For years, the number one goal of companies in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is to deliver high-quality projects on time and within budget. The best way to tackle this challenge is by seeking more efficiencies that will cut costs and improve on project delivery time and budget. A trend that has been around for years but is gaining more recent popularity in the industry is the use of a Project Management Organization/Office (PMO). A PMO is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.1 However, having a PMO is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and success depends on the type of PMO structure implemented within each firm and individual project.
Stemming from reliability or capacity issues, many utility companies are currently managing or planning on sizable incremental spends for their distribution or transmissions systems, or both. These incremental spends can cause stress on the existing project controls and project management systems in addition to adding a number of risks to a utility’s portfolio. The increased scale of incremental spend efforts can strain and overburden organizations unless they are managed and supported in a systematic and organized manner with clear measurements, goals and objectives.
The PMO approach provides the ability to manage these incremental spends and allows for the creation of project, program and portfolio metrics as well as a structure for managing overall portfolio risks. Primera is currently functioning as the PMO for a large electrical utility company’s transmission system upgrades where we are tasked with overseeing development of the appropriate tools and methodologies necessitated by the incremental spend. Examples of work products are a monthly report to company and program executives for program status and portfolio health, and a risk management process including a risk register to proactively address many of the challenges and issues brought on by incremental spending initiatives. By embedding a PMO within their organization, Primera has helped build the confidence of the utility company in their current project management systems and processes that will accommodate a nearly 100% annual increase in their electrical infrastructure improvements over the next several years.
Primera has long recognized project management as a practice discipline that requires unique expertise in addition to the various engineering resources to deliver a successful project. Over the recent years we have facilitated the value added by project management through the establishment of dedicated project management resource groups as well as the support and encouragement of individuals obtaining their Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications. Having a PMP on staff demonstrates that the firm has the experience, education and competency to lead and direct projects effectively and efficiently. By establishing a PMO and having certified PMPs on staff, companies in the AEC industry can come closer to completing their projects under time and under budget.
- “Project management office.” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management_office