Keeping tabs on your portfolio within spreadsheets may be leaving your PMO at a disadvantage. No pun intended here, but honestly, how many tabs are on your spreadsheet tracking the progress of your portfolio? Many PMOs using spreadsheets today are realizing the limitations, especially with the growing spotlight on PMOs to deliver greater business value. So what are some of these spreadsheet challenges?

The downfalls of spreadsheets for PMOs

  1. Scattered Information – Not only is information static in a master spreadsheet that requires constant updating to keep the information accurate for resource utilization and project forecasting, but often data becomes instantly outdated when new versions are created as projects are constantly changing. This leaves different versions of spreadsheets “checked out” leaving information scattered across resources or project leaders. With scattered information, it makes consolidated reporting and forecasting difficult with constant information disconnects.

  2. Different teams all doing different things – PMOs are often working on different projects and ultimately tracking them very differently. The challenge with this is reporting on these projects becomes a complete nightmare. With no consistency or governance, PMOs are forced to look at individual projects without a complete business view of the value these projects will deliver. The fundamental disconnect of how projects are being tracked in maybe different spreadsheets leaves PMOs spending more time piecing together the data and less time being able to add value from those projects.

  3. Too many tools – Maybe your PMO is using spreadsheets to consolidate the various tools your team is using. The problem with this is the lack of connection between those systems. For example, resource overlap may occur with no visibility of that shared resource ultimately resulting in over utilization and delayed projects. This lack of integration results in more administrative time connecting the dots and often leaves gaps in reporting that doesn’t allow your PMO to see the full picture.

Overcome the PMO spreadsheet dilemma

  1. Standardize – Look to implement process to standardize how your PMO is planning, executing and reporting on projects. By standardizing your processes, your PMO will already start to gain greater insight. PMO governance is important for organizations especially with larger portfolios to ensure that all projects and portfolios are working toward the greater business goals and prioritizing those that will deliver the most value. But, you may ask how this works? Start by identifying the areas of your PMO that are “working” and adapt your processes around those. Create processes that will be scalable for your growing PMO needs.

  2. Don’t wait – Adapting your master spreadsheet every week to include those new metrics or processes may not be the best use of your time. In reality, how realistic and scalable is that? The more complicated that spreadsheet gets, the more time and attention you will need to spend to ensure its delivering the information you need when you need it. You may not have all the processes in place today, but you can get started slowly. Approach the transition one step at a time. There is no time like the present to get these processes/tools in place to set the future of your PMO up for success.

  3. Get the right tool – You may have now identified that spreadsheets isn’t the answer for you PMO, but what is? Implementing PPM is important because it will be crucial to the success and value your PMO will be able to deliver. Don’t take that lightly. Identify the key areas of a PPM tool that will be able to help your PMO and approach the transition slowly. The purpose of a tool is to eliminate the headaches of your current spreadsheet madness, so implementing a solution carelessly will leave your PMO in just as much if not more chaos than before! Take your time.

With PMOs of all sizes turning to spreadsheets – its important to identify if this approach is best for your PMO. You now know some of the downfalls and a few ways to overcome the rigidness and lack of visibility your current spreadsheets strategy is providing your PMO. So, is it time to take the necessary steps to implement a strategic approach to managing your portfolio?

Back to Mastering PMO Project Management.

Rachel Hentges
PMO Influencer
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Rachel Hentges

Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.