For the 9th episode of our Monday Morning Healthcare IT Podcast Series, Tom sits down with HCI's PMO Service Line Manager, John Kocon. In this episode, Tom and John will discussing why PMO is so beneficial to healthcare facilities who are trying to achieve their organizational goals.
In case you missed it, make sure to check out our episode from last week, where Jason Huckabay discussed what an organization must do during an EMR Training project to achieve high levels of adoption.
Increasing Project Management Capabilities
Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Tom Letro of the HCI Group, and for today’s episode of our Monday Morning Podcast series, I am going to be joined by John Kocon, our PMO Service Line Manager Service Line Manager.
John has held several PMO executive roles with the responsibilities of improving organizational project management and providing project management resources.
During our discussion today, John and I will be going over how PMO can be extremely beneficial to healthcare facilities in helping them achieve their organizational goals.Now John, PMO can be very important to healthcare organizations. What is an example or two of increasing organizational project management capabilities? What can these do for you?
Well one of the common challenges that many businesses have is to be able to prioritize their projects within their portfolio, and that is due to limited constraints and budgets. So depending on the organizations starting point, this may start with simply conducting a project inventory, storing all that information into one database, so it is available for discussion and decision support. Another organization may already be at this level of process maturity, and we may look at implementing a simple to more advanced technique or process to force ranked projects in the portfolio as a starting point for leadership to make prioritization adjustments and decisions for resource allocation.
And then, let’s look at a second example as well, and this is in the process area domain of project management. So, one of the questions that a lot of organizations have is what types of standard project management methodologies or processes should we use? And again, based on the organizations starting point, it might be appropriate to start with a very simple waterfall method that many or all of the stakeholders are already familiar with and comfortable with, however in another organization, based on their starting point, and the types of projects that they have, it might be more appropriate to introduce multiple methodologies that might include something like Agile. So again, each organization is unique and therefore we want to offer them the best solutions and options for that particular point in time.
Benefits of Effective Project Management
Right, and what kind of benefits can be realized when project management is done effectively?
Well improvements, as a result of implementing organizational project management, can include both qualitative benefits and quantitative benefits. And what I mean by that is qualitative benefits may include things like simply being able to align all of your projects to strategy, or improving project transparency, or communication and decision making. And while those things might be harder to come up with concrete numbers or the value that it creates, it does create a more effective process, and impacts project results in a favorable way.
When we look at quantitative benefits, it might include things like reducing the at-risk and failed projects in organization. Improving project performance, shortening project cycle time, and reducing overall project cost. So most organizations usually realize a combination of these benefits depending on what their starting point is, what their goals are, and the duration of the implementation.
PMO in Organizational Goals
Ok, and obviously it’s the goal of organizations to achieve these benefits, but how can a project management office help them to do that?
Well a PMO can certainly provide the focus and structure to achieve these types of benefits, however, depending on the organization, a PMO might not even be desired or required. While PMO functions vary based on culture and business needs, PMO generally facilitates sharing of the project standards, resources, manages project related governance processes, and acts as a control tower providing a portfolio oversight the strategic projects. It is desirable for most organizations to create a PMO function, whether it be staffed by one person or a team of people, and then continuously improving and expanding its capabilities to provide the business with more value.
But again, depending on the organizations starting point, their business needs, and perhaps its strengths, it may be more appropriate to an organization to kind of share or spread those project organization management responsibilities across several functions, and this may include functions such as accounting, financial planning, human resources, and process improvement. Now, of course when you start spreading responsibilities across multiple functions, there is a need to focus on a communication and collaboration across these functions, and there could also be some organizational implications as well. So again, a PMO could certainly be helpful to an organization to achieve these benefits and provide this focus and structure that’s necessary, but it is not always required, especially in the early days of making some of these improvements.
Project Management in Change Initiatives
Ok, and a lot of times when you bring in something new to an organization, there might be some resistance initially. Is project management one of these things that can sometimes be faced with a bit of resiliency in the beginning? And if so, what causes that?
Yes, like many change initiatives in organizations, there could be different levels of acceptance or resistance, and this is true with project management as well, and that varies from organization to organization. And one of the things that we look at is, again, the starting point in an organization. Have they had any exposure and success with project management in the past? What are their business needs? What does their corporate culture look like?
So a few examples that I have run into in the past of barriers that you might encounter with this is things like an organizational culture that is not receptive to change, such as improvements in processes, or perhaps even changes in individuals or functions responsibilities. A second area that could be a barrier is the role of the PMO executive sponsor. That role is critical to the PMO being successful, and finding the right person with the right background who is actively engaged in supporting the PMO is very important. Another example is whether there is visible and active business pull, or support for organization project management activities and processes.
Typically, when you have leaders that embrace and pull and utilize the processes, the data, to make improvements to the business, this is very visible to others in the organization, and it tends to move things along at a more rapid pace. And the last example I’ll provide is sometimes when there are improvements made to organizational project management, or PMOs that are implemented, the results aren’t as visible as they can be. So I always suggest that we make sure that we find the right types of metrics, make progress and benefits visible, share results with the organization – because as you tend to share positive feedback and results, it creates more business pull, more momentum, and will make any business initiatives much more successful.
Examples of PMO Success Stories
And obviously that is what organizations are looking for is success in achieving their goals. However John, there might be some people out there who would be skeptical of the results that a PMO can bring them. Do you have any examples of how PMOs can bring this level of success to an organization?
I can provide several examples from some of the topics we have discussed already. So, from one organization when we went in, we had about 30% of the projects in the portfolio aligned to strategy, and then after making some changes to process and governance and just transparency in general, we were able to increase that from 30% to 96%. And that had a very positive impact in ensuring the organization was doing the right things.
A few other examples: making changes to the demand management processes and estimating allowed us to reduce at-risk and failed projects by 50%. A third example that we had talked about earlier is project performance, and again, by making adjustments to project management practices, governance, tools, templates, things along those lines, we were able to achieve 65% higher in the industry benchmark rate in terms of performance. And this translated roughly to a $75 million annual project savings per year.
And a final example I'll provide has to do with something that is important to every project stakeholder in any organization, and that is customer satisfaction. By making a variety of changes, and continually improving our project management processes based on feedback and business needs, we were able to experience a 55% increase in customer satisfaction. So those are a few examples of some of the experiences that I have had.
Ok, so PMO can certainly be effective, but one last question here John. For anyone out there who may be on the fence and considering PMO, what would your advice be for them?
Well, I would say to reach out to us and contact us at HCI. We offer a variety of options to have discussions with you regarding your situation and your business needs, and that can range from an informal conversation on the phone, to maybe doing a PMO assessment, and providing you with the range of opportunity improvement areas, perhaps putting together a roadmap on how to get there, and can actually help you to make those improvements. So feel free to reach out to us.
Alright, and thank you John, we appreciate your time here today.
For more information on what PMO can do for your organization, make sure to follow us on social media, and to subscribe to our blog and our pocast. Also, make sure to comment below with any questions, concerns, or things that we may have missed, so that we can keep the conversation going.
For John Kocon, this has been Tom Letro of The HCI Group. The HCI Group, offering a smarter approach to healthcare IT