Read This if You Don’t Have a Robot Doing Your Projects

For my NTCUE project, I went to my garage to create an omniscient robot.  It would track all member conversations and core data, utilizing algorithms to identify all problems at DuPont Community Credit Union (DCCU). Then, with the press of a button, it would develop solutions and perfectly implement them by writing project plans, software code, training materials, marketing copy, etc. for the humans to roll out. Bam!

How outlandish! But, comparison to robotic perfection highlights a situation we are so desensitized to that we don't recognize it as an opportunity: finding, prioritizing and implementing projects.

  • Are your current projects exhaustively sourced from all ideas in the credit union? (Finding)
  • Are these projects the ones an omniscient robot would have selected? (Prioritizing)
  • Are they implemented with the perfection of a well-oiled, coordinated machine? (Implementing)

These three opportunities are the core competencies of my real project: standing up a Project Management Office (PMO) in IT.  Our IT PMO will be responsible for Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and our Project Management (PM) methodology. First I’ll show you what we’re doing at DCCU, then how it creates value when finding, prioritizing and implementing projects.

Raw ideas, problems and ‘what if’s’ are emailed to the Enhancement Inbox. Monthly, the Project Development Group reviews the submissions and develops a few into a standard Project Proposal format. The Project Proposals go before the Steering Committee for approval. Think Shark Tank, but, less dramatic. Project Proposals are scheduled, parked or archived based on member impact, alignment to strategy, risk and other attributes. These projects are then merged with major strategic projects on our project roadmap. All of this happens in phase-gates.

Projects are then implemented with our PM methodology, a systematic way of picking the project management processes, tools and best practices (project plans, WBS, risk register, etc) that will most benefit a particular project. These are the technicals of PM that PMPs like me get excited about.

How does our PMO’s PPM and PM methodology create value?
The ‘Finding’ Opportunity
“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” -Linus Pauling
If you could visualize ideas in an organization it would look like fireflies in a field; small flashes of light blinking on and off. As children know, the best way to catch a firefly is when the light is on. The Enhancement Inbox captures diverse, fresh and insightful ideas before they fade. Employees’ varied viewpoints identify project niches that strategic planning can miss. And, employees are given a voice and empowered to change their workplace.

The ‘Prioritizing’ Opportunity
The Project Development Group provides a way to make small investments of time and resources in ideas that, initially, look most promising. The Steering Committee consists of multiple departments so it aids in organizational project visibility and communication, reducing redundant projects and encouraging collaboration.

The ‘Implementing’ Opportunity
Organizations are getting good at creating a strategic plan; the new problem is implementing it. The main point of the tools, processes and best practices within the PMO methodology are to keep projects on time, on budget and in scope. Even just having a methodology helps organizational communication since stakeholders know what to expect next; it teaches everyone the choreography of the project dance. Well planned and implemented projects reduce stress, create a better project team experience, allow executive visibility and post-project value capture.

Next Steps
Some others in the CU Movement are quite experienced with PMOs. Twin Star CU has an “innovation lab” and Royal CU and NFCU’s have award-winning PMOs. For DCCU, however, the PPM and PM methodology are in prototype. This is a huge organization change we are making step by step. Doing projects while we continuously learning how to better find, prioritize and implement projects.

What challenges is your credit union facing related to its projects? If you have any experience with anything PMO related, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. While I never created an omniscient robot, I’m helping to develop a PMO that is the next best thing, and enjoying the challenges along the way!

Josh (the robot replacement) Gelser, PMP