Carlos Zozaya, PhD, Grupo Nacional Provincial, Mexico City, Mexico
AT MEXICAN INSURANCE provider Grupo Nacional Provincial (GNP), project management was hit or miss—until the project management office (PMO) came along.
“In the past, each business and support unit managed their project budgets independently with little accountability on the project outcomes,” says Carlos Zozay, PhD, CIO of the company. “Multiple project management methodologies were applied, and it was difficult to compare the attributes of various projects.”
Building an enterprise-wide PMO helped the company enact uniform project management strategies, better invest its project resources, increase accountability and ensure greater strategic alignment.
“The benefit of having a centralized PMO is to gain control over the complete project portfolio of the entire organization,” Dr. Zozaya says.
How would you describe your company's approach to project management?
GNP has a PMO that oversees and supports project management leaders across the organization. The PMO leader and most project managers are Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential holders.
Each business unit has a strategic plan detailing how to achieve the organization's goals, and the execution is reviewed in monthly meetings by the company's management committee. Projects exceeding MXN$2 million are also presented at these meetings before they get funded.
How was the enterprise-wide approach to project management received?
Initially there was some resistance to investing the time needed to clarify the scope of the projects. Such a task was seen as bureaucratic and of little value. Pressure to execute immediately was high in order to have something to report progress to top management. However, the successful experiences with those projects that were executed with the support of formal methodologies and tools helped to gradually overcome this resistance over the years.
Has project management helped you remain competitive in a difficult economic environment?
Since GNP adopted common methods for documenting, selecting and executing all our organizational projects, it has become easier to decide where to invest resources in order to maximize returns. Also, we have a higher degree of accountability on these investments in the performance contracts used to evaluate our people.
One project that helped us become more efficient was the creation of a national center that authorizes the amount that will be paid to repair clients’ automobiles. The project was justified by estimating the reduction in the average cost of auto claims that could be obtained by centralizing and formalizing the approvals procedure. The project surpassed its original goals.
What would you like to change about your organization's project management methods?
We need to make our project management approach more agile. We follow a linear life-cycle process from project definition to implementation that sometimes is perceived as too long by the business units. Exploring agile methodologies that promote closer collaboration between all stakeholders of a particular project could help us reduce our time to market.
What advice do you have for other executives about the benefits of project management?
Good project management will help you mitigate risks and make better investment decisions. However, hiring PMP® credential holders and formalizing the creation of a PMO in the organization will not solve your problems unless you are capable of shaping the culture of the organization. People need to be convinced that project management helps them achieve their goals by comparing the results of well-managed and poorly managed projects.
Effective leadership and change-management tools are fundamental to avoid resistance and make the adoption of project management methods sustainable over time. PM
PM NETWORK FEBRUARY 2011 WWW.PMI.ORG
Developing a Project Management Office in the Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration
This case example, a supplement to the report, PMIAA: Strengthening the Government Delivery Foundation, highlights project and program management capability building within The U.S. Energy…