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Estimating Annual Budgets using Project Server and Online
Posted: 10/17/18
Presenter: Michael Wharton
Moderator: Kyle

 

So this is our agenda. We’re going to talk about general issues with PMO and organization around resource loading because that’s kind of how it all started. And then we’ll talk about how we can stretch the PMO. For instance, did you know you can close some of the resource gaps by using operational schedules? We can also use schedules to roll up yearly budgets which is what this is all about and then one of the side things it can do for us is we can look at it from managing and tracking vacation times. And we’ll talk about how we can use this tool for building annual schedules. And then the next steps you might need to do to implement a solution like this.

 

First of all, I just want to hit some terms and definitions and the reason is that often we talk about PS (Project Server) and PO (Project Online). To me, they’re the same so you’ll hear me refer to this sometimes as a PMO (Project Management Office), sometimes as a PPM (Project Portfolio Management), EPM (Enterprise Project Management)…I’ll be using those different acronyms but they’ll all be referencing PS, PO. The other thing is, often I refer to the Project Management Office and what I’ve found over the years, some companies have an official PMO, some have an unofficial meaning that they have one but it’s not really funded or supported by corporate. And then you have huge companies that may have several. Enterprise PMO or Department. So all of these kind of play into how they can be rolled into annual budgets. And then finally, there’s schedules. There’s all kinds of schedules. Most of us are probably familiar with Waterfall projects in Microsoft Project. And then we can have Agile projects. I’ll be showing you some new things, what I call “work order projects”. They’re not as big as a project but they’re not as small as something that you do in maybe a few hours. And then last three, these are all different names for the same thing. I call them “business as usual” (BAU) projects, they’re just a 1 year project tracking operational things. We’ll look at those closer. Sometimes they call them BAU, sometimes they call them “day to day” (D2D) and some companies have other names for them.

 

And just kind of a reference, why do we have a PMO? There’s been studies on why we have a PMO and there’s all kinds of reasons and the #1 reason is for reporting. If it’s for reporting, you want accurate reports and the more accurate the report is, the more valuable it can be. So often, PMOs…they think they want them to manage a project better but those are, like, 2, 3, 4 and 5 maybe. The key thing is reporting. The other thing I want to point out is the PPM or EPM architect. This is typically how it is in Project Online or PWA. I want you to see this because I’m going to show you this is going to change in a little bit as we stretch it. Basically, the PMO is based on the [?]. Initiation phases, you have many initiation phases before it becomes a project and once it becomes a project, it goes into the planning and execution and finally it comes out as a completed project. But also part of that is resource and capacity, security and governance so all of this is involved with the typical PMO. Again, we’ll look at this later and see how we’re going to stretch this out a little bit.

 

So, what are the general issues with the EPM? The EPM does a pretty good job with project management but some of the general issues that I’ve seen over the years: resource loads are not accurate and there’s many reasons for this occurring. The biggest reason for this probably is because maybe the project manager is not doing the proper thing with resource loading. But the other thing I think is a big issue on resource loads is that people that are involved with the project are involved with other things. To give you an example, a DBA. A DBA may spend half his time doing maintenance, things I’d call D2D kind of things and the other half of the day, he might be working on a project. And because he’s working on other things, his resource load might not be accurate. We want to see how we can address that. The other thing is costs are not usually managed in a project schedule and I say that generally. Some places do manage cost in the project schedule but from what I’ve seen, different implementations I’ve done, cost is really critical with managing the loads and the deliverable dates but again, every PMO is different. So these are just general issues. The other thing is the impact of vacations and personal time off. Often what I’ve seen, the vacation or the PTOs are in another system and they don’t relate back into PWA. And because they’re not included or not done in PWA, the resource load is not accurate in when people are available or not available so we want to see if we can address that as well. Now that’s for the EPM. Now, your organization as a whole, there’s just some general issues. Those issues are what I refer to as D2D or BAU load. Usually these systems are in another system on how they manage their resources outside of Project, Project Online. And we’ll look at how maybe we can bring some of that stuff into PWA. Work Orders, these are small projects, not big enough to bring into PO. But work orders is another schedule that technically we can use to capture that resource load in raw total picture of what resource load looks like. And then we’ve already talked about vacations and time off and the impact. And then finally, companies every year budget for next year and in this seminar, we’re going to use project to see how we can use some of these scheduling techniques and costing to schedule for next year. Typically I see people will have Excel spreadsheets and they roll spreadsheets up until they get to the total cost for the next year and I’m going to show how to use Project to do that rollup for department or organization.

 

So here’s a report showing a resource load gap due to operational loads. Here you see a few people and that line, the blue line, that’s that capacity. There’s a big gap in there. That may be because some of these other resources are working on other projects. If you look at this report, you’d go “oh look, we’ve got room to take on other projects” and that may well be true but in reality, what I think is happening in this report is there are people doing D2D schedules. And if we can capture that resource load, we can make this utilization closer to what it actually is by bringing in these D2D schedules.

 

What I’m trying to show in this slide, resource loads and budgets. So in the top half, you’ve got projects with variable costs. These are your new projects. You might have other projects that go from one year to the next like the mandatory government project. You know you have resources allocated to that. You might have pet projects, just a variety of different projects that are captured in PWA or PO. The problem with this is we’re not capturing the resource load for all of these other things. So in the left quadrant, you see an IT overhead and marketing overhead or any departments that you have overhead or those D2D things. What I want to show you is how we can capture that using those D2D schedules. And then once you capture it for this year, you can make copies of those schedules for next year. Then use them for the 2019 budget. The bottom lefthand corner is your overhead for this year and then right side, the 2019 budget. You can do one of two things. You can just copy those projects over or make copies of them and give them a new start and end date. One of the things about them, they start on January 1st and they end at the end of the year. So you have this schedule that are capturing this other resource load within your operations.

 

This slide shows you what a typical ORP (Organizational Resource Pool) may look like. So you have the PMO office and as you can see in the yellow, the company has a huge resource pool but the PMO may be just using a part of it. And then as part of this resource pool, you have contractors and some of the contractors are being used for projects. Then you may be bringing in contractors for those D2D schedules or those D2D activities. So they’re not being used 100% in the PMO. Some of it may be used for other things which are basically operational. And then the other thing in this resource pool, you have executive management and this depends on the company…executive management is typically overhead but sometimes these people are also being involved with the project and they can bill on the project. So their resource load might need to be captured as well. And of course executive management is used throughout the company and so this is kind of a tossup…do you want to capture the executive management resource load or do you just include that in the general overhead?

 

So all of this background brings us into…how do we stretch the PMO? When I say stretching the PMO, what I’m really talking about is, what do you need to bring in this non-project resource loads? We’ll look at some of these schedules in a few minutes on how to do that. Another critical piece of this is the use of timesheets. Now, timesheets kind of bring up-this is kind of a touchy little area because most people, especially salary people, they don’t really want to use timesheets at all. And I understand that, I’m the same way. But what timesheets really do, if you get passed that “I’m not entering a timesheet”…a timesheet gives your organization an idea of where you’re spending your time, either on projects or D2D. And a lot of companies have timesheets but they may have them outside of PS or PO. And what the beauty of PS or PO is, is you can capture that data in a timesheet and push that out into your financial systems. In PS, we also have something called “task sheets”. Task sheets may be a better name because of the stigma of something called a timesheet and a task sheet does the very same thing. What you’re doing is, you’re trying to capture the effort of the work that was done either within projects or operational schedules. Now, what can make this a lot easier if you do implement timesheets, is you can have it auto approved so whatever the employee submits, it’s just automatically approved. It streamlines the whole effort of how much effort is being spent on things. So auto approval is a feature we do often turn on for employees because employees are fixed cost. They’re basically…they’re working whether they work a 40 hour week or a 50 hour week or whatever. Now the other place where timesheets do become really important for some companies, and I’ve seen companies save a lot of money, is for contractors…you can have an approval cycle where you validate each week that the person who is a contractor are spending the right hours on the right projects on the right D2D schedules. You can’t have it go through an approval process where, you know, the person basically responsible for the contractor does look at the time and approves it each week or each month, however you want to do it. This is one of those things where if you wanted to implement this plan, you’d have to think hard about whether you wanted to use timesheets across the organization or a department. The other thing is, when you set this up, you want to include project costs. There’s many ways we can include cost. We can have hourly rates associated with resources. Some companies do that or they do what’s called a “blended rate” on a resource or a contractor. The other way is you can used fixed costs and stick that into your project schedule and that way you can manage both the resource load and what the cost is. When we look closer at the operational schedules and resource schedules, if you start including the cost and add that to your schedule, when you do annual budgets, you can get the overheard cost outside of the resource itself. It really varies in each company on how they do this. You have the tools available to include the cost. And finally, a lot of people don’t realize, with project, PO or PS, you can have people request time or vacation time, time off or all the different categories. And they can be done automatically, where they put in the request. The request is saved in their resource calendar and basically you’re allocating time for these people, that they will not be available. That can be done automatically. Or, you can go through a process of having it approved. Then once it’s approved, the resource gets its time off. So now you have one central place for capturing your vacation time, your PTO time. It will give you a better idea of when you projects are coming in because as you know, if you use your admin time and the person’s off…if they’re scheduled for that day or week, things push out because they’re not available to work on a deliverable.

 

As I said earlier, we’re looking at the EPM architect and now we’re bringing in more things. You see here, in the red, these are additional things we’re bringing into the EPM architecture. We’re bringing in operations. These are non-project resources where, again, you have D2D schedules, maybe you have a help desk person who is working 80% of the time on support but then they have 20% of the time they’re available for working on documentation or testing. You might be bringing agile or sprint schedules. Those schedules can also have a resource load associated with it. You’ve got your budgets, you’ve got your costs…so these are things that are stretching your EPM architect, going really outside your PMO throughout the organization.

 

So how do we stretch it? So most of this stretching is coming from managing the resource loads outside of the PMO. Right now, the PMO may have typical waterfall schedules. If we’re working with PS, PO, we can add agile schedules. In fact, PO has agile schedules but we can fake one within PWA. Create our own agile schedule and resources. And then we can also, if we want to capture work like work orders, we can set up work schedules and I have examples of each of these as we go through the seminar. And then you have BAU and your D2D schedules, which can be added. So it’s basically starting to stretch this, we have to work with resource managers outside the PMO and basically train them and show them how to set up these schedules and how they work with including resources that are not on projects or partially on projects. Then we can also, when we start planning next years schedules, we’ll be creating another schedule for our budgeting and we’ll probably maintain our current headcount of who we’ll have in next year’s schedule. And then we might be asking for additional headcount. And so we’ll put an estimate of this person or this particular role. It might be a generic person but we’ll put those in our 2019 schedules. And then as we start looking at the rollups, we can capture what our budget might need to look like or what needs to be cut for next year. And as I mentioned earlier, we can also include fixed cost in project schedules, both for our real projects and our D2D schedules and then kind of get an idea of what the cost is for next year. And then finally, we’ll talk about using the tracking vacations and time off. And in PS and PO, we have this administrative time. We can capture that within the timesheets throughout the organization.

 

So this is a typical waterfall project schedule. Most of us are very familiar with this. We’ve put together what our projects going to look like, whether it’s this year or even next year. We can start putting together our project schedule and try to figure out how much money we’ll require for 2019 now. I call this a waterfall because…it’s really something we as PMs have implemented. We had a planning stage, a building stage…we’d never go to the next stage until everything was finalized in our milestones. So because of this, we had something that is referred to as a waterfall. I do want to remind the PMs out there and the PMOs and everybody, it doesn’t have to be waterfall.

 

In fact, this is OBTW (Oh By The Way), the project schedule is really a network diagram and you can have those same kind of things. If you look at line 14, we set up a debt infrastructure. We don’t have to wait for this whole debt stage to be done before we go to the next stage. We can do the [?], set up the whole infrastructure. You can see here on line 21, we can do the set up the test infrastructure for the test and basically same for production. So we’re not waiting for a whole phase to be completed before we work on the next phase and if go back to the idea of a network diagram where we work on things and as soon as we finish that, we work on other things in the next phase. We basically can crash our durations and our timelines and be more efficient in getting your deliverables done in a safe and timely way. Anyway, that’s to just point out the network diagram is not waterfall, it’s actually a network diagram of tidying those tasks and deliverables that can be done once another deliverable is completed.

 

Now, the thing that’s become very popular over the past 2 or 3 years has been “sprints” and just like in a project schedule, a sprint is basically deliverables that are done in a time segment of 20 days, a month or whatever. Just like a regular project schedule, you can assign resources to the different sprints and thus capture what the resource load is. And so, you see a diagram here, I’ve got different sprints set up. Each of these sprints has features that are being built for this timeframe and each of these features will also have resources allocated. And so you see sprint 1 is being done with resources allocated. Then sprint 2 with some other features. Some are in progress and being worked on. If something is done earlier, down at the bottom, if you look at line 22, you see a backlog and basically these are additional features or enhancements, even bugs that can be moved up to the sprint. The key thing about using a sprint project schedule is it’s a way to capture our resource load currently and we can also predict what it’s going to be for next year if we have projects that are “agile” based. We would put them in the 2019 schedule and then we would start capturing that resource load. Again, some things you have to kind of feel through based on your organization. For next year, do you put real peoples names in there to capture their resource load or put generics in there to capture the resource load? So that’s something you have to take case by case on how you want to manage that.

 

If you’re familiar with Project Online, there’s a Sprint/Scrum feature. This feature is only available with PO and then if you download or install Project Professional, you have these other tools for capturing sprints and using agile. But even if you’re not on PO, just like I showed earlier, you can do the same kind of thing using a project schedule to capture how your sprints are occurring. So if you haven’t seen the sprint or scrum, this is basically what it looks like. You see on the bottom, I’ve got sprint 1, sprint 2, sprint 3…these are my deliverables and I can assign resources to this as well. We also have a Kanban board. Same kind of thing as the sprints where you have your backlog, deliverables, enhancements and bug fixes. You just kind of drag and drop them into what’s coming up next, what’s in progress but in each of those, you can also assign resources to it. And because you have resources, you now capture what your resource load looks like across the organization.

 

Now here is where I want to spend a little bit of time. This is what I call a D2D schedule or BAU schedule and there’s several approaches to this. Let’s just look at this first one. So the name of my project is called “D2D” and the reason I name it D2D or BAU is because when I go to this project center, I can see this prefix D2D and I can see all of my projects that are…really, operational schedules. And I’ll put a name on there from like 2018 and maybe this for the I.T. department. So in row 0, I see the duration, I see how many hours for the schedule. You’ll notice I have a start date of January 1st 2018 and the finish date is December 12th, 2018. So you go, why didn’t I do it to the end of the year? I could have but 2,000 hours is kind of an easy number to work with and also, people are probably going to have two weeks off over the year so when they start putting in time, that finish date might push back automatically to the end of the year or even passed the end of the year. And then I can see the cost associated with this project. This day to day schedule and I’m actually showing the actual cost for this year. Now here’s where it gets kind of different. I personally like to set up a summary task of the person’s name and then assign him big things he’s doing throughout the year. For example, he’s going to be doing some software maintenance and I’m estimating that he’s going to have about 500 hours that he’s going to be doing—again, these are just estimates on how long I think he might be spending. As the year goes through, you can adjust this, it might go up higher or lower but you’re just throwing out what you think it’s going to be. And then I have another deliverable, DBA maintenance. Again, it’s 250 days, roughly 100 hours. Then I have some administrative time, these are just general meetings. So if there’s 50 weeks in the year and you spend 2 hours on meetings and general stuff, that’s where I came up with that 100 hours. But the reason I like doing this, where I have the resources on a summary task, it’s easy to roll that up and see how much time I’ve allocated for him in the day to day. So you see Will has 246 days of duration, 700 hours and because I have a rate related to the resource wheel, I can see what this is costing me for a D2D schedule. And then you see I’ve got another person, Joan. Her hours are similar to Will’s time on the D2D support and basically working on the same thing. Then I’ve got Paul Smith. He’s doing the same kind of stuff but he’s not spending much time on maintenance. Maybe spending more on DBA maintenance and less on software maintenance. So that’s where, again, when you set up these D2D schedules, you’re kind of giving a rough idea. Now, some of the key success factors on this is-basically, you don’t want a whole lot of items in here because you really want to keep your timesheets within a page. I have found that if people have to flip through pages back and forth to update their timesheets, they get real frustrated and hate you [laughs]. And when that starts happening, it’s really hard to implement a tool like this but if it’s simple, then it’s much easier. And in the bottom, I’ve got another department, you see the engineering department. Some people allocate it with D2D schedules. So the idea is each department would set up their D2D schedules and would come up with a budget for this year and then they’d do the same for next year.

 

Here’s just a simple work order again. The work order in this case is 70 days. It’s a very simple schedule, maybe not so much as a project. In fact, even though I’m showing here 70 days, often a work order might be 5 or 10 days. It’s not so much a project, it’s mostly a way to capture what’s being done for work orders, for other things that are not so much a D2D schedule, like maintenance and not so much project. But again, this is based on each companies needs.

 

So to implement, you have timesheets outside of the PMO. As I mentioned earlier, you might have an auto approve for employees and that’s done in a resource profile. Then you’ll have an approval process for contractors. The timesheets could replace your timesheet systems that you currently have and what I’ve seen, this timesheet seems to work better than some of the timesheet systems I’ve seen at other companies because you have more control of the timesheets. You can take the timesheet, push it into your financials. Plus, it updates. You get an accurate picture of what your work effort is within a company for both D2D schedules and for projects. If you look below, I’ve got a snapshot of a typical timesheet. I’ve got some administrative time, sick time, vacation time…this can be really big because some companies have 15 or 20 categories. And the thing about Project, you can display the ones that are common and then the ones that are not common, you can add as needed. There’s a feature in the timesheet where you can click add…administrative time and then it just sticks it on the timesheet as needed like jury duty. It’s not often used but if you had jury duty, you can put that in your administrative time and when people specific something like jury duty, they would just add it to the timesheet. Not something we want on the timesheet every time they create a new timesheet.

 

Let’s talk about stretching the PMO for next year’s budgets. If you already have a budget for projects for next year, you’re kind of already on the way. The second thing is, each department or cost center will create their D2D schedules for next year. They can include their fixed costs and add their resources. And then they’ll do a build team with resources with set proposals. Save and publish. And once they save and publish, we’ll go to the project center and rollup to see what our budgets going to look like. You’ll see what the budgets are for, let’s say 2019 and if they’re too high or too low, then you’ll repeat steps 2 through 4 until you get your budget right. Typically what we see in some spreadsheets that are passed and rolled up and passed and rolled up…the advantage of using this technique now that you’ve put all this information in PS or PO, then you can use it next year for managing what the actual resource loads are and so you’re actually taking advantage of what your budgets are for next year.

 

This is what it would look like. I’m looking at the project center and right now, for this year, I see a few projects. I can see what my costs are and then if you look at the year 2018-so what I did, I created an enterprise resource field called “year” and I put 2018 for the D2D projects. And so, I can look at my projects, what the costs are and I can look at my year for my D2D schedules. So if you look at 2018, you see the D2D for engineering, for I.T., I can see what the resource load and what the costs are and how I’m doing for the year. So now I’ve captured this years schedules on my resource load for D2D and I’ve got my resource load for my projects. So I’m now having a better picture of what my resource load looks like. Now if you look at 2019, let’s say I made a budgeting process, I can see now as engineering, manufacturing, and I.T. departments build their D2D schedules and publish it, I can see what their cost is for that department. It gets rolled up. Right now it’s rolled up to $1,800,000. Well, maybe that’s too high and I can go to each department and say you need to change some things and lower your budget or maybe even increase your budget. And so each of these departments would go to their D2D schedules. They would make the tweaks as they needed, they would re-publish and then we’d quickly get what our budget for next year would look like.

 

Here is an example of-I’ve got a D2D schedule-the resources have rates related to them and number of hours but we have additional cost. Maybe we’ll buy new hardware, software…maybe we have to pay rent. All of those things can be included in a department budget for those additional costs so we have a more accurate idea what the cost is for that department. And then as you can see below, I’ve got Theresa and Mr. Robot estimates on what their next year budgets going to look like but then if you like at line 10 and line 14, maybe I’m asking for some additional resources. Maybe I’m looking at a control designer and-I’m looking at two control designers. So then what I can do is put in how many hours I think they’ll be working next year on different projects and start putting together my budget. Now in here, in this example, I just said new projects, I didn’t really specify what projects  they’re going to do. And so what I would do with the new projects if these people got approved, I would probably switch their resource load from this budget and actually put them into the project that they’d be working on after the annual budget has been approved. So this is just a typical idea of what the budget would look like for 2019. Key things…estimate the number of hours. Here I’ve estimated almost 8,000 hours for 2019. And then I’ve also included some fixed cost. Here, I’ve put 100,000 hours in here to roll up all of those additional costs that might be included in that annual budget.

 

Here’s just another way of looking at it. I’ve got my cost resource and my budgets. Again, it gets into a lot more detail for how much cost you want to put in your budget. In this example, the department budget, maybe I’ve created a cost resource for rent, I’ve put how much rent was in there. I looked at software cost and licensing. I put in travel. And those numbers rolled up into my project schedule, they rolled up in line 1, department budget.

 

Where those numbers came from is-I put those in task usage view and added cost resources to capture and get a more accurate view of what next years budget is going to look like. You can see, there’s a whole lot you can do for estimating annual budgets for next year.

 

And here’s just another one. It’s kind of the same thing I just showed. Here’s a schedule for the 2019 budget. I’m putting a request in. Let’s assume I put a request in and it gets nailed or they say “no, we’re not going to hire two “, then it becomes really easy just to delete one of my designers. Save and publish it. All my work, cost, everything gets updated. Resource load for next yet gets updated and I’m good to go.

 

So here I’ve got my current department resource load for 2019 and you see there’s a big gap here but when I put my resource load in here for my proposed budget for 2019 with my D2D schedule, you see I get a closer view for what it’s going to take for next year’s budget or next year’s resource load. The other thing I want to point out is, you notice I’ve got a red arrow pointing to “include proposed bookings”-so when I assign those resources in the schedule, I put them as proposed and then by checking this, I can see what the proposed effort looks like if the budget got approved for next year.

 

Finally, if you use Project schedules, it can be used to managing vacations and PTO. As I mentioned, if you use this feature in PO, PS, you’re basically showing when resources are not available and have a better idea when a project is finished if the resources aren’t there to work on it. I’m assuming things will be pushed out. As a PM, you have a better idea what to do to make sure deliverables come in on time. Plus, you won’t be surprised. You know, sometimes people say “I’m going to take the time off in June” and you approve it, next thing you know June is here and you forgot you approved it and you realize there’s a big gap in your deliverables because those resources have said they’re not available. So the advantage of this is you have a central location for managing PTO, it updates your resource loads, we see an impact of what happens when a person is out for a week or two and the other thing is, it’s not out of the box but you can build reports to notify managers that these resources will be out a week or two but automating some reporting for management. Then another thing you could do,  it gets a little bit into more of a custom code, you could push out those resource vacations into a SharePoint calendar or a SharePoint list and then you’d be automating, showing an easy place for everybody to look and see when resources are not available.

 

And so this is kind of, again, a screenshot of tracking vacations with timesheets. So I’ve got these vacations and then if you look at the bottom for administrative time, it’s showing the vacation time is non-working. In this case, I’m forcing it to be approved so by checking that approved, PM would have to approve that time before it gets okay’d. If you set that to “no”, of course there’s no approval process. And then the other thing, you see right behind there it says “always display”? That’s what I was referring to. You could-if this is checked, they’re always showing up on the timesheet but if you uncheck it, or if you had a fourth one called “jury duty” unchecked, then the person would have to-they wouldn’t see it each week on their timesheet but when they went to jury duty, they could add that to their timesheet and then submit it as you normally would.

 

So in summary, we’re looking at managing resources outside the PMO. We continue to use typical waterfall, we bring in agile schedules and the resources. We may or may not need to add work order schedules and resources to that but that’s one way we could stretch it. But the big thing is adding D2d schedules and their resources of people outside the PMO so we can get an accurate picture of how resources are being used. And then finally, when you do your budgets, you can include your estimates for additional headcount. Include your fixed cost…so this will facilitate the rollups for next year’s budgets. And then finally, we can track vacations and PTOs using administrative time.

 

What do you have to do to get something like this working? Well, this probably gets into a lot of politics but the first step would really be to coordinate an effort across the organization or department on using timesheets and resource management. So you have to bring to the table all the different departments and how they can benefit. It’s all about how they can benefit and streamline their costs and resource management within the PMO, resource department, finance department, contract department and any departments that buy into it, would need to buy into it. So that’s the big sale, getting everybody on board because basically at this point, the PMO is stretching outside what their main function is…I don’t even know if you call it a PMO at this point or if it’s something different. It’s bringing in all these different departments to utilize this tool for both estimating annual budgets, which is the purpose of this and also managing resource loads outside the PMO.

 

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