Executives rely on the PMO to provide input for critical business decisions. Just having project management software is not enough. In order to provide expert reports, you need to clearly define the decisions you are supporting, and the data you need to support timely and accurate decisions that are the hallmark of top-performing PMOs.

To make this happen, the Project Management Office (PMO) needs to produce expert reports so that your executives can make effective decisions. For expert reports to be the standard in your investment in a project management software solution, there are three things you need to do:

  1. Understand the Specific Decisions that Must Be Made
  2. Develop Reports that Present All Relevant Data for the Decision
  3. Put the Right Data into the System

In this blog, we’re going to focus primarily on what data is needed to ensure that the expert reports are developed. We’re also going to focus on strategies for getting this data into the system to produce the reports your team needs to make effective decisions.

Here are some examples of decisions you might need to make:

  • Should we reallocate money?
  • Should we request more resources?
  • Do we need to communicate new expectations around project completion?

Now let’s talk about how the reports must be produced to help you make these decisions.  Let’s look at example number one above – should we reallocate money. The data we need to make this decision includes:

  1. Is there a need to reallocate budget?
  2. Is budget available to be reallocated?
  3. What are the impacts of reallocating budget?

These are questions we need to answer to make this decision. To answer the first question above, we need to know the budget allocated to this effort, the portion of the budget we’ve already used, and how much more expect to need. If we know these data points, we’ll be able to understand whether or not there’s a need.

What Data Do We Need to Get into the System

To answer the next question, is there any budget available to be reallocated, there are a couple of data points we need visibility into. For simplicity sake we’ll look at a single project with a single funding source. Data points we need to understand include how much money is available from other efforts and are those efforts forecasted as needing all remaining funds.

For the last question, what are the impacts of reallocated budget, we look to examine whether or not the benefits of reallocating money outweigh the costs. If we’re taking money from other efforts, are there activities we can no longer fund? If we’re taking money from reserve budgets, are there other activities going on that might need that money and therefore are put at greater risk? Having this insight available is key to making the decision of whether or not it’s in the project’s best interest to reallocate budget.

All these data points can be captured in Project Server and incorporated into expert reports. For those reports to work, you need to make sure the data is being captured correctly.

Put the Right Data into the System

Based on our previous example, we identified a number of data points. For example, we need to capture budget estimates, cost forecasts, and actual costs for the efforts in our project. And we’ll need the appropriate mechanisms to capture those elements. Using the “Fixed Cost” task field may be the right approach for capturing some types of cost, but it’s not the right approach for capturing all types of costs.

Once we’re confident that the best mechanisms are being leveraged to model our needs, we need to ensure that the data is being entered consistently and diligently It’s also important for the team to understand what the right rules are when it comes to how you identify what’s needed. For example, when determining what developers are needed on the project, one person may say that which programming languages they know is the most important item to identify.

However, another person may want to know which applications they have skills to develop in. The decision with regard to whether demand is categorized according to programming language or by application or according to some other dimension must be made centrally. However, once that determination is made, users must be diligent in capturing demand to ensure you get the reports that help you make effective decisions. It all goes together.

Having these three elements in place- an understanding of the decisions that need to be made, expert reports that present all the relevant data, and the right data being captured in the system –will enable leadership to make decisions confidently and as quickly as possible. And at the end of the day, the ability to do that is what motivates most organizations to make the investment in a complete project management solution.