Over the past few years I have certainly done my share of pontificating on how to balance staff resources against what seems like unlimited demand from projects (and other quarters). But when the rubber meets the road, we all have to find a way to make it work.
All that pontificating and consulting has lead to [...]
Most PMOs I work with face the same problem: too many project requests and not enough time to do them all! I will admit, I’ve worked with one group that did not have this problem. They have plenty of money and were told that if it’s a worthwhile project, there’s ample funding and they can hire all the people they need. If you’re in that situation, no need to read on. Rest assured – the rest of us are envious!
But, if you’re like the other 99% of PMOs in the world, you need a way to manage this onslaught of potential work.
In the sales world, they have what’s known as the sales pipeline or sales funnel. This is a process whereby potential opportunities are matured, step by step, to fruition as a completed sale. Along the way, opportunities fall by the wayside. They may not have budget to buy, may not need the products on offer, or just don’t have enough interest.
Sales will draw this process as a funnel that has several stages. At each stage, a number of opportunities will fall out of the pipeline. Hence, the funneling effect. They start as opportunities (hey – I’ve got someone’s phone number!), progress to prospects (they actually my call!), become qualified prospects (they have budget!), and finally customers (wow – they actually signed the contract!)
There seem to be a couple of immutable truths in the PMO world, especially in IT departments. First, there is always more work than can possibly be done. This usually surfaces in the form of an insatiable appetite for projects. Second, no matter how you prioritize the work, someone’s going to be unhappy – and they’ll try to make your life miserable by becoming the squeakiest wheel in the company.
The answer, as we PMO practitioners all know, is to elevate the prioritization decisions up to the company executives. This usually means some sort of cross-functional steering committee or other governing body. It’s great theory, with one major flaw. Those execs don’t readily participate. I can’t count the number of poorly attended steering committee meetings I’ve run across.
So, how do you get these all-too-busy executives to pay attention and take responsibility for prioritization? The best process I’ve found is what I call “shock therapy for the executive team” . . .