February 08, 2022
3 min.

Process ownership: the key for accurate decision making at Portfolio Level

Shall we continue this project? Invest more in it? Or even… cancel?

Every now and then, management needs to sit down and take decisions regarding project prioritisation. To make an informed decision, they need an accurate overview on the projects progress versus their consumption. This, in turn, creates a need for projects managers to collect and consolidate all data regarding:

  • budget consumption
  • resources available
  • timings

This process provides an end-to-end view on the tasks and decisions steps that projects are going through. Meanwhile, procedures describe the operational tasks of the process in more details.

Thus, process owners play an essential role in the process adoption journey. They are responsible for the entire process, training others, process optimisation as well as managing the interactions with other processes. To do this, business process analysts are helping in:

  • centralizing the company’s processes;
  • designing the process(es) with its owner(s)
  • maintaining processes up to date and optimizing them

A concrete example of lack of process ownership

Let’s consider the following scenario: A new management was appointed to pilot an IT division based on its budget, resources and deadlines.

Using an aggregated view of the different existing roadmaps, they reported that 70% of the projects were over budget compared to project progress..

Why? The previous team were not following the project budgets during the life cycle. did they request approval by the portfolio for each task (a time consuming procedure). They tracked deadlines and resource allocation on a daily basis, but not budget usage. In fact, once budget were approved, managers overspent to stay on track until they ran out of budget. Then, they’d request more from portfolio, arguing projects were “too far to cancel”.

The rootcause of project’s budget overspending

A team was mandated to set-up a reporting on projects versus budget.

Their root cause analysis showed that:

  • The existing process which identifies the different stage gates of a project was not enough documented, especially for the ideation phase
  • The process adherence was on average too low
  • The portfolio lacked in control: there were no logs of budgets spending in a central database

How to design an end-to-end project life cycle process?

To address the problem, document and optimize the ideation phase process:

  1. Consult roadmap managers. They are both the ones in charge of a project portfolio and users of the end-to-end project life cycle process
  2. Discuss the existing processes to the entire divison using change management methodologies and collect their feedback.
  3. Request missing budget documentation and feed the central database.
  4. Reinforce the process in the different departments with the help of Project support officers
  5. Organize Workshops with the different roadmaps to define the pain points,
  6. Design a common process for budget tracking and establish process adherence controls

Benefits of an end-to-end project life cycle process

Managers are now able to pilot their division more efficiently and with more predictability!

  • The missing phase of the project life cycle process -the budget phase- has been designed and completed
  • Roles and responsibilities of all involved stakeholders have been clarified with management’s support
  • The process is now supported by the project support officers and shared withing other stakeholders
  • The central database is now fed with relevant information, enabling analysis and projections at any given moment
  • Administrative control of the project budget is established