Sunday, 22 May 2011 00:00

I Want A Shining New PMO, Too

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Last week I gave a presentation at the San Diego PMI Chapter's Tutorials conference. Flanking both sides of my ten o'clock presentation in the leadership track was Steve Romero. His two presentations were on IT governance. His energy, insight, enthusiasm, and passion (not to mention being the IT governance evangelist for CA Technologies) made him an excellent selection. And, what is so news worthy about that? Nothing. However, for someone that has little regard for adding one more layer of management to solve a problem, I was surprised that I sat through both of his presentations. He provided a three hours of information on governance—both PMOs and PPMs—crammed into two intense and valuable hours.

Still A Nonbeliever

Old IT PMO Image (missing)

Figure 1. Classical IT-Business Relationship

said, believing that he really has seen PMOs work and trying to reconcile his ideas with my experience, I came to a couple of conclusions.

First and foremost, people need to define what they are asking for when implementing a PMO. My first step is asking why they are considering implementing a PMO. I listen to their attempts to assign traits, "It provides governance," "It monitors projects, providing normalized metrics to compare dissimilar projects," "It makes sure projects are following the right process," and so forth. Trying to get them to realize they are talking about solutions, I reiterate my question, "What does the acronym mean?" In near three-part harmony, they respond project, program, and portfolio followed by management office. Those three P's define wildly different scope. Puzzled participants ponder the problem for a few moments then I suggest, "If we cannot agree on that 'P', then maybe it will help to know the fourth 'P.' What problem are you trying to solve?"

What is Your Problem?

Image of PMO filling the gap (missing)

Figure 2. A PMO filling the gap

 

This starts a flurry of comments. The most common being, "We need a consistent method for running projects." Unfortunately, that is not a problem; once again, it is a solution. Eventually the lights come on and someone in a resigned voice says, "Our customer does not like what we are building," or, their close cousins, of excessive cost and late delivery. Now, those are problems. As we drill into the meaning further, we inevitably land on a point that Steve makes in one of his first few slides. There is a gap... no... a chasm between the supplier and the customer. (Steve, being an IT Governance evangelist, says IT, but the problem exists in nearly every project-based discipline.) Trying to get alignment with someone that you rarely see is nearly impossible. System integrators, product developers, and service providers all agree on a solution—if you are unable to deliver what the customer wants, get closer to your customer. Hence, the disconnect with Steve, how does adding a layer of management between the customer and suppler close this gap? It doesn't; it fills the gap and the distance remains. This is where PMOs fail. They lose track of the problem they are trying to solve.

Getting Closer To The Customer

My suggestion is to move closer, literally, to the customer. Move your office, collocate resources, or take them to lunch, do whatever it takes, get to know them and their business. Move the people that will build product or deliver the service as close to the customer as possible. This is one of the key attributes of Agile—the people building the product and the customer or end user are sitting together; the customer directs building a value-laden product.

Removing the gap Image (missing)

Figure 3. Removing the gap

 

Sticking with the IT world for an example, a majority internal IT departments are very isolated from the business (Figure 1), hence the gap. Instead of layering a new group to fill in the gap (Figure 2), take the resources that build the product or service and move them into the business unit (Figure 3). Here was my second conclusion: how Steve's concept of a PPM becomes viable. PPM, by most definitions, means Portfolio and Project Management. However, I prefer the term Portfolio Planning and Management. It is more meaningful. The functions are the same as Steve purports—making sure the organization (not just IT) is working on the right things. The key is that the PPM group must have enterprise authority to prioritize projects and validate value to identify which are viable and, if trouble arises, which to abandon.

Want to read more?

Executive project sponsorship plagues nearly every project. Our researched-based white paper Challenges In Executive Project Sponsorship uncovers a variety of issues (some specific to healthcare, that are quite unexpected.

No More IT Projects

As I mention in a prior blog, to some people's dismay, there are no IT Projects. There are business initiatives with IT components. Likewise, some business initiatives are devoid of IT requirements, but still utilize critical business resources. If you are going to do real portfolio planning and management, then you need to include the entire enterprise. A managerial layer filling a gap between two groups cannot accomplish this. It must be done by the tier above those groups—a layer that, for the most part, already exists. In other words, key players are the executives, in many cases the C-Level executives. They are the only ones that can ensure a proper direction. Stating the obvious, having executive management properly aligned and active in the project execution will improve project outcomes. Am I saying that lack of executive involvement in projects is the reason project failure rates are so high? I will let you draw your own conclusion.

Read 30497 times

Related items

  • Filling Execution Gaps: Building Success-Focused Organizations

    Executives define vision, strategy, and goals to advance the business. Projects enable companies to meet those goals. Between strategy and projects, there is a lot of work to be done—work that lays the foundation for project and operational success. Through experience and research, six common gaps exist in organizations that inhibit project success—absence of common understanding, disengaged executive sponsors, misalignment with goals, poor change management, ineffective governance, and lackluster leadership.

  • Get Recognized as a Leader: Four Core Leadership Actions

    Leaders make decisions. This requires a core set of actions to gather the best information, hear out the concerns of others, and making a decision that everyone will follow—even if they do not necessarily agree with the decision. This session covers the four core leadership actions (listening, dialog and discussion, selling a vision, and elimination of blame) that are critical in your journey as a leader. We discuss and practice these actions in small role-playing groups.

  • Build Your Leadership Style: Six Leadership Strategies

    As project managers, you need to change your leadership style based on the situation. The need for a situational style is more important in project management than in nearly any other business position. Commanding the six core strategies—directive, expert, consensus, engaging, coaching, and affiliative—allows you to build the style most appropriate for the conditions surrounding the project.

  • Develop Your Inner Leader: Nine Leadership Traits

    One cornerstone of leadership is our personality traits. Project managers need to develop and hone nine core traits—accountability, ethics, inspiration, decisiveness, awareness, empathy, confidence, focus, and humility—to ensure they can lead our diverse workforces. This track session is a deep dive into these traits using a roundtable discussion format—the audience voices there opinion of what the trait is and the presenter moderates the discussion and gives guidance on what that means in a business setting.

  • Extreme Leadership: A Matter of Life and Death

    Leadership is a journey. Events in our personal and professional lives shape us as leaders. In a heartbeat, how we lead and its impact can change our lives, those of our loved ones, and the people around us. The most trying of these events come in our personal lives. Personal events, such as serious illness or death of a loved one, are high-stress, emotional situations where we must be leaders with little or no authority. A skill that is also indispensable in the office, for instance, when working for a difficult boss, being fired, or any number of other circumstances where we have little or no control. These “leadership passages” shape us as leaders. Understanding how these situations affect our leadership strategies, traits, and actions that make up our leadership style, helps us overcome seemly insurmountable challenges.

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.

 

PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.

Sitemap