One of the pillars of building and maintaining a successful project management office (PMO) is to ensure that you as the PMO director have all the right information at your disposal to help make informed decisions. A lot of time, organizations that decide they require a PMO are already in a position where critical information is in multiple disparate systems. One of the first things the PMO should be focused on is the ability to view all critical information in one place.
How Can It Be Done?
There are several great tools available to help with this. One tool that is particularly near and dear to me is Power BI from Microsoft. Power BI is a great tool for merging data together from multiple systems to form a comprehensive data reporting model (a.k.a. a dataset) where stakeholders and non-technical individuals can build powerful reports to help inform them when making key decisions. Aggregating and combining data together in a Power BI dataset does not affect any of the source data stores (assuming you don’t write a cartesian product into the query that surfaces the data!). A good working understanding of the data structures being queried is essential for building out the dataset and should be done by someone with a data and/or reporting background.
Once you have your data consolidated into one area, it’s now time to ensure that you as a PMO are accessing the right data points to help make the right decisions for your project portfolio. But why is that important to a PMO?
Having an overall view of your portfolio schedule is crucial to being able to not only view where projects are at and what activities are planned, but also for helping to ensure that you have the right resources assigned and lined up to take on the planned work. There’s nothing like getting to a go-live and then realize your resources have been snapped up by another project because there is a schedule collision.
Seeing your budgetary information on projects is absolutely vital. Understanding where projects are going over/under budget help you adjust your approach as needed as well as lets you understand where the pinch points are in your project as it relates to estimates and spend. Having a consistent view of project budgets will absolutely pay off huge dividends.
Information consolidation is just one step towards getting a strong PMO established. Work on ensuring you have one place to consume and view your data and you will be able to focus on making your project portfolio stronger by making informed decisions.