Nov 19, 2014

A World-Class Portfolio Management Office Brings Stability to An Island Nation’s Economy

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Project & Program Management, Governance, Portfolio Management, Project Management Office (PMO) | 0 Comments

"Many of the projects were of the utmost importance, not only for the Bank, but also for our country’s benefit."

This past Monday was an historic day for the small Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic (DR); Luis Jose Bourget, director of The Central Bank’s Portfolio Management Office, traveled to Miami to accept accolades as a finalist in the PMO of the Year Award competition.

As the first Latin American region finalist in the global competition, Bourget represented not only the Central Bank (CBDR) but a burgeoning movement within the DR to instill excellent project management practices in the public and private sectors nationwide. Bourget responded to our interview questions by email last week.

Q: How long have you personally been associated with the PMO?

I’ve been associated with the PMO-CBDR since its very inception, almost nine years ago. I was head of the functional area in charge of developing the PMO with the help of the external consultants on Strategic Planning. I’m still heading the PMO, and I like to believe that’s the case because we’ve been very successful during this exciting endeavor.

Q: What have been the most challenging aspects of the PMO’s growth?

One of the most challenging aspects was the fact that we started almost from scratch, with a background of doing projects without a formal methodology or standards. The first two years before the formal acknowledging of a PMO were the hardest of our careers here at the bank, because we took the long road. We simply wanted the best, the best methodology (PMI’s), the best trainers coming all the way from Mexico during the full two years, a software platform on every project manager’s screen (first, MSProject until we implemented Oracle Projects).  After that, to be able to create a culture of project management based on the strict follow-ups that are in place today was a real challenge but a very fruitful one.

Q: What have been the most rewarding or inspiring successes you’ve seen?

Most of all, it has been exciting to watch professionals as they develop a new career inside this organization as project leaders, after they had thought themselves burned out by bureaucracy and years of delving into their static jobs.

During the first two years of the PMO, we sponsored certification for 7 PMPs (out of 42 in the whole country at the time). We also had more than 50 employees taking Masters in Project Management courses in local universities due to our direct influence. We sponsored one of our employees to take the lead forming the first PMI Chapter in the country; she later became its first chapter president. Today, certified PMPs in the country have increased to almost 200.

Then there are the projects themselves. Almost 400 projects have been completed in the 8+ years of our PMO’s existence. Many of those projects were of the utmost importance, not only for the Bank, but also for our country’s benefit. Having been here for 21 years, I can state that this institution made a 180-degree turn and will never be the same after completing those projects.

[Editor’s note: the PMO of the Year ebook details some of the dramatic changes in the Dominican Republic’s economy since 2006.]

Q: Are there any PMO staff members or other CBDR employees or stakeholders you’d particularly like to showcase or thank?

Our Governor for over 16 years, Héctor Valdez Albizu, had the vision and definitely took a leap of faith when we proposed that the bank embrace project management as a strategic tool that would help us add value and advance to a much better state. Without his confidence and continuous support, it would have been impossible to attain our goals.

Q: If you could pinpoint one area of the PMO’s work that you think is a best practice for other PMOs, particularly in banking, what would that be?

The best practice to pinpoint is the prioritization in the selection of projects, according to strategic impact, availability of resources, and ROI. Resources are scarce and limited and therefore it is the responsibility of the PMO to identify the best investment opportunities. Strategically, we consider the impact of opportunity costs related to non-implementation; whether resources are available to carry out the proposed alternatives, as to both individual projects and across the overall organizational portfolio; and the return on investment for each project and for the overall portfolio.

And in the case of the PMO-CBDR, our management encompasses management plans, portfolio, programs, projects and budgets, a good practice that ensures a system of integrated strategic, tactical and operational management.

 The PMO of the Year, founded by PM Solutions in 2006, is now part of the Project Management Institute’s prestigious awards program. Learn more about the history of the award and follow the PM Network coverage, beginning with the Dec. 2014 issue.

 

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