For the most part, people prefer things to be simple. Simple is easier to understand and work with. When things get complicated, it can lead to frustration, inefficiency, missed opportunities or complete failure. For organizations managing many projects, complexity is basically a given but this doesn’t mean you have to be ruled by complexity. Some complexity is good (and necessary) and for the rest, you can work to simplify it, so it doesn’t take over. Here are five ways PMOs can help reduce and manage complexity in your organization.
Reducing complexity in your organization is not a one-and-done project. It should become a regular activity to review all the moving parts and determine where the complexity has gotten out of hand. If you don’t regularly review where complexity is in your organization, it will slowly creep back into your organization, so whether you review complexity every quarter, twice a year or annually, just put a date on the calendar to make sure it happens. When you are ready to take a look at where complexity is, try these five ways:
1. Outline How to Communicate
Even relatively simple projects can become complicated when communication gets messy. If important project information is shared in multiple ways, it’s easy for people to become uninformed. Suddenly people aren’t on the same page and don’t know how the project is going. To prevent this, clearly outline to teams how they should communicate. What types of information are acceptable to be shared verbally in a meeting and what needs to be in writing? Where is project information documented? Or even simply, what needs to be a meeting versus an email? When the communication pathways are understood by project teams, it keeps the big picture clear.
2. Cut Out the Fat
There are likely processes, meetings and activities in your organization that have become unnecessary. That’s okay! It’s a sign that your organization and its needs are evolving. When a process or meeting no longer serves you, let it go and replace it with something that does. When thinking of removing unnecessary processes, meetings and activities, there might be a few things that immediately come to mind. However, if you need help identifying unnecessary activities, start with the things you do on a daily and weekly basis and then consider the things you do regularly on a longer basis like monthly and quarterly. Ask yourself if these are absolutely needed or if they could be removed or adapted.
3. Talk to Your Teams
Reducing complexity isn’t just for the PMO, it’s for everyone. When considering where things can be simplified, ask project teams what they think. What parts of their job can be simplified? What parts of their job are extraneous? You won’t be able to grant them everything, but their responses will give you a good idea of complexity at other levels in your organization and where you can reduce complexity.
4. Organize into Groups
While organizing doesn’t exactly remove complexity, it does help you manage it better. Because there will always be some amount of complexity in an organization, understanding how to organize it can help protect your organization from the pitfalls of complexity. There are many ways you could apply organization to help manage complexity, but we recommend starting by grouping. You can group projects, processes, types of issues or almost anything else together. Identify your groups, what goes in them and then assign owners who manage these groups. The owners may be you or someone else, but by breaking things into groups, you can more easily keep all your ducks in a row.
5. Streamline Decision-Making
Complexity and decision-making can be a dangerous mix. Making decisions is very important for organizations and we all want to make the right choices, but complexity can cloud our judgment. Reducing the complexity in your decision-making process can have a powerfully positive impact on your organization. To reduce complexity in this area, decide what types of decisions are made at what level. For example, what decisions are project managers allowed to make and which ones are escalated up to department heads? Next, define the minimum amount of information needed to make decisions at each level and ensure no more information is added. Don’t let decision-makers get bogged down with details.
Simplify with Technology
Any organization can adopt those five tactics to reduce complexity, but for organizations looking to take it further, using the right technology can help reduce complexity quickly and easily. At Meisterplan, we understand the ways in which complexity can create obstacles which is why we developed our project portfolio and resource management tool to intentionally be lean. To see how we can help your organization cut through the noise and reduce complexity, take our self-guided product tour or start a free trial.