At first glance, the 2017 PMO of the Year Award finalists don't seem to have much in common. One organization is a leading mental healthcare provider and research center. Another designs and constructs the guts of utility infrastructure systems. And the third is one of the world's oldest insurance companies.
They are strikingly different organizations, each working toward its own business goals. Yet their project management offices (PMOs) all share one common trait: a razor-sharp focus on helping their organizations achieve strategic vision through stellar project management.
With more than 30,000 patients each year, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) measures success in terms of clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and safety. But as one of the world's leading mental health research centers and the largest hospital of its kind in Canada, this publicly funded organization must operate as efficiently as possible.
And over the past five years, the enterprise project management office (EPMO) has played a pivotal role in helping CAMH achieve those strategic goals. While it initially focused solely on IT projects, it quickly became clear the EPMO could do more. And it had the numbers to make its case: Projects accountable to the EPMO were significantly more on track than other initiatives. So a year after the EPMO was launched in 2012, CAMH leaders expanded its purview to cover everything from clinical practices to research operations.
“In the past, we didn't have a consolidated view of what was happening across the organization. Now there are organizational project dashboards, integrated plans and project heat maps with a view to know the impact on all stakeholders,” says Carrie Fletcher, senior director, health information management and enterprise PMO, CAMH. “That helps the organization strategically plan better and understand where there are gaps in achieving our goals and vision.”
Last year, for example, the EPMO oversaw the implementation of a new clinical information system that gives staff across the organization access to up-to-date patient records, improving the quality and safety of patient care. Ninety percent of suicide risk assessments are now completed within 24 hours (up from 75 percent before), which has dramatically increased the percentage of at-risk patients receiving care when needed.
The EPMO sees its core mission as understanding the business—not forcing project management on people, Ms. Fletcher says. “My mantra is: ‘We enable projects, we don't police them.’ We haven't had to do a hard sell. We've simply shown the outcomes.”
Organization: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
PMO launch: 2012
Building a Competitive Edge
Organization: Henkels & McCoy Group
Location: Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, USA
PMO launch: 2004
Sector: Construction and engineering
Henkels & McCoy has been building utility infrastructure systems for nearly a century—power grids, oil and gas pipelines, natural gas distribution and communication networks. Yet while the basic deliverables have remained fairly constant, the company has seen the risk appetite of its customers shrink. Looking to meet changing customer expectations while maintaining ROI, Henkels & McCoy launched an enterprise-wide PMO.
“Our customers have evolved. They're much more sophisticated in terms of contract and schedule adherence,” says Bob Kearns, senior director, PMO, H&M Shared Services, which is part of the parent company. “We've had to improve our performance to stay at the leading edge.”
Since the PMO was fully rolled out in 2008, the organization has seen steady growth in the number of projects and their value.
“Using our project management methodology and the training people had taken, we were able to successfully make the jump to much larger projects with greater complexity,” Mr. Kearns says.
As the project portfolio has grown across regions and markets, the PMO has supported each division's project management training and stepped up its performance tracking activities.
The payoff? Henkels & McCoy posted a 110 percent increase in overall profitability from 2008 to present, while reducing losses (negative gross margin on projects) by 32 percent during the same period.
Strong support from the executive leadership team helped set the PMO up for success. But results are what sustain the PMO's role and reputation.
“The rollout only really works if you have the team and operations seeing the added value and embracing it,” says Alan Gomes, PMP, senior manager—project controls, PMO, H&M Shared Services. “There was some skepticism in the early years. But as strong project management practices and the PMO have demonstrated value, it's now a given. It's what our customers require.”
The Trusted Adviser
With customers and operations in more than 40 countries, MetLife is one of the world's leading financial services companies. But that doesn't mean it's done growing. To stay ahead of the pack, it needs to deliver standout technology experiences. That job falls to MetLife's PMO within its global technology and operations (GTO) division. Its portfolio of projects includes everything from rolling out a global sales and servicing platform to implementing a rebrand.
Location: Cary, North Carolina, USA
PMO launch: 2013
Sector: Insurance and annuities
With so much in motion, company leaders launched the PMO to implement portfolio management best practices and standardize delivery processes. Ensuring the staff stays aligned with project and program standards requires communication through monthly forums, continuous improvement of processes through lessons learned and surveys, and training. And those educational efforts go beyond delivery methodology, tools and processes. Last year, for example, the PMO launched a training initiative covering how MetLife manages finances, so project managers can better understand the true cost of projects while forecasting and executing.
The PMO also has become a trusted adviser to senior leaders. It earned that role “by having a point of view on program executions, by tracking risks and flagging potential delays, by getting underneath what's driving the challenges and then providing potential action items to improve the course the project is on,” says Carol Andreu, vice president, PMO, GTO, MetLife.
Since the PMO's launch, the company has seen a 22 percent increase in division programs remaining on-time and on-budget and a 35 percent increase in overall customer satisfaction. But it's not stopping there. This year, the PMO ramped up its benefits realization efforts. Staff members now meet with project teams on a monthly basis to capture benefits achieved.
“We're ensuring that the things we say are going to happen do indeed happen,” Ms. Andreu says. PM
And the Winner Is …
Find out the 2017 PMO of the Year at PMO Symposium 2017 in Houston, Texas, USA, scheduled for 5-8 November.
After the announcement, head over to PMI's YouTube channel for videos on each finalist and look for full case studies in future issues of PM Network.
Calling All PMOs
Honor PMO excellence in 2018. Visit PMI.org/Awards.