THE “FOUR Cs” OF
When approaching the finance department about projects, Jen L. Skrabak,
PMP, WellPoint, Los Angeles, California, USA, suggests that you ensure
your business case is:
Clear. The project scope and
approach should be in layman’s terms,
without acronyms and technical terms
that may be unfamiliar to your audience.
Concise. Prepare an elevator
speech on the what, when, where, why
and how of the project.
Concrete. Make your case based
on facts and data, not guesses and
Compelling. The ROI should speak
they do share overarching goals when
it comes to the organization’s health.
To increase profit and productivity,
both disciplines must start by establishing clear strategies and objectives,
says Clive Enoch, PhD, PMP, head of
the enterprise portfolio management
office at Standard Bank, Johannesburg,
“Without this, any initiatives run in
the organization will be misdirected,”
he says. “Even if the organization does
increase profit, it will not be as much
as it could have been if the initiatives
were strategically aligned and the strat-
egy was clearly directed toward increas-
Due to the recent credit crunch, his
organization has had to consider its
strategy carefully, and make a concerted
effort through the definition of its
strategic objectives to reduce cost and
Project management practitioners
can help contribute to the bottom line
by finding ways to improve efficiency.
“Time is money,” says Denise Keller,
COO and founding partner of Benchmark Email, a small-business email
marketing company in Los Alamitos,
California, USA. “The longer it takes
EASIER SAID THAN DONE
“Benefits realization management is an elusive ideal that I’ve never seen
completely successfully applied,” says Calum Roberston in the PMI Pro-
gram Management Office Community of Practice:
The three main challenges I come across are:
1. Governance. Who is responsible for realization of business benefits?
The project manager? The project sponsor? The PMO? Of course it’s the
sponsor, but they often seek to avoid this accountability.
2. How do you manage realization of benefits? When a project “go live”
has been achieved and the team disbanded, the spotlight moves to other
projects. The project manager is usually redeployed to other projects and
no one is driving the benefits.
3. How do you ensure benefits are delivered? The only way I have found
is to transfer expected business outcomes into the project sponsor’s personal
objectives. Failure to achieve benefits means no bonus. The added advantage
is that it encourages greater reality when stating business case benefits.
>> Join the discussion at pmo.vc.pmi.org.
for a project to be done or redone, the
more expensive it becomes. If com-
pleted on or ahead of schedule, there
can be significant dollars saved, which
hits the bottom line.”
Her team members use a web-based
project management tool to see all
project-related communications and
updates in real time, as well as the status
of open tasks and milestones.
But when one individual recently
bypassed the system, the results were
costly. A server migration project
brought together programming teams
from three time zones. In the interest
of saving time, a team member emailed
instructions and updates directly,
rather than using the project management software.
“As a critical piece of info was not
communicated to the entire team, we
missed our window to migrate one
of our relay servers,” Ms. Keller says.
“This resulted in us having to extend
our contract for another month on
one of our servers, and it proved to be
an expensive bypass. The workaround
ended up costing us an additional
Another common mistake organiza-
tions make is being too rigid.
“The portfolio should not be
expected to remain static, but should
be modified when changes occur,” Mr.
Petit says. “It could actually be a good
thing to stop projects if this means
doing the right projects at a given point
PMO directors must closely moni-
tor a given program’s status so they
can respond rapidly to requests for
new projects, he says. This requires
constantly updated information on the
comparison of resource needs versus
availability, for example, and the depen-
dencies between projects.
Failure to do so can lead to authorizing more projects than the organization
can handle, Mr. Petit warns.
And mistakes like that can mean the
difference between being in the black—
or in the red. PM