Outsourcing the mundane PMO activities
Outsourcing the mundane, routine activities can help your team thrive. I’ve seen the same pattern across numerous PMO teams. Talented individuals are hired as PMO analysts because they have that certain spark, curiosity, drive, and creativity that defines the truly great analysts. But too often, those skills go underutilized as their time is spent on monotonous activities:
- Creating PowerPoint decks
- Chasing timesheet updates
- Consolidating / Rolling-up reports
- Keeping data in multiple systems in sync
Why are we suffocating talent?
Recently I spoke with a rising star in the world of PMO and Project Management. She had joined a large organization, lured by the promise of working on high profile projects and some juicy projects to get stuck into. I remember how excited she had been when she landed the role after seemingly endless rounds of interviews. She’d told me how this was a great opportunity to grow in a high profile global organization. Imagine my surprise when I saw on LinkedIn that she had moved on after only six months. The reason? “All I was doing was creating decks for people,” she explained. Sure the decks were important, but continuous administration and making decks look good were not the activities they had signed up for. She moved on to a different organization and is now thriving: delivering strategic projects and making recommendations that get heard and inspire action.
Repetitive processes are common in the PMO, but when they start to overwhelm our creative talent and stifle innovation, then those processes can lead to a drain in enthusiasm and cause the PMO to lose sight of why it exists. We have spoken about this in the past, where we described the PMO as a delivery catalyst and advocated regular PMO process purges. But sometimes, even the leanest PMO can find tedious, soul-destroying work sucking the life out of the team.
This doesn’t mean the humdrum tasks aren’t important. We know from experience that some of them are highly valued by busy project managers. Finance and Governance teams depend on the PMO to complete assurance activities that ensure time is allocated correctly, and capital projects are transferred to the fixed asset register in a timely manner. The question is, how do we keep these valuable processes running without sucking the life and energy out of our PMO?
The Trend Towards outsourcing
You are almost certainly aware of the popularity of outsourcing in IT Management. Many organizations recognize that managing IT is not their core specialism. Instead, they should choose to hand it off to organizations that specialize in managing IT assets and delivering ITIL services, including the helpdesk. With the growth and acceptance of cloud and software as a service (SaaS) models, we also see an increase in outsourcing services such as backups, monitoring, and data center management.
The shift is not just happening in IT. There has been a growth in professional employer organizations (PEO) that provide HR, payroll processing, benefits, and other solutions. These PEO companies typically function as an extension of their client’s in-house team, focusing on specific processes, freeing up valuable resources in the People/Human resources function.
Such arrangements make good business sense. After all, why spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on functions your team isn’t designed for when you can leverage outsourcing services – freeing your team up to focus on supporting projects and delivering on strategic goals.
Benefits of Outsourced Project Management Office Processes
Fresh Perspective – PMO teams are great at taking business problems and introducing processes to manage them. But the process that your PMO introduced last year may not be the optimal approach this year. Technology and best practice are constantly evolving. An outsource provider can look at your process with a fresh pair of eyes and find the most effective way of delivering cost-effectively, with the minimum overhead for your team.
Cost-Effectiveness – Keeping up with changes to Jira, PowerBI, and M0365 can be expensive. Continually retraining your in-house PMO on the tools used to extract project data can be an expensive and time-consuming overhead for small PMO teams. Hiring expertise in the form of contractors can often be of poor value for money, as resources are typically engaged on a full-time, fixed-term basis rather than being contracted to undertake a specific task. Outsourcing tasks and processes can often be far more cost-effective as outsource providers such as HotPMO will already have the underpinning skills to take your routine PMO processes and deliver them consistently and affordably from day one.
The Power to Flex – Outsourcing mundane processes does not need to be permanent. Engaging such services can help organizations scale capacity rapidly, granting the flexibility to deploy internal resources better to work on mission-critical engagements. At the same time, an outsource provider picks up the strain in the background. Such engagements can be scaled up or down depending on the process throughput – scaling up when there are a high number of projects and reducing down again as the number of individuals assigned to projects reduces. The ability to scale up and down rapidly to meet demand in this way is a real benefit when it comes to budgeting for the PMO.
Risks of PMO Outsourcing (and how to avoid them)
Of course, outsourcing is not without risks, even when we are talking about repetitive and humdrum activities. When considering outsourcing PMO processes, there are a few items you should consider. Some of the benefits of outsourcing can be a double-edged sword if not managed carefully.
Safety – Any outsourcer who processes your PMO data will have access to sensitive data. Data breaches are an ever-present risk to organizations. It pays to ensure your provider understands the risks and has robust data protection and security policies in place to keep your project’s data secure. Ensure NDAs are in place from the start and that your provider has appropriate controls to keep your data secure.
Employee Acceptance – For PMO process outsourcing to be successful, employees’ buy-in is an important factor. Without the right communication and groundwork, such outsourcing may be met with resistance, and project teams may fail to engage. Collaboration and communication are key here: The more people understand the benefits of the approach, the more likely the engagement is to be effective. Experienced teams will be able to help you craft this communication and will be able to work with employees to ensure the processes run as smoothly as possible. By getting the right partner, the problem will resolve itself.
Expertise – Look for a provider who has extensive experience of working in the PMO space. PMO outsource providers should be able to demonstrate experience of working with multiple projects and PMO teams across various sectors. They should also be able to provide examples of how they have delivered services efficiently and effectively in the past. This experience will not only give you confidence that the job will be done right, but it will give you confidence that a team will process the work with a PMO and project delivery mindset – able to spot issues and resolve them or escalate them promptly.
Ready to take the plunge?
Why not talk to us about PMO Process outsourcing today and find out how we can help unleash your team from the mundane and free them to accelerate delivery like never before.