How Do PMO’s Identify and Manage Benefits?

PMO’s have a tough job of figuring out how to identify and manage benefits on programs and projects.  A program is a set of related projects, managed in a coordinated fashion. The added cost of the program or project management office (PMO) is expected to be offset by the benefits of someone coordinating all the day-to-day project information flying around; cost, schedules and risks. In addition, the PMO has a more strategic reason for its existence; keeping a discussion of benefits alive.

OK, let’s define benefits? Simply put, why does the project exist? How does it help the organization?

Identifying and managing those benefits is a primary role of a PMO!

Benefits can be either:

* Quantitative; Examples include revenue gains, cost reductions or market share increases or metrics related to mission or business objectives
* Qualitative; Examples include customer satisfaction, market perceptions.

So what is quick ways to do quantitative alignment where business objectives are clear? I was working a new contract and needed to write some business cases. The business cases were due yesterday.  Without a lot of time to research, I quickly found the division strategic goals and mapped the features of the projects to those strategic goals. It helped me visually frame whether these projects should be important. How? I checked for density; lots of check marks meant they were aligned with divisional goals.  This quick and easy method allowed me to ensure that as a contractor, I wasn’t just following orders but I was allowing an organization to move towards improving their business.

What’s another quick way to do qualitative alignment with the business? Getting stakeholder support. In other cases where strategic goals don’t exist or there is stakeholder conflict, it is more important to align the projects with stakeholder buy-in. I was thrown in as a software release manager last year and was provided a messy, incomplete feature release; each of these would become a project. I cleaned it up and asked for input on what was important. Since the stakeholders were a wee bit hostile, I did this all face-to-face and quickly assessed what was important, sold it to management. The users were smart and experienced. Therefore I knew that their intuitive, gut-level support of the projects was intuitively the best way they knew to improve their organizational efficiency.

Which way is best; neither. You work with what you got when under severe timelines. But we always seek to deliver the right set of project and product solutions that allow organizations to best meet their needs. Another words, this is how projects delivery real benefits to the business.

Copyright 2009 PM Perspectives LLC


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