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The Importance of PMOs in the Finance Industry

Published by Rachelle Sanders

June 30th, 2021

in Project Portfolio Management

Financial institutions have high stakes for executing project portfolios. Industry regulations and a responsibility to securely handle sensitive financial data mean any project a financial institution commits to is inherently more complicated. Or at the very least, has more hurdles than projects in other industries. As if compliance wasn’t a difficult enough challenge, the financial industry is also undergoing rapid changes with advances in technology. With FinTech startups changing the way consumers do business and disrupting the industry, even the most long-standing financial institutions are having to learn how to innovate to keep up. All of this creates an incredibly difficult landscape for evaluating, managing and executing projects. To meet this challenge, financial institutions turn to the tried-and-true skills of the Project Management Office (PMO). While organizations in all industries use them, PMOs in the finance industry are an important key in the successful operation and growth of financial institutions.

PMOs Provide Support on Three Levels

The rise of PMOs in banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions was a response to evolving needs across organizations. These institutions didn’t just need help scheduling capacity or prioritizing compliance projects. What they needed was help across multiple levels. While no two PMOs are the same, PMOs generally provide support on three levels:

Level 1: Providing Project Support

While some people incorrectly assume a PMO will micromanage projects, the modern PMO aims to help facilitate projects, not control them. At the most basic level, a PMO in a financial institution will help provide support to your project teams. A PMO might create processes and templates that help guide project activities and standardize things for easier management. Additionally, a PMO might provide guidance on resolving issues that could delay the execution of a project.

 

Level 2: Hands-On Help to Ensure Successful Execution

Probably the most well-known task of the PMO is to schedule projects in an organization’s portfolio. PMOs accomplish this task by balancing timing, resources, budgets and more to make sure an organization has projects scheduled at the best time. PMOs also make sure projects are staffed adequately and are at the ready to resolve larger issues that arise that put projects at risk.

 

Level 3: Bringing Strategy to Life

At the highest level, PMOs take the corporate strategy or corporate goals set by leadership and translate them into action. This includes creating criteria to approve and prioritize projects by measuring and reporting on goal achievement and building project portfolios that support strategy.

PMOs in the Finance Industry

PMOs in the finance industry have a few more responsibilities than some other industries. As the department responsible for the success of project portfolios, the PMO is also responsible for ensuring the completion of regulation and compliance projects. Staying compliant with federal regulations is an incredibly complex task. Adhering to regulations protecting consumers’ private financial information has become particularly difficult as organizations develop new online capabilities for banking, transferring money, investing and other activities. A PMO will coordinate all necessary stakeholders, legal departments, developers, etc., to make sure these projects are completed.

Consumers’ demands on financial institutions have increased rapidly in recent years. Consumers expect evolving technologies to make their financial activities even easier than before. Financial institutions will need to rely on PMOs to manage the huge influx of technology projects they undergo to meet consumer demands. For many financial institutions, meeting these demands means taking on employees with skills not traditionally associated with the financial industry and committing to projects they’ve never done before. A PMO will facilitate the planning, staffing and execution of these new projects.

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Western & Southern Financial Group Success Story

Learn how Western & Southern Financial Group improved project prioritization across business units, gained an accurate big picture view of the current status of work and created views that allowed them to spot capacity restraints early in our latest case study.

Why the Finance Industry Loves Lean PMOs

In the financial industry, project execution is non-negotiable. Whether a project is regulatory or not, institutions cannot afford delays and setbacks. This means that banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions rely heavily on PMOs. But, not all PMOs are created equal. Just because a financial institution has a PMO does not mean they will finish projects. PMOs themselves can be complicated organizations and if they aren’t run properly, they won’t do any good. Because PMOs can be cumbersome, many financial institutions are adopting a lean approach to their PMO. By equipping your PMO with only the essential project data, you create a nimble and adaptable PMO that is quick to implement, easy to scale and just as effective.

At Meisterplan, we understand the need for financial institutions to operate a lean PMO. We developed our project portfolio management software and our Lean PPM™ framework with this in mind. Your project managers only need to provide a minimum amount of project data for your PMO to start building powerful project portfolios with the right people working on the right projects. To see how Meisterplan can help improve your PMO, sign up for a free 30 day trial.

Darrin McLaughlin

There is no other product that does what Meisterplan does in terms of portfolio management and resource management without unessential extra features. If there were another product that does what Meisterplan does, I would have found it, because I tried them all.

Darrin McLaughlin

Senior Vice President/Technology Officer | Interra Credit Union

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