# 13 - Stage Gates with teeth
In our eBook “the 7 habits of a highly successful SAP PMO” we discussed the fact that one of the big problems the PMO often faces on an SAP project is the fact that often, people don’t really know what the role of the PMO is.
And, the same could be said about stage gates.
All too often stage gates get treated as either information updates or review meetings.
This is a missed opportunity.
Get Stage Gates right and they are a powerful tool that can help you evaluate the project and product quality.
What can you do?
To get the most out of your Stage Gate Meetings you need to make everyone understand how important they are from the off.
Frame the meeting as a decision point - ensuring the Project Board are aware of their decision-making role.
If there are key decisions that must be made, make a recommendation regarding the decisions within the pack you present in the meeting.
As we’ve already covered, tie vendor contracts to milestones based on stage gate outcomes.
It’s also important that you don’t hold too many stage gate meetings, especially on smaller projects, as this can devalue them and reduce attendance.
Why it works
By making stage gates and stage gate meetings important and infrequent events attendance will be improved, and key stakeholders will be more transparent in their decision making.
This will turn stage gate into key events on your project – just as they should be. This will instil more confidence in the governance process and people can see the effect of proper project management in action.
When people trust the project governance, they trust the PMO which means the PMO are better able to do their job and make things happen on the project.
#14 – Communication, let's make it happen
SAP Programmes are likely the biggest projects your business will undertake – and definitely the most cross functional.
They take the middle-earth world of Enterprise IT and catapult it at the wider business – so it’s no surprise that communication can break down from time to time.
After all, have you ever tried explaining enterprise architecture to a marketing team? It’s like trying to explain your tax return to a 6 year old – they might look like they’re listening but really they’re just thinking about colouring in.
With all things considered it’s no surprise people end up confused, distracted and misdirected.
What can you do?
Enlist PMO support in improving Project communications, by having a plan, holding 'town halls', sending project updates, disseminating status reports, and running plan walk through sessions.
Why it works?
A good PMO can prevent communication breakdown - even if it means brokering difficult conversations or delivering bad news.
In a central role they have access to all of the right information, and they have access to executives, key stakeholders, business teams and anyone else they might need to squeeze some information out of to improve transparency, get questions answered, and generally boost the quality of communication with on a project.
By becoming masters at getting different groups, teams and even just individuals to communication better together, the PMO create project teams with better informed people who are more motivated and understand their role in delivery and resolving issues.
#15 - Good cop or bad cop it's just not about the paperwork
We’ve talked time and again about how the PMO are too often seen as the grey-suits of a project.
The bureaucrats, the admin, the red tape.
And, while there is a certain amount of admin that goes into good project governance, it’s important to remember that the PMO is a dynamic and vital asset that can really inject life into your SAP project.
They’re not there just to keep score and dish out the tellings off. They’re the lubricant that makes the machinery of project management move. They’re the catalyst to your business transformation.
For your next project to be a success it’s vital that the PMO does much more than just the paperwork.
What can you do?
The PMO ends up getting involved all over the place on a project, doing a bit of everything to help things run at maximum efficiency. Given we all know this already it make sense to bear it in mind when you’re putting your PMO together, and bring together a team of people with a wide range of varied skills.
You need leaders who can provide assurance, talk to people across the business and win the buy in your PMO needs. You need experts who can provide quality and advisory services – people who’ve done it before and know how to get it done again.
You need skilled analysts who can look at the information the PMO has gathered and complete the necessary administrative tasks to get things ready for the next stage in the project.
You need all this and more if you want a PMO team that can be truly effective on your next SAP or S/4HANA project.
Why it works
What the business needs from the PMO will constantly change, and so will the way the PMO needs to relate to others on the project.
From bad cop to guardian angel. From harsh whip-cracker to encouraging team-mate. From strategic thinker to detail planner.
By equipping your PMO team with a wide range of skills from the get-go, you can have the authority, experience and attention to detail you need for your PM to be effective on the next SAP project.