Dec 13, 2018

Interview with J. Kent Crawford

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | 0 Comments

This year's field of contestants was extremely diverse!

We enjoyed a series of thoughtful blogs about the PMO Symposium this year, thanks to my colleague Johanna Mickel, both here and on the PM College blog. To wrap up, I asked our CEO J. Kent Crawford to share his impressions of the PMO of the Year Award finalists. Kent has a long history with PMO of the Year winners and finalists (see our archive here) and also serves as a judge for the award. Here's what he had to say:

Crawford:  This year's field of contestants was extremely diverse, both in geographic location and as to industry. So, I felt that the three who emerged as finalists were very representative of the types of PMOs that are out there, and doing great work. It is often a challenge, as a judge, to choose between them!

In terms of the top three finalists, first I'd like to give a shout-out to the Tacoma Public Schools EPMO. Tacoma submitted last year and didn’t make it so it was a victory for them to be chosen as a finalist. There’s a lot of merit to a public education organization moving forward like they have. They received very positive accolades for a small PMO in an unusual application area. They might have scored higher if they had had more hard metrics to offer, although the graduation rate change is impressive: it increased from 55% to 85%! They also built out summer programming from 2 to 27 programs affecting 250, then 4900 students. All in all, their application was outstanding; a fine example of a well-run PMO. They have a great future ahead, because, while they are doing things well, they still have not implemented certain functions, like resource management and reporting.

I was also impressed by the Slovenian insurance company Triglav's presentation. They had all the processes down: balanced score card, risk register, performance measurement, and are now implementing PPM software. The Triglav Group Project Portfolio and Change Management Dept. (love that name!) covered most of the bases I am looking for in a successful PMO: strong strategic alignment, great portfolio selection process, business value realization is monitored, good change management. process. They were also strong on professional development, with a competency program combined with mentoring program. As well, they were able to offer some strong metrics, especially those connected with the value the PMO delivers to the overall organization. For example, they reported reduced operating costs, improved customer retention and acquisition, and an increase in non-life insurance sales. Their satisfaction rate for claims handling improved a significant amount. I imagine other judges also had the same questions I did, however, because while they list all the programs they manage, there was perhaps less details than I would have liked to see about how they manage them, and what the return is for their effort.

The winner, Telstra, is a huge telecom conglomerate; they seem to be the Verizon of southeast Asia. They know what they’re doing! Their Capital Planning and Delivery office (another great name!) was a “classic” choice for PMO pf the Year, with solid metrics that were documented. No surprise that they came out on top! Their efforts freed up $50M of future spend, in part by re-scoping or deferring about $30M in initiatives. I liked that they also showed they were aware of how much more they still had to do, noting that they are working on building multiple methodologies, project consolidation, standardizing cost estimating. Of course, I am hard to please ... and would still have liked to see more focus on business performance metrics.

Overall, it continues to be exciting to learn about what companies are doing to leverage the strategic aspects of project management. I was lucky enough to meet with all these folks, and they were a great group. Naturally, it is always great to hear that top-level PMOs have used our materials, and Sean Whitaker of Telstra mentioned to me that he has been following our research for years.

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