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How to Increase Business Agility with a Lean PMO

Published by Karoline Holicky

January 6th, 2021

in Project Portfolio Management

For most if not all of us, 2020 was a challenging year. With all of the unexpected changes that came this year, many companies focused on simply surviving. Imagine if your business had been agile enough to not just survive but to even thrive in a year like 2020. What if you could have anticipated the changes this year brought? What if you quickly adapted your plan and strategy allowing your company to accelerate despite a difficult year? What if you had been ready?

At Meisterplan, many of our customers were able to do just that – thrive even in a year as bad as 2020. We’re going to share some of the secrets of how they were able to increase business agility and ensure the success of their companies.

A Lean PMO Is Key

We have seen over and over again how Lean PMOs (Project Management Office) help our customers focus on the right priorities and create the agility and flexibility needed to adapt plans quickly. In fact, we’ve found that many organizations around the world are looking for experienced PMO managers and teams to build PMOs within their organization, and not just any type of PMO, but a lightweight or Lean PMO. As one of the top-ranked universities in the country (and a Meisterplan customer) put it, “To ensure strong acceptance, we wanted to make the process much less onerous. By building a Lean PMO, we have been able to get rapid adoption and deliver results much more quickly.”

Before we go into detail about how a Lean PMO can help your business become more agile, let’s briefly talk about what a PMO is and what we mean by a Lean PMO. If you want more information about PMOs, I highly recommend that you check out our PMO blog series that starts with “What Is a PMO?”.

The goal of a PMO is to bring the company’s strategy to life in the most productive and effective way. A PMO maintains a clear overview of all current work and projects and ensures that current and future projects are aligned with strategy. Another way to articulate the goal of a PMO is to make sure the right work is being done as efficiently as possible to accelerate the business.

If you don’t have a PMO in your company, it may seem like a daunting task to add a new department, but that is where a Lean PMO comes in. A Lean PMO can accomplish the goals of a PMO with a lot less effort. That means that building a Lean PMO will enable your company to become more agile by focusing on the work that moves your business forward, while only requiring a minimal amount of effort to do so.

Benefits of a Lean PMO

There are multiple ways having a Lean PMO will help your organization. The benefits include:

  • Increased transparency of current, planned and proposed initiatives
  • Prioritization of projects even when key resources are needed by multiple areas of the company
  • Project prioritization that is aligned with strategy
  • Alignment within the organization – decisions are communicated and understood across the business
  • Increased ability to anticipate and adapt to changing circumstances
  • Minimal disruptions to the method and tools teams use to get work done
  • Accelerated growth of the company by building the right plans and getting the right work accomplished

How To Build a Lean PMO

So now the question is: how does an organization introduce a Lean PMO? It really boils down to building a lightweight or Lean PPMTM (project portfolio management) process and having a Lean PPMTM tool that supports that process.

Lean PPMTM is a process that we’ve established based on feedback and shared experiences with thousands of companies globally, which includes four phases: Strategize, Collect, Decide and Execute. Essentially, these phases in Lean PPMTM help you accomplish the following:

  • Determining the corporate strategy
  • Project Intake Process: collecting and defining new initiatives
  • Project Prioritization: using scoring criteria based on strategy to evaluate and prioritize new initiatives alongside current work
  • Scenario Planning: identifying plan alternatives to increase agility and ensure readiness to adapt plans when disruptions arise
  • Resource Conflict Resolution: resolving resource and capacity planning conflicts to avoid disrupting the execution of work
Lean PPM Method

We have many resources that can help you in building a Lean PMO including a page dedicated to setting up a PMO as well as ready-to-go PMO templates.

A Lean PPM™ Tool

In order for your Lean PMO to be the most successful, you need a solution that supports the Lean PPMTM process. Meisterplan is continuously being developed as a lightweight solution that supports Lean PPMTM. Here are some of the ways Meisterplan can support your Lean PMO:

  • Gain transparency into current and planned projects across your organization to see the current status of your portfolio with clear and simple visuals
  • Supports your project intake process from idea to active project with the Board view (coming soon!)
  • Create portfolios or sub-portfolios specifically for new project initiatives
  • Prioritize work based on strategy using built-in project scoring features
  • Ensure key resources aren’t over-allocated and can focus on the most important work
  • Use real-time scenario planning features to immediately see how new initiatives affect your portfolio and to create plan alternatives
  • Find employees with specific skills, availability and capacity to ensure you build the best project teams and let them focus on getting the work accomplished
  • Quickly resolve resource constraints to avoid disrupting work
  • Let your teams continue to work with the tools and methods that work
Meisterplan Project Portfolio Management Software

We have seen it time and time again: building a Lean PMO can truly bring the transparency, agility and flexibility you need to move your organization forward and thrive even in difficult times. We hope this article has helped you understand the benefits of a Lean PMO. For more information on how to build a Lean PMO at your company, contact us. If you already have a Lean PMO in place and are looking for a lightweight PPM tool, you can also try Meisterplan free for 30 days.

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