Management of projects at the National Bank - Peak Consulting Group




A story about the management of projects at the National Bank of Denmark 

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Learn from the National Bank’s experiences with project management and strengthen your portfolio management. 

How do you practice portfolio management in a 200-year-old organization that wants to preserve itself, but also evolve? At Peak’s network-meeting PMO Forum on June 19th, Philip Sonne, Head of PMO at the National Bank of Denmark, joined us for a talk about project management.  

Philip offered an open and honest insight into the dilemmas the National Bank are faced with, when seeking to balance central PMO-management and the collective development of project models and -processes among project managers. Below you can read our reflections on the presentation and get great tips for portfolio management á la the National Bank that you can apply to your own organization.  

  1. Set the agenda on the basis of culture and success criteria  

An organization’s culture greatly influences which strategy and practice it can use for portfolio- and project management. The extent to which your organization is characterized by, for example, innovation, responsibility, consensuses or drive will determine which models or approaches you can apply to your project management.  

As the National Bank is characterized by a high degree of responsibility, they possess a lot of freedom when choosing methods. Furthermore, they have clear priorities concerning the relationship between the project deliverable’s quality, time and price.  

In this relationship, quality is an essential criterion for success, while meeting deadlines and staying on budget, sometimes needs to take a backseat so the project can achieve the desired quality. And it is precisely these kinds of prioritization and fundamental principles, you have to take into consideration, when you are developing your management setup and matching expectations for success criteria with the management team and the additional parts of business. Ask yourself: Which priorities and methods are consistent with the organization’s culture and purpose?  

  1. Find a balance between central responsibility and individual freedom 

While involvement in the development of the project management clearly motivates, shared responsibility can at times end up becoming nobody’s responsibility. Which person is ultimately responsible for fully completing the execution, the implementation of the management processes and ‘best practice’?  

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. The National Bank’s project managers are responsible for the common management model, while at the same time having a great deal of freedom in their application of methods and templates. A freedom that motivates, but also risks challenging the overall need for an overview.  

  1. Visualize and evaluate your benefits  

The National Bank is increasingly focused on the emotional benefits they wish to achieve with any given project. This is, however, a complex area to enter into, and it requires a certain maturity from the organization and project management team.  

This increased focus on benefits often also leads to a greater focus on organizational implementation, so this is an area where the National Bank has seen significant improvement.  

This for example involves visualising the follow-up on benefits for everyone in an intuitive and effective way, so no one is in doubt about whether the benefits have been achieved.  

  1. Make the execution of management and projects a joint affair 

The National Bank wants to turn project management into a general discipline. That is why we have established a competency center, where several professions within the organization meet and discuss professional project management topics.  

The underlying basis is, that an understanding of project management is important on all levels and in all fields and is not only a matter for career project managers. This makes the project language widespread and less nerdy and ensures, that the business reaches towards to project-world and the projects reach toward the business.  

  1. Asses the portfolio and the projects’ performance 

The National Bank assesses in 4 ways, when they evaluate their management of projects and portfolio: 

  • Predictability of time and economy. 
  • Satisfaction with the cooperation.  
  • High quality of deliverables.  
  • Realization of benefits. 

As anyone who works with assessment will know, this is easier said than done. The National Bank has had some great ideas, identified reasonable objectives and takes everything one step at a time. And they are slowly, but surely, maturing the strategic management of their project area.  

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jannik sørensen

Jannik Sørensen

Management Consultant

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