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Pragmatic Project and Portfolio Management in the Cloud on the ServiceNow Platform

Gerry Appeltants BCB Leader TriTechnology Connect on Linkedin

The last 24 years in IT taught me that management of a company has no real-time visibility into the status of projects with a decentralized PMO and in many cases also with a centralized PMO. But what do we mean by a (de)centralized PMO and how can the Pragmatic Project and Portfolio Management in the Cloud on the ServiceNow Platform help you out?

Centralized & Decentralized PMO

Project Management Offices (PMO) are structured in a different ways, the most common of which is a centralized or decentralized organizational structure:

  • A centralized PMO means there is 1 PMO governing body that creates standards and enforces policy for projects across the entire organization. Centralized PMO which is accountable for delivery of projects, in most cases it has HR responsibility for the PMs and owns the process/metrics/tools.
  • A decentralized PMO is identified by multiple PMOs that exist in different parts of the organization. Decentralized model which has PMs directly aligned into business segments but have dotted lined responsibility back to the PMO to ensure standards.

There’s validity in both models and it really depends on the organizational culture and company values. If consistency is a top priority then it makes sense to centralize. If being nimble and operating at a segment level is a priority, then decentralization makes more sense.

I advice a management team working with a decentralized PMO to be very careful in interpreting KPI’s based on no real-time data.

Gerry Appeltants, BCB Leader TriTechnology

The issue today

The last 24 years in IT taught me that management of a company has no real-time visibility into the status of a projects with a decentralized PMO and in many cases also with a centralized PMO. Most of the time, we are confronted with a bunch of spreadsheets or Ms Project documents sitting on the project managers desktop or in a collaboration tool like SharePoint. To generate red-amber-green (RAG) dashboards, project managers are crunching numbers in excel files by using information that is already outdated at the moment they’re creating these dashboards. The consequence is that managers rely on a project status that is also outdated for a few weeks. 

So working with dashboards based on no real-time figures is tricky. But the management should also bear in mind that not automatically generated key performance indicators (KPI’s) could also give an erroneous view on projects. The project manager directs and manages the project. He has ultimate responsibility over the success of the project. With a decentralized PMO, the project manager is closely involved with business, and it could be that the project managers interprets some of the information in an optimistic way. As a summary, I advice a management team working with a decentralized PMO to be very careful in interpreting KPI’s based on no real-time data.

Implementing a new PMO tooling and processes should always be accompanied with a change management in your company.

Gerry Appeltants, BCB Leader TriTechnology

Enterprise solutions for PPM in a pragmatic way

High Maturity Enterprise Tools

To avoid situations were decisions are taken on outdated or wrongly interpreted information, many mature organization have started already with implementing enterprise tools like Ms Project Server, Planview or some other nice toolings. The cost for operating and maintaining those enterprise tools is very high, but the cost of failing projects is in most cases much higher. So many organizations are already evolved to those enterprise tools.

Pragmatic Project and Portfolio Management (PPM)

As CIO or part of a management team, you want to avoid big expensive investments in enterprise tools, and you want to steer your projects by a centralized PMO. You want to have dashboards with an overview of all your projects with real-time data, and view them anywhere and anytime by just using a browser or your mobile device. Yes you want all that, then the PPM module of the ServiceNow platform could be an excellent solution for you and your business.

PPM on a cloud based platform delivers a versatile, scalable approach to managing projects and project portfolios across the enterprise. Leveraging lists, forms, gauges, Gantt charts, dashboards and timeline visualizations, the application helps to manage costs, schedule resources and meet quality standards. It organizes IT tasks into projects, and projects into portfolios, providing collaboration, reporting and tracking for project planning and business decision-making. Out of the box integration with Demand Management and Resource Management provide a complete program management approach.

Within the current release of ServiceNow, you can find the PPM within Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM).

An important element in setting up your centralized PMO, are your project managers. They are working already 5 to 25 years with Ms Projects, and most of them are not interesting in changing. So implementing a new PMO tooling and processes should always be accompanied with a change management in your company. But for every problem, there’s a solution. You could let the project managers design a large project plan in a solution that provides that spreadsheet look and feel and then importing the project plan into the PPM solution and managing the project in ServiceNow from there on out.