IT Project Portfolio/PMO Audit – IT Project Portfolio/PMO Audit – How well are you doing at what matters the most? - Stoneseed
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IT Project Portfolio/PMO Audit – How well are you doing at what matters the most?

Open envelope with 'Audit' written on followed by some Project text

How often do you take a step aside to see how best to step forward?

I met a friend for coffee this week who was really pumped up having completed something called The Goal Achievement Programme at work, a process for individuals and teams to equip themselves with mindset tools to achieve their goals.

Of the 15 video modules that the course was built around, my friend was really buzzed about something called the ‘Life Audit’. In the video, the founder of i2i Michael Finnigan encourages you to identify 5 key pillars in your life and give them a score out of ten, which you then add together and double to effectively get a percentage measure of how you’re performing in each of your life’s most important areas.

After this, you are challenged to create a list of things you could do to improve the score in each of the areas. For instance, if you said health and fitness was important, you might identify that taking a thirty-minute walk might be a good thing to do. You also create a spider diagram to see how this action could also benefit the other areas of your life, so, if you’d also selected friends as important to you, you could take your walk with your friends.

Then, you are encouraged to plot how often you will commit to doing the action, you could take your walk with your friends, three times a week, for instance. Think of how powerful this simple activity could be, across a year this one repeated action would create 156 improvements in two key areas of your life!

My friend’s enthusiasm for the course he’d done was infectious and it got me thinking – how useful would a system like this be for checking in on and improving performance in the key areas of IT Project delivery? Your PMO? Your whole project portfolio?

To be honest, at Stoneseed, we do similar exercises when carrying out PMO assessments for clients but the simplicity of this model and the percentage-like score, providing a base level upon which to improve, really caught my imagination. I asked my friend if, having done The Goal Achievement Programme, he thought it could be applied to his projects. It clearly caught his imagination too, because within an hour he had emailed his ‘Project Portfolio Life Audit’.

Project Portfolio Life Audit

The five areas selected for analysis by my friend were:

1 – Project Planning & Initiation (7)

2 – Project Scope and Baseline (6)

3 – Communications/Metric Based Real-Time Reporting (5)

4 – Change Management & Control (7)

5 – Delivery/Project Closure (7)

The number in brackets is the score out of ten using Finnigan’s system, doubling this we can say that, against five key measures, this project team is running at 64%. Room for improvement!  

Project Planning & Initiation

My friend identified that Project Managers were over-complicating the planning and initiation phase. Rather than simply identifying and documenting the project’s scope, timeframe, and budget, they were adding in bits, the “nice-to-haves”. They identified a need to super-focus on the business need or change that was required, they committed to literally say this out loud at the start of each planning meeting and check every task against the initially agreed need – preventing anything else from creeping into this crucial project phase.

Project Scope And Baseline

Another key phase of the project is what my friend’s team calls the project scope and baseline phase. This is where the project’s scope, time, and costs are really nailed to the mast. Except, sometimes, they’re not and changes have been known to be made without adherence to another of the team’s key procedures (change management and control)  – meaning that project scope, budgets, and timeframes can veer off course with disastrous results.

Communications & Metric Based Real-Time Reporting

Taking a snapshot of where your project is, with relevant metric-driven data is so important for keeping it on track. This is an unarguable fact. Often though, this team would fail to either gather this data or communicate it in a meaningful way so that it can be acted upon.

The result of this is PMs merrily delivering projects that are leaking value, like filling up for a long car journey but not checking you’ve put the petrol cap back! Moving forward, metric-driven reporting is to be the responsibility of one team member, whereas previously it has been picked up on an ad hoc basis with no accountability.

Change Management & Control

Whilst the baseline scope should mostly be considered sacrosanct, it’s not impossible that a stakeholder request, for a change could add real value. My friend’s team has change management and control protocols, but they’re not always followed to the letter these days, in the heat and hurry of delivering a project. A scope adjustment usually affects delivery time, and/or budgets, and the protocols ensure that everyone is kept in the loop so that there are no arguments or stakeholder complaints.

They used to be really on it, but in these more reactive, post-pandemic times the change control procedures have sometimes been overlooked. As my friend puts it, “The procedures were the comms that oiled the wheels ensured that stakeholders weren’t surprised that the two weeks extra work they requested delayed the project by two weeks and added an extra fortnight’s worth of costs.”

Delivery/Project Closure

Another casualty of the more reactive nature of projects for this team is the rituals around delivery and project closure, some of which have been neglected. My friend says, “Remote working means we’re missing that end-of-season trip to the pub to either celebrate or lick our wounds.

We’ve realised how important for our mental health this is!” Most other procedures around closure are being adhered to, they are still collating lessons learned and ‘knowledge banking’ them for the future, there’s still a stakeholder signing off, and there is still the analysis of project delivered versus original business need and ROI, but the ‘softer elements’, the popping of a champagne cork or a night at the Indian restaurant to mark project closure, are being missed.

Teams everywhere are delivering projects and then jumping on another that is often already behind schedule, my friend’s team has acknowledged the importance of taking a moment’s pause and celebrating a job well done, even if that means cracking open the beers over Zoom!

You may have five similar pillars that are key to your ‘project life’, or other areas may be of greater importance to you. Taking an audit of what matters and how you’re performing in those areas is a really valuable activity and as my friend showed doesn’t have to take long to carry out – this initial audit was done in an hour!

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve carried out an audit of your key areas and what discoveries you uncovered.

Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service can help you bridge any gaps with Project Management and Technical Professionals, delivering services through a flexible, on-demand resourcing model, from strategy to service delivery.

All Stoneseed's PMaaS services including Project Managers, Business Analysts, and PMO experts are available onsite or remote. In fact, we are experts in Remote Access Project Management, offering rapid response resources.

You can align resources as and when you need them, on a cost-effective, full-time, or part-time basis, call 01623 723910 or email info@stoneseed.co.uk to find out more.

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Sources And Credits

GAP online | i2i (i2ihq.com)

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