16. February 2022 By Dorian Wiese and Martin Scharafinski
Project management office in public administration – more than a secretary’s office
We all know that project phases get delayed, risks aren’t recognised, milestones aren’t met (or even set in the first place) and, when it comes to finances, no one has an overview anymore either. Completing a large-scale project successfully always depends on the multitude of small moving parts coming together. Today, we want to give you an insight into how a project management office (PMO) can add value to projects in public administration and, above all, show you our best practices for the most common problems.
The heart of a project is a good project management office
A PMO is often equated with an assistant – in other words, with organising appointments, planning processes and performing auxiliary tasks. Although this is certainly one aspect of a PMO’s remit, it’s only a very small insight into what they actually do. A good PMO is more so the heart of a project. Every important piece of information should converge here and be dealt with in the various sub-areas, such as risk management, quality assurance and controlling. This also includes departments such as knowledge management and process optimisation. Our consultants focus on programme and project management and have many years of experience in handling large-scale projects for the German federal government, German federal states and IT service providers. Over the years, our Public PMO team has turned its focus to programme and project organisation and management, and trained staff accordingly. This is because supporting existing programmes or projects is not our only goal – we strive to improve existing structures and, above all, create added value for our customers.
That’s why we’ve channelled our experience in public administration and developed knowledge-based focal points that our Public PMO team is constantly improving and expanding. This involves methodological focal points, such as the use of common methods (for example, the SOS Method© and the V-Model XT), the development of structures according to the ITIL standard or the establishment of agile structures within the project according to common standards, such as SCRUM or KANBAN. However, we’re firmly convinced that establishing the methods is not the only way for the project to succeed.
But what exactly are we doing now?
Our consultants possess a wide range of skills. Above all, our Public PMO team stands for the following eight key points:
- We establish and guarantee the standard in a programme or project environment and the processes associated with them.
- We create and manage the plans and objectives for the project (and thus the programme and project planning process).
- We establish a strategic approach in cooperation with the customer.
- We guarantee (with the help of established controlling structures) that the programme or project is under control as regards budget, time and scope.
- We guarantee compliance with the necessary requirements from a quality management and quality assurance perspective.
- We organise and manage the reporting system and the communication structures related to it and continue to expand administrative and organisational structures.
- We centralise knowledge management and management structures.
- We establish both classic and agile project management methods.
Our focus is always on the success of the project and reducing the project management team’s workload. In doing so, we help the project management team to focus on their core tasks. We do this by ensuring through our actions that communication and the transfer of knowledge are supported by established processes, that every important aspect of the project is subjected to controlling and quality control and that we practice information transparency and work efficiently. Furthermore, we ensure that all stakeholders and responsible persons are always kept up to date.
We’d like to give you an insight into two of our larger programmes and projects. We all became part of the programme team or project team in completely different situations and had to overcome various challenges.
The German national security authority
A German national security authority created a programme based on existing projects that was intended to constitute a big step in digitalising security work. As an external service provider, we were able to benefit from our experience in this field and bring it into the new programme environment in a way that’s profitable. This created a completely new process for risk management based on the SOS Method© designed to bring all of the overarching key players on board and enable meaningful and reliable risk management. The cumulative efforts of the cooperation between Germany’s federal government and its states led to new requirements that had to be considered while planning and designing the process. The risk analyses were continuously carried out in workshops involving all relevant parties, and a cross-programme risk management system was established.
Furthermore, the independent risks involved with the state programmes were recorded and analysed in order to create the corresponding basis for successful project management at the state level. A new mix of communication and exchange was required to interlink the federal and state levels, and this was also reflected in the newly established reporting system. This also saw a slew of measures and recommendations developed on the basis of the risk analysis in order to always be able to react accordingly. The newly established reporting system also included every state and their corresponding programmes in order to enable the management and controlling of the overall programme on the basis of the obtained information.
The mission of a federal office
The second insight focuses on a project in which we supported the project management team as a PMO on behalf of a federal office. The project had problems due to structural changes, a lack of knowledge management and guidelines, a lack of standardised methods and a lack of exchange. All of this resulted in the project management team having an overwhelming workload.
In the first step, a requirements analysis and a corresponding survey were conducted among the management team in order to identify and analyse various deficiencies with even greater precision. Then, the scheduling process was completely restructured, a knowledge management system was established and an attempt was made to create standards within the project, all on the basis of the information that had been gathered. The focus was on project planning – primarily with a view to the ramifications of the sub-projects. This meant that particular attention was paid to the presentation of the dependencies within the project as well as the most important milestones.
The goal was to divide the scheduling process into four levels that take into account each respective level of the project and increase in terms of information content as they progress. This ensured that a meaningful basis for making things easier to manage was available within the sub-projects. The amount of information contained and how well the information was represented was then expanded with each successive level of the level system until cross-EU planning was possible at the highest level. The most important milestones were taken into account in the process and the entire project management team was provided with all of the essential information for enabling successful completion of the project.
What does this mean for customer?
The examples show that a good PMO is able to add value to any project and reduce the project management team’s workload. Whether we’re working as a traditional or agile project management team, our best practices enable us to manage even large and comprehensive structures and projects and lay the foundation for a successful project or programme. We’re also expanding our already extensive knowledge base beyond the most proven and latest methods in order to use our practical experience and the lessons we learned in the process to create a system that’s anchored in a continuous improvement process. By doing so, we ensure that we’re always evolving and that no problem remains unsolved.
We hope we were able to better acquaint you with our Public PMO and the main topics related to it, and that you’ve gained an idea of its potential and the range of tasks associated with it. If you’re interested in this topic, you’re welcome to contact us and get involved with the focus of our consultancy services, our ‘PMO’, or exchange ideas with our team of experts.
Would you like to learn more about our services in the public sector? Then check out our website.
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