To say the financial sector has had a rough ride as of late is a bit of an understatement. Battered by the recession, it now finds itself under massive public scrutiny.
“After the recent historic financial meltdown, the global banking and financial services industry is undergoing a major heart transplant,” says Jayant Patil, PMP, senior project management office (PMO) manager at Barclays Technology Centre, the IT organization of the U.K.-based banking and financial services heavyweight. “There are tighter budgets, diminishing resources, more time constraints and competition to improve the ways we do business.”
Mr. Patil oversees performance management, reinforces stakeholder commitment to project goals and tracks projects to ensure that deliverables stay on track.
“We manage projects that are critical in nature. The investments in these projects are financially substantial and are often of a regulatory nature, so we cannot afford to fail,” he says. “If a major project were to fail, it could cause serious damage to Barclays’ reputation in the market.”
How is the PMO structured at your company?
We have a decentralized structure in which the PMO functions primarily in an advisory role for project management methodology standards and for project issue resolution. The heads of the departments remain heavily involved in the projects, continuing to make decisions and keeping their employees engaged in the success of the work.
In contrast, a centralized structure can cause the leaders of the functional units to disengage with key project work. The PMO can also get a “project police” reputation, which may not encourage good project practices outside of the project office.
Who's in the PMO?
There are roles for more than just project managers. For example, we have people who plan and track project schedules, facilitators who help guide projects in conjunction with a project manager, and tools managers who help project managers in maintaining correct information about their projects in the corporate project portfolio management systems.
Even though we have a decentralized structure, these roles often remain in the PMO to provide consistency and support for the individual departments.
How does project management help reduce risk at Barclays?
Having a strong project management discipline became more critical to us during the recession, as it offered important governance in making sure all IT projects were aligned with corporate goals while also cutting out waste. It helped us to stick to timelines and assess ROI, and focused resources and priorities on the most strategic projects.
Our project management practice is also positioned to cut projects that have spiraled out of control and identify those critical to meeting changing business needs and increasing business efficiency.
What advice would you offer about investing in project management?
Effective project management helps organizations meet or exceed customer expectations, maximize the use of resources, bring the project to a successful conclusion on time and within budget, document what was done for any need of future reference, and build confidence in your team for future projects. PM
AUGUST 2010 PM NETWORK