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11 Strategic PMO processes a company should be using

Updated: Mar 12

By: Priyanka Nagpal | Nov 17, 2022 | PMO & Project Management | PMO tools & processes

11 Strategic PMO processes a company should be using

Whether it is an e-commerce business, social enterprise, service provider, small business, or large corporate - mostly likely it will be running multiple projects like launching a website, running a marketing campaign, opening a new branch, and more. Regardless of the industry a company operates in or the business outcome it wants to achieve, the company will be running projects of varying scope and scale, critical to achieving business success.

Utilizing PMO best practices and strategic processes is a differentiator in achieving business success.

We recommend the following eleven strategic processes for a well-run PMO:

  1. New Project Intake Process

  2. Prioritization Process

  3. Project Approval and Kick-off Process

  4. Resource Allocation Process

  5. Portfolio Health Monitoring Process

  6. Project Health Monitoring Process

  7. Risk Management Process

  8. Project Escalation Process

  9. Project Change Request Process

  10. Project Reporting Process

  11. Project Completion Proces

Why a new project intake process is crucial for portfolio optimization?

The project intake process is key to ensuring all projects in a company's portfolio are vetted against optimized parameters to ensure the business success of the portfolio as a whole. Regardless of when a project is proposed, a new project intake process must be followed to have the ability to compare projects in a portfolio mix. A new project intake process considers factors like those stated below and often includes submitting a business case and project proposal documents to link with the funding and project approval process.

Factors considered in a new project intake process

  1. Project objective(s)

  2. Associated portfolio objective

  3. Duration

  4. Cost

  5. Scope

  6. Key results

  7. Priority

Companies often plan their portfolio at fixed intervals. The intervals may vary, ranging from a 5 or 3-year plan to a yearly, bi-yearly, quarterly, or some other cadence.

However, a new project idea doesn't always come in a fixed cadence. Often new project initiatives are proposed and approved outside of the portfolio planning cycle.
The risk with not following a project intake process is that projects are not weighed against the other projects in the portfolio for attractiveness, cost of implementation, and RoI.

This can lead to unclear priorities, portfolio conflicts, a false start when a more suited idea replaces the proposed project, and a waste of resources when companies get stuck in a loop of scratching and initiating projects without a clear framework. In most cases, the new project idea is approved purely based on the lucrativeness of the idea and perceived urgency then. The resources are allocated to the project and it is kicked off without following a new project intake process. Successful businesses have clear frameworks and established project intake processes that help them make sound business decisions at all times, especially during the busy execution time of the year when most of the planning has been completed, and a lucrative project idea is proposed.

Using PMO process tools and frameworks can help companies embed these processes and best practices in their PMO function.

Laminar's in-built project initiation process makes managing the intake of new work hassle-free and the in-built Business Value Result (BVR) ensures all project initiatives are ranked before finding approval and kick-off.

How does project prioritization drive business efficiency and productivity?

The project prioritization process enables companies to maximize the potential value of their portfolio, by comparing the attractiveness of all projects with a set of parameters strategically chosen to maximize the portfolio's total value. The prioritization process helps bring clarity and focus on stakeholder vision and goals, which helps drive organizational efficiency and productivity. The portfolio value may be formed of quantitative and qualitative factors such as profit, reputation, risk, innovation factor, timing, etc.

Do you use business cases to link funding and project prioritization?
Have you missed business opportunities in the past?
Are you struggling with organizational efficiency and alignment of work with strategic goals?

A clear framework, comparison model, and prioritization process for measuring the priority of a project is key to ensuring the right projects get executed at the right time, to maximize business results. The project prioritization process across the entire portfolio helps in streamlining resource allocation and gives the team a shared set of goals to work against.

Laminar dashboards give you a 10,000 feet view of initiatives across the enterprise to drive collaboration and monitor enterprise strategy progress. In our client's own words

“Most importantly, we can cancel projects that are not a priority for the organization. Redirect resources onto the projects that are important and only fund the projects moving forward that are important to the executive leadership.” - CIO Toy manufacturer

Laminar's clients can manage execution and delivery across multiple projects - ensuring that the right projects get done at the right pace, which otherwise may miss the leadership radar, be delayed, or not be re-surfaced at the right time.

We recommend you establish clear investment objectives and prioritization criteria to act as the guiding beacon in selecting an optimal portfolio that prioritizes high return on investment initiatives.

Focusing on outcomes increases the team's chances of achieving business results. Engraining the team goals/objectives in everyday work boosts team resilience and the ability to respond to change at speed by equipping the team with timely information.

Unclear priorities can cause project teams to have false starts and are among the top 3 reasons why projects fail.

When the prioritization process is followed and recorded, the approval process is data-driven and past decisions are easily traceable to the strategic goals.

If you are looking to increase efficiency in your organization and want to maximize the value of your portfolio, prioritizing your projects is a must.

The pitfalls of skipping the approval process: Why prioritization and business cases matter?

The prioritization process
The prioritization process
Have you had false starts?
Have you missed business opportunities in the past?
Are projects approved in a black box?

Have you had false starts? Was a project kicked off without an approval process? Were resources prioritized towards a new shiny attractive project only for the project to be canned in the future for various reasons like change in management, the project conflicting with another project in the portfolio, the actual priority being much lower than the perceived priority, etc.?

Teams must have an opportunity and platform to innovate. Often, a project is approved as urgent under the garb of innovation without a clear evaluation of the attractiveness and following the prioritization process.

Pause and think, if a project is truly promising for the business, should a business case and following the prioritization process not be easier? Following the approval process can help clarify and focus on any grey areas that may have been overlooked if the project is approved in a rush without a process.

Why skip a process that is beneficial both for the overall portfolio and the individual project? Is it because it's called a "process"?

Laminar PMO Dashboards
Laminar PMO Dashboards
A process need not mean heavy lifting and delays in kick-off, it's about putting in the guardrails that ensure an on-time, on-scope, and on-budget delivery to maximize the portfolio's value.

A clear and transparent project approval process is crucial for streamlining project execution and ensuring the right projects get done at the right time, to maximize business success.

Monitor and manage intake and prioritization of high return on investment initiatives through Laminar’s in-built BVR (Business Value Result) that ensures all initiatives/business cases are ranked before finding approval and kick-off.

Manage your portfolio health by region.

Efficient resource allocation: Key to successful project delivery and portfolio management

Resource allocation process and resource capacity planning are key to ensuring that resources are available for the on-time delivery of a project and the overall success of the portfolio. Stakeholders are interested in the successful and on-time delivery of a project. They are responsible for funding and approving resources. The portfolio and project managers are responsible for staffing and allocation of resources based on detailed capacity and project planning and raising concerns to the stakeholders. Team members are interested in ensuring they have clearly outlined project outcomes and that their capacity is factored in when they are staffed on a project, so they can be productive in working on assigned deliverables.

An efficient resource allocation requires iterative and detailed planning. To drive efficient resource allocation consider factors like skills, project priority, the urgency of delivery, and the availability of resources.

When conducting a resource allocation process it is important to define a clear resource pool and availability of resources, and carve out time for admin and operational needs of the portfolio and the project. The first round of planning is usually based on rough estimates and should be revised periodically post more refined estimates including the estimates and feedback from the team on the more detailed tasks.

Laminar lets you compare forecasted Vs actuals. This is powerful for planning purposes.

“The fact that we can project out what our spend will be across all projects by month is really important for our planning purposes.”
“The number one thing is we have visibility of all our projects and their project status, and that's critical. We're also starting to get visibility into all our project spending. These two combined are hugely important. For example, it's very easy for me to ask for more resources when I could demonstrate to the board that our resources are fully consumed on the efforts that we have ongoing.”

Laminar is not an ordinary tool, with its in-built intelligence it helped the client make data-driven and timely decisions for hassle-free growth of their business. Read the full case study here.

If you can factor in team members' growth and aspirations when allocating resources to projects, it can facilitate talent retention. During capacity planning, we recommend that you create space for opportunities to share knowledge and promote intellectual growth, and motivate and reward the team, embedding these project management strategies can take you from good to great.

Maximizing portfolio success: Why is it important to measure portfolio health?

Laminar PMO Dashboards
Laminar PMO Dashboards

Measuring portfolio health is an important process for an on-time, on-budget, on-scope delivery.

It helps in streamlining strategic planning and tracking outcomes.

Are any projects in your portfolio at risk?
What is your completion rate?
What is the actual Vs forecasted spend on your portfolio?
What is your resource utilization? Do you need to reallocate or hire new resources for on-time delivery?

To answer these questions or any other question specific to the health of your portfolio, we recommend that you set measurable outcomes and have a regular process to evaluate the health of your portfolio focusing on the key results to measure the health of the desired outcomes.

Proactive portfolio health management helps mitigate risks, creates a focus on delivery, rewards current progress, addresses any gaps in hiring, and ensures that the team budget is utilized effectively, helping avoid overspending and maximize resource utilization.

Laminar gives a 10,000 feet view of initiatives/projects across the enterprise to drive collaboration and monitor enterprise strategy progress.

In one click, you get visibility to the current health and dependency of initiatives/projects.

For eg: we can immediately see the “Core components” project which has an investment of $0.45 M is at risk and the associated PM contact.

Keeping projects healthy: Why regular monitoring is key to success

Monitoring the project's health is key to ensuring readiness in achieving success and driving the team's morale and efficiency. It is important to regularly monitor the health of the project and raise any blockers to the stakeholders to timely resolve any issues. Project managers need to communicate the priorities and project milestones to the team, drive focus and motivation, align all collaborators to the leadership vision, and ensure transparency on project health to drive team efficiency. The process of monitoring health requires a level of decision-making. A project manager needs to be quick with making decisions. It facilitates their reasoning and helps them choose the best course of action for the project under all circumstances. It is pertinent for a project manager to influence the team members and motivate them without using formal authority. Project managers can extend their influence through informed and timely decisions.

Are there any project blockers?
Are there any changes to available project resources?
Is the resource workload feasible?
Are there any scope creeps?
Is the project on schedule?

To answer these or similar questions specific to the health of your project, it's important to have an established project health monitoring process run at a cadence that suits your project/organization's needs.

Leveraging data to get insights into the health of the project, and closely monitoring the workload as it may be unevenly split can help avoid delays. Drilling into the reasons why certain tasks take longer, understanding if the longer duration is justified and fundamental to the project, if the team workload is unrealistic leading to longer timelines, or if there are imminent delays. Ensuring there are feedback opportunities for the team, helps build the project/product/service right from the start.

Closely monitoring any scope creeps as during the project implementation phase, there is a tendency to take on small tasks outside of the initial scope, while they may seem like small enhancements but overall, they can derail the on-time delivery of the project.

Monitoring the schedule is key within the project health monitoring process. It includes milestone creation, estimation, team retro, feedback activities, and overall monitoring to ensure the scheduling is up-to-date.

Monitoring the project's health is key to ensuring readiness in achieving success and driving the team's morale and efficiency.

Watch this space for a detailed part II of 11 Strategic PMO processes you should be using

How can we help?

Gravitas can help establish, improve, and run the project management office (PMO) for clients. Our deep expertise in transforming project and portfolio teams for large enterprises enables us to deliver outcomes from day one. We can help you run the PMO like clockwork.

We bring the tools, processes, and people to establish and operate your PMO. We have launched Laminar, a complete solution to manage the 3Ps - portfolios, programs, and projects. Laminar is a PMO-as-a-service offering with in-built best practices of Fortune 500 clients.

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Laminar is a pure plug-and-play solution that can be configured in less than a week and sits on top of your current project management tools - purposefully designed to be low-maintenance and fully automated so that you can focus on running the business.


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Leading the Way: The Transformation Office and the Art of Change Management

Our story began with the deep desire to drive tangible, visible, and measurable outcomes for clients. With that as our guiding beacon, we launched Gravitas Consulting – a boutique consulting firm specializing in bringing Insight to Oversight.

We help our clients scale and improve their businesses by the thoughtful application of Intelligent Information to guide decisions and actions. We leverage our data analytics and visualization, enterprise program and change management, and customer experience design expertise to provide leaders with the intelligence they need to do what they do best, even better.

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