Sep 6, 2012

MOTOR PMO Attacks Two Difficult Issues: Resource Management and Acquisition Integration

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Demand Management, Project Management Office (PMO), Resource Optimization | 2 Comments

"very impressive!"

What do Good Housekeeping magazine, ESPN, The San Francisco Chronicle and a business-to-business provider of technical information for the automotive industry have in common?

They are all part of the Hearst Corporation, one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies, owners of 15 daily and 37 weekly newspapers, hundreds of magazines, 29 television stations, and interests in several leading cable networks, along with holdings in the automotive, electronic, medical/pharmaceutical and financial information industries. In this last category, MOTOR Information Systems, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, is a unit of Hearst Business Media (HBM), which operates more than 20 business-to-business information services, electronic databases and publications. Among its core competencies is the aggregation of time-sensitive price, product and technical information that is integrated into business and professional processes. The PMO of the Year Award judges were impressed by this PMO’s strategy for expanding its services across the enterprise, as well as by performance metrics that express the value of project management initiatives.

A Little History

In 2007 HBM mandated that its business units subscribe to a common project management methodology using an enterprise wide project management tool. This corporate mandate spawned the HBM Executive Project Management Office (EPMO) based out of Hearst Tower in New York, New York. The mandate also spawned PMOs within each business unit that were led by a PMO Manager who reported to both the EPMO Manager and the business units. The EPMO was disbanded in 2009 due to the economic downturn; however, the business unit PMO Managers, funded by each respective business unit, felt the need to continue to promote best practices in project management among the business units.

Although the MOTOR PMO was officially formed in 2007, it began its maturation in earnest in 2008 with a PMO Manager, a team of seven functional managers with little to no project management experience, and the full support of the executive staff. The mission of the PMO was to implement project management consistently across the enterprise through the development of a MOTOR project management methodology, the training, coaching and mentoring of the newly identified PMs, and the use of an enterprise project management application.

The PMO faced several challenges that had to be considered as part of its maturation:

  • Ad hoc project management processes

  • A previous failed attempt at establishing a PMO and pessimism regarding the effectiveness or need of a PMO

  • No historical information on the costs of projects

  • No historical information on how resources are utilized

  • No consistent way to determine resource needs

  • No clear picture of the full scope of future work for the organization

  • Rapidly changing project priorities without a defined process

Starting in 2010 the PMO played an integral role in cross-functional initiatives that expanded MOTOR’s capabilities across the organization. These included establishing two processes that address major areas of difficulty for most organizations: resource management and the integration of acquisitions.

The Resource Allocation Methodology established a process for managing resource allocation to ensure all resources are 100% allocated. MOTOR PMO now monitors resource allocation; trains project and resource managers on resource planning and management methodology; creates resource allocation charts; and monitors resource allocation across the enterprise. Resources are fully allocated across the enterprise for current and future work up to 18 months in advance; this has resulted in improved cross-functional team collaboration.

The Acquisition Integration process began by integrating the MOTOR Truck Group acquisition into the core business processes and established a framework for future acquisitions. Now MOTOR PMO can lead an integration using a standardized process and train new resources on core business processes.

Today, the MOTOR PMO is a hybrid of a centralized and decentralized PMO structure. Dedicated, PMP-certified, senior-level project managers report directly to the PMO manager, while dual-role, functional project managers report to the PMO through a matrix relationship. The PMO maintains governance and oversight of program and project management standards, guidelines and best practices that are used across the enterprise.

MOTOR employs a balanced matrix project management structure. Resources have dual reporting relationships with their functional manager and project managers. The project managers provide day-to-day task based direction to the resources, and the functional managers provide day-to-day job related direction to the resources in addition to the human resource support. Team members are released back to their functional teams at the end of projects for assignment to additional projects. The team is pictured in the image below: Back row (left to right): Ann Radelt, Chris Mallory, Lily Thibideau, Robyne Seeley, Jim Weiss, Marcus Teague, Nathan Stouffer, Jim Stout, Diane Watts, Dave Garvin, Elaine Finamore, Raj Duggal, Sue Porzondek, Steve Hollowell, Scott Cappel.  Front row (left to right): Jeff Gutleber, John McDonald, Tony Dutton, Scott Zimmerman, Nicole McIlwain (PMO Director), Tina Wrubel.  Not pictured: Laura Gizicki, Dave Cruickshank, Chris Edd, Jeff Herrin.

MOTOR’s active 17 project management resources manage on average 75 concurrent projects per month consuming 18,000 resource hours. The project sizes range from 60 to 31,000 hours and contain 525 measurable product releases per year. MOTOR also tracks all non-project activities in EPM to account for 100% allocation of its resources.

The MOTOR PMO strategy to mature project management is designed to be a natural progression through four channels: 1) increase the project management capability level, 2) expand the project management service structure, 3) improve the performance of project managers, and 4) expand the PMO service structure. This service structure, shown in the graphic below, includes four types or levels of PMO, each appropriate to tasks and initiatives at that level. The graphic shows how PMO services have expanded over time, while still offering the foundational services.

While the MOTOR PMO does not use an official project management maturity model, the strategy has been benchmarked against notable models like PM Solutions PMMMSM, PMI OPM3®, and SEI CMMI.

Telling the Story with Data

MOTOR embraces the visibility that enterprise wide project management brings. Executives trust the objective data that is provided by project and functional managers related to costs, resource needs and product release dates. Project and functional managers applaud their ability to “tell their story” with objective data. The skepticism that was pervasive among the new functional project managers in 2008 has been replaced with a reliance on project management as a critical function of their jobs. Team members do not mind accounting for a full day’s work. In fact, they will not work on a task without knowing “where to post their time” or “how many hours” they have to complete a task.

The metrics provided by this data collection are impressive. The implementation of a 95% schedule reliability goal in 2011 yields an average reliability rate of 86%. This average has been on the incline each month in 2012 with the highest monthly metric of 100% occurring in May 2012. The increase in reliability is attributed to the root cause analysis that is conducted each month for the unreliable releases. Planning quality is the most common root cause, and this led to the organization applying more scrutiny to the review and approval of project plans and committed date request responses. PMs also pay attention to their track records for product releases.

Capacity planning has also improved. Resources are allocated in EPM to match the demand in the Product Roadmap up to18 months in advance. PMs and functional managers are able to articulate resource needs by providing resourcing options to Product Management for forecasts based on the triple constraints.

 It’s no wonder that the PMO of the Year Award Judges termed MOTOR PMO “very impressive!”

 Next week we profile Award Semifinalist T-Mobile … one of the few companies to ever rise to Semifinalist status not once, but twice.


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2 Comments on PMO of the Year Semifinalist Profile: MOTOR Information Systems

jcabanis-brewin says:

I was particularly struck, as I was editing this profile, by their efforts to determine PMO maturity and capability. This has been a pet project of ours this year at PM Solutions Research. Readers who are interested in this topic are invited to attend J. Kent Crawford’s session at the upcoming PMI Global Congress, where he will present our ideas on PMO capability and conduct a large-scale “focus group” on the topic with attendees. Thanks also to MOTOR for their nice press release about the award:

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 10:33 am

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Posted on June 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm

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