professionals, project management is often in the back of their minds. Building business and ROI are two of the top priorities for executives, while project management is generally not on their radar. Most people are unaware that not having a proper work management process in place is actually costing them money.
We spoke with Robert Kelly, PMO leader and Managing Partner of Kelly Project Solutions, LLC, about the value of project management and the impact it has on business. We also discussed ways to combat chronic low productivity, the evolution of PM technology, and what he predicts project management will look like in 2020. Read the full interview below:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a proud father to three wonderful children and a blessed husband to my wife Jasmin, for going on 12 years now. Professionally, I am an accidental project manager who continues to perfect the craft after 15 years. As the co-founder and host of #PMChat on Twitter, I am always collaborating with some of the best minds from around the world on leadership, project management, and other business topics. Lastly, I am a Managing Partner of Kelly Project Solutions, which is a consulting firm that focuses on Project Management and Communications Leadership for small and medium-sized businesses.
2. What are the top issues you face as a PMO leader?
I believe there are several challenges facing the PMO leader, which are shared across the organization:
1. Quality Talent. The productization of project management (turn-key templates, magic-bullet methodologies, etc.) have watered down the talent pool with candidates that can really speak the jargon. It makes it difficult for general recruiters to truly find a solid project leader.
2. Investment. Too many PMOs are still viewed as a cost center, rather than a source of revenue. Regardless of your business, project management is a Service. Your project management has significantly more touchpoints with your customer (especially external) than sales or an internal executive. Research from Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) shows an engaged sales model (albeit managed IT services) has 15:1 touchpoint, compared to sales. Retention revenue and CSAT all drive up double digits, with sales cycles and customer acquisition costs driving down drastically. Companies must invest in the training of the project managers, client facing tools, and travel budgets to build the relationships. This applies to internal facing PMOs as well.
3. Identity Crisis. PMOs have long faced the challenge of choosing to be a resource pool or a governance body, and that has only become more challenging with the growth of “shadow IT.” PMOs must get clear direction from the CIO or this will continue to be a major challenge in 2016.
3. As a PMO thought leader, do you think it's imperative that companies embrace standard PM methodologies? Why?
With caution and a focus on “-ies”, I would say yes. If you look across Lean Six Sigma, traditional stage gate, Agile, MS Dynamics Implementation, etc., you will be able to develop a toolkit of core processes and tools that are customized to fit your business and the common project types you deliver. With that said, keep the variations to a minimum because a core benefit of project management includes scalable, repeatable process that can be learned and implemented quickly across the organization. When there is a common methodology, associated lexicon project managers, team members, and partners can be brought up to speed quickly. Lessons learned and measurements can be baselined and compared for an environment of continuous improvement.
4. How can poor project management affect business?
At the risk of sounding dramatic, your business can crumble as a result of poor project management. Poor requirements can result in a horrible product brought to market… affecting brand equity for years! If you are in a heavily regulated environment, then lack of process documentation could set you back years in penalties, loss of licenses, etc. If you consider the day-to-day, without solid project management, organizations typically see duplicate efforts, poor resource utilization, wasted dollars on change requests, wasted time on lack/poor communication, and so on.
"Your business can crumble as a result of poor project management"
5. How is technology changing project management and the way people perceive it?
Technology is providing project managers with tremendous tools to improve collaboration, planning, and efficiency on their projects. A single platform to plan, communicate, track budgets and time saves hours each week! For the PMO, many PPM platforms are allowing management to better track/plan resource utilization, view dashboards on project status and issues, etc. These PPM tools allow management to get out of the way of the project teams with status questions and allow them to DO the work.
6. What are 3 tips you would give someone who struggles with productivity at work?
1. Finish your day with some organization time. Review the day: do you owe anyone anything before you leave? Consider tomorrow: what does the calendar look like? What are my key action items do over the next 24-48 hours? This will reduce the "gotchas" that creep in during the day and gets you mentally prepared for the next day.
2. Leverage reminders. Regardless of whether or not you have a sophisticated project platform, almost every email platform has reminders. Set dates and times, with reminders to pop-up when things are due.
3. Get away. In today’s world of open cubicles, sometimes you just need to book a conference room for 30 minutes to catch up and stay focused and uninterrupted behind closed doors.
7. How do you think project management will change (or stay the same) in 2020?
I think it will go one of two ways. If we don’t get away from the turn-key checklist approach, then PM will become a life skill that any employee within a department will leverage. As more and more technology is shifted to self-serve, cloud automation becomes an even greater risk. I know, someone has to develop the self-serve platform… just like large hosting farms only require a few engineers, those platforms won’t require as many PMs.
The other way this could go is that we PM professionals get past the project charter and process to develop leadership and business skills. If we can bring more value to the table, as a profession/discipline, then we will begin to handle more business-aligned, strategic initiatives. When we start bringing more business value, then we will be tied more closely to the CIO and CEO of the organization.
8. What's a big new trend that you see coming that people aren't paying enough attention to?
PMO as a Service. Organizations have long leveraged the PM consultant, because there often isn’t enough activity to fund a full-time employee. Unfortunately, the churn associated with new consultants and getting them up to speed eats into the project benefits a company is hoping to receive. In today’s society, people only want to pay for what they consume, but they also want personalization. A PMO as a Service model accomplishes that. An organization can tap into this PMOaaS when they need it and the Service Provider can re-assign the same PM or be required to ‘onboard’ them for readiness. The company doesn’t have to spend money on certifications, level of PM, licenses for PPM software, etc. We have seen a lot of interest in this model.
How has a successful project management process impacted your business?
Share your before and after story in the comments. We hope everyone can learn from one another.
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Bio: Robert Kelly has been managing projects and project teams for 15 years. His project teams and results have spanned 40+ countries and a diverse portfolio of projects; including sales, marketing, and IT initiatives across a number of industries. Robert is a Managing Partner at KPS, a project management consultancy in Raleigh, NC. He is also the Co-Founder and Host of #PMChat, a global community of project managers and business leaders that discuss best practices and lessons learned via Twitter. Follow him on Twitter @rkelly976