To introduce this topic, my background is instructive. My road to becoming a PMO expert is somewhat unconventional. I didn’t even realize that I functioned as a one-man PMO for the first four years I worked with one of my clients. As a contract project manager stepping into a company that played a constant game of “who is screaming the loudest” when it came to project resources and priorities, I learned quickly what must change to stop the game – or at least minimize it.
You might be amazed at the impact of stopping the “Who is Screaming Loudest” game. In my first year, having only partially quieted the screams, the IT Dept doubled the number of projects completed and most with better quality. Continuing to learn and build on the success, those lessons and experience ultimately led developing methods and tools for improving project capabilities within companies. I eventually formally studied the concept of a PMO, and realized that I had essentially built a functioning “stealth” PMO. Eventually, the company had me formally build a PMO, which was easy to do since it had basically existed for five years!
But was it just a fluke? Did I just get lucky? No, what I had learned and developed works in any company. Another company contracted me to develop a PMO formally and the results were nearly identical – almost a 100% increase in projects completed in the first year. And frankly, both times I was amazed at the results because the changes aren’t really that hard to make.
Study about PMOs and you will find a handful of structures and approaches. I am sure the Shepherdwise approach fits into one of them. Most importantly, I join many current PMO thought leaders in their growing focus on adaptable frameworks and utilizing the PMO to tie together the entire flow of projects – from ideas in the board room to initiation to implementation to measuring ongoing impact on the company.
A successful PMO should accomplish its work with minimum overhead and maximum adaptability. Order, yes. Bureaucracy, no. The amount of structure and rigor will largely depend on the number, variety, complexity and impact of the projects, but the goal is ensuring the cost of PMO overhead is MUCH less than the value produced by the PMO.
Unfortunately, many companies are abandoning or dancing around their PMOs because the PMO has become a bloated bottleneck to executing priority projects or simply fail to produce needed quality outcomes. So, how does a company implement or fix a PMO to provide outstanding outcomes and value?
Anchored in an adaptable framework, I submit that there are four key functions that a successful PMO must perform. I list them here and will outline them in the next blog post.
I will also explore in more detail both the concept of an adaptable framework and each of the four functions in future blog posts.
THE FOUR THINGS A PMO MUST DO
Even if you have no PMO, or you have a PMO that doesn’t do all four, your company is still doing each of these functions. The question is how well and how integrated. The PMO is a great place for them – and arguably the best place for them.
#1 – AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (PROGRAM MANAGEMENT) – Ensuring VISIBILITY by obtaining, managing and adjusting real time information about all projects under the guidance and responsibility of the PMO. This one is VITAL. If I could only do one of these four functions, air traffic control would be the one. It has the greatest impact by far and makes the other three possible and effective.
#2 – CONNECT BUSINESS (ASSIST PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT) – Ensuring RELEVANCE by helping executives to define, select and prioritize projects that CAN and SHOULD be done within a specific time frame. NOTE – this does NOT conflict with or replace any executive strategic planning activities. It enhances and empowers it.
#3 – PROJECT MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP – Ensure PREDICTABILITY by leading how projects are led and making sure they are led – all within an adaptable frame work that fits the culture, the projects, and the resources.
#4 – CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION (PROCESS IMPROVEMENT) – Ensure maximized CAPACITY and IMPACT by focusing on excellent “new normals” and ongoing optimization and adoption efforts.
I just spoke on this topic at the 2015 NC HIMSS conference in Wilmington, NC. I would be happy to provide you access to the Notes view of the slide deck and the audio of the presentation.
Just click here to contact me and I will send you links to the slide deck and audio. Also contact me to discuss your project capabilities challenges.