Key points from PMI research that we can apply to PPM.

In four weeks, the Project Management Institute (PMI) will hold the PMI® Global Conference in Chicago. “It’s more than a meeting,” PMI wrote about the conference. This is absolutely correct! For one week, thousands of project and portfolio managers will gather, discuss, celebrate, share knowledge, and further develop the PM and PPM worlds through the main conference and workshops. Karoline Holicky from Meisterplan will also be in attendance (feel free to write to us if you would like to schedule a time to meet Karoline).

With the upcoming conference, we thought it would be a good time to review the latest PMI publications, including two excellent papers “Pulse of the Profession® 2017” and “The Drivers of Agility“. If lately you have been feeling overwhelmed in this profession, we think you will feel better after reading these papers. Because everything will be fine. Or at least better. There has been outstanding developments in the way successful companies are managing their projects and programs. More projects than ever before are being successfully completed within budget. There are several reasons for this, and we will explore three key points from recent PMI research which explains this success.

PMOs Are a Driving Force behind the Success of Strategic Projects

Project Management Offices (PMOs) can build a bridge between corporate strategy and specific projects. The PMI’s Pulse of the Profession survey shows that PMOs play an increasingly important role in the coordination and review of a company’s project portfolio. In 2007, 61% of the companies surveyed had a PMO; that number is now 71%. This is good news because companies with a strategic PMO successfully complete 38% more projects than companies without a PMO. They also recorded 33% fewer failed projects.

Our assessment: these figures show how important a PMO is – if it is allowed to work strategically and is not just an extended arm for controlling or administration. Companies need a PMO to align the project portfolio with corporate strategy, assess risks and benefits, and support and evaluate the project process right through to success.

A PMO team discussing project prioritization.

Standardized Methods in Project Management? Yes, but Not for Everyone!

PMI’S Pulse of the Profession report indicates that companies that use standardized project management methods “waste 28 times less money because more of their strategic initiatives are completed successfully.” At the same time, it rarely works to dictate from above what project management method must be used by everyone. The study shows that only 21% of the companies surveyed use standardized project management methods across the entire organization. The remaining 79% use different methods depending on the department or team, or do not use any standardized methods.

Our assessment: whether your teams use agile, waterfall or hybrid methods, they know best how they can successfully complete projects. The figures above show that a unified project management method for all is utopian, but, in our opinion, not preferable. A PMO only needs minimal core data from project managers to manage the portfolio – in other words, Lean PPM. Superfluous data is unnecessary and can actually complicate matters.

Standardized project management methods

Agility Is the Symbiosis of Strategy and Speed

Disruptive technologies, stiffer competition, constant upheavals in the market – companies consistently need to be more efficient and effective to survive. They must change their organization from within so that they can compete with the speed of their environment. The buzzword for this mindset is “agility”. By agility, we mean the ability to be flexible, react quickly and above all, create opportunities for growth. This growth does not happen by itself. It happens through projects and programs, regardless of the method with which they are implemented. According to PMI’s The Drivers of Agility study, companies with high agility are significantly more successful, meaning they achieve their goals.  68% of these companies use agile, 71% use predictive, and 72% use hybrid project management methods. For companies with low agility, only 41% use agile, 45% use predictive, and 51% use hybrid methods.

Our assessment: PMI President and CEO, Mark A. Langley, writes very aptly that: “True agility is a balance – not a battle – of choices.” Companies must therefore find a balance between adaptability, speed, cost-effectiveness, performance, risks and many other factors. An agile attitude helps companies question routines and take advantage of opportunities. When companies have the right skills, tools and resources on hand, they can act rather than react.

Agility in project portfolio management

We recommend that you read these PMI papers for yourself, so you are ready to go for next month’s conference. Are you still looking for a project portfolio management tool that supports your PMO, project management methods and agility? Meisterplan helps PMOs plan a strategic portfolio. The Lean PPM method works with any project management method used in your company, and Meisterplan supports agility through speed and true flexibility.

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