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Multi-phase Strategic PMO Assessment for Large Electricity Producer

Our client is one of the largest producers of electricity in the United States with customers with in four different southern states. PFES was retained to provide an assessment of the client’s existing Project Management Organization (PMO), with the understanding that the Client was consolidating their management of all Transmission and Distribution capital projects under a centralized PMO.

Key Challenges

PFES’ deep experience in enterprise alignment while developing PMOs within the utility industry provided a unique perspective to support the client with an assessment of their current PMO, industry best practices, benchmarking with industry peers, and next steps.

The assessment primarily focused on segment 1 and 2 projects typically valued at $20M or less, but also included elements of the broader Project Development System framework used by the client for higher value and complexity projects (segment 3 and 4) and programs. The objective was to provide a set of pragmatic recommendations to improve performance in these areas.

PFES Solution

For this assessment, the PFES team utilized a multi-phase approach. The intent of this approach was to understand the current state and provide industry best practices, procedures, lessons learned, and recommendations for flexible solutions to increase operating efficiencies, clarity on roles and responsibilities, and governance to manage scope, cost, and schedule performance. The overall intent was to build upon existing client best practices wherever possible.

The main inputs utilized for this assessment included:

  • Stakeholder Interviews – The stakeholders interviewed were identified by the client. The primary goal of the interviews was to capture the perspectives of the key stakeholders and identify observations and themes for validation.
  • Document Review – The client provided an extensive quantity of policies, standards, implementing guides, templates, training materials, and project artifacts for review. PFES reviewed the documents against industry standards and best practices and identified recommendations for further validation.
  • Validation – PFES compared the recommendations from the detailed document review with the observations and themes from the stakeholder interviews. Additional validation was performed to resolve interview input and ensure valid interviewee perspectives were incorporated into the recommendations. The resulting recommendations were provided to client Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for further validation and refinement.

Outcome

PFES identified five major areas for improvement with specific recommendations for each area.

  1. Needs-Assessment and Professional Development – The client had significant project management bench strength while recognizing the need to grow additional skill sets. PFES recommended a strategic approach to defining job families and competencies and then assessing the existing workforce against those standards to baseline current needs.
  2. Estimating and Scheduling Standardization – The client has well-defined, and in some cases, industry-leading processes particularly in the scheduling area. PFES identified opportunities to standardize tools and processes in estimate development to advance effectiveness and efficiency.
  3. Alternate Approaches for Programs – The client’s level of rigor and sophistication currently described in their Project Delivery System sets a high bar within the utility industry. During the PFES review of the overall PDS framework, an opportunity was identified to provide further clarification in the execution of large programs.

    By developing a more detailed decision-tree to evaluate a program, the client could maintain the discipline and rigor of the PDS framework while allowing for tailoring to better match program characteristics with the intent of meeting the stage gate process and associated requirements.

  4. Stage Gate Lite Standardization – The client had already made significant progress in tailoring the intent of the PDS for smaller value and complex projects within Transmission and Distribution. PFES recommended that these similar, but different, approaches be combined to support increased efficiency and professional development for the recently combined organization using a standardized Stage Gate process that provides evaluation and review while including flexibility.
  5. Data & Reporting Standardization – The client had been making steady progress toward improving and streamlining the reporting functions within Transmission and Distribution. PFES identified the functions of data collection and report generation as an ongoing administrative burden on project management resources. PFES recommended that the client further build upon existing SharePoint and Power BI resources to consolidate and standardize data collection and report generation methodologies and greatly reduce administrative burdens so these resources can focus on higher value activities.

Based on our findings, observations, and recommendations, several PFES improvement teams have been retained by the client to assist with implementing the recommendations.